Temple Bar And Some Bankers
( Originally Published Early 1900's )
TEMPLE BAR the Temple Bar, that is, which many of us remember in situ is now in honourable and rural retirement at the entrance to Theobald's Park, whence we may hope that one day it will perhaps again be permitted to emerge, and to be once more erected somewhere in the City of which it is an integral part. When we speak of Temple Bar it is this structure that we mean, this object actually known, as I say, to many of us ; known to more by a thousand representations, — this not, perhaps, very worthy outcome of Wren's genius, which has, however, taken on itself something of the beauty and grace it does not intrinsically possess, by being for so long a familiar object of historic interest. But this Temple Bar is, after all, a relatively modern structure ; for it dates only from 1672, whereas its predecessor is known to have been in existence in 1533 ; and a bar, if not a building, stood at the spot where the so-called Griffin now divides the traffic, from time immemorial probabl y, to be precise, from the twelfth century.
It seems fairly certain that the first form of demarcation between the City and Westminster took the form of a bar, or, possibly, simply a chain hung between two posts, and was, of course, called the ` Temple Bar ' because it adjoined the property held by the Templars. It was about the middle of the twelfth century that the members of this powerful fraternity migrated hither from Holborn where their estate was situated, roughly between Chancery Lane and the Fleet River ; and when they did so, the Bar, which was probably here before that date, was given the name it and its successors were to hold for over seven centuries.
Whatever was the date of the first erection of a bar here, however, we have no specific mention of one till the year 1301, when it is referred to in the grant of lands made to Walter le Barbour, stated to have been situated " extra Barram Novi Templi." One or two subsequent references to the Bar are to be found in the City archives, the most important of these being that given by John Norden in his Speculum Britannice, where he tells us that, in 1381, on the occasion of Wat Tyler's rebellion, " This gatte was thrown downe by the Kentish rebels." This might seem to prove that Temple Bar really consisted of a gate at this period ; but Norden's work was first printed in 1593, and we have no other mention of the barrier being anything but a bar or chain, before this period ; and this was, no doubt, all that it then consisted of. In the year 1502, however, custody of the barrier was given to Robert Fabian, the well-known chronicler and an alderman of Farringdon, John Brook and Joh
n Warner, also aldermen ; and the obvious conclusion is that there must, at least at this time, have been a building of some sort, for the care of it to be allotted to such important civic dignitaries. This is still more clearly proved by the fact that when Anne Bullen went to Westminster to be crowned, Stow tells us the Bar was " newly paynted and repayred " ; and had the building been then first put up, the chronicler would almost certainly have mentioned the circumstance. There was once at Cowdray Park, Midhurst, before the burning of that splendid structure, a series of pictures representing this Coronation procession, supposed to be the work of Theodore Bernardi ; and one of them showed the pageant at Temple Bar. By the engravings which were happily made before these interesting relics perished, we see that then, at any rate, Temple Bar was a structure of considerable size, although, in Wyngaerde's " View of London," dated 1543, it is, curiously enough, not shown ; the only considerable erection at this point being the entrance to Middle Temple Lane. Agas (1560), on the other hand, indicates, in his " Plan," the roof (his map is practically a bird's-eye view) of a very large and solid structure, and I cannot therefore but think that Wyngaerde either omitted to put the gate in his plan (there is a line drawn across th e road indicating, I imagine, the boundary), or that the large gateway to the Middle Temple Lane is intended for it, and is placed at right angles to the street, by a pictorial licence, in order that it may be more clearly shown.
When Sir Thomas Wyat's rebellion broke out, the gates of Temple Bar (close by which the leader of the insurrection was taken prisoner) were probably damaged ; at any rate, a little later, on the occasion of Queen Mary's passing along Fleet Street to her Coronation (Sept. 27, 1553), these gates were " newly painted and hanged " ; and in the following year, on the arrival of Philip of Spain, a good and substantial new payre of gates " was ordered to be constructed and placed here.
Indeed, from this time, when Philip, on his way, stayed at Temple Bar, " in viewinge a certain oracion in Latin, which was in a long table, wrytten with Romayne letters above the porte thereof," this land-mark has been connected with innumerable great pageants, and, as the official entrance to the City, has taken part in nearly every great pageant connected with its annals. To recapitulate the details of these is not here necessary ; indeed, it would be trenching on the history of London generally as well as on that of pageantry in particular, and although such things must be incidentally referred to, I shall chiefly con-fine myself to the annals of Temple Bar as a building rather than as a permanent triumphal arch.
In the same year as saw the arrival of King Philip, a new keeper was placed in Temple Bar ; at least, I think so much may be assumed from the following entry in the City archives : " 23 Oct. (1554) Item yt was agreid that Mr. Chamb'leyne shall comytt the custodye of the key of the new gates, now sett up at Temple Barre, to the cyties ten'nte, dwellinge nyer unto the saide gates, takinge nev the lesse especial order with hyme, for the shutinge and openynge of the same gats at convenyente houres."
During the long reign of Elizabeth, Temple Bar was frequently the scene of pageantry, but two occasions stand forth particularly : the first, when the "Fair Virgin thronéd in the West" went to her Coronation, what time it was, we are told, " dressed finely with the two ymages of Got Magot and Albione, and Corineus the Briton, two gyats, bigge in stature, furnished accordingly, which held in their handes eve above ye gate, a table wherein was written, in Latin verses, the effect of the pageantes, which the citie before had erected, which verses were also written in English meter, in a lesse table," etc. ; 1 and the second, when the Queen went to St. Paul's (Nov. 24, 1588) to give thanks for the overthrow of the Armada, on which occasion Temple Bar was suitably bedizened, and the City minstrels, congregated on the top, burst into triumphant song, as she stayed for a while beneath the archway.
But it was on the accession of James I. that unprecedented efforts were undertaken to make Temple Bar a worthy entrance to the City's boundaries. On this occasion a special pageant was set up adjoining the Bar, from which Noble assumes, with some plausibility, that the building itself was either considered too old and weather-worn to be used for the occasion, or that, at this time, the conversion of such an object into a triumphal arch was not deemed feasible. On the other hand, this was done, as we have seen, in Elizabeth's day and with success, and therefore this argument seems less forcible than the former one. When, too, we read of a pageant adjoining Temple Bar, we must assume it to have been erected either on the Fleet Street or Strand front, and not at the side, which the narrowness of the roadway would have made impracticable. It must have been a gorgeous affair ; for we are told, in the quaint language of the day, that it was like " an exchange shop, it shined so in the dark place, and was soe pleasing to the eie. "
The reason why a separate pageant was deemed necessary here is indicated by the fact that a `Temple of Janus was set up, teeming with the allegories beloved of the period, and serving as a setting to the fine speeches, written by Ben Jonson and Middleton, delivered from it. This Temple was no less than 90 feet high and 50 feet wide, and was ornamented with battlements, turrets and posterns, and had one great gate in the middle. A full description of it may be read in Gilbert Dugdale's Time Triumphant,' as well as in Nichols' Progresses, and its chief interest, here, is that it helped to give Temple Bar an apotheosis to which it never afterwards attained. Indeed, it was in the following reign that suggestions were made for the rebuilding of the Bar. We can see from old prints that, if solid, it was a distinctly plain and uninspired structure, and we are hardly surprised to find, a few years after the artistic Charles had succeeded his father, and Ingo Jones was helping to beautify London, that the following order was issued :
" May 5, 1636. Item according to an order of the Lords of his Maties. most honble Privy Councell of the xxviith Aprill last it is order'd that Mr. Recorder, Mr. Aldran. Ffen, Sir Morris Abbott, and Mr. Aldran. Garraway that were lately before the Board touching the repaire of a house at Temple Barr shall meete and conferre wth. Inigo Jones esq. Srveyor Genall. of his Matie. Works touching a convenient gate to bee built in that place." 2
In consequence of this, Inigo Jones prepared a design for a new archway. A representation of this drawing was included by Kent in the Book of Designs he published in 1727, the original having been in Lord Burlington's collection. A description of it is preserved among the Harleian MSS., and this, together with the drawing itself, is sufficient to prove what a splendid monument was lost to London when, from some cause or another, probably the outbreak of the Civil War, the scheme was never carried into execution. In fact, Old Temple Bar was yet to witness one or more historic scenes before it was finally swept away : Cromwell passing through it as Lord Protector ; Charles ll. on that eventful 29th of May ; the Merry Monarch, again, going to be crowned, on which occasion the Duchess of York viewed the pro-cession from a specially erected balcony over the gate-way ; and finally, the Great Fire, providentially stopped before it reached the Temple or its Bar. But before this last event, steps had been taken towards doing something Sir John Popham had pointed out the necessity of widening it ; the King had interested himself in the matter, and had even promised financial aid (though that was not usual with the easy going Charles the difficulty being to get the money from the royal exchequer) ; but the Plague and the Fire put such matters out of men's heads for a time. How-ever, in 1668, the question cropped up again, in the following form :
" 11th June 1668. This Court understanding from Sir Richd Browne, that the Lords and others, his Maties Commrs. for the streets, &c., have pleased to offer themselves to come down and consider with this Court of the business about Temple Barre, doth order that the Cittyes Remember doe acquaint their Lorpps. &c., of the readiness of this Court to attend their coming at ye Guildhall on Tuesday or Thursday morning, as they shall please to appoint."
After a year had been spent in discussing the matter, we find that it was at last " speedily determined to build the new gate "; and the following document shows that at last the man who would not allow the grass to grow beneath his feet was to be consulted :
27 June 1669. The proposalls now pnted. in writing from the Lords and others, the Comrs. Highwayes and Sewers, &c., touching the opening and enlarging the passage at Temple Barre, are by this Court referred to the Comitte. for rebuilding the Citty, to the end that they may thereof speedily consider, and conferre with Dr. Wren and such as are or shall be appointed by the said Commrs. and there-upon agree what is reasonable and convenient to bee done or desired on the Cittyes behalfe, and certify unto this Court in writing under their handes their doings and opinions therein."
A further entry in the City's records brings the new scheme a step nearer completion, and is further interesting, as showing whence the financial help promised by the Crown was to come. It is dated July 29, 1669, and runs as follows :
" The Commissioners of Streets and Sewers, sitting at Scotland Yard, have several times proposed the opening and taking down of Temple Barr, for enlarging the streets there, and to pay the sum of £1005 out of the revenue arising by Hackney Coaches, to satisfy the City, and such as claim under them for their respective estates in the houses, and rebuilding over and adjoining to the said building, and towards the charge of taking down and rebuilding the same ; to which this Court hath hitherto declined to agree to, in regard, it appears, upon a due estimate and computation, that the charge of that work will far surmount the said sum. Now this day the Lord Mayor made relation unto the Court that his Lordship was sent for to appear before his Majesty in Council on Friday last, upon his Majesty's demand did offer his charge before mentioned as the reason why the said Temple Barr was not taken down withal, respecting the great sum of money the City had expended towards the rebuilding their public works consumed in the dismal fire, amounting already to about £60,000, for all which they are thereby clearly indebted and how great a sum is yet further necessary to the works remaining, with other instances of this Citty's present weak estate and inability. But that His Majesty did nevertheless insist upon taking down of the said Barr and Buildings, and signifying his pleasure several times to that purpose, and that towards the said charge the City should accept the said £1005, but was pleased afterwards to declare that when that sum was expended he would take care they should be further supplied, either out of the said revenue by Hackney Coaches or otherwise, for reviving or finishing that work.
" It was ordered That Mr. Chamberlain should receive the sum of £1005 towards the rebuilding of the said Barr."
During the next year the process of demolishing the existing building was carried out, and it is interesting to learn that one William Middleton was employed in superintending the work, the following entry appearing in the " Accounts for the repairing of high waies and
sewers " : -
" Pd. Mr. Wm. Middleton, for Councell for draweing the writings for the Removeing of Temple Barr, &c.100/."
The Temple Bar erected from Wren's designs was in many respects an excellent and effective piece of work. Criticism has, however, dealt hardly with it, and it has been described as heavy and uninspired, lacking alike in dignity and grace. But it must be remembered that the decorations which once relieved it had, in the process of time, become worn away, or had suffered from the hands of the vandals, and left the main structure unadorned and disfigured, which largely accounted for that lack of distinction so often urged against it.
Unfortunately, very little is known with regard to the details of Wren's work. Noble, however, discovered in a folio volume entitled Expenses of Public Buildings after the Great Fire, preserved in the Guildhall, the following list of payments concerning it.
These payments refer, as will be seen, to compensation for disturbance, and for bricklayer's work, in demolition and re-erection. The more decorative part of the new structure comes under the payments made to the masons and sculptor employed for the stone casing and for the carvings with which it was covered. Of these artists, Joshua Marshall and Thomas Knight were the masons, and they received, between May and November 1670, £700 for their labours. The sculptor was John Bushnell, who executed the four figures in stone which decorated the building. Ile received, in all, for these, the sum of £480 ; £390 of which was paid, in six instalments, during the years 1670 and 1671, but the remaining £90 not till 1680.
Joshua Marshall was Master Mason to the Crown, and it was he who carved the base of Le Soeur's statue of Charles I. at Charing Cross. John Bushnell produced a considerable number of statues and memorials at this period ; but he was a strange person, and gave himself up to inventions which proved, in the main, abortive. The statues he carved for Temple Bar are generally regarded as his most successful work.1
What the chief author of the new building received for his designs and superintendence, does not appear to be recorded, for not even among the Wren MSS. in the British Museum is there any mention of payments received by the architect in this respect. When completed, Temple Bar bore, on its east side, the following inscription :
" Erected in the year 1670, Sir Samuel Starling, Mayor ; continued in the year 1671, Sir Richard Ford, Lord Mayor ; and finished in the year 1672, Sir George Waterman, Lord Mayor."
This inscription became, in process of time, illegible. In its pristine condition Temple Bar may be thus described. Its basement was rusticated. In the centre was a large flattened arch, spanning the carriage-way, and on each side a smaller semicircular arch over the footway. On each of the façades were four Corinthian pillars, an entablature, and an arched pediment. On the west side, in two niches, were statues of Charles I. and Charles II., habited as Romans ; and on the east side, corresponding to them, were James I. and Anne of Denmark (who, by the bye, was often mistaken for Queen Elizabeth). Over the keystone on the east side were the City arms. The whole was constructed of Portland stone. A feature in the sculptured work was the profusion of fruit and foliage carved in the pediment ; but this, together with the supporters of the royal arms and other ornaments, had disappeared long before the Bar was finally removed.
Before coming to this last stage in its career, one or two points in Temple Bar's later history must be alluded to. If, as an architectural feature, it failed to satisfy the critical, as a memorial of the City's power it had a significance which even now that it has gone, attaches to the spot it occupied. For it is at this point that the sovereigns on their visits to the City are obliged to halt, and cannot, according to civic etiquette, enter the area ruled over by the Corporation of London without first knocking and asking permission to pass through. The presentation to the monarch, by the Lord Mayor, of the City sword, and the returning it by the sovereign, form part of the picturesque ceremony which takes place on such occasions.
I do not think there has ever been an attempt to exclude the ruler ; but at least once the gates were closed against the citizens themselves, the occasion being the notorious " Wilkes and Liberty Riots," in 1769, when what was described as " The Battle of Temple Bar " took place. It appears that some 600 merchants, bankers, and others, set out from the City, to present an address, opposing Wilkes, to the King at St. James's. When, however, the cavalcade reached Temple Bar, the mob, which had assumed a threatening attitude along the route, closed the gates by force, and thus prevented the deputation from proceeding. How-ever, by driving up Chancery Lane and other indirect routes, some of the more determined opponents of Wilkes, to the number of 150, managed to reach the palace, and duly presented their address, though not without difficulty and danger ; for, at St. James's, it was found necessary to read the Riot Act and to call out the troops. An engraving of the " Battle " was published in the London Magazine for April 1769, with a companion plate entitled " Sequel to the Battle of Temple Bar," showing the vicinity of St. James's and the arrival there of the deputati on.
Just as, in earlier days, the entrances to London Bridge were decorated with the heads of malefactors, so, at a later period, was Temple Bar made hideous by the skulls and limbs of those who had been beheaded and quartered for high treason. It would seem that the first of these revolting displays took place after the detection of the Rye House Plot, when the limbs of Sir Thomas Armstrong were thus exhibited on the iron spikes specially fixed for this purpose above the pediment of the centre arch. At a later period the head and quarters of Sir William Perkins, and the quarters only of Sir John Friend, implicated in the plot to assassinate William III., were set up here. Evelyn, under date of April 10, 1696, records seeing what he calls " a dismal sight, which many pitied." " I think," he adds, there never was such a Temple Bar till now, except once in the time of King Charles ll., viz. of Sir Thomas Armstrong."
The next head placed on Temple Bar was that of Colonel Henry Oxburg, who suffered death as an adherent of the Old Pretender.
" On the evening of this execution," writes Dr. Doran, " a man was seen, with a small bundle under his arm, ascending a ladder, to the top of Temple Bar. Arrived there he took the white cloth from off that which he had carried in it, and then the men and boys gathered below, saw that it was a human head. The man thrust it on to an upright iron rod, then descended to the cart which awaited him, and drove away towards Newgate. Next day, idlers were peering at the head through a glass, and pious ` Romans ' secretly crossed themselves and prayed that Heaven would give rest to the soul of the colonel. ` And may God damn those who put his head up yonder ! ' cried a too zealous Jacobite, who got a month in the Compter for his outspokenness."
Another who forfeited his life on behalf of the same " lost cause," was Christopher Layer. His head, set up in 1723, was allowed to remain on Temple Bar for a longer period than any other ; indeed, it is said to have been thus exhibited for no less than thirty years, being at length blown down in a gale. So long had it remained that, as a writer once put it, " it seemed part of the arch itself." This must have been the head which Rogers, the poet, remembered seeing, " a black, shapeless lump."
Timbs tells a story connected with this gruesome relic, thus : '' One stormy night it was blown from off the Bar into the Strand, and there picked up by Mr. John Pearce, an attorney, who showed it to some persons at a public-house, under the floor of which it was stated to have been buried. Dr. Rawlinson, the antiquary, meanwhile, having made enquiries after the head, with a wish to purchase it, was imposed upon with another instead of Layer's head ; the former the Doctor preserved as a valuable relic, and directed it to be buried in his right hand ; which request is stated to have been complied with."
The last victims whose remains were subjected to the degrading exhibition on Temple Bar, were those who suffered death for their complicity in the '45. Of these, Towneley and Fletcher were set up in 1746. A scarce print of the period shows the position they occupied, and gives, it is said, a very accurate re-presentation of their features. Walpole, writing to George Montague on Aug. 16 of this year, remarks :
I have been this morning at the Tower, and passed under the new heads at Temple Bar, where people make a trade of letting spying glasses at a halfpenny a look." About the same time a more notable person than Walpole also passed beneath the gruesome relics I mean Dr. Johnson. " I remember," he says, " once being with Goldsmith in Westminster Abbey. While he surveyed Poets' Corner, I said to him ---
' Forsitan et nostrum nomen miscebitur istis.'
When we got to the Temple Bar, he stopped me, pointed to the heads upon it and slily whispered me 'Forsitan et nostrum nomen miscebitur istis.' "
According to the report of a news-writer, ón April 1, 1772, one of the two remaining heads on Temple Bar fell down on the previous day, so that Johnson and Goldsmith must have seen them before then, al-though Johnson only related the story, at one of the Literary Club dinners, in April 1773.
Several people who lived well into the nineteenth century remember seeing the last head on Temple Bar.
Although Temple Bar survived till the year 1878, it had been often threatened with demolition. The first to condemn it openly not so much as an architectural feature, but as hopelessly obstructing traffic at the narrowest part of London's most important street was John Gwynn, the architect, who published his London and Westminster Improved, in which he voices his complaint, in 1766.
Nothing was, however, done at the time, and it was not till twenty-three years later that the fate of the structure seemed practically sealed. This was in connection with the drastic improvements instituted in the neighbourhood by Alderman Pickett, in 1787. Pickett lost his motion for the removal of the Bar by a single vote, but his representations as to its danger to traffic, caused the Court of Common Council to place a ` Warden ' at this point, for the purpose of preventing obstructions. Some months later (in the February of 1788) Pickett returned to the charge, and asked that a " select committee " should be appointed " to make enquiries " ; but this also was negatived —a fate that overtook still another attempt at reform on the part of persevering Mr. Pickett. The latter occasion gave rise to the following set of rhymes, written by John Williams, better known under his nom de guerre of Anthony Pasquin:
THE METROPOLITAN PROPHECY
(Written on the Report of removing Temple Bar in 1788)
If the Gate is pulled down, 'twixt the Court and the City,
Although Alderman Pickett still prosecuted his scheme for the removal of Temple Bar, which he suggested should be replaced by " a noble and ornamental pilaster on each side, with chains agreeable to the ancient bars," his attempted improvement, so far as the Bar was concerned, was never destined, to emerge from its initial stages, notwithstanding the fact that, in 1793, another Committee had reported on his plans and, two years later, an Act of Parliament was passed sanctioning the necessary purchase of the adjoining houses. What was done was, however, a great and permanent improvement, being the removal of the notorious Butcher's Row, and the erection on its site of the new houses known as Pickett Place.'
The fact that Pickett's scheme for the removal of Temple Bar, as part of his projected improvements, never came to anything, did not prevent others from agitating towards the same end. One such attempt was made in 1868 ; one reason being that the Bar was supposed to be unsafe, which it was not ; and another, that it formed a constant impediment to traffic, which it certainly did. Mr. Fricker, of Leadenhall Street, tried to bring about its demolition, but he found opposition to its removal too strong to be combated. At this juncture the project of building the New Law Courts at this point, began to be mooted, and it was suggested that it would be wise to await events before agitating further in the matter of Temple Bar.
In 1874, the foundations of the Law Courts were begun, and four years later the removal of the stones of Temple Bar, about a thousand in number, took place as the result of the determination, at last come to, to clear away the time-honoured structure. These stones were duly numbered, but were allowed to remain exposed to the weather for no less than ten years. At the end of this period they were purchased by Sir Henry Meux, who had the Bar re-erected at the entrance to the grounds of Theobald's Park, the work being completed in December 1888.
Two years after Temple Bar had been taken down, the ` Temple Bar Memorial,' vulgarly known as the 'Griffin,' was erected on its site, and was unveiled by Prince Leopold, Duke of Albany, on Sept. 8, 1880. This memorial was the work of various artists, C. B. Birch being responsible for the monster which surmounts it, Sir E. Boehm for the statues of Queen Victoria and the Prince of Wales, and Sir Horace Jones for the architectural part of the monument. The total cost was £10,600 odd, which included the medallion portraits and the four reliefs.
The thing was never popular, and much defacing of those portions that could easily be broken off took place. These were afterwards replaced in bronze, since when the memorial has had to endure merely the attacks of the pen. It is difficult to see what better monument could have been erected. Given that one was necessary, which is, of course, a question, it had, perforce, to take up as little space as possible, and the difficulty of producing anything adequate within exiguous limits should be remembered by those who criticise it. It was contended that it took up too much space as it was ; but, on the other hand, it helps to divide the stream of traffic, which at such a point as this, with Chancery Lane adding its contribution to the main stream, is a matter of moment and even of necessity.
Before leaving the subject of Temple Bar, two items of interest must be noticed connected with it. The first is the interesting custom which prevailed from time immemorial when the sovereign had to pass through it. On such occasions, the gates were closed, a herald sounded a trumpet, another herald knocked for admittance, which after some parley was granted ; the gates were thrown open, the Lord Mayor presented the City sword to the monarch, who immediately returned it, and the procession passed through into the City's boundaries. The other point of interest is connected with the structure itself. Over the principal archway was a small room. This apartment was for a long period used as a strong-room by Messrs. Child & Co., the bankers, from whose premises adjoining (on the site of the Devil Tavern) 1 an entrance had been formed direct into it.
On the opposite side of the way, adjoining Temple Bar, stood for many years a small penthouse of lath and plaster, which was occupied by Crockford famous, later, as the establisher of the notorious gaming-house in St. James's Street as a fish-shop.
The shop dated from James l.'s time, and during his life Crockford never permitted any alteration or improvements to the premises. At his death, how-ever, it was removed and a brick building erected on its site (in 1846), a site now occupied by the Law Courts.' On its front were inscribed the words : " Short and Son, late Creed, Fishmonger, established in the reign of King Henry the Vlll." It was the last socalled 'bulkhead ' in London. There is a drawing of it in the Crowle Pennant, dated 1795, showing the old house with a single gable, although, when pulled down, it had two. When the house was rebuilt, it was occupied by Messrs. Reeves & Turner, booksellers, who removed hither from 114 Chancery Lane.
It was near Temple Bar that the Pillory used to stand, where Titus Oates underwent the ordeal of public indignation ; and Defoe, a triumph seldom accorded to those who had to submit to this punishment.
Of the innumerable representations of Temple Bar, the most interesting was that painted by Michael Angelo Rooker and dated 1772, which belongs to Messrs. Child & Co., in whose first-floor front room it used to hang.
As I have referred to the use made of the room in Temple Bar by Messrs. Child & Co., and as their historic premises were for so long almost a part of the old structure, this will be an appropriate place to say something about their headquarters, the oldest banking-house in London.
Before the Childs came here, the premises, No. 1 Fleet Street, afterwards taken by them, were occupied by a public ordinary, bearing the sign of the ` Mary-gold,' as early as the reign of James r., and we find that in 1619, " Richard Crompton, keeping an ordinary at the Marygold in Fleet Street, was presented for disturbing the quiet of John Clarke, being next neighbours, late in the nights, from time to time, by ill disorder."
In 1676, Robert Blanchard, who was a goldsmith at Temple Bar from early in the seventeenth century, took a lease of the 'Marygold' for sixty-one years from John and Elizabeth Land, and it would seem that Francis Child was then in partnership with him, for in the Little London Directory of 1677, Messrs. Blanchard & Child are set down among the " Goldsmiths who keep Running Cashes " at this address.
It appears, however, that earlier than this, Edward Backwell or Bakewell, an alderman and a banker of eminence in the reign of Charles ll., carried on business " in the same shop which was afterwards occupied by Mr. Child." A rare print of Backwell is in existence, and is recorded by Granger, from whom I quote the above information. Backwell was ruined, it will be remembered, by the shutting up of the Exchequer in 1672, having lent enormous sums to the Crown. Many references to him and his wife are to be found in the pages of Pepys's Diary.
In 1681, Blanchard died, and Child (who became Sir Francis) continued the lease till 1706, when the landlord, John Land, also died, leaving the premises to St. Dunstan's parish, from whom Child continued to rent them. Included in Land's property was a house bearing the sign of the ` Sugar Loaf and Green Lattice,' which was, apparently, immediately in the rear of the 'Marygold'; probably being entered, as was then frequently the case, by a passage through the latter. Evidently it was part and parcel of Child's Bank, for in 1707 Sir Francis records the cost of re-building the ` Sugar Loaf,' as being £350.
In 1687, the Devil Tavern adjoining was purchased by the Bank for £2800, and in the following year a row of houses known as Child's Place was erected on its site. In the meanwhile, on the death of Blanchard, Child had taken John Rogers, apparently his cousin, into partnership ; and later, certainly by 1689, Mr. Jackson became a member of the firm.
Sir Francis Child, who is one of Fleet Street's worthies, had been elected an alderman in this year, a sheriff in 1690, and Lord Mayor in 1699 (he was £4000 out of pocket by this). He was connected intimately with City life, and was a benefactor to Christ's Hospital, of which he was President in 1702. In Luttrell's Diary are a large number of references to his various activities : thus, in 1692, we find him, in conjunction with Sir Stephen Evans and Sir Joseph Herne, advancing £50,000 towards the charges of the government of Ireland ; five years later, he is recorded as resigning his position as ` Jeweller ' to the King (he was the first banker who gave up the goldsmith's business) and being succeeded by Sir Stephen Evance (sic).
In 1704, we have the following entry, the details of which are, however, lost : " Sir Francis Child is bound over by the Court of queen's bench for a year, one Mr. Chamberlain, his neighbour, having sworn the peace against him." In 1710, Child became Member of Parliament for Devizes, but three years later he died, being buried in a vault in Fulham Church-yard. His eldest son, Robert, who had been in partnership with him, and who was knighted in 1714, succeeded him, as did others of his numerous family, in his business. Osterley Park, the splendid seat of the family, came to the Earls of Jersey through the marriage of the fifth Earl with Lady Sarah Fane, daughter of the tenth Earl of Westmorland, whose mother was the daughter and heiress of Robert Child.
There is no need here to follow the history of the Child family, as it will be found set forth in Mr. Hilton Price's book on 'Ye Marygold.' Nor does it immediately concern us here.
But we must not omit to mention the names of the famous people who kept their accounts at the 'Marygold,' some of whom transferred their business to Child's after the failure of Backwell. Of these were Charles II. and his queen, and Henrietta Maria (as Queen Dowager) ; the Duke of York (afterwards James II. ), Prince Rupert, Oliver and Henry Cromwell, the Dukes of Richmond and Monmouth (natural sons of Charles II.), Lady Castlemaine and Nell Gwyn, William III. and his queen, Lord Clarendon, Pepys, Tom Chiffinch, the Duchess of Orleans, Lady Fanshawe, the Earls of Bedford and Rutland, the Dukes of Devon-shire and Bolton, Lord Keeper North, Bishop Stilling-fleet, the executors of Sir Peter Lely, the Duke of Marlborough, Dryden, Horatio Walpole, Prince George of Denmark, and many more whose names bulk largely in the history of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.
The records of the bank contain autographs of many of these, and portraits of various partners are also preserved there. Among these is one, by Lawrence, of the Lady Jersey who inherited her grandfather's immense property, and who married Lord Jersey in 1804 in the drawing-room of 38 Berkeley Square (now Lord Rosebery's), from which house her mother had eloped with Lord Westmorland in 1782. Apropos of this latter circumstance, the story is told that once dining with Mr. Child at the 'Marygold,' Lord Westmorland asked him what he would do if he were in love with a girl, and could not obtain her parents' consent to their union. " Why, run away with her, to be sure ! " was the reply a reply on which Lord Westmorland soon after acted.
Before leaving the subject of Child's Bank, I must refer to a circumstance which is stated to have occurred in connection with it. It is said that in 1689, there being a threatened run on the bank, Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough (then Lady Churchill), collected all the ready money she could from friends, drove down to the 'Marygold,' and placed it at Child's disposal. Hogarth is said to have made two sketches of the incident : one showing the coach stopping at Temple Bar; the other depicting the redoubtable Sarah entering the premises, following porters bearing the gold.1
There appears to be no record of the incident among the bank's archives, and, parenthetically, it may be remembered that Hogarth was not born till 1697, and, if he ever did produce such sketches, must have based them on some tradition.
On the other hand, Ireland, in his Illustrations to Hogarth (1799), published an engraving entitled " Scene at a Banking - House in 1745." 2 Ireland thus describes this picture : " The figure in the chair was intended for Sarah, the celebrated Duchess of Marlborough. This circumstance is corroborated by the ducal coronet on the back of the chair, which is supported by two boys. The figures represented in a sitting posture are the principals of the banking-house of Messrs. Child & Co., who seem amply prepared to discharge all the demands pressing upon them. . . . The wealth of the house is allegorically represented by the bags of gold which are piled over each other in the background of the picture."
But again, in this case, the story falls to the ground on a question of dates, because the Duchess died in 1744. Mr. Wheatley, in his Hogarth's London, gives considerable space to a discussion of this mystery, but he is unable to provide any satisfactory solution ; and it is, of course, probable that the scene depicted is merely allegorical, and that the remembered run on the bank in 1689, or the attempted action of the Bank of England in 1745 to injure the credit of Child's, which is said to have been a fact, incredible as it may seem, may have caused Ireland to allocate the picture to one of those events, regardless of chronology.
One other interesting circumstance with regard to Child's Bank is the fact that it was the original of TelIson's, in the Tale of Two Cities. In 1878, the premises were rebuilt, so that their appearance has little now in common with Dickens's famous description, which I may be forgiven for here repeating :
" Tellson's Bank, by Temple Bar, was an old-fashioned place even in the year 1780. It was very small, very dark, very ugly, very incommodious. Any one of the partners would have disinherited his son on the question of rebuilding Tellson's. Thus it had come to pass that Tellson's was the triumphant perfection of inconvenience. After bursting open a door of idiotic obstinacy with a weak rattle in its throat, you fell into Tellson's, down two steps, and came to your senses in a miserable little shop,1 with two little counters, where the oldest of men made your cheque shake as if the wind rustled it, while they examined the signature by the dingiest of windows, which were always under a shower bath of mud from Fleet Street, and which were made the dingier by their own iron bars proper and the shadow of Temple Bar."
It will be convenient here to mention two other famous banking-houses in Fleet Street namely, Messrs. Gosling's, at No. 19, and Messrs. Hoare's, at No. 39. The former was first established by Henry Pinckney, 'goldsmith,' at the sign of the 'Three Squirrels,' over against St. Dunstan's Church, during the Common wealth. Pinckney was an active man in the parish, filling various public offices, and, according to Boyne, he issued a farthing token from his house in Fleet Street. His premises were destroyed in the Great Fire, their rebuilding being settled by the Commissioners in 1677. In this connection he is described as Major Pinckney, and his property is shown to have consisted of four houses with a frontage on the south to the churchyard of the Temple.
In July 1671, an advertisement gives him as " William Pinckney, goldsmith, at the Golden Dragon, near the Inner Temple Gate," and Noble thinks that this house adjoined the ` Three Squirrels,' and became later No. 19. The original sign, made of solid silver, is still preserved by the bank it is painted, and bears the date 1723. As it has a lock upon it, it would appear that it was taken into the bank for safety every night. Its existence had been lost sight of till 1858.
The name of Gosling first appears in the firm in the time of Charles ll., in an account of " Moneys received and paid for Secret Services of Charles n. and James II., 1679-88," where the following entry occurs : " To Richard Bokenham in full for several parcells of gold and silver lace bought of Wm. Gostling 1 and partners on May 2, 1674, by the Duchess of Cleaveland for the wedding cloaths of the Lady Sussex and Lichfield, £646, 8s. 6d."
William Gosling was afterwards knighted, and became an alderman and sheriff. His descendant, Sir Francis Gosling, was also a well-known civic dignitary. He was originally a bookseller, succeeding " R. Gosling " at the 'Mitre and Crown ' opposite St. Dunstan's Church. He gave up this business in 1756, and died at Fulham in 1768. Gosling's Bank is now one of the few which have not been absorbed with others, and together with Coutts's, Child's, Drummond's, and Hoare's, remains practically as it was centuries back.
Hoare's Bank today occupies the sites of what were, at an earlier time, Nos. 34 to 39 Fleet Street, and therefore covers the ground where the famous Mitre Tavern once stood. In 1819, a member of this old family, Sir Richard Colt Hoare, known for his topographical works, published a privately printed volume on the Pedigrees and Memoirs of the Hoares. The early history of the family (supposed by Sir Richard to descend from a William Hore, of Rishford, in Devon, in the reign of Richard ll.) need not concern us here.
In the Little London Directory of 1677 the name of Will Gostlin, Pancras Lane, appears among the list of merchants ; but I imagine he was not identical with the Gostling mentioned above.
But, in the Little Directory of 1677, we find James Hore keeping a ` running cash ' (as it was then called) at the 'Golden Bottle ' in Cheapside ; and among the Secret Service accounts is the following, dated 1686: " To Charles Duncombe and James Hore esqrs., two of the late Comm for executing the office of master worker of the Mint, in satisfac'ion of so much money by them expended and paid to several offlcers in passing warrants, and for fees paid to officers of the Exchequer on the receipt of 2000 li., being to each of them 1000 li. for their service in that Commn., £103, 14s. 6d." It appears that this James Hore, or Hoare, went into partnership with Richard Hoare, certainly before 1693, for in that year the books of the bank show that a debt of £2200 was due by Richard to his partner ; while the removal of the business from Cheapside to the ` Golden Bottle,' in Fleet Street, is said to have taken place between the years 1687 and 1692.
James Hoare's name appears once or twice in contemporary records ; for instance, in Luttrell's Diary we read that in September 1689 " a commsn is granted to Mr. Hoare, Mr. Godolphin, and Mr. Corbett, for coyneing of new tynn farthings " ; and another entry, in the same place, notes his death in 1696. Richard Hoare is more frequently mentioned. In 1697, we find him, in conjunction with Sir Francis Child and others, agreeing to advance £60,000 " to pay ready money for such wrought plate as shall be brought into the Mint to be coyned " ; in 1710 he, with others, is giving bills for £350,000 " for supplying our army in Flanders." Eight years earlier he had been knighted, " when her majestie dined in the citty." In 1703, he was chosen as Alderman for Bread Street Ward ; in 1709, he became Sheriff ; in the following year, he was made a colonel of one of the six City Regiments, Sir Francis Child being another ; and in 1713 he became Lord Mayor. One of the mourning rings distributed at Pepys's death was given to Sir Richard. He himself died in 1718, and, on Jan. 13, was buried in the chancel of St. Dunstan's.
A later Sir Richard was sheriff in 1740, and in a diary he kept he notes that " after being regaled with sack and walnuts, I returned to my own house in Flete Street, in my private capacity, to my great consolation and comfort." He also served as Lord Mayor in 1745, and took strong measures to cope with the expected entry of Prince Charles Edward into the capital. He died in 1754, and was buried, on Oct. 21, in the former Sir Richard's vault in St. Dunstan's Church.
The original banking-house is described as having been " a low-browed building, with a narrow entrance," over which hung a model of the golden leather bottle traditionally said to have been carried by the founder of the firm when he first came to try his fortunes in London, but far more likely, as Sir Richard Colt Hoare suggests, chosen by James Hoar of Cheapside, from the fact that his father, Ralph Hoar, was a citizen and Cooper of the City of London.
Hosmer Shepherd made two drawings in water-colour of Hoare's Bank one in 1838, and another after it had been rebuilt by Sir Robert Smirke in 1848.
Fleet Street has always been notable for its banks. Even as early as 1309 there is a mention of "Edmund Godewyne, Menetor, and John the Menetor of Flete Strete," and of the " Menetor's (or Minter's) house " there ; and in 1411, a goldsmith of Flete Strete is recorded as having been slain without Temple Bar, and thrown into the river. But it was in Charles II.'s time that this kind of business first became general, and bankers, in the modern acceptation of the term, came first into existence. A list of those " Goldsmiths that keep Running Cashes " in the Directory of 1677 provides us with the names of such as carried on their affairs in Fleet Street. Messrs. Blanchard & Child I have already spoken of ; but besides these we find Thomas Fowles, " at the Black Lion in Fleet street." Luttrell spells the name Fowle, and tell; us that " His majestie hath conferred the honour of knyhthood on Thomas Fowle, esq., goldsmith and alderman of London " (Sept. 1686). He died on Nov. 9, 1692, " of an apoplexy," the diarist records, and was buried with great pomp in St. Dunstan's. Then there was James Heriot " at the Naked Boy," a relation of the famous George Heriot of Edinburgh ; Mr. Kenton, " at the King's Arms" ; Messrs. Mawson & Co., " at the Golden Hind " ; Michael Schrimpshaw, " at the Golden Lion," of whom Luttrell records, in April 1683, that " one Mr. Scrimshaw, a considerable goldsmith in Fleetstreet, is broke and gone off " ; and John Conine, " in Salisbury Court."
Another and later banking firm in Fleet Street was that of Messrs. Praed, which had been founded by William Praed of Tyrringham, Bucks, and Trevethoe in Cornwall, a member of an old Cornish family which had been settled as bankers in that county from an early period. The Praed family became extinct in 1717, and when one of its members, James Praed, died in that year, he left his property to William Mackworth, who assumed his benefactor's name. William Praed (the founder of the London branch) married Elizabeth, a great-granddaughter of Edward Backwell, whose mother was the second daughter of the second Sir Francis Child, in 1778, so that three Fleet Street banking firms were thus allied. William Praed died in 1833, aged eighty-four. His bank was situated on the north side of Fleet Street (at No. 189), in a house which had originally been occupied by Mrs. Salmon of ` Waxworks ' fame. It was re-built in 1802, from the designs of Sir John Soane.
There are various modern banking-houses in Fleet Street, among them being a branch of the Bank of England, but interest (except, of course, for depositors in these) centres chiefly around those older institutions whose annals date back to the earlier days of Fleet Street's history.
Annals Of Fleet Street:
Streets South Of Fleet Street
Streets North Of Fleet Street
Temple Bar And Some Bankers
Inns Of Court And Chancery Clifford's Inn
Churches Of Fleet Street
Taverns And Coffee-houses Of Fleet Street
Famous Men And Women Of Fleet Street
Fleet Street And The Press