Tag Archives: John Stow

St Andrew Undershaft, John Stow and “The Changing of the Quill”

1-st-andrew-undershaft-with-the-gherkin-in-the-background

The church of St Andrew Undershaft was originally  built in the twelfth century, and rebuilt in the fourteenth, and again, in the Perpendicular Gothic style, in around 1520-32.  It was undamaged both in the Great Fire of 1666 and in the Blitz of 1940-41, although the seventeenth-century stained-glass windows were destroyed by an IRA bomb in 1992.  The artist Hans Holbein was a parishioner here.

6-the-changing-of-the-quill

Among the many memorials inside is one to the Merchant Taylor and amateur antiquarian John Stow (d. 1605), the author of “A Survay of London” (see also March 27th and March 30th blogs).   Stow appears with a quill-pen in his hand.  Every third year, on or around the anniversary of his death on April 5th, as part of a special service in the church in his memory, he is ceremonially presented  with a new quill (and his old one is given to the  winner of an essay competition for local children, with London as its subject).  This year’s service   is at   4:00pm on April 24th.

The church  is visited, although not entered,  on our “Aldgate, Bishopsgate and Beyond” and  “London Wall” standard walks, and on our “Medieval London” and “Medieval City Highlights” themed specials.

Further details of all our walks are available in the Our Guided Walks section of this web-site.

Bookings may be made through the “Contact/Booking” section of the web-site, or by e-mail (lostcityoflondon@sky.com).

John Stow

P1200055

Further to the March 27th posting, a brief account of the life and works of the antiquarian John Stow …

John Stow was born in 1525 in the parish of St Michael Cornhill in the City of London.  He went on to become a Merchant Taylor, by apprenticeship, setting up shop in Aldgate in 1549, and eventually retiring and becoming a pensioner  in 1579.

Despite the demands of his profession, Stow found time to embark on what was essentially a second career as an antiquarian, from around 1560, publishing “A Summarie of Englyshe Chronicles … ”, in 1561, and “Annales, or a Generale Chronicle of England … ” in 1580 (*).  It is  thought that he began  work on his magnum opus, “A Survay of London … ” in the 1560s, although it was not published until 1598 – tellingly, the famous last words are “And so I end, wanting time to travel further in this work”!  It is from his “Survay” that we derive much of our understanding of the topography, buildings and social history of Elizabethan London.

Stow died on April 5th, 1603, and is buried in the church of St Andrew Undershaft in the City.  His memorial in the church shows him with a quill-pen in his hand.  Every third year, on or around the anniversary of his death, as part of a special service in the church in his memory, he   is ceremonially presented  with a new quill (and his old one is given to the  winner of an essay competition for local children, with London as its subject).  This year’s service   is at   4:00pm on April 24th.

(*) During the course of his research, he was challenged more than once by the ecclesiastical authorities over his collection of books, some of which were categorised as “superstitious” or “in defence of Papistry” (i.e., Catholicism), but was able to convince them as to the truth of his Protestantism.

It is noteworthy in this context that the Archbishop of Canterbury, Matthew Parker, was one of his patrons.

A Survay of London (John Stow, 1598)

Braun & Hogenberg map (1572)

Another in the occasional series on contemporary accounts and descriptions of the historic City of London,  this one from John Stow’s “A Survay of London … ”, written in 1598:

“William FitzStephen [see also February 5th posting], in the reign of Henry II, writing of the walls of this city, hath these words: ‘The wall is high and great, well towered on the north side, with due distances between the towers.  On the south side also the city was walled and towered, but the fishful river of the Thames, with his ebbing and flowing, hath long since subverted them’.

… [T]he [walled] city being far more in length from east to west than in breadth from south to north, and also narrower at both ends that in the midst, is …  compassed with the wall on the land side, in form of a bow, except denting in betwixt Cripplegate and Aldersgate … .

And now touching the maintenance and repairing the said wall,  … in the year 1257, Henry III caused the walls …, which were sore decayed and destitute of towers, to be repaired in more seemly wise than before … .  Also in the year 1282, King Edward I, having granted … license for the enlarging of the Blackfriars’ Church, … also granted to Henry Wales, mayor, and the citizens of London, the favour to take, toward the [re-]making of the wall … , certain customs or toll … .  This wall was then to be made from Ludgate west to Fleet Bridge along behind the houses, and along by the water of the Fleet unto the … Thames.  … In the 17th of Edward IV [1477], Ralph Joceline, mayor, caused part of the wall …  to be repaired: to wit, between Aldgate and Aldersgate.  He also caused Moorfield to be searched for clay, and brick thereof to be made … , for … furtherance of the work.

The circuit of the wall of London on the land side, to wit, from the Tower of London in the east unto Aldgate  is 82 perches; from Aldgate to Bishopsgate, 86 perches; from Bishopsgate … to Cripplegate, 162 perches; from Cripplegate to Aldersgate, 75 perches; from Aldersgate to Newgate, 66 perches; from Newgate … to Ludgate, 42 perches; … [f]rom Ludgate to the Fleet Dike … , about 70 perches; [and] from Fleet Bridge … to the … Thames, about 70 perches: and so the total of these perches amounteth to 643, every perch consisting of five yards and a half, which do yield 3536 yards and a half, containing 10,608 feet [actually, 10,609.5 feet], which make up two English miles, and more by 608 feet [*]”.

[*] Stow’s “English miles” were evidently each of 5000 feet.  A “statute mile” – as defined in the Weights and Measures Act of 1593  – is of eight furlongs, 320 perches, poles, or rods, 1760 yards,  or 5280 feet.

St Andrew Undershaft

Another in the  series on City of London buildings that survived the Great Fire of 1666, and that still survive to this day …

st-andrew-undershaft-with-the-gherkin-in-the-background

door

The church of St Andrew Undershaft was originally  built in the twelfth century, and rebuilt in the fourteenth, and again, in the Perpendicular Gothic style, in around 1520-32.  It was undamaged in the Great Fire, although the seventeenth-century stained-glass windows were destroyed by an IRA bomb in 1992.

general-view-of-interior

stow-memorial-1695

The artist Hans Holbein was a parishioner here.  Among the many memorials inside is   one to the Merchant Taylor and amateur antiquarian John Stow (d. 1605), the author of “A Survay of London” (the famous last  words of which were “And so I end, wanting time to travel further in this work”).

changing-of-the-quill

Stow appears  with a quill-pen in his hand.  Every third year, on or around the anniversary of his death on April 5th, as part of a special service in his memory, he   is ceremonially presented  with a new quill (and his old one is given to the  winner of an essay competition for local children, with London as its subject).

The church   is visited on various of our walks.

Further details of all our walks are available in the “Our Guided Walks” section of this web-site.

Bookings may be made through the “Contact/Booking” section of the web-site, or by e-mail (lostcityoflondon@sky.com).

St Andrew Undershaft, John Stow and “The Changing of the Quill”

The church of St Andrew Undershaft was originally  built in the twelfth century, and rebuilt in the fourteenth, and again, in the Perpendicular Gothic style, in around 1520-32.  It was undamaged both in the Great Fire of 1666 and in the Blitz of 1940-41, although the seventeenth-century stained-glass windows were destroyed by an IRA bomb in 1992.  The artist Hans Holbein was a parishioner here.

Among the many memorials inside is one to the Merchant Taylor and amateur antiquarian John Stow (d. 1605), the author of “A Survay of London” (the famous last  words of which were “And so I end, wanting time to travel further in this work”).  Stow appears with a quill-pen in his hand.  Every third year, on or around the anniversary of his death on April 5th, as part of a special service in his memory, he is ceremonially presented  with a new quill (and his old one is given to the  winner of an essay competition for local children, with London as its subject).

The church  is visited, although not entered,  on our “Aldgate, Bishopsgate and Beyond” and  “London Wall” standard walks, and on our “Medieval London”, “Medieval City Highlights” and “Lost City Highlights” themed specials.

Further details of all our walks are available via the “Our Guided Walks” section of the web-site.

Bookings may be made through the “Contact/Booking” section of the web-site, by e-mail (lostcityoflondon@sky.com), or by phone (020-8998-3051).

Theft of the Queen’s Chamber-Pot (John Stow, 1564)

Another in the occasional series on contemporary events in the history of London, this one written by John Stow in 1564 …

“On the xxvi day of September in anno 1564, … ware arrayned at ye Guildhall of London iiii personas … for ye stelynge and receyvynge of ye queens lypott [chamber pot], combe, and lokynge glasse, with a bodkin of gold to brayd hir heare, and suche  othar small ware out of hir chambar in her progresse.  And on … ye xxviii day of September, ii of them …  were bothe hangyd before ye Cowrte gate … .”.

7 - Stow seems happy with his new quill

The church of St Andrew Undershaft, where Stow is buried, is visited on various of our “London Wall” standard walk, and on our “Medieval London”, “Medieval City Highlights”, “Tudor and Stuart London”, “Tudor and Stuart City Highlights”, “The Great Fire of London” and “Lost City Highlights” themed specials.

A list of some important trials held in the Guildhall

The Guildhall, where the arraignment took place, is visited on our “Tower to Temple” standard walk, and on our “Medieval London”, “Medieval City Highlights”, The Great Fire of London” and “Lost City Highlights” themed specials.

Further details of all our walks are available in the “Guided Walks” section of this web-site.

Bookings may be made through the “Contact/Booking” section of the web-site, by e-mail (lostcityoflondon@sky.com), or by phone (020-8998-3051).

The Battle of Flodden Field, and the bizarre tale of the King’s Head

James IV

James IV

September 9th –  Today is the anniversary of the Battle of Flodden Field, one of the bloodiest ever fought on British soil, between the English and the Scots, which took place in 1513.

According to John Stow, in his “Survay of London written in the Year 1598(* see below for the relevant extract), sometime after the battle, the decapitated head of the defeated Scottish King, James IV, ended up being buried in  the church of St Michael, Wood Street, just off Cheapside.

The church was later  burnt down in the Great Fire of 1666, rebuilt  by Christopher Wren between 1670-75, and modified  in 1887-88, only to be demolished in 1897. Nothing remains of it at its former site, now occupied by the “Red Herring” public house.

St Michael Wood Street (as rebuilt by Wren post-fire)

St Michael Wood Street (as rebuilt by Wren post-fire)

(*) The relevant part of the text reads more-or-less in full as follows:

“There is …  , … without any outward monument, the head of James, the fourth king of Scots of that name, slain at Flodden field, and buried here by this occasion: After the battle the body of the said king being found, was enclosed in lead, and conveyed … to the monastery of Shene in Surrey … .  Since the which time workmen there, for their foolish pleasure, hewed of his head; and Lancelot Young, master glazier to her majesty [Elizabeth I], … seeing the same dried from all moisture, and yet the form remaining, with the hair of the head, and beard red, brought it to London to his house in Wood Street, where for a time he kept it … , but in the end caused the sexton of that church to bury it amongst other bones … “.

The site of St Michael Wood Street  is visited on our “Lost Wren Churches of London” themed special.

Further details of all our walks are available in the “Guided Walks” section of this web-site.

Bookings may be made through the “Contact/Booking” section of the web-site, by e-mail (lostcityoflondon@sky.com), or by phone (020-8998-3051).