Index to Stow's original Survey of London written in 1598
The next adjoining to Coleman street, on the west side thereof, is Bassings hall ward, a small thing, and consisteth of one street called Bassings hall street, of Bassings hall, the most principal house whereof the ward taketh name. It beginneth in the south by the late spoken market-house called the Bay hall, which is the last house of Coleman street ward. This street runneth from thence north down to London wall, and some little distance, both east and west, against the said hall; and this is the bound of Bassings hall ward.
Monuments on the east side thereof, amongst divers fair houses for merchants, have ye three halls of companies; namely, the Masons’ hall for the first, but of what antiquity that company is I have not read. The next is the Weavers’ hall, which company hath been of great antiquity in this city, as appeareth by a charter of Henry II., in these words, Rex omnibus ad quos, etc., to be Englished thus:—“Henrie, king of England, duke of Normandie, and of Guian, Earl of Anjou, to the bishop, justices, shiriffes, barons, ministers, and all his true lieges of London, sendeth greeting: Know ye that we have granted to the weavers in London their guild, with all the freedomes and customes that they had in the time of King Henrie my grandfather, so that none but they intermit within the citie of their craft but he be of their guild, neither in Southwark, or other places pertaining to London, otherwise than it was done in the time of King Henrie my grandfather; wherefore I will and straightly commaund that over all lawfully they may treate, and have all aforesaid, as well in peace, free, worshipfull, and wholy, as they had it, freer, better, worshipfullier, and wholier, than in the time of King Henrie my grandfather, so that they yeeld yearely to mee two markes of gold at the feast of St. Michaell; and I forbid that any man to them do any unright, or disseise, upon paine of ten pound. Witnes, Thomas of Canterburie, Warwicke fili Gar, Chamberlaine at Winchester.” Also I read, that the same Henry II., in the 31st of his reign, made a confirmation to the weavers that had a guild or fraternity in London, wherein it appeareth that the said weavers made woollen cloth, and that they had the correction thereof; but amongst other articles in that patent, it was decreed, that if any man made cloth of Spanish wool, mixed with English wool, the portgrave, or principal magistrate of London, ought to burn it, etc.
Moreover, in the year 1197, King Richard I., at the instance of Hubert, Archbishop of Canterbury, and Justicier of England, ordained that the woollen cloths in every part of this realm should be in breadth two yards within the lists, and as good in the midst as in the sides, etc. King Henry III. granted that they should not be vexed, for the burels, or cloth listed, according to the constitution made for breadth of cloth the 9th of his reign, etc. Richard II., in the 3rd of his reign, granted an order of agreement between the weavers of London, Englishmen, and aliens, or strangers born, brought in by Edward III.
Lower down is the Girdlers’ hall, and this is all touching the east side of this ward.
On the west side, almost at the south end thereof, is Bakewell hall, corruptly called Blackewall hall: concerning the original whereof I have heard divers opinions, which I overpass as fables without colour of truth; for though the same seemed a building of great antiquity, yet in mine opinion the foundation thereof was first laid since the conquest of William, Duke of Normandie; for the same was built upon vaults of stone, which stone was brought from Caen in Normandie, the like of that of Paule’s church, built by Mauritius and his successors, bishops of London; but that this house hath been a temple or Jewish synagogue (as some have fantasied) I allow not, seeing that it had no such form of roundness, or other likeness, neither had it the form of a church, for the assembly of Christians, which are built east and west, but contrariwise the same was built north and south, and in form of a nobleman’s house; and therefore the best opinion in my judgment is, that it was of old time belonging to the family of the Bassings, which was in this realm a name of great antiquity and renown, and that it bare also the name of that family, and was called therefore Bassings haugh, or hall; whereunto I am the rather induced, for that the arms of that family were of old time so abundantly placed in sundry parts of that house, even in the stone-work, but more especially on the walls of the hall, which carried a continual painting of them on every side, so close together as one escutcheon could be placed by another, which I myself have often seen and noted before the old building was taken down: these arms were a gyronny of twelve points, gold and azure. Of the Bassinges therefore, builders of this house and owners of the ground near adjoining, that ward taketh the name, as Coleman street ward of Coleman, and Faringden ward of William and Nicholas Faringden, men that were principal owners of those places.
And of old time the most noble persons that inhabited this city were appointed to be principal magistrates there, as was Godfrey de Magun (or Magnavile), portgrave, or sheriff, in the reign of William Conqueror, and of William Rufus; Hugh de Buch, in the reign of Henry I.; Auberie de Vere, Earl of Oxford; after him, Gilbert Becket, in the reign of King Stephen; after that, Godfrey de Magnavile, the son of William, the son of Godfrey de Magnavile, Earls of Essex, were portgraves or sheriffs of London and Middlesex. In the reign of Henry II., Peter Fitzwalter; after him, John Fitznigel, etc.; so likewise in the reign of King John, the 16th of his reign, a time of great troubles, in the year 1214, Salomon Bassing and Hugh Bassing, barons of this realm, as may be supposed, were sheriffs; and the said Salomon Bassing was mayor in the year 1216, which was the 1st of Henry III. Also Adam Bassing, son to Salomon (as it seemeth), was one of the sheriffs in the year 1243, the 28th of Henry III.
Unto this Adam de Bassing King Henry III., in the 31st of his reign, gave and confirmed certain messuages in Aldermanbury, and in Milke street (places not far from Bassinges hall), the advowson of the church at Bassinges hall, with sundry liberties and privileges.
This man was afterwards mayor in the year 1251, the 36th of Henry III.; moreover, Thomas Bassing was one of the sheriffs 1269; Robert Bassing, sheriff, 1279; and William Bassing was sheriff 1308, etc.; for more of the Bassings in this city I need not note, only I read of this family of Bassinges in Cambridgeshire, called Bassing at the bourn, and more shortly Bassing bourn, and gave arms, as is afore showed, and was painted about this old hall. But this family is worn out, and hath left the name to the place where they dwelt. Thus much for this Bassings hall.
Now how Blakewell hall took that name is another question; for which I read that Thomas Bakewell dwelt in this house in the 36th of Edward III.; and that in the 20th of Richard II., the said king, for the sum of fifty pounds, which the mayor and commonalty had paid into the hanaper, granted licence so much as was in him to John Frosh, William Parker, and Stephen Spilman (citizens and mercers), that they, the said messuage called Bakewell hall, and one garden, with the appurtenances, in the parish of St. Michael of Bassings haugh, and of St. Laurence in the Jurie of London, and one messuage, two shops, and one garden, in the said parish of St. Michael, which they held of the king in burghage, might give and assign to the mayor and commonalty for ever. This Bakewell hall, thus established, hath been long since employed as a weekly market-place for all sorts of woollen cloths, broad and narrow, brought from all parts of this realm, there to be sold. In the 21st of Richard II., R. Whittington, mayor, and in the 22nd, Drengh Barringtine being mayor, it was decreed that no foreigner or stranger should sell any woollen cloth but in the Bakewell hall, upon pain of forfeiture thereof.
This house of late years growing ruinous, and in danger of falling, Richard May, merchant-tailor, at his decease gave towards the new building of the outward part thereof three hundred pounds, upon condition that the same should be performed within three years after his decease; whereupon the old Bakewell hall was taken down, and in the month of February next following, the foundation of a new, strong, and beautiful storehouse being laid, the work thereof was so diligently applied, that within the space of ten months after, to the charges of two thousand five hundred pounds, the same was finished in the year 1588.
Next beyond this house be placed divers fair houses for merchants and others, till ye come to the back gate of Guildhall, which gate and part of the building within the same is of this ward. Some small distance beyond this gate the coopers have their common hall. Then is the parish church of St. Michaell, called St. Michaell at Bassings hall, a proper church lately re-edified or new built, whereto John Barton, mercer, and Agnes his wife, were great benefactors, as appeareth by his mark placed throughout the whole roof of the choir and middle aisle of the church: he deceased in the year 1460, and was buried in the choir, with this epitaph:
Frances Cooke, John Martin, Edward Bromflit, esquire, of Warwickshire, 1460; Richard Barnes, Sir Roger Roe, Roger Velden, 1479; Sir James Yarford, mercer, mayor, deceased 1526, buried under a fair tomb with his lady in a special chapel by him built on the north side of the choir; Sir John Gresham, mercer, mayor, deceased 1554; Sir John Ailife, chirurgeon, then a grocer, one of the sheriffs 1548; Nicholas Bakhurst, one of the sheriffs 1577; Wolston Dixi, skinner, mayor, 1585, etc. Thus have you noted one parish church of St. Michaell, Bakewell hall, a market-place for woollen cloths; the Masons’ hall, Weavers’ hall, Cordellers’ hall, and Coopers’ hall. And thus I end this ward, which hath an alderman, his deputy, for common council four, constables two, scavengers two, for the wardmote inquest seventeen, and a beadle. It is taxed to the fifteen in London at seven pounds, and likewise in the Exchequer at seven pounds.