Tag Archives: Crosby Hall

The execution of Sir Thomas More (1535)

3 - Holbein's portrait of More

On this day in 1535, the former Lord Chancellor, also lawyer, humanist, social philosopher, author (of “Utopia”) and “Man for All Seasons” Sir, now Saint,  Thomas More was beheaded on  Tower Hill  for High Treason,  for refusing to take an oath acknowledging the King, Henry VIII, rather than the Pope, as the Supreme Head of the Church in England (being  “the king’s good servant, but God’s first”).

His son-in-law William Roper wrote of the event:

“And soe was he brought by Mr Lievetenaunt out of the Towre, and thence led towards the place of execution, where goinge upp the Scaffold, which was so weake that it was readie to fall, he sayde … ‘I pray you, I pray you, Mr Lievetenaunt, see me safe upp, and for my cominge downe let mee shift for my selfe’.  Then desired he all the people thereaboutes to pray for him, and to beare witnesse with him, that he should suffer death in and for the faith of the holie Catholique Church, which done hee kneeled downe, and after his prayers sayed, hee turned to the executioner, and with a cheerful Countenance spake unto him, ‘Plucke up thy spirittes, man, and be not affrayed to do thine office … ’.  Soe passed Sir Thomas Moore out of this world to God … ”.

More’s  headless corpse was buried in an unmarked grave in the Chapel of St Peter ad Vincula in the Tower of London.  His head was put on a pike on London Bridge.  It was later retrieved by his daughter Meg Roper, the wife of William, and buried in the Roper family vault in the church of St Dunstan in Canterbury.

1 - Plaque marking site of More's birthplace on Milk Street

2 - Plaque marking site of More's execution on Tower Hill.jpg

There are plaques in the City marking the sites of More’s birth on Milk Street and of his death on Tower Hill.

4 - Statue of More on Carey Street

5 - Statue of More outside Chelsea Old Church

6 - Memorial to More in Chelsea Old Church.JPG

There are  also statues of him to the west of the City, one on Carey Street just off Chancery Lane, and another outside Chelsea Old Church; and a  memorial to him inside Chelsea Old Church.

7 - The rebuilt Crosby Hall in Chelsea.JPG

Crosby Hall, where he lived between 1523-4, was moved from its past location in Bishopsgate to its present one opposite Chelsea Old Church in 1910.

 

Far-Flung Lost London VI – Chelsea

Between 1466-75, the wealthy grocer John Crosby built Crosby Hall, described by John Stow, in his “Survay of London” of 1598, as “very large and beautiful”, on  Bishopsgate in the City of London.  The Hall survived the Great Fire of 1666.  Bizarrely, in 1909, it was relocated to Cheyne Walk in Chelsea, where it can still be seen to this day (photos below).

There are some wonderfully evocative old black-and-white photographs of the Hall in its original location on Bishopsgate in 1907 in Philip Davies’ “haunting and heartbreaking” book “Lost London” (English Heritage, 2009).  There are also some sumptuous recent colour photographs of the interior of  the Hall in its new location in Chelsea in Davies’s “London – Hidden Interiors” (English Heritage, 2012).

Crosby Hall

Crosby Hall (photo by Bob Jones)

Crosby Hall and adjoining building

Crosby Hall and adjoining building from Chelsea Old Church (photo by Bob Jones)

Crosby Hall and adjoining building from river

Crosby Hall and adjoining buildings viewed from the river (photo by Bob Jones)