Churches Of Fleet Street
( Originally Published Early 1900's )
THE three churches of Fleet Street are St. Dunstan's, the Temple Church, and St. Bride's. Of these, the first I propose to notice is St. Dunstan's. The present church of that name is, of course, relatively a modern one, having been consecrated in 1833, but its predecessor dated from a time certainly anterior to the middle of the thirteenth century, at which period (1237) it was presented to Henry III. by Richard de Barking, Abbot of Westminster.1 It was, and is, described as St. Dunstan's in the West, to distinguish it from the church dedicated to the same saint between Tower Street and Lower Thames Street. Stow's meagre reference to the church is yet interesting as naming certain persons who were buried here before his day :
" The Church of St. Dunstan called in the West, for difference from St. Dunstan in the East, where lieth buried T. Duke, skinner, in St. Katherine's Chapel, by him built, 1421 ; Nicholas Conningstone, John Knape, and others founded Chantries there ; Ralph Bane, Bishop of Coventry and Lichfield 1559, and others."
In the year 1362, the church seems to have been in the possession of the Bishop of London, for it is known to have been presented by that prelate to the Abbot and Convent of Praemonstratenses, at Alnwick, in consequence of a petition from the fraternity, complaining that their monastery had been destroyed during the Scotch wars, and that they were too poor to rebuild it. A member of their body was deputed to officiate at St. Dunstan's, but the Bishop reserved the right to remove him, if he thought desirable. In 1437, a perpetual vicar was instituted here.
At the Dissolution the church became the property of the Crown, but not many years after notably in 1544 it was granted to Lord Dudley, and subsequently to the Dorset family. From 1662 to 1820 it was in the hands of laymen, but in the latter year, the parishioners, by a special Act, purchased it, and constituted it a rectory.
The earlier church stood farther into the roadway, than does the present exiguous structure which has become so built round that it might almost escape observation. We can see what the original building looked like from various prints of it which are extant, particularly from the one drawn by West and engraved by Toms in 1737. This shows that it then faced east and west ; that it had a tower and a battlemented pediment over the lower windows ; while the famous clock is indicated as projecting over the street, and the two figures which struck the hours, and were such a source of attraction, can be seen plying their business within an elaborate kind of alcove. The old shops which once clustered around the building are also to be observed in this print.1
It is impossible to tell what, if any, portion of the original structure survived to the eighteenth century ; although that part immediately abutting on Fleet Street, and known as St. Katherine's Chapel, was, as we have seen from Stow, built by Thomas Duke about 1421. What seems probable is that a succession of alterations and additions gradually changed and enlarged the earlier church, rather than that it was entirely rebuilt.2 " The building," says Britten, " had been originally in the pointed style of architecture ; but all the modern repairs having been executed in the Italian style, the whole presented, previous to its removal, a most heterogeneous appearance-a tower and turret with Roman doorways, pointed and circular-headed windows, rusticated stone-work, and embattled parapets."
It was only by chance, however, that the church survived as long as it did, for it narrowly escaped destruction during the Great Fire which stopped only three houses east of it.
Michael Drayton, the author of the Polyolbion, is said to have lived " at the baye window house next the east end of St. Dunstan's Church." This house has been supposed to coincide with No. 180 Fleet Street, and if this was so, then the Great Fire must have ceased immediately to the east of the poet's residence.
The church was notable for the number of shops which clung barnacle-like to its south side and east front. These shops harboured all sorts of trades, but that of bookselling predominated, and the title pages of many a volume show that John Helme, Richard Moore, John Busbie, Richard Marriot, Matthias Walker, John Smethwick, and others, sold books " in St. Dunstan's Churchyard," as it was called. It would appear from the full address of the last named, on a work published in 1611 namely, " in St. Dunstan's Church yard, in Fleet Street, under the :Diall " that there was a clock here previous to the famous striking one erected in 1671 ; indeed, Brayley, in his Londiniana, has fallen into the error of supposing the 'Dian ' to refer to the later clock which, in reality, was not set up till sixty years after.
A still earlier reference to bookselling at this spot occurs on the title page of The Pylgrimage of Perfection, which states that its printer's (Pynson) press was " in Flete Strete besyde Saynt Dunstan's Churche."1
Two notable ornaments decorated the exterior of St. Dunstan's, the more noticeable being the clock overhanging Fleet Street, and the two life-size figures (representing savages, and known as the 'Giants of St. Dunstan's') carved in wood which stood in a kind of alcove above it. Each figure was armed with a club with which it struck the quarters upon two bells suspended between them, and moved its head at the same time. This ingenious contrivance was made by one Thomas Harrys of Water Lane, who received for his work £35 and the old clock. Among the innumerable people who were wont to gaze at this marvel was the little boy who latter became Marquis of Hertford, and when the old church was pulled down, in 1830, the Marquis secured for £210 what he had coveted as a child, and set it up at St. Dunstan's Villa, Regent's Park, where it still remains. Lamb shed tears at the removal of this landmark.
The other ornament was the figure of Queen Elizabeth, which stood at the east end of the church, above a cutler's shop. This figure, set up in 1766, bore the following inscription : " This statue of Queen Elizabeth stood on the west side of Ludgate That gate being taken down in 1760, to open the streets, it was given by the City to Sir Francis Gosling, knight and alderman of this ward, who caused it to be placed here." On the demolition of the church, the figure was sold for £16, 10s., and apparently lay neglected for some time, as we read in the Times for April 25, 1839, the following reference to it : " The workmen engaged some time since in taking down an old public house adjoining St. Dunstan's Church, in Fleet Street, discovered in one of the cellars the ancient stone statue of Queen Elizabeth, which formerly stood in the nave of the old church. The parochial authorities have resolved to place it on the south end of the church, fronting Fleet Street." Here it may now be seen.
The old public-house referred to remained standing till 1859. It had been in the occupation of the Buttons for forty years. In 1750, it was known as the ' Haunch of Venison,' and later as the Clifford's Inn Coffee House. An insurance office now occupies its site.
So much for the exterior of the old church. The interior, according to Strype, contained a large number of monuments dating from the early years of the fifteenth century, many of which were preserved and set up in the new church. Among these were memorials to the following : John Horsepoole, Rector of Averham ; Roger Horton, one of the Justices of the King's Bench, who died on April 30, 1423 ; William Chapman, died July 10, 1446, and Alicia his wife ; Richard Nordon, died March 23, 1460 ; Laurence Bartlot, died in October 1470 ; Sir William Portman, died Feb. 5, 1556 ; Sir Roger Cholmeley, died April 28, 1538, and Ranulphus Cholmeley, died April 25, 1563 ;
Laurence Dalton, Norrey king-at-arms, died 1561 ; Edward Cordell ; Thomas Powley, one of the six Clerks of Chancery, who died on June 26, 1601 ; Thomas Valentis, died Sept. 23, 1601 ; William Crouch (a benefactor to the parish), died April 16, 1606; Mary Davies, daughter of Thomas Croft, and wife of John Davies of Hereford, who died on Jan. 1, 1612 ; and Margaret Talbot, who died on March 31, 1620, over whose remains these lines were inscribed :
"By this small Statue Reader is but shown,
There were also monumental inscriptions to Nicholas Hare, who died in 1621 ; to John Harvey ; to Robert Houghton, one of the Knights Justices, who died Feb. 16, 1623 ; to Richard Hutton,1 died Feb. 26, 1638 ; to Albertus Otho Faber, who died on Aug. 15, 1685 ; Elizabeth, wife of Roger North, one of the daughters and co-heirs of Sir John Gilbert, who died at the early age of 22, on Nov. 29, 1612 ; Mary Colclough, daughter of Colonel Blagge, whose mother was daughter of Sir Roger North ; William Morecroft, who died Aug. 31, 1657 ; Mrs. Damaris Turner, of whom it is recorded that
" In Youth, she liv'd betimes the best of Lives,
Anthony Low, who died Aug. 10, 1684 ; Edward Marshall, Master Mason to Charles who died on Dec. 10, 1675, and is buried near his wife, Anne, in the middle of the church near the chancel ; and Joshua Marshall, his son, also Master Mason to the Crown, who died at the age of 48, on April 6, 1678 ; Cuthbert Featherstone, who died on Dec. 10, 1615 ; Henry Jones, of the Inner Temple, ` clockmaker,' son of William Jones, heretfore Vicar of Boulder, in Hampshire, who died on Nov. 26, 1695 ; and others, including the well known one to Hobson Judkins, the 'Honest Solicitor,' who died on June 30, 1812.
The following verses on one Jane Watson deserve to be recorded if only for the beauty of the first line :--" In this Fair Fragrant Maiden Month of May
When Earth her Flowre Embroydery doth display, Jane Watson, one of Vertue's Flowers most Faire, For Beauty, Wit and Worth, a Primrose rare,
Adorn'd this Earth, changing Earth's marriage Bed, To joyne her Virgin Souk to Christ her Head."
Machyn mentions the burials, in St. Dunstan's, of various people, some of whom are recorded in the list of monuments. Those given in the Diary are as follows : Judge Hynde, on Oct. 18, 1550, whose funeral was attended by some of his fellow judges ; Sir Thomas Speke, knight, " of Chanseler [Chancery] Lane," July 12, 1551 ; Sir William Portman, Chief Justice of England, Feb. 10, 1557 ; Serjeant Wallpole, " a Northfolke man," Nov. 3, 1557 ; Dr. Owen Oglethorpe (spelt by Machyn, Hobbellthorpe), Bishop of Carlisle, Jan. 4, 1560 ; 1 Dr. Ralph Bayne, Bishop of Lichfield (Machyn gives no date of month, but according to the Registers, where the name is spelt Banes, it was on Nov. 24, 1559) ; Master Cottgrave, a relation of Anthony Toto, serjeant-painter to Henry VIll., Sept. 13, 1561 ; Master Laurence Dalton, Norrey king-at-arms, Dec. 15, 1561 ; Mistress Chamley, wife of the Recorder, in 1562 ; and Mr. Reynolf Chamley himself, on April 30, 1563, on which occasion there was an elaborate procession from the City, among the mourners being Sir Thomas Lee, Sir William Garrett, Sir Thomas Offley, and the Lord Mayor ; while we are told that " Master Goodman made the sermon."
The Registers of St. Dunstan's are of particular interest because they contain the names of many who have become notable in a variety of ways. They begin on Nov. 29, 1558, and are unbroken from that day. Noble gives long extracts from them, from which we see that there were a number of foundlings baptized here (one was christened Charity Dunstone). Many " slained and buried " appear in the unruly sixteenth century, and a number of soldiers killed in the Civil troubles found a grave here. It is unnecessary to record all the names mentioned by Noble, because many of the more notable are to be found elsewhere in this volume, as residents, well-known early book-sellers, etc. But one or two deserve special notice for other reasons. Thus, among the Baptisms, we find the name of a " son of Dr. William Bates," then (1654) minister of this parish, whose wife was buried " from the Vicaradge House, on Dec. 3, 1661."
In 1567, Anne, daughter of John Bright, was christened at St. Clement's, and she is supposed to be identical with the young girl of that name buried in St. Dunstan's in 1589. In 1588 (Jan. 21), Gilbert, son of William Cavendish, Esq., was baptized here he became first Earl of Devonshire ; five years later (April 22), we read : " Thomas, the sonn of William Wentworth Esq., baptised " (this was none other than the future great Earl of Strafford, who had been born in Chancery Lane, in the house of his maternal grandfather, Sir Robert Atkins, on the previous 13th of the month) ; and Bulstrode Whitelocke, the author of the Memorials, in 1605. On March 26, 1613, " Frederick Somersett, sonne to Henry, Lord Herbert, was baptised in the house of the Lady Morison, in the Fryars (Whitefriars)." Lord Herbert became notable as Marquis of Worcester, of ' Inventions ' fame. On April 13, 1618, we come across the name of Henry, son of Adam Newton, afterwards Sir Adam Newton, tutor to Henry, Prince of Wales ; and on Jan. 14, 1620, that of Elizabeth Deborah, daughter of Sir Balthazar Gerbier the art-agent of Charles i. and the Duke of Buckingham.
Among other notable names to be found are those of Tottill, the great printer, whose daughter Jane was baptized here on Dec. 18, 1558 ; Jaggard, several of whose children's names occur during the earlier part of the seventeenth century ; Simon Wadlow, whose son John was baptized on Feb. 8, 1623 ; and Harbottle Grimston, whose children were also baptized in St. Dunstan's ; while in the eighteenth century is that of John Samuel, son of John and Hester Murray, born Nov. 27 in Fleet Street, and. baptized on Dec. 26, 1778 this child being, in time, the second John Murray of the famous publishing firm.
Turning to the Marriage Registers, only a few entries of any special interest will be found. Thus on May 28, 1571, Edward Bulstrode was married here to Cecily Crooke, the daughter of one Crooke who lived at the sign of the ` Chariot ' in Fleet Street ; both her brothers becoming knights. Edward Bulstrode was Sheriff of Bucks in 1585. In 1573 is the following curious entry : " July 16. Edward Borram and Elizabeth, wch had like to have killed herself." In 1591 (Nov. 21), Robb Bassett was married to Elizabeth Periam, who was daughter of Sir William Periam, one of the Justices of the Common Pleas. In Henley Church is a mural monument to Lady Periam. Robert Bassett was knighted in 1599.
We also find that Jane Tottill, the daughter of Richard, was married here to Andrew Colthwaite on Nov. 24, 1578 ; that John Jaggard was married to Elizabeth Mabbe on June 5, 1597 ; and such entries as " 1608, Sept. 20. Symon Wadlow and Margaret Blott were married by license faculté " ; " 1629, April 16. Mr. Harbottle Grimston and Mrs. Mary Crookes by licence of the Faculties maryed " ; and the following, referring to the famous engraver : " In May 1654 was published the banns of marriage in Newgate Markett, uppon three several markett dayes, between William Faythorne of the parish of St. Dunstan in the West, Lond., Stationer, and Judith Grant, daughter of Henry Grant of Michael's, Cornhill, aged 24," are of special interest.
An early eighteenth-century entry records that on Oct. 25, 1706, the marriage took place, by licence, of " John Wilkes of St. Andrews, Holborn, and Margaret Raine ; while ten years later, on Sept. 10, Gabriel Beckford of Whit Parish, Wiltshire, was married here, to Hannah Barnard " of Ffinchley " ; and, perhaps more interesting still, on May 3, 1824, Lamb's friend, George Dyer, was wedded to Honour Mather here.
Besides those already incidentally mentioned as having been interred here, the Burial Registers furnish us with some more notable names. For instance, on Jan. 6, 1567, " Lady Margaret Neville," one of the Fetter Lane family which gave its name to Neville's Court, was buried here on Jan. 16, 1616, Arthur Quarles, a relative of Francis Quarles of Emblems fame, was laid to rest ; and on April 22, 1633, " Anne Quarles daughter of Francis Quarles was buryed " ; and another poet, Thomas Campion, described as a " Doctor of Physicke," on March 1, 1620. In the same year (April 1) we find an entry recording the burial of " Margaret Talbot, widow," to whose monumental inscription I have already referred ; and on March 30, 1627, Simon Wadlow, Vintner, was buried here " out of Fleet Street," he being the well-known proprietor of the Devil Tavern.2 There are a number of entries in the Registers referring to Izaak Walton and his family ; his son Henry being buried on March 21, 1634, and his wife on Aug. 25, 1640 ; while Thomas Grinsell, to whom Izaak Walton was apprenticed, is recorded as being buried here, on March 5, 1645, and Mrs. Grinsell, " in the body of the church out of Chancery Lane," two years later. Among other entries we find : " 1632, April 16. The Rt. Hon'ble George Lord Baltimore, from the back of the Bell " ; a number referring to the Marshall family, the most important being : " 1675. Edward Marshall buried in the church from Whtfryers " ; and " 1678, April 12. Joshua Marshall buried in ye church from Bridewell halle" ; " 1681, May 3. James Farr, buried in St. Anne's Chapel from Fleet Street "—this being the famous proprietor of the ` Rainbow ' ; " 1622, April 30. Mary the wife of Mr. Thomas Johnson was buried," being one of the family from whom Johnson's Court was named, and whose husband, " citizen and merchant taylor," was a benefactor to St. Dunstan's ; " 1690, Sept. 9. Jonathan Swift a child owte of Whitefryers " not the great man, however, who was twenty-three at this time ; " 1732, Nov. 21. Christopher Pinchbeck from Fleet Street," the inventor of the metal which goes by his name ; " 1782, Feb. 14. Benjamin Martin from Fleet Street, East Vault," a well-known optician and writer on scientific subjects, who lived at 172 Fleet Street ; " 1793, Nov. 9. John Murray, from Fleet Street, North Vault," founder of the great publishing house of Murray ; and, "1856, Nov. 4. Edward West from 29 Fleet Street, in the Catacombs;" he being the last person buried in St. Dunstan's.
The Registers prove what havoc the various plagues made in this quarter of London. Some of the entries are marked with a P. after the names ; others simply consist of the word " Stranger," or more significantly, " Died in the Street," or " Out of the fields." The P. appears against no fewer than 568 entries during three months in 1665 !
Apart from the regular registers, the archives of St. Dunstan's contain a certain Register of the Presentments of the Enquest of Wardmote, a folio volume in which are duly set down, from the year 1558, when it was given by one William Forest, till 1824, the shortcomings of the disorderly and unneighbourly portion of the parish. Some of the presentments recorded have been alluded to in the chapter on ` Taverns.' Another point of interest in the entries, is that relating to the various charities in which St. Dunstan's was rather well off, among the benefactors being found Thomas Grinsell and Joshua Marshall. These charities included fifteen money trusts, six in bread, and four in coal.
In connection with them must be mentioned the Free Grammar School, which was founded .2 by Queen Elizabeth, at the instance of Sir Nicholas Bacon and Sir William Cecil, in 1561. Although in the original deed this school was intended " for ever to continue," it seems to have come to an abrupt and somewhat mysterious end about the middle of the seventeenth century, the last appointment to it being dated, we are told, in 1632. Noble did his best to find out the reason for this, but without success. There was, however, subsequently an Infant and Charity School attached to the church, which benefited under the provisions of the ` Mathematical Charity ' founded by Joseph Neale in 1705.
One of the most interesting facts connected with St. Dunstan's is the number of notable men who have been connected with the ministrations here. Thus William Tyndale did duty here from 1528 to 1536 ; Dr. Thomas White,1 noted for his charities and for his foundation of Sion College, was vicar from 1575 to 1623 ; Dr. Donne was connected with the church from 1624 to 1631 ; and Dr. Bates, known, on account of his eloquence, as the ` silver -tongued,' was vicar from 1652 to 1661, but at the Restoration had to leave, and thereupon set up his 'Conventicle ' at " Mr. Munday's, a Coffee-House over Temple Bar Gate," I suppose in the room afterwards used by Messrs. Child's Bank.2 However, he was here again later, for we find Pepys going to hear him on Aug. 10 and. 17, 1662, on both of which occasions the Diarist was struck by the eloquence of the sermon and the vast crowds that flocked to hear the preacher ; indeed, on his second visit Pepys had to squeeze in at a back door ; and when he again went, later in the same day, to hear the remainder of Bates's discourse, he was similarly incommoded. Five years later, he paid another visit to St. Dunstan's, when the Rev. John Thompson was vicar. On this occasion, however, his attention was so largely occupied by two " pretty modest maids," whose hands he tried to squeeze (in the second instance, successfully), that he could hardly have paid very much attention to the " able sermon " he prfesses to have heard.
Richard Baxter was preacher at St. Dunstan's from 1652 to 1661, and, according to Roger North, " He (Lord Keeper Guilford) once heard (Titus) Oates preach at St. Dunstan's, and much admired his theatrical behaviour in the pulpit."
Dr. Sherlock was a lecturer here in 1691, and from 1749 to 1795 the famous William Romaine, in spite of strenuous opposition, drew crowded congregations. Romaine was one of the most popular men of the day, but a disagreement between him and the then Vicar of St. Dunstan's resulted in all kinds of impediments being put in the way of his preaching ; so that, it is said, the lights having been cut off, he was obliged more than once to preach by a single candle, which he held in his hand ! The crowds which flocked to hear him caused disturbances in the street, and the pew-opener reaped a large harvest, his emoluments from showing people into seats, and perhaps keeping places for favoured ones, amounting to no less than £50 a year.1 The Rev. A. B. Suter, afterwards a Colonial bishop, who was a subsequent vicar, should also be remembered, if only for his interesting pamphlet on The Worthies of St. Dunstan's. He was followed by the Rev. Edward Auriol, a Canon of St. Paul's.
The present church was begun in 1831, and consecrated on July 31, 1833 ; a portion of the old building being allowed to remain, as a sort of screen,' till August 1832, when it was removed. The tower of the new church, with the graceful open lantern surmounting it, is one of the most successful works of its architect, James Shaw (who, by the bye, built the Great Hall of Christ's Hospital), and is not unworthy to stand in proximity to Wren's incomparable steeple at St. Bride's. It is built of yellow freestone, and was copied from that of St. Helen, at York ; it is 130 feet high. The church is octagonal in plan, is built of brick, and is in the Perpendicular Style. The altar is at the north end, and the window over it contains stained glass by Thomas Willemont. One of his earliest productions, it was placed there in memory of the Rev. E. Auriol.
Among the monuments which may be seen in the present church, having been removed from the old building, is one in the southwest recess dated 1563 and inscribed : " Gerardi Legh, generosi et clari viri interioris Templi socii Tumulus," with a long Latin conversation ' following. There is also a memorial to Matthew, tenth son of George, Lord Carew, which was for long illegible. It begins with the words : " Qui es ? Unde venis ? Quo vadis ? " and states that the said Matthew, who was a doctor of law, " lived under four kings and two queens, and attended the Court of Chancery 33 years, under five Chancellors and Keepers of the Great Seal." It concludes thus : " Oh ! how many, and how strange things have I seen ! I have lived long enough for myself, if sufficiently for God. Thoroughly tired of the levity, vanity, and inconstancy of this life, I seek an eternal one, that I may enjoy God, and rest in peace. Amen." In the same part of the church there is also an interesting brass, luckily preserved, consisting of two kneeling figures, and bearing this inscription on a plate beneath them : " Here lyeth buryed the body of Henry Dacres, Cetezen and Marchant Taylor and sumtyme Alderman of London ; and Elizabeth his wyffe, the whych Henry deceased the day of the yere of our Lord God, MDc. and the said Elisabeth deceased the xxiiird day of Apryll, the yere of our Lord God, MDc. and xxx."
There are also several memorials to the Hoare family,, particularly noticeable being that to Sir Richard Hoare, Lord Mayor of London in 1745.
In early days there was a rectory or parsonage house attached to St. Dunstan's, for in 1347 Clifford's Inn and its appurtenances being granted to David de Wollane (Commissioner for the Great Seal in 1354), he, in 1363, conveyed to John de Brampton, then parson of the church, " one messuage with the appurtenances in the parish of St. Dunstan's-in-the-West, for the residence of the rector of the church aforesaid for ever." For over three hundred years this was attached to the church, but in 1691, Noble tells us, " the impropriate rectory was devised with the advowson to Mr. Samuel Grant, brother of the vicar, and he, about two years later, consented to the sale of the rectory house to a vintner." The site of this house was where No. 183 Fleet Street now is.
We cannot leave St. Dunstan's without remembering that this was the church which Trotty Veck visited, as readers of the Chimes, who remember Stanfield's vignette on page 88 of that book, will hardly need reminding ; and it was about its bells that Maclise's weird sprites (see the frontispiece and page 92) swarmed and clustered.
THE TEMPLE CHURCH
Although the Temple Church (properly the church of St. Mary, London), as an integral part of the Temple, might have been dealt with together with the Inn of Court in whose precincts it stands, it seemed more convenient to notice it in the chapter devoted to Fleet Street churches, of which it is the oldest and in some respects the most notable. Its special interest lies in the fact that it was the place of worship of that famous fraternity the Knights Templars, before they fell from the great position they once held ; and also because it is the largest and best known of the five round churches remaining in this country.1
The circular portion of the building was consecrated on Feb. 10, 1185, by Heraclius, Patriarch of Jerusalem, who had come to this country, with the Grand Master of the Templars, to try and interest Henry II. in the Crusades. Fabian, who records the circumstance, tells us that, failing in his object, Heracllius's rage became ungovernable; but, to quote the chronicler, "The kynge kepte his pacience and sayd, 'I maye not wend out of my Ionde, for myn owne sonnes wyll aryse agayne me when I were absent.' 'No wonder,' sayde the patryarke, 'for of the devyll they come, and to the devyll they shall go,' and so departed from the kynge in great ire."
It seems probable that Heraclius had dedicated the new church before his interview with Henry.
A copy of this inscription was made in 1811, and in-scribed inside the church, over the west door. Pegge, in his Sylloge of Inscriptions, records the interesting fact that the indulgence mentioned is the earliest example of the kind he had met with.
The circular portion of the church is now only used as a kind of vestibule to the oblong addition forming the choir, which was completed in 1240, and is a fine and pure example of Early English architecture so fine, indeed, that it has been said of it that " no building in existence so completely develops the gradual and delicate advance of the Pointed Style over the Norman, being commenced in the latter and finished in the highest of the former. The choir, or oblong part, is decidedly the most exquisite specimen of Early Pointed architecture existing." 2 There is a question as to whether there was originally an extension of the church to the eastward, particularly as Stow speaks of the edifice as being again dedicated and belike also re-edified " in the year 1240 but, however this may be, the present choir is consider-ably later than the round part of the church.
The building is entered by a very fine and noticeable semicircular arched doorway, supported by columns with enriched capitals ; and this entrance, together with the ` Round Church ' to which it gives immediate access, is a mixture of the Anglo-Norman Circular with the Early Pointed Style,3 known as the ` intermediate.'
As this part of the building is of great architectural importance, I will set down a few technical remarks made about it by Godwin and Britten in their Churches of London " An aisle is formed within the area by six clusters of columns, each consisting of four insulated shafts banded together near the centre for support, and bearing pointed arches, the soffits of which are divided into several mouldings. Above these arches, and on the same face (thus making the upper diameter of the building withinside less than the lower by the whole width of the aisle on each side), is a triforium, or gallery passing round the whole circumference, and adorned by a series of interlaced arches while in the clerestory above occurs, over each archway, a semicircular window. From the abacus of each of the clustered columns (which is peculiar in its plan) rises a single shaft on the face of the triforium and clerestory to the top of the building, and from this spring ribs which support a flat ceiling, apparently, however, not original. The groining over the aisle, which is simple, is formed by cross-springers from the clustered columns to single columns attached to the external wall of the building, and has enriched bosses at the intersections. Upon the wall of the aisle there is a continued arcade adorned by a billet-moulding, and short columns with enriched capitals ; and in the spandrels occurs a series of sculptured heads which are of masterly design, and display astonishing variety of character."
These heads were sculptured in Caen stone, but those now in existence are copies in Portland stone,1 put there when this portion of the church was restored in 1827, under the direction of Sir Robert Smirke ; a restoration commemorated by an inscription in the most easterly window of the aisle. In 1839, further alterations were begun, and these lasted till 1842, costing in all some £70,000. As a result, the present appearance of the building, especially in the choir, is that of a modern replica of old work. It was during this restoration that many of the monuments were moved from their original positions.
There is a turret to the north, at the juncture of the circular portion and the choir, in which is a tiny room, 4 ft. 6 in. long by 2 ft. 6 in. wide, approached by a small well-staircase. The object of this apartment is not exactly known, but as from it the altar may be seen through a 'squint,' it is suggested that it was appropriated to the ringer of the Sanctus Bell,1 or more probably as a penitential cell, for it was here that Walter le Bacheler, Grand Preceptor of Ireland, is said to have been starved to death for disobeying the orders of the Master of the Templars. Before the restoration of 1824, two small rooms existed on the south side of the circular portion of the church, reached by a doorway from the aisle ; but these were removed, much to the external improvement of the building.
Apart from the beauty and interest of the ` Round Church,' and its importance as an architectural expression, its most noticeable features are the two groups of sepulchral effigies which, mutilated as they are, are of the greatest importance. These are placed on each side of the aisle, and are carved in freestone. They represent ' associates ' of the Temple, and are probably identical with the " eight images of armed knights " mentioned by Stow, although there are really nine of them. Like the other monuments which suffered, as did the whole building, from so-called restoration, they do not mark the place where those commemorated were buried ; and besides, they have been greatly spoilt, not only by the defacements of the ignorant, but by the attentions of those who ought to have known better.1 The knights are represented in chain armour with surcoats, and bear shields of varying length : with one exception, they lie on cushions, their feet resting on a recumbent lion or other animal. Six of them are cross-legged, which proves them to represent knights who either went to Palestine and laid their swords on the Holy Sepulchre, or even contributed money to the Crusades, or perhaps those who actually fought in the Holy Wars, although this particular attitude is not, as was once thought, peculiar to the latter. One of them has a monk's cowl on his h ead, and one is bareheaded, but the rest are covered with mail-hoods.
Those on the north side, i.e. our left as we enter the 'Round' from the street, are supposed to represent (1) Geoffrey de Magnaville, Earl of Essex, described as " Homo audacissimus et magnarum virium," and " Vir ferocissimus," 3 who was killed on Sept. 14, 1144, while besieging Burwell Castle, Cambridgeshire, in an insurrection against Stephen. He died excommunicated, and it is said that his body remained hanging in the Templars' orchard till, it having been proved that he had repented during his last moments, it was buried in the Temple Church. Weever does not mention his monument, but Gough states that the earliest instance of arms on a shield which he had met with was on this very tomb.
The effigy lying next, carved in Purbeck marble, and said to be the oldest in the church, cannot be identified. There is no cushion 'beneath the head, which is enveloped in a hood ; the legs are uncrossed, and the shield is a perfectly plain one. All we can say is that the figure represents a Knight Templar, although the fact that he has no sword is curious. It may be that the presence of a shield alone indicates that the person represented was ready to defend the cause of Christianity with monetary or other help, but that he took no active part in the Crusades.
We can attribute no more certain identity to the two other effigies forming this group, one of which only has crossed legs. One of them has his sword on the right side, supposed by some to indicate a Crusader, and his helmet covers his mouth ; the other has his hands joined in prayer, and his feet rest on two small heads, probably intended to represent. Saracens.
The group on the south side contains (1) the figure said to represent William Mareschall, Earl of Pembroke, the great and powerful noble who held so many high offices, and under whose aegis Henry III. reissued the Great Charter. He died on May 14, 1219. This monument is carved in Sussex marble, and the Earl's sword is shown thrust through a lion's head. Camden speaks of reading on the upper part of the tomb the words :
" Comes Pembrochiae,"
and on one side :
" . . Miles eram Martis, Mars multos vicerat armis."
Next him lies his son, William Mareschall, Earl of Pembroke, who married, en second noces, Eleanor, daughter of King John, and who died on April 24, 1231. He is described by Roger de Wendover as " In militia vir strenuus." His effigy is a larger one than that of his father, and is distinguishable from the fact that the sword attached to it hangs on the left side of the figure, and is being drawn or sheathed by the right hand. Below the figure of William Mareschall the elder is an effigy supposed to represent his third son, Gilbert Mareschall, the fourth Earl of Pembroke, who was killed in a tournament at Ware on June 27, 1242.1 He also is shown drawing his sword or returning it to its scabbard, and his left leg is twisted over the right, the foot being planted on a dragon. His body was brought to the Temple for burial, although its internal portion was interred in St. Mary's Church at Hertford.
The figure beside him has not been identified, and may therefore simply be called a knight Crusader. It is carved in Purbeck marble ; the legs are crossed, the shield plain, and the sword worn on the left side, the right hand resting on the breast. A much smaller figure lying apart by the south wall of the ` Round ' represents a youthful knight having a cowl about his head, although his hands are mailed. Pennant conjectures that he was represented thus, " as if, according to a common superstition, he had desired to be buried in the dress of a monk, lest the evil spirit should take possession of his body." There is some uncertainty as to whom this figure represents. Weever, on the authority of an MS. in the Cottonian Library, thought it was Robert de Ros, a Templar, who gave the manor of Ribston to the fraternity, and who died in 1245 ; on the other hand Gough, following Bishop Tanner, assigns it to the second Lord Ros, as the actual donor of Ribston, who died in 1227. It certainly bears the arms of the Ros family. Opposite this figure is a stone coffin which Gough conjectures to have contained the body of William Plantagenet, the fifth son of Henry who died in 1256, and who was certainly buried somewhere in the church ; although one would hardly have thought that a child would have required so large a coffin.
Had Henry II.'s wishes been fulfilled, that monarch would have been laid to rest in the Temple Church instead of at Fontevrault, and the Purbeck marble sarcophagus which still remains is by some said to have been intended for his queen, Eleanor of Aquitaine, but her effigy is also at Fontevrault.
During one of the restorations of the 'Round Church' (in 1841) certain sarcophagi were discovered, and the coffins they contained were temporarily removed, but were subsequently reinterred beneath the pavement of the dome. The remains of those who were buried in these coffins crumbled to dust on being removed ; none of them were buried in armour ; and the coffin ornaments dated not earlier than the beginning of the thirteenth century.2
In the triforium, a passage ten feet wide, encircling the 'Round,' and reached by a staircase in the wall, are several tombs, which seemed to Lamb's childish eyes "replete with devout meaning," removed from the space below. One of these is a coloured kneeling figure of Richard Martin, Recorder of London, and eader of the Middle Temple, 1615, bearing the following inscription :
" Salve Lector
Martin is shown kneeling with an open book held by his right hand on a desk before him. He wears a large ruff, and the drapery of his gown is cleverly carved.
Another, also coloured, is an efflgy resting under a canopy, and commemorating the learned jurist, Edmund Plowden, who died in 1584, and whom Fuller praises for his combination of learning and honesty. Close by, too, is the tablet to the memory of James Howell, who died in 1666, and whose letters Epistoloe Ho-Elianoe, abound, as Warton says, with so much entertaining and useful information concerning the reigns of James i. and his successor.
Among other tablets in this part of the church, many of which are of elaborate design, and some coloured, may be mentioned those to the memory of Edward Turner, 1623, and his son Arthur, 1651 ; to Clement Coke, son of the great Lord Chief Justice, dated 1629 ; to Roland Jewkes, one of Selden's executors, 1665 ; to John Morton, 1668 ; to Miss Mary Gandy, who died at the early age of twenty-two (with a long poetical inscription), 1671 ; to Sir Thomas Robinson, 1683 ; to George Treby, 1700 ; William Freman, 1701 ; William Petyt, Treasurer of the Inner Temple, and keeper of the Records of the Tower, 1707 ; and particularly noticeable is that to Mrs. Anne Littleton, wife of Edward Littleton of the Inner Temple, and daughter of John Littleton of Franklyn, Worcester-shire, who died in 1623, which bears an elaborate coat of arms supporting an hour-glass flanked by wings.
There are also memorials here to Peter Pierson ; Daines Barrington, known to readers of Lamb's Essays as an 'oddity' who walked burly and square " ; to Lord Thurlow, who died in 1806, and is commemorated by a bust ; to W. Moore (1814), whose monument, representing a woman mourning over an urn, was the work of Flaxman ; and to others. The marble slab erected to the memory of Goldsmith was set up in 1837, and a tablet commemorating the renovation of the church bears the date of 1736.
Manningham, in his Diary, gives the following epitaphs, as being in the Temple Church in 1602
" Hic jacet corpus Bellingham, Westmorlandiensis, generosi et nuper Socij Medii Templi, cuius relligionis synceritas, vita probitas, morumque integritas, eum maxime, commendabant : obijt 10 Decembr, 1586, aetatis suave 22°."
And on the south side of a pillar this :—D. O. M.
" Rogerio Bisshopio, illustris interioris Templi Societatis quondam studioso, in florentis aetatis limine morte immatura praerepto, qui ob foelicissimam indolem, moresque suavissimos, magnum sui apud omnes desiderium relinquens, corpus humo, amorem amicis, coelo animum dicavit.
"Monumentum hoc amoris et moeroris perpetuum testem charissimi posuere parentes.
"Obijt 7° Sept. 1597: aetatis sua 23."
Nothing that finds a place in Gibbon's Auto-biography can be considered uninteresting, and one passage, which refers to one of his ancestor's tombs in the Temple Church, has a special right to be given here. The ancestor referred to was Edmund Gibbon. After describing his family arms, containing the three scallop shells, the historian of the Decline and Fall thus proceeds : " I should not, however, have been tempted to blazon my coat of arms were it not connected with a whimsical anecdote. About the reign of James l., the three harmless scallop shells were changed by Edmund Gibbon, Esq., into three ogresses, or female cannibals, with a design of stigmatising three ladies his kinswomen, who had provoked him by an unjust lawsuit. But this singular mode of revenge, for which he obtained the sanction of Sir William Seager, King-at-arms, soon expired with its author, and on his own monument in the Temple Church the monsters vanish, and the three scallop shells resume their proper and hereditary place."
Before turning to the other parts of the Temple Church, I would remind the reader that the ' Round ' portion was, in the days of James l., frequented by the more questionable inhabitants of the neighbouring Alsatia, as well as by those who gained a livelihood or amused themselves by strolling here and else where within the Temple precincts. These 'Knights of the Posts,' as they were called, are specially mentioned by Ben Jonson in The Alchemist, as making appointments at, or walking in, the 'Round' Middleton also speaks of a client meeting his lawyer in the Temple Church ; and both Butler (Hudibras) and Otway (in The Soldier's Fortune) refer to the habit, and show that it existed down to the end of the seventeenth century.
The choir of the Temple Church was originally completed, as I have mentioned, in 1240, it being consecrated on Ascension Day in that year. Mr. Bumpus calls it " a magnificent transcript of the eastern chapels of Southwark Cathedral, being, like them, vaulted throughout upon pillars of equal height," and he adds that it is " probably about the most perfect specimen in England of this beautiful mode of construction." Like the ' Round Church,' it has been much restored, restored away, many think, by Smirke. The ornamentation of the ceiling is, of course, wholly modern, but the black and white banner of the Templars is frequently introduced, and their war-cry, ` Beauséant,' can be read there.
In the south aisle is the monument of Sylvester de Everdon, Bishop of Carlisle from 1246 to 1255, in which year he died. It is hidden behind the stalls in front of it, and might therefore easily be over looked. At one time this effigy reclining, with crosier in one hand, the other raised in benediction was supposed to represent the Patriarch Heraclius, and it was Gough who first made the more probable suggestion that it commemorated Bishop Sylvester de Everdon. On Dec. 7, 1810, according to Godwin and Britten, the tomb was opened, and within was found the entire skeleton of a man wrapped in lead, with a portion of the crosier by his side. Signs were present that the tomb had been previously tampered with, and the absence of the episcopal ring gives some point to the suggestion that it was probably rifled by the followers of Wat Tyler when they made havoc of so much property in Fleet Street. A more difficult point for solution is the fact that within the tomb were also found portions of the skeleton of a child. There is no possibility of ascertaining whose body this was ; but it has been suggested that it was no other than that of the William Plantagenet whose burial here has already been referred to as taking place in 12561; though it is not clear why a king's son should have been made to share a. bishop's resting-place. Perhaps it was found, at some subsequent time,\ and placed here as a convenient receptacle. On the other hand, it may have been some less exalted personage — a young kinsman of Sylvester, perhaps.
Another noticeable monument, although a modern one, is the bust of Richard Hooker, which is on the west wall of the south choir-aisle. The bust rests on two volumes of the Ecclesiastical Polity. On the head is a square collegiate cap ; and the face, adorned by moustache and pointed beard, represents appropriately a youngish man for Hooker was but thirty-three when he was appointed Master of the Temple by Queen Elizabeth in 1585. He held the appointment only six years, years marked by those constant controversies between him and Walter Travers, the Reader, which caused Fuller to remark that " the pulpit spake pure Canterbury in the morning, and Geneva in the afternoon."
On the north side of the same wall is the tablet black marble with a gilded inscription to one of the most famous men connected with the Temple, the grave and learned Selden. Selden's memorial is now close to the spot where he was buried, " near the steps where the Saints Bell hangeth," but at one time it was removed to the north-east corner of the church.' Selden, who died in Whitefriars on Nov. 30, 1654, was laid to rest on the following 14th of December. The inscription on the tablet (in Latin and English) gives the outlines of his life, but properly leaves the record of his purity and scholarship to speak for itself.
In the Diary of John Manningham of the Middle Temple, for the years 1602-3, there are, as might be expected, several references to the Temple Church. The diarist was a constant attendant at various City churches, and has left notes of the sermons he heard. Among these, I find him at the Temple Church, sitting under Dr. Montague, afterwards Bishop of Winchester, on May 9, 1602 ; on the following 13th of the month he heard " one Moore of Baliol Colledge " there on June 20, in the previous year, he listened to a discourse by Dr. Buckridge, later Bishop of Ely ; and on Oct. 31, 1602, to " one Mr. Irland a student of the Middle Temple." On another occasion he gives the points of a sermon preached here by " a good plaine fellow ; and on Feb. 6 he heard Dr. Abbot (he spells the name Abbottes), who was then Dean of Winchester, and in 1611 became Archbishop of Canterbury.
Pepys, too, has several references to the Temple Church, in his Diary. Thus, on Nov. 25, 1660, we find him attending service there and hearing Dr. Wilkins, Cromwell's brother-in-law, and afterwards Bishop of Chester, preach ; again, on April 14, in the following year, he was there when Dr. Griffith, preacher at the Temple, gave a discourse ; and on April 13, 1662, he was present when " a boy being asleep fell down a high seat to the ground, ready to break his neck, but got no hurt." Later, on Oct. 22, 1666, a Monday, we find the Diarist visiting the church and "looking with pleasure on the monuments and epitaphs," a pleasure he repeated on Nov. 22, 1667, when he " walked a good while in the Temple Church, observing the plainness of Selden's tomb, and how much better one of his executors hath, who is buried by him."
Before Smirke's restoration, the organ, placed over a screen, entirely blocked up the central arch between. the ` Round Church ' and the choir ; and even the other arches were filled up with plaster above, and with doors having glass panels beneath. These obstructions were properly removed ; but when one is apt to scoff at the vandalism that placed them there, one must remember that in the days when the ` Round' was a loitering-ground for the idle or a place of meeting for the busy, it was necessary to screen off the main body of the church from such secular interruptions.
Outside the church, on the north side, may be seen some heavy tombs, while the pavement is formed of flat gravestones removed from the floor of the church at the time of the restoration of the building ; among them being those of Selden and Petyt. What attracts visitors, however, to this part of the ground is the unpretentious tomb of Oliver Goldsmith, with merely his name and the dates of his birth and death upon it. There is sufficient reason for this simple wording : first, because Goldsmith's fame has long since outsoared the necessity for a precise epitaph ; and second, because, as a matter of fact, the exact position of the grave in which the poet was laid on the evening of Saturday, April 9, 1774, has never been identified. Search has been made by such as John Forster (whose Life of Goldsmith is the standard work on the subject), Sir Selden's exeoutors were Matthew Hale, John Vaughan, and Rowland Jewkes, to whom allusion is made, and who was buried here in 1665. Vaughan was also buried here in 1674.
Frederick Pollock, Canon Ainger, and others, but without success ; and in the Register can only be read the simple statement : " Buried, 9th April, Oliver Goldsmith, M.B., late of Brick Court, Middle Temple."
On the south side of the church is the churchyard proper, and here may be seen eight stone coffins of ancient date, which were discovered when the old vestry and its adjacent buildings were removed in 1861.
The conical top to the ` Round Church ' was added in 1840, in place of the turrets on the tower which were formerly there, as may be seen in eighteenth-century views of the church, and which were removed as probably having been added long after the original structure was completed, during Tudor times ; although at least one ` Round Church ' is known with them dating from the period of its erection. The addition enables the building, otherwise securely hidden, to be seen from certain points (from Waterloo Bridge, for instance), but hardly adds to its beauty.
In earlier days, vandalism permitted a dwelling-house to be erected over the porch itself ; but, curiously enough, we ought to be thankful for this, as it helped to preserve the old stone-work, which was merely en-cased, and which, when the addition was removed, appeared with a freshness seldom to be found in work dating from the twelfth century.
A word must be said about the organ, which is one of Father Smith's, having been purchased, in June 1688, for £1000. Mr. Worley tells us that there was a long `Battle of the Organs,' as it was called, lasting over a year ; the question being whether an instrument by Father Smith or Renatus Harris should be chosen. Dr. Blow and Purcell played on Smith's instrument ; while that of Harris was manipulated by Baptist Braghi, organist to Queen Catherine at Somerset House. Judge Jeffreys, as Lord Chancellor, finally gave the decision in favour of Smith.
As is generally known, a Master and a Reader are the two chief clergymen at the Temple Church where, by the bye, it is customary to use the curious and interesting Bidding Prayer before the sermon, the congregation standing while it is repeated. Among the more notable of the Masters, who date from 1540, have been William Emsted, the first to be appointed
Richard Hooker, 1585 ; John Gauden (who claimed to have written Eikon Basilike), 1660 ; William Sherlock, the theological pamphleteer and author of the Discourse concerning Death, 1684, and his son Thomas, Bishop of London, 1704 ; and Alfred Ainger, the biographer of Lamb, and the pleasant wit re-membered by so many of us.
In 1869, Charles John Vaughan was appointed, and a friend tells me of a curious episode during his incumbency. It is not usual to have an offertory at the Temple Church, and an innovation of this kind is resented by the Benchers. Vaughan, however, determined to have one, and announced the fact. But he had reckoned without the powers exercised by the authorities of the Temple, who can, at their pleasure, on Sundays close the gates of the precincts to the outside world. The Sunday on which the offertory was to be instituted arrived. But lo ! there was not a single attendant at the service. The members of the two Inns of Court made common cause, and refused to be present ; while the outsiders were unable to get in. Dr. Vaughan, recognising that he was in the hands of a mightier power than his own, gave up his point with the best grace he could. No threepenny-bits need therefore be hoarded by those who desire to take part in one of the most beautiful of services, or wish to hear some of the very finest church music and singing in London. What, however, they must be prepared for is the separation of the men from the women, which is too like the distinction between the sheep and the goats to be wholly pleasing to the male portion of the congregation, one thinks.
ST. BRIDE'S CHURCH
The present church, dedicated to St. Bridget (or St. Bride, as it is now called), dates only from a year or two after the Great Fire. It was the work of Wren, and its famous spire, which Henley felicitously called a " madrigal in stone," is, with the exception of that of Bow Church, certainly the great architect's masterpiece in this direction.1 There existed a church at this spot, however, at a far earlier period than the seventeenth century ; although, unfortunately, very little is known of its history. It seems that this former church was but a small one, for Stow thus speaks of it :
" Then is the parish church of St. Bridges, or Bride, of old time a small thing, which now remaineth to be the choir, but since increased with a large body and side aisles towards the west, at the charges of William Venor, esquire, warden of the Fleet, about the year 1480, all which he caused to be wrought about in the stone in the figure of a vine with grapes and leaves."
These architectural adornments were meant as a rebus on the name of the benefactor, which should probably have been more rightly spelt Viner.
One of the earliest references we have to the original church occurs in the Liber Albus, where we read, under date of 1235, that " On Sunday, 25th April, a stranger named Henry de Battle slew Thomas de Hall on the King's highway, and fled for sanctuary to St. Bride's. Here he was guarded by the aldermen and sheriffs, till examined in the church before the constable of the Tower, the sheriffs, and others ; when, upon confessing his crime, he abjured the realm." We know, too, on the authority of Strype, Maitland, and others, that St. Bride's had at least three Rectors before the year 1362, and that the advowson of the church belonged to the Abbot and Convent of Westminster, till they were dispossessed by Henry VllI. in 1539 ; while Riley 1 records that, in 1413, two priests connected with the church were charged with criminal offences and suffered imprisonment for their misdeeds.
Two other pieces of information about the church's history, prior to the Dissolution, may be mentioned. They are in the form of Patents preserved in the Record Office, the first of which bears date Oct. 9, 1509, and is directed to " Thomas Wolsey, King's Chaplain, Dean of Lincoln," granting to him the parsonage of St. Bride's, leased by the Abbot and Convent of Westminster to Sir Richard Empson, then attainted of high treason. The second, dated Jan. 30, 1509-10, also grants to Wolsey, together with the messuage and garden (which had been demised to Empson for ninety-nine years on Nov. 26, 1508), the orchard, and no fewer than twelve gardens in the parish, between the said parsonage garden and the Thames, which had been demised to Empson by Thomas Docwra, Prior of St. John's.
After the Dissolution, Henry, having formed Westminster into a bishopric, bestowed St. Bride's upon the new See. When, however, Mary came to the throne, she restored the Abbot, and with him St. Bride's, to the resuscitated Convent. In the following reign this was again reversed, and the church has since then appertained to the Dean and Chapter of Westminster.
What the old building looked like can only be approximately arrived at from a study of ancient plans, which, although giving a sort of bird's-eye view of London, can hardly be said to do more than roughly indicate the outlines of its buildings. From Wyngaerde's " View " (1543) we can see, however, that the original church had a square tower with pinnacles at the corners, and that this tower rose rather to the west end (although not quite at the end) of the structure, bearing a not remote resemblance, but on a smaller scale, to that of Southwark Cathedral. On the south side was a large entrance, and the north then immediately abutted on Fleet Street. By the time Agas produced his " Map " (circa 1560), a dwelling-house appears to have been erected between the church and the thoroughfare ; while in Faithorne and Newcourt's " Plan " of 1658 the edifice is shown as being quite surrounded by houses, with two narrow passages (the westerly one since enlarged into St. Bride's Avenue) lead ing to its extreme west and east ends.
Although William Venor or Viner added the body and west aisles to the church in 1480, as we have seen, no screen divided the two portions of the building till the year 1557 ; then, however, Stow tells us, " the partition betwixt the old work and the new, sometime prepared as a screen to be set up in the hall of the Duke of Somerset's house in the Strand, was bought for eightscore pounds, and set up." Just on forty years later, the same authority records : " One wilful body began to spoil and break the same ; . . . but was by the high commissioners forced to make it up again."
In the same year when this incident occurred (1596), Stow, in his Annales, records that " The 15th August, between the hours of eight and nine o'clock at night, a house of timber, lately set up very high, and not fully finished near to St. Bride's Church in Fleetstreete, suddenly fell down, and with it one old house adjoining, by the fall whereof the goodman named Cox with a man servant and a child were killed."
From Machyn's Diary we glean some interesting information about burials in the old church. The first of these entries leaves the name of the church blank, but from a contemporary note in the Harleian MSS. recording the circumstance, we know that St. Bride's is indicated : " The xxv day of November (1558) was bered in sant. Flettstrett master Skynner sqwyre, on of the vj clarkes of the Chansere, with a harold of armes beyryng ys cote armur, and ys pennon of armes, and ij dosen skochyons of armes, and ij grett whyt branchys and xvj torchys and iiij great tapers ; and mony morners, and all they of the Chanserey."
In the following year an unfinished entry tells us that " The x day of October was bered Bluw-mantyll the harold (John Hollingworth) the wyche latt was Rysbanke, in sant Brydes in Fletstrett."
Again, in 1562, we read : " The furst day of September was bered in the parryche of sant Brydes, in Fletstrett, master Hulsun skrevener of London and master Heyword's depute, and on of the masturs of Brydwell ; and ther wher all the masturs of Brydwell with gren stayffes in ther handes, and the children of the hospetall, at ys berehyng ; and ther was mony mornars in blake, and master Crowley dyd pryche ; and there was grett ryngyng as ever was hard."
Later in the same year is this record : " The ij day of Desember was bered mastores Welles the of master Clarenshux kyng of armes (William Harvey) with a palle of blake velvet . and master Clarenshux and the wher the mornars, and browtt to the chyrche of sant Brydes ; and master Phylpott made the sermon."
The last of these entries is in the beginning of the year 1563, and runs thus : " The xx day of Feybruary was bered at sant Brydes in Fletestrett master Denham sqwyre, and the chyrche ther was mad rayled and hangyd with blake and armes, and he was cared to the chyrche, a-for him a mornar bayryng a pennon of armes, and after cam a harold of armes bayryng ys cott armur, and then cam the corse with a palle of blake velvett with armes on yt, and iiij of ys men bare hym ; and then the mornars, the cheyffe was ser Recherd Sakfeld,1 and a xx mo mornars ; and the dene of Westmynster mad the sermon."
Machyn has one record of a christening in St. Bride's, and it is interesting as being that of the daughter of the William Harvey referred to above. It took place in July 1562, the godfather being " Cordall 1 master of the rolles knyght," and the godmothers " my lade Bacon my lord keper's wyff, and my lade Sysselle wyff of Sir Wylliam Sysselle."
In addition to the burials mentioned by Machyn, a few others deserve to be recorded. Of these by far the most interesting was that of Wynkyn de Worde, the follower of Caxton, of whom I have something to say in another chapter. This great printer died about the year 1534 (his will was proved in January 1535), and he left directions that he should be buried before the high altar of St. Katherine, in St. Bride's. He bequeathed £36 to the parish for the purchase of land, for the purpose of providing, out of the rents of the property, a funeral service on the anniversary of his death, for ever. Yet is this day forgotten, and strangers to his kin must be enjoying the fruits of his bequest.
Others interred here were Richard Heywood, prothonotary of the King's Bench in 1570 ; the viscera of Thomas Sackville, first Earl of Dorset, who died on April 19, 1608, and whom Naunton, in his Fragmenta Regalia, describes as " a very fine gentleman of person and endowments " ; Edward Semer, Lord Breeham, 1618 ; Sir Henry Lellow, Warden of the Fleet, 1630 ; Sir Henry Baker, the author of the well-known Chronicles, who died a prisoner in the Fleet in 1644 ; Henry Hopkins, Warden of the Fleet, 1655 ; and, more interesting, Richard Lovelace, the poet of the two imperishable lyrics, who died in 1658.
Six years later, Thomas Pepys, brother of the Diarist, died, and was buried in St. Bride's. In the Diary is the following reference to the circumstance :
" March 18, 1663-64. . . To church, and, with the grave-maker, chose a place for my brother to lie in, just under my mother's pew. But to see how a man's tombes are at the mercy of such a fellow, that for six-pence he would, as his own words were, 'I will justle them together but I will make room for him ' ; speaking of the fulness of the middle aisle, where he was to lie."
After entertaining the mourners, Pepys, with his friends, followed the body to St. Bride's. " Anon to church," he says, " walking out into the street to the conduit, and so across the street : 1 and had a very good company along with the corps. And, being come to the grave as above, Dr. Pierson, the minister of the parish, did read the service for buriall : and so I saw my poor brother laid into the grave."
I may mention here that Pepys had previously visited the church on at least two occasions : once, on Feb. 16, 1661-62, when he heard Dr. Jacomb preach " a pretty good sermon, though not extraordinary " ; and again, on the following 10th of August, on which occasion he heard " one Carpenter, an old man, who, they say, hath been a Jesuite priest, and is come over to us ; but he preached very well."
The original burial-ground of the church was on its south side, almost abutting on the grounds of Dorset House. As this proximity was distasteful to the occupants of that mansion, the second Earl of Dorset, who had only recently succeeded to the title, gave to the Parish, in 1610, a large piece of ground on the west side of Farringdon Street for a cemetery, on condition that the old ground should be disused. This arrangement was agreed to ; but when, in 1666, Dorset House was burned down, the parishioners obtained an annulment of the restriction.1 It seems probable that the new ground, large as it was, may have been quickly filled up during the Plague, and thus the Parish was glad to have additional room for its dead.
The Great Fire, which caused the destruction of Dorset House, burnt down St. Bride's Church, and practically nothing of the original seems to have escaped but the marble font which had been presented to the church by Henry Hothersall, in 1615, and the entrance to the vault of the Holden family, erected in 1657 on the north side of the building.
For a number of years the parishioners appear to have done without a church, probably attending at St. Dunstan's and other places of worship in the locality, for it was not till 1678 that Wren began the plans of the new edifice, and not till two years later that it was made ready for use. Even then it was not by any means complete, for, in 1699, it was further embellished, and it was not till Oct. 4, 1701, that the first stone of the tower and spire was laid, the whole being completed, even to the weathercock, in September 1703.
Originally, the spire and tower were together 234 ft. 6 in. in height " from the surface of ye earth to ye top of ye cross," but in 1764, the steeple having been struck by lightning, it was lowered 85 feet. Noble tells us that the upper portion remained for many years in the yard of a stone-mason in Old Street, St. Luke's. Great damage was done both to the church and surrounding houses by the falling masonry on this occasion ; and it was determined, in rebuilding the spire, to lower it permanently by eight feet, the work being entrusted to the City pavior and stone-mason and Mr. Staines (afterwards Sir William Staines), " so little taste unfortunately was then to be found in the parish." 1 The present height of the tower and steeple is therefore 226 feet. William Dickenson was the superintending surveyor under Wren in the building of St. Bride's ; the cost of the whole being given as £11,430 ; while the damage done by the storm of 1764 was estimated at £3000.
There is no necessity to give here a detailed or technical description of either the exterior or the interior of St. Bride's, as, owing chiefly to the beauty of its spire, it is probably one of the best-known churches in London ; and it has been fully dealt with in the large number of books devoted to the architectural masterpieces of the City. The repetition of design in the steeple has been, it is true, pointed at by the hypercritical as an example of want of inventiveness ; but Wren's fame need fear nothing from such a charge. He has too clearly proved, in numberless instances, that when he chose he could be inventive to the top of his bent. His greatness here is precisely shown in the using of a repeated design in such a masterly way as to strip it of any appearance of monotony. The more one studies St. Bride's steeple the greater will be one's appreciation for the supreme architect who conceived it.
If the interior cannot rank with such masterpieces as those of St. Mary, Aldermary, or St. Stephen's, Walbrook, it has, nevertheless, the merit which is never absent from Wren's work : that of classical dignity and appropriateness. As in many of his interiors, one feels that a giant has here, perforce, cramped his ideas into little, and has applied to a relatively small building what would have been more suitable to a much larger structure. But, at the same time, the detail is so excellent, the parts so cleverly subordinated to the whole scheme, every point appears to have been so well thought out and adapted to the requirements of the church,1 that St. Bride's may properly take its place among Wren's most successful ecclesiastical works.
The east window, containing a stained-glass copy of Rubens's " Descent from the Cross," was executed by Mr. Muss in 1825. As has been well said : had Rembrandt treated the subject instead of Rubens, the darkness of much of this copy would have been appropriate ; as it is, it does not give a very accurate idea of the original work.
Among those who have been buried in the church-yard or the church since the rebuilding, may be mentioned John Ogilby, who, besides various poems and translations (of Horace in particular), wrote America : being the most accurate Description of of the New World, in 1671, and who died in 1676 he was thus buried here when no church stood on the spot ; Thomas Flatman, the poet and miniature painter, who, dying on Dec. 8, 1688, was laid to rest " near to the rails of the Communion Table " in the church where his eldest son had been buried earlier ; Francis Sand-ford, noted for his Genealogical History of the Kings of England and his Account of the Coronation of James II., who died in the Fleet in 1693 ; Sir Edward Lutwich, knight, 1709 ; the Countess of Orrery, who lies in the chancel, 1710 ; Dr. Charles Davenant, M.P. for St. Ives, and son of Sir Charles Davenant (whose widow was also buried here), who died in 1710 ; Elizabeth Thomas (who, under the name of 'Corinna,' is known to readers of Pope's private letters), who was buried in the ` Fleet Market Ground ' (given to the parish, in 1610, by Lord Dorset, as we have already seen) on Feb. 5, 1731, she being interred at the expense of Lady Delawar ; and Robert Lloyd, the friend of Charles Churchill,' who died in the Fleet in 1764. Three years earlier (July 1761), there was laid to rest, under a flat stone, about the middle of the centre aisle, the man who is almost as much connected with this church and its neighbourhood as was Dr. Johnson with St. Clement's Samuel Richardson, whose now well-nigh forgotten works once rivalled those of his so much greater contemporary, Fielding, and the names of whose novels, Grandison, Clarissa, Pamela, and the rest, roll glibly from the tongues of those who have never read a word written by their creator. There are also tablets here to the memory of James Molins, the surgeon, 1686 ; William Charles Wells, another doctor, a F.R.S. and author of the Essay on Dew, 1817 ; Alderman Waithman (who is commemorated by the column at Ludgate Circus), 1833 ; the Rev. John Pridden, curate of the parish for twenty-five years, 1825 ; to the wife and children of John Nichols, the historian of Leicestershire, 1776 ; to Isaac Romilly, F.R.S., 1759 ; and to Mrs. Dove, wife of the Rev. William Dove, once vicar of the parish.
The last burial here took place in February 1849, after which date they were disallowed.
The clergy connected with St. Bride's have numbered several notable men. There was, for instance, that John Cardmaker who was burnt at Smithfield for heresy in 1555 ; Thomas Fuller, the author of the Holy State and the Worthies of England, was once Lecturer here ; Dr. Isaac Madox, who began life as an apprentice to a pastry-cook, and finally became Bishop of Winchester, 1759, was a curate here ; while the vicars include Dr. John Thomas, who died Bishop of Rochester (one of the two John Thomases who reached this dignity, both of whom were, at the same time, chaplains to the King, were good preachers, and squinted !), and Dr. John Blair, who was mathematical tutor to the Duke of York (1757), and wrote his Chronological History of the World three years earlier ; while that Mr. Palmer who was complained of in 1637 for omitting the Prayer for the Bishops and rest of the Clergy, and who was accustomed to sleep in St. Bride's tower in order to save money for the poor (he died in 1659 after being sequestrated in 1642) should by no means be forgotten.
Noble tells us that St. Bride's was long noted for its tithe rate contests. A long lawsuit in 1645 was followed by others, until, in 1705-6, a final settlement was arrived at. The details need not detain us ; but it appears that 'forgetting ' to pay was very frequent. Even so early as 1523, John Rooper of Eltham left " To the Vycar of Saincte Brydes in London, for any tithes forgotten, xs " a kind of conscience money, which may or may not have represented the whole of the deceased's indebtedness to the church !
No notice of St. Bride's would be quite complete without some reference being made to the bells, for which the church has long been noted. In 1710, Abraham Rudhall of Gloucester cast a set of ten for the church (two of them being recast in 1786), and on these (Jan. 11, 1717) the London Scholars rang the first complete peal of what is known as 5040 'grandsire caters ' ever given. In the following year, two treble bells were added, and on Jan. 19, 1724, the first peal ever completed in England on twelve bells was rung ; while two years later, the first peal of Bob Maximum was given.
It is said that people were wont to flock to St. Bride's from far and near to hear these bells when they were first placed here. A modern writer in Fraser's Magazine once put his affection for the bells of St. Bride's into a quatrain ; here it is :
" Bells of St. Bride's, wheresoever I be,
St. Bride's Churchyard, where Milton once lived for a short time at the house of one Russel, a tailor, is now entered by way of St. Bride's Avenue (a name hardly appropriate to such a relatively small passage). This opening, an enlargement of a former narrow way, was made owing to a fire which destroyed some of the houses between the church and the street on Nov. 14, 1824. When the parishioners saw, for the first time, Wren's noble spire and tower from Fleet Street, they wisely took steps to keep the view open. Subscriptions were raised, meetings held, and finally, J. B. Papworth, the architect, was commissioned to design the improvement, which was estimated to cost some £7000, although it seems to have amounted, in the end, to considerably more.'
I have reserved what there is to say about St. Bride's Avenue to the chapter dealing with the streets south of Fleet Street.
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