Tag Archives: John Stow

St Michael Wood Street

Lost Wren ChurchesAnother in the  occasional series on churches built by Wren after the Great Fire of 1666 that have been lost  since …

St Michael Wood Street was originally built around 1170.  It was burnt  down in the Great Fire of 1666, and rebuilt by Wren in 1670-5, and further modified, unsympathetically,  in 1887-8, only to be demolished in 1897, when the parish was merged with St Alban Wood Street.  Essentially nothing now remains of the church on its former site, although salvaged paintings of Moses and Aaron  survive in St Anne and St Agnes.

Sometime after the Battle of Flodden Field in 1513, one of the bloodiest ever fought on British soil, between the Engish and the Scots, the decapitated head of he defeated Scottish King, James IV, came to be buried here.  According to Stow:

“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 off his head; and Lancelot Young, master glazier to his majesty, 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 to bury it among other bones”.

Site of St Michael Wood Street

Site of St Michael Wood Street

 

The death of Henry VIII – and Whitehall Palace

Close-up of the Banqueting House ceiling by Rubens

Close-up of the Banqueting House ceiling by Rubens

January 28th –  On this day in 1547, Henry VIII “dyed at hys most princely howse at Westminster, comenly called Yorkeplace or Whytehall”  (Stow).

The house, or rather palace, was originally  built for the  Archbishops of York in the thirteenth century, circa 1240, when it was known as York Place.  It was acquired by Henry VIII from the then Archbishop of York, Cardinal Wolsey, in 1529.  This was  not long after a fire had rendered parts of the nearby Old Palace of Westminster unusable, in 1512.

The Banqueting House

The Banqueting House

 General view of the Banqueting House interior - from the entrance

General view of the Banqueting House interior – from the entrance

Under Henry,  the palace was  renamed Whitehall, and the populace was reminded “You must no more call it York Place: that is past; For since the Cardinal fell that title’s lost.  ‘Tis now the King’s, and called Whitehall” (Shakespeare,  “King Henry the Eighth”).

The palace was extended both by Henry and by James I.  It  was undamaged in the Great Fire of 1666, but substantially burnt down in another fire in 1698.  Essentially only the Banqueting House, designed by the Neo-Classical or Palladian architect Inigo Jones in 1622, and notable as the first Renaissance building in London, with a ceiling by Rubens, still stands (together with: “Henry VIII’s wine cellar” in the nearby Ministry of Defence building in Horse Guards’ Avenue; the site of his tilt-yard in Horse Guards’ Parade; part of his real tennis court in the Cabinet Office building at No. 70 Whitehall; and “Queen Mary’s Stairs”, built in 1691, on the Embankment).

General view of the Banqueting House interior - looking back towards the entrance

General view of the Banqueting House interior – looking back towards the entrance

Charles I was executed outside the Banqueting House in 1649.  The Holbein Gate, built in 1532 and notable as the probable place of the clandestine marriage of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn in 1533, survived both fires (i.e., 1666 and 1698), but was demolished in 1759.

 

 

 

Close-up of the Banqueting House ceiling by Rubens

Close-up of the Banqueting House ceiling by Rubens

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)