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Index to Stow's original Survey of London written in 1598


The next is Bishopsgate ward; whereof a part is without the gate and of the suburbs, from the bars by St. Mary Spittle to Bishopsgate, and a part of Houndsditch; almost half thereof, also without the wall, is of the same ward. Then within the gate is Bishopsgate street, so called of the gate, to a pump, where sometimes was a fair well, with two buckets, by the east end of the parish church of St. Martin Oteswich, and then winding by the west corner of Leaden hall down Grass street to the corner over against Grass church; and this is the bounds of that ward.

Monuments most to be noted are these: The parish church of St. Buttolph without Bishopsgate, in a fair churchyard, adjoining to the town ditch, upon the very bank thereof, but of old time inclosed with a comely wall of brick, lately repaired by Sir William Allen, mayor, in the year 1571, because he was born in that parish, where also he was buried. An anchoress received 40s. the year of the sheriffs of London.

Now without this churchyard wall is a causeye, leading to a quadrant, called Petty France, of Frenchmen dwelling there, and to other dwelling-houses, lately built on the bank of the said ditch by some citizens of London, that more regarded their own private gain than the common good of the city; for by means of this causeye raised on the bank, and soilage of houses, with other filthiness cast into the ditch, the same is now forced to a narrow channel, and almost filled up with unsavoury things, to the danger of impoisoning the whole city.

Next unto the parish church of St. Buttolph is a fair inn for receipt of travellers; then an hospital of St. Mary of Bethelem, founded by Simon Fitz Mary, one of the sheriffs of London, in the year 1246: he founded it to have been a priory of canons, with brethren and sisters; and King Edward III. granted a protection, which I have seen, for the brethren, Miliciæ beatæ Mariæ[149] de Bethlem, within the city of London, the 14th year of his reign. It was an hospital for distracted people: Stephen Geninges, merchant-tailor, gave £40 towards purchase of the patronage by his testament, 1523; the mayor and commonalty purchased the patronage thereof, with all the lands and tenements thereunto belonging, in the year 1546: the same year King Henry VIII. gave this hospital unto the city; the church and chapel whereof were taken down in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, and houses built there by the governors of Christ’s hospital in London. In this place people that be distraight in wits are, by the suit of their friends, received and kept as afore, but not without charges to their bringers in. In the year 1569, Sir Thomas Roe, merchant-tailor, mayor, caused to be inclosed with a wall of brick about one acre of ground, being part of the said hospital of Bethelem; to wit, on the west, on the bank of Deep Ditch, so called, parting the said hospital of Bethelem from the More field: this he did for burial and ease of such parishes in London as wanted ground convenient within their parishes. The lady his wife was there buried (by whose persuasion he inclosed it), but himself, born in London, was buried in the parish church of Hackney.

From this hospital northward, upon the street’s side, many houses have been built with alleys backward, of late time too much pestered with people (a great cause of infection) up to the bars.

The other side of this high street from Bishopsgate and Hounds ditch, the first building a large inn for receipt of travellers, and is called the Dolphin, of such a sign. In the year 1513, Margaret Ricroft, widow, gave this house, with the gardens and appurtenances, unto William Gam, R. Clye, their wives, her daughters, and to their heirs, with condition they yearly do give to the warden or governors of the Grey friers church within Newgate forty shillings, to find a student of divinity in the University for ever. Then is there a fair house, of late built by John Powlet. Next to that, a far more large and beautiful house, with gardens of pleasure, bowling alleys, and such like, built by Jasper Fisher, free of the goldsmiths, late one of the six clerks of the chauncerie and a justice of the peace. It hath since for a time been the Earl of Oxford’s place. The queen’s majesty Elizabeth hath lodged there. It now belongeth to Sir Roger Manars.[151] This house, being so large and sumptuously built by a man of no greater calling, possessions, or wealth (for he was indebted to many) was mockingly called Fisher’s[150] folly, and a rhythm was made of it, and other the like, in this manner:

“Kirkebyes Castell, and Fishers Follie,
Spinilas pleasure, and Megses glorie.”

And so of other like buildings about the city by citizens, men have not letted to speak their pleasure.

From Fisher’s Folly up to the west end of Berward’s lane, of old time so called, but now Hogge lane, because it meeteth with Hogge lane, which cometh from the bars without Aldgate, as is afore showed, is a continual building of tenements, with alleys of cottages, pestered, etc. Then is there a large close, called Tasel close, sometime for that there were tassels planted for the use of cloth-workers, since letten to the cross-bow makers, wherein they used to shoot for games at the popinjay: now the same being inclosed with a brick wall, serveth to be an artillery yard, whereunto the gunners of the Tower do weekly repair, namely, every Thursday; and there levelling certain brass pieces of great artillery against a butt of earth, made for that purpose, they discharge them for their exercise.

Then have you the late dissolved priory and hospital,[152] commonly called St. Mary Spittle, founded by Walter Brune and Rosia his wife, for canons regular. Walter, archdeacon of London, laid the first stone in the year 1197, William, of St. Mary church, then bishop of London, dedicated to the honour of Jesus Christ and his mother, the perpetual Virgin Mary, by the name of Domus Dei, and Beatæ Mariæ, extra Bishopsgate, in the parish of St. Buttolph; the bounds whereof, as appeareth by composition betwixt the parson and prior of the said hospital concerning tithes, beginneth at Berward’s lane toward the south, and extendeth in breadth to the parish of St. Leonard of Shoreditch towards the north; and in length, from the King’s street on the west to the bishop of London’s field, called Lollesworth, on the east. The prior of this St. Mary Spittle, for the emortising and propriation of Bikenacar, in Essex, to his said house of St. Mary Spittle, gave to Henry VII. £400 in the 22nd of his reign. This hospital, surrendered to Henry VIII., was valued to dispend £478; wherein was found, besides ornaments of the church, and other goods pertaining to the hospital, one hundred and eighty beds, well furnished, for receipt of the poor; for it was an hospital of great relief. Sir Henry Plesington, knight, was buried there 1452.

In place of this hospital, and near adjoining, are now many[151] fair houses built for receipt and lodging of worshipful persons. A part of the large churchyard pertaining to this hospital, and severed from the rest with a brick wall, yet remaineth as of old time, with a pulpit cross therein, somewhat like to that in Paules churchyard. And against the said pulpit on the south side, before the charnel and chapel of St. Edmond the Bishop and Mary Magdalen, which chapel was founded about the year 1391 by William Eneshan, citizen and paperer of London, who was there buried, remaineth also one fair built house, of two stories in height, for the mayor and other honourable persons, with the aldermen and sheriffs to sit in, there to hear the sermons preached in the Easter holidays. In the loft over them stood the bishop of London, and other prelates; now the ladies and aldermen’s wives do there stand at a fair window, or sit at their pleasure. And here is to be noted, that, time out of mind, it hath been a laudable custom, that on Good Friday, in the afternoon, some especial learned man, by appointment of the prelates, hath preached a sermon at Paules cross, treating of Christ’s Passion; and upon the three next Easter holidays, Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, the like learned men, by the like appointment, have used to preach on the forenoons at the said Spittle, to persuade the article of Christ’s Resurrection; and then on Low Sunday, one other learned man at Paules cross, to make rehearsal of those four former sermons, either commending or reproving them, as to him by judgment of the learned divines was thought convenient. And that done, he was to make a sermon of his own study, which in all were five sermons in one. At these sermons, so severally preached, the mayor, with his brethren the aldermen, were accustomed to be present in their violets at Paules on Good Friday, and in their scarlets at the Spittle in the holidays, except Wednesday in violet, and the mayor with his brethren on Low Sunday in scarlet, at Paules cross, continued until this day.

Touching the antiquity of this custom, I find, that in the year 1398, King Richard having procured from Rome confirmation of such statutes and ordinances as were made in the parliament, begun at Westminster and ended at Shrewsbury, he caused the same confirmation to be read and pronounced at Paules cross, and at St. Mary Spittle, in the sermons before all the people. Philip Malpas, one of the sheriffs in the year 1439, gave twenty shillings by the year to the three preachers at the Spittle. Stephen Forster, mayor in the year 1454, gave forty pounds to the preachers at Paules cross and Spittle. I find also[152] that the aforesaid house, wherein the mayor and aldermen do sit at the Spittle, was built for that purpose of the goods and by the executors of Richard Lawson, alderman, and Isabell his wife, in the year 1488. In the year 1594, this pulpit being old was taken down, and a new set up; the preacher’s face turned towards the south, which was before toward the west; also a large house, on the east side of the said pulpit, was then built for the governors and children of Christ’s hospital to sit in, and this was done of the goods of William Elkens, alderman, late deceased; but within the first year the same house decaying, and like to have fallen, was again with great cost repaired at the city’s charge.

On the east side of this churchyard lieth a large field, of old time called Lolesworth, now Spittle field; which about the year 1576 was broken up for clay to make brick; in the digging whereof many earthen pots, called urnæ, were found full of ashes, and burnt bones of men, to wit, of the Romans that inhabited here; for it was the custom of the Romans to burn their dead, to put their ashes in an urn, and then bury the same, with certain ceremonies, in some field appointed for that purpose near unto their city. Every of these pots had in them with the ashes of the dead one piece of copper money, with the inscription of the emperor then reigning: some of them were of Claudius, some of Vespasian, some of Nero, of Anthoninus Pius, of Trajanus, and others. Besides those urns, many other pots were there found, made of a white earth with long necks and handles, like to our stone jugs: these were empty, but seemed to be buried full of some liquid matter long since consumed and soked through; for there were found divers phials and other fashioned glasses, some most cunningly wrought, such as I have not seen the like, and some of crystal; all which had water in them, nothing differing in clearness, taste, or savour from common spring water, whatsoever it was at the first: some of these glasses had oil in them very thick, and earthy in savour; some were supposed to have balm in them, but had lost the virtue; many of those pots and glasses were broken in cutting of the clay, so that few were taken up whole. There were also found divers dishes and cups of a fine red-coloured earth, which showed outwardly such a shining smoothness as if they had been of coral; those had in the bottoms Roman letters printed: there were also lamps of white earth and red, artificially wrought with divers antiques about them, some three or four images made of white earth, about a span long each of them: one I remember[153] was of Pallas, the rest I have forgotten. I myself have reserved, among divers of those antiquities there, one urn, with the ashes and bones, and one pot of white earth very small, not exceeding the quantity of a quarter of a wine pint, made in shape of a hare squatted upon her legs, and between her ears is the mouth of the pot. There hath also been found in the same field divers coffins of stone, containing the bones of men: these I suppose to be the burials of some especial persons in time of the Britons or Saxons, after that the Romans had left to govern here. Moreover, there were also found the skulls and bones of men without coffins, or rather whose coffins (being of great timber) were consumed. Divers great nails of iron were there found, such as are used in the wheels of shod carts, being each of them as big as a man’s finger, and a quarter of a yard long, the heads two inches over; those nails were more wondered at than the rest of things there found, and many opinions of men were there uttered of them; namely, that the men there buried were murdered by driving those nails into their heads; a thing unlikely, for a smaller nail would more aptly serve to so bad a purpose, and a more secret place would likely be employed for their burial. But to set down what I have observed concerning this matter, I there beheld the bones of a man lying (as I noted), the head north, the feet south, and round about him, as thwart his head, along both his sides, and thwart his feet, such nails were found, wherefore I conceived them to be the nails of his coffin, which had been a trough cut out of some great tree, and the same covered with a plank, of a great thickness, fastened with such nails; and therefore I caused some of the nails to be reached up to me, and found under the broad heads of them the old wood, skant turned into earth, but still retaining both the grain and proper colour: of these nails, with the wood under the head thereof, I reserved one, as also the nether jaw-bone of the man, the teeth being great, sound, and fast fixed, which, among other many monuments there found, I have yet to show; but the nail lying dry, is by scaling greatly wasted. And thus much for this part of Bishopsgate ward, without the gate; for I have in another place spoken of the gate, and therefore I am to speak of that other part of this ward which lieth within the gate.

And first to begin on the left hand of Bishopsgate street, from the gate you have certain tenements of old time pertaining to a brotherhood of St. Nicholas, granted to the parish clerks of London, for two chaplains, to be kept in the chapel of St. Mary Magdalen, near unto the Guildhall of London, in the 27th of[154] Henry VI. The first of these houses towards the north, and against the wall of the city, was sometime a large inn or court called the Wrestlers, of such a sign, and the last in the high street towards the south was sometime also a fair inn called the Angel, of such a sign. Among these said tenements was on the same street side a fair entry, or court, to the common hall of the said parish clerks, with proper alms houses, seven in number, adjoining, for poor parish clerks, and their wives and their widows, such as were in great years not able to labour. One of these, by the said brotherhood of parish clerks, was allowed sixteen pence the week; the other six had each of them nine pence the week, according to the patent thereof granted. This brotherhood, amongst other, being suppressed, in the reign of Edward VI. the said hall, with the other buildings there, was given to Sir Robert Chester, a knight of Cambridgeshire; against whom the parish clerks commencing suit, in the reign of Queen Mary, and being like to have prevailed, the said Sir Robert Chester pulled down the hall, sold the timber, stone, and lead, and thereupon the suit was ended. The alms houses remain in the queen’s hands, and people are there placed, such as can make best friends; some of them, taking the pension appointed, have let forth their houses for great rent, giving occasion to the parson of the parish to challenge tithes of the poor, etc.

Next unto this is the small parish church of St. Ethelburge Virgin, and from thence some small distance is a large court called Little St. Helen’s, because it pertained to the nuns of St. Helen’s, and was their house: there are seven alms rooms or houses for the poor, belonging to the company of Leathersellers. Then, somewhat more west, is another court with a winding lane, which cometh out against the west end of St. Andrew Undershaft church. In this court standeth the church of St. Helen, sometime a priory of black nuns, and in the same a parish church of St. Helen.

This priory was founded before the reign of Henry III. William Basing, dean of Paules, was the first founder, and was there buried; and William Basing, one of the sheriffs of London, in the 2nd year of Edward II. was holden also to be a founder, or rather a helper there. This priory being valued at £314 2s. 6d. was surrendered the 25th of November, the 30th of Henry VIII.; the whole church, the partition betwixt the nuns’ church and parish church being taken down, remaineth now to the parish, and is a fair parish church, but wanteth such a steeple as Sir Thomas Gresham promised to have built, in recompense of[155] ground in their church filled up with his monument. The nuns’ hall, and other houses thereunto appertaining, was since purchased by the company of the Leathersellers, and is their common hall; which company was incorporate in the 21st year of Richard II.

In the church of St. Helen have you these monuments of the dead:—Thomas Langton, chaplain, buried in the choir 1350; Adam Frances, mayor, 1354; Elizabeth Vennar, wife to William Vennar, alderman, one of the sheriffs of London, 1401; Joan, daughter to Henry Seamer, wife to Richard, son and heir to Robert Lord Poynings, died a virgin 1420; John Swinflat, 1420; Nicholas Marshall, ironmonger, alderman, 1474; Sir John Crosby, alderman, 1475, and Ann his wife; Thomas Williams, gentleman, 1495; Joan Cocken, wife to John Cocken, esquire, 1509; Marie Orrell, wife to Sir Lewes Orrell, knight; Henry Sommer, and Katherine his wife; Walter Huntington, esquire; John Langthorpe, esquire, 1510; John Gower, steward of St. Helen’s, 1512; Robert Rochester, esquire, sergeant of the pantry to Henry VIII.; Sir William Sanctlo, and Sir William Sanctlo, father and son; Eleanor, daughter to Sir Thomas Butler; Lord Sudley; John Southworth; Nicholas Harpsfield, esquire; Thomas Sanderford, or Sommerford, alderman; Alexander Cheyney; Walter Dawbeney; George Fastolph, son to Hugh Fastolph; Robert Liade; Thomas Benolt, alias Clarenciaulx, king at arms, 1534; William Hollis, mayor, 1540; John Fauconbridge, esquire, 1545; Hacket, gentleman of the king’s chapel; Sir Andrew Jud, mayor, 1551; Sir William Pickering, and Sir William Pickering, father and son; William Bond, alderman, 1567; Sir Thomas Gresham, mercer, 1579; William Skegges, sergeant poulter; Richard Gresham, son to Sir Thomas Gresham, 1564.

Then have you one great house called Crosby place, because the same was built by Sir John Crosby, grocer and woolman, in place of certain tenements, with their appurtenances, letten to him by Alice Ashfed, prioress of St. Helen’s, and the convent for ninety-nine years, from the year 1466 unto the year 1565, for the annual rent of £11 6s. 8d. This house he built of stone and timber, very large and beautiful, and the highest at that time in London. He was one of the sheriffs, and an alderman in the year 1470, knighted by Edward IV. in the year 1471, and deceased in the year 1475; so short a time enjoyed he that his large and sumptuous building; he was buried in St. Helen’s, the parish church; a fair monument of him and his lady is[156] raised there. He gave towards the reforming of that church five hundred marks, which was bestowed with the better, as appeareth by his arms, both in the stone work, roof of timber, and glazing. I hold it a fable said of him to be named Crosbie, of being found by a cross, for I have read of other to have that name of Crosbie before him; namely, in the year 1406, the 7th of Henry IV., the said king gave to his servant John Crosbie the wardship of Joan, daughter and sole heir to John Jordaine, fishmonger, etc. This Crosbie might be the father or grandfather to Sir John Crosbie.

Richard, Duke of Gloucester, and lord protector, afterward king, by the name of Richard III., was lodged in this house; since the which time, among other, Anthonie Bonvice, a rich merchant of Italy, dwelt there; after him, Germain Cioll, then William Bond, alderman, increased this house in height, with building of a turret on the top thereof: he deceased in the year 1576, and was buried in St. Helen’s church. Divers ambassadors have been lodged there; namely, in the year 1586, Henry Ramelius, chancellor of Denmark, ambassador unto the queen’s majesty of England from Frederick II., the king of Denmark; an ambassador of France, etc. Sir John Spencer, alderman, lately purchased this house, made great reparations, kept his mayoralty there, and since built a most large warehouse near thereunto.

From this Crosbie place up to Leaden hall corner, and so down Grass street, amongst other tenements, are divers fair and large built houses for merchants, and such like.

Now for the other side of this ward, namely, the right hand, hard by within the gate, is one fair water conduit, which Thomas Knesworth, mayor, in the year 1505, founded: he gave £60, the rest was furnished at the common charges of the city. This conduit hath since been taken down and new built. David Woodrooffe, alderman, gave £20 towards the conveyance of more water thereunto. From this conduit have you, amongst many fair tenements, divers fair inns, large for receipt of travellers, and some houses for men of worship; namely, one most spacious of all other thereabout, built of brick and timber by Sir Thomas Gresham, knight, who deceased in the year 1579, and was buried in St. Helen’s church, under a fair monument, by him prepared in his life: he appointed by his testament this house to be made a college of readers, as before is said in the chapter of schools and houses of learning.

Somewhat west from this house is one other very fair house,[157] wherein Sir William Hollies kept his mayoralty, and was buried in the parish church of St. Helen. Sir Andrew Jud also kept his mayoralty there, and was buried at St. Helen’s: he built alms houses for six poor alms people near to the said parish church, and gave lands to the Skinners, out of the which they are to give 4s. every week to the six poor alms people, 8d. the piece, and 25s. 4d. the year, in coals amongst them for ever.

Alice Smith, of London, widow, late wife of Thomas Smith, of the same city, esquire, and customer of the port of London, in her last will and testament, bequeathed lands to the value of £15 by the year for ever, to the company of Skinners, for the augmenting of the pensions of certain poor, inhabiting in eight alms houses, erected by Sir Andrew Jud, knight, her father, in the parish of Great St. Helen’s, in Bishopsgate street, in London. She hath also given in her said last will and testament, in other charitable uses, as to the hospitals and to the poor of other parishes and good preachers, the sum of £300. As also to the poor scholars in the two universities of Oxford and Cambridge the sum of £200; of which, her last will and testament, she made her sons, Thomas Smith, late sheriff of London, and Richard and Robert Smith, her executors, who have performed the same according to her godly and charitable mind.

Then in the very west corner, over against the east end of St. Martin’s Oteswich (from whence the street windeth towards the south), you had of old time a fair well, with two buckets, so fastened that the drawing up of the one let down the other; but now of late that well is turned into a pump.

From this to the corner over against the Leaden hall, and so down Grasse street, are many fair houses for merchants and artificers, and many fair inns for travellers, even to the corner where that ward endeth, over against Grasse street. And thus much for this Bishopsgate ward shall suffice; which hath an alderman, two deputies, one without the gate, another within, common councillors six, constables seven, scavengers seven, for wardmote inquest thirteen, and a beadle: it is taxed to the fifteen at £13.[153]