London, Volume 1

Knight, Charles


Crosby Place.

Crosby Place.




There are few things more striking by way of contrast in London than the sudden change which may almost everywhere obtain from the noise, bustle, and apparent confusion of the narrow and crowded streets of the city, to the serene quiet of some fine old edifice lying close beside them, utterly undisturbed by the eternal roar of the great Babel. And to all those who feel, whether as a passing mood or as a more enduring sentiment, that consciousness of solitude in populous places which Byron has so beautifully described, what can be more refreshing than to come unexpectedly upon these green spots in the desert-what more delightful than to step out of the whirl and the throng into some peaceful place where the echo of your own footsteps is the loudest sound you may hear, and the rush of interesting recollections, which people the silent but most eloquent walls, the only crowd that can arrest your wanderings? No happier example of this contrast between the fancy-stirring Past and the matter-of-fact Present, which London so frequently and so forcibly presents, can perhaps be found than in the instance of the subject before us. Crosby Place is certainly of the most interesting edifices in London; and little as its history or even its existence is known to the thousands who pass daily through , yet does it stand within a very few yards of the busiest part of that most


busy of thoroughfares. Pass those few yards, and you will soon forget the locality of Crosby Place. It appears itself too absorbed in the remembrance of its past glories, and of the great men who have lived within its sheltering arms, to heed the tumult without; and as to the visitor, the antique impressive air of the place soon subdues his thoughts to its own colour.

Crosby Place derives its name from Sir John Crosby, its reputed builder, an alderman of London during the reign of Edward IV. He held also the offices of Sheriff, Warden of the Grocers' Company, and the Mayoralty of the Staple of Calais; in he represented the city in Parliament. He appears to have distinguished himself among the party attached to the House of York, and was of those whom Edward knighted on his approach to London, after the landing at Ravenspur in . In the following year a most delicate commission was given to him, in common with Sir John Scott, Marshal of Calais, Watcliffe, the King's Secretary, Dr. John Russell, Archdeacon of Berkshire, and other eminent persons. Their chief ostensible object was to arrange various matters then in abeyance between the Duke of Burgundy and the King of England, and, we presume, to form a treaty of alliance against France, which Edward then meditated attacking. From thence they passed to the court of the Duke of Brittany, where, besides concluding a similar treaty, they were, says Stow,

to have gotten there the


Earls of Pembroke and of Richmond.

Had they succeeded in this object, in what very different channels might not the history of this country have run! Soon after the defeat of the Lancastrians at the battle of Tewkesbury, the Earl of Pembroke had fled with his young charge to seek refuge in France. A storm drove his vessel on the coast of Brittany, and the nobles were detained by Francis, the reigning Duke. Edward now claimed them as enemies and fugitive traitors, but in vain; he could get no other assurance than that they should never be allowed to disturb his government. This was far from satisfactory; hence the secret mission given to Sir John Crosby and his companions, who, by profession of friendship for the exiles, succeeded at last in persuading both them and the Duke of the propriety of returning to England. The future conqueror of Bosworth Field was already at St. Male on the point of embarkation, when Landois, the minister of the Duke, suddenly arrived, and prevented his sailing on various pretexts, till Richmond took the alarm, and fled from the agents of the man who had probably the same fate in store for him that had awaited Henry VI. The lease of the site of Crosby Place, with a great tenement then standing on it, formerly in possession of Cataneo Pinelli, a merchant of Genoa, was granted to Sir John by Alice Ashfield, prioress of the Convent of St. Helen's, adjoining: this tenement was most probably pulled down to make way for the magnificent erection that soon appeared upon its site, and of which there is no reason to doubt but the more ancient parts of the present structure are the genuine remains. Sir John Crosby died in , so that he could have enjoyed but for--a short time the splendour of Crosby Place, then noticed as the highest domestic building in London. A beautiful tomb in the church of St. Helen's marks the last resting-place of his and-his wife's remains.

The well-known passage in Shakspere will occur to all readers, where the Duke of Gloster, at the conclusion of his successful wooing of the Lady Anne, thus addresses her:--


And if thy poor devoted servant may

But beg one favour at thy gracious hand,

Thou dost confirm his happiness for ever.

Anne.What is it?

Glo.That it may please you leave these sad designs To him that hath most cause to be a mourner, And presently repair to Crosby House ;In the quarto edition of Richard III., printed in Shakspere's lifetime, we have Crosby Place. In 1623, the date of the folio edition, it is called Crosby House. Where, after I have solemnly interr'd At Chertsey monastery this noble King, And wet his grave with my repentant tears, I will with all expedient duty see you.

This passage is of great importance; for the preservation of Crosby Hall, through all the vicissitudes of its fortunes, is attributable to the popularity it derived from it. What its own intrinsic beauty and historical character might not have accomplished for it, has been done by a mere incidental notice in the great poet's writings. Richard's residence here, however, at the time of his marriage, , is very doubtful, as Sir John Crosby was then alive. But a much more important event than the poet refers to unquestionably did take place in this building in connexion with Richard. It was in the hall of Crosby Place that he determined upon the deposition, perhaps the death, of the young King, Edward V., and it was here that all the plans were concocted for his own elevation to the vacant throne. When Edward IV. died, on the , his eldest son, the Prince of Wales, was with his maternal uncle, the Earl of Rivers, at Ludlow Castle, and the younger with his mother, Elizabeth, in London. Richard Duke of Gloster was at the same moment at the head of an army devoted to his service in the marches of Scotland. He immediately marched upon York, where he caused his nephew to be proclaimed King, and from thence proceeded towards London. The Prince or King was also, by his mother's directions, advancing towards the metropolis. The Duke, aware of his movements, so well timed his own that they met at Stony , without any appearance of intention on the part of the uncle. There the unsuspicious youth and his guardians were seized, the former being conveyed with all outward marks of respect and allegiance to London, and the latter to Pontefract, where they were almost immediately beheaded. The news of these events preceded the chief actor in them. Elizabeth withdrew with the Duke of York to the sanctuary at , and great was the commotion among the citizens. But the Lord Hastings, another of Richard's destined victims, quieted their minds by assuring them that the Duke was faithful to his Prince, and that the Earl Rivers and his companion had merely been arrested for matters attempted by them against the Duke and the Duke of Buckingham. A curious kind of proof was displayed to the populace--barrels filled with arms, which their conductors said the traitors had privately got together to destroy the noble lords.

It were alms to hang the traitors!

was the exclamation, as the spectators turned away perfectly satisfied with this species of optical logic. Such was the state of things when Richard arrived in London, and, having lodged the young King in the Tower, took up his own residence for a short time at Crosby Place. For what follows we are indebted to the graphic pen of Sir Thomas More.



Richard and the Duke of Buckingham now

went about to prepare for the coronation of the young King, as they would have it seem; and that they might turn both the eyes and minds of men from perceiving of their drifts other where, the Lords, being sent for from all parts of the realm, came thick to that solemnity. But the Protector and the Duke, after that they had set the Lord Cardinal, the Archbishop of York, the Lord Chancellor, the Bishop of Ely, the Lord Stanley, and the Lord Hastings, then Lord Chamberlain, with many other noblemen, to commune and devise about the coronation in


place, in part were they in another place contriving the contrary, and to make the Protector King. To which council albeit there were admitted very few, and they very secret, yet began there, here and there about, some manner of muttering among the people, as though all should not long be well, though they neither wist what they feared, nor wherefore; were it that before such great things men's hearts of a secret instinct of nature misgive them, as the sea without wind swelleth of itself some time before a tempest; or were it that some


man haply somewhat perceiving, filled many men with suspicion, though he showed few men what he knew. Howbeit, somewhat the dealing itself made men to muse on the matter, though the council were close; for, by little and little, all folk withdrew from the Tower, and drew to Crosby's Place, in

Bishopsgate Street

, where the Protector kept his household. The Protector had the resort, the King in a manner desolate; while some for their business made suit to them who had the doing, some were by their friends secretly warned that it might haply turn them to no good to be too much attendant about the King without the Protector's appointment; who removed also divers of the Prince's old servants from him, and set new about him. Thus many things coming together, partly by chance, partly of purpose, caused at length not common people only who wave with the wind, but wise men also, and some Lords eke, to mark the matter and muse thereon. So far forth that the Lord Stanley, who was afterwards Earl of Derby, wisely mistrusted it, and said with the Lord Hastings that he much misliked these


several councils;

for while we,

quoth he,

talk of one matter in the one place, little wot we whereof they talk in the other place.

The wily Earl soon perceived that he had not mistaken the meaning of these separate councils, for at the very next meeting of the members of both, Gloster accused Hastings of witchcraft, and sent him instantly to the block; and Lord Stanley himself, in the melee, escaped destruction only by bending below the council board to escape a blow aimed at him by of the Duke's attendants. The murder of the children, the insurrection and death of Buckingham, and Richard's own defeat and death at Bosworth, followed in rapid succession; and Richmond, the young Prince whom Sir John Crosby had so nearly entrapped a few years before, reigned, the universally acknowledged King of England. He married Elizabeth of York, and then the rival roses became once more blended in a common stock. Soon after the death of her son Prince Arthur, in , within a few months of his marriage, the Queen also died. When

Maximilian, the Emperor of Germany, sent into England a solemn embassy, of the which the Lord Casimir, Marquis of Brandenburg, his cousin, accompanied with a Bishop, an Earl, and a great number of gentlemen well apparelled, was principal ambassador, which were triumphantly received into London, and were lodged at Crosby's Place. This embassy

was sent for




, to visit and comfort the King, being-mournful and sad for the death of so good a queen and spouse; the


, for the renovation of the old league and amity; the


, which was not apparent, was to move the King to marry the Emperor's daughter, the Lady Margaret, Duchess Dowager of Savoy.

[n.321.1]  The objects succeeded, the latter failed. The ambassadors on this occasion were guests of Bartholomew Read, Mayor of London -, who evidently purchased Crosby Place in order that he might have a home befitting the splendour which he had determined should signalize his mayoralty. Read was a member of, and at his death a great benefactor to, the Goldsmiths' Company; and it was supposed that he had given his inauguration dinner in their Hall. Stow, referring to this supposition, writes,--

the Goldsmiths' Hall, a proper house, but not large. And therefore to say that Bartholomew Read, goldsmith, mayor in the year


, kept such a feast in this hall as some have fabled, is far incredible, and altogether impossible, considering the smallness of the hall and number of the guests, which as they say were more than


persons of great estate. For the messes and dishes of meats to them served, the paled park in the same hall furnished with fruitful trees, beasts of venery, and other circumstances of that pretended feast well weighed,


Hall would hardly have sufficed, and therefore I will over pass it.

[n.321.2]  Stow was quite unaware, when he wrote this, that Read was, at the time referred to, master of the largest hall in London, next to , and therefore all his argument against the truth of the report concerning the magnificence of the feast falls to the ground. We are
sorry to be obliged, like Stow, to

over pass it

with the above short notice; but all our endeavours to discover his authority have been useless. He refers to



Grafton; but neither in his pages, nor in the pages of any of the other old chroniclers that Stow was likely to have read, can we find any account of this evidently most magnificent feast. The next possessor of Crosby Place was Sir John Rest, who held the office of Mayor in (the year of the Evil May-Day[n.322.1] ), and by him it appears to have been sold, though at what time is uncertain, to the illustrious Sir Thomas More. From the period of More's marriage, in , he resided for some years in . Perhaps it was soon after his return from the mission on which he had been sent to Bruges, in company with Cuthbert Tunstal, in -, that he purchased Crosby Place, for his advancement then became rapid. He was made Privy Councillor in , and in Master of the Requests. The journey to which we have referred forms the groundwork of his famous romance the


At Bruges he supposes himself to have met with Raphael, the learned traveller who had seen the country of Utopia, and describes to Sir Thomas the manners and customs of its inhabitants. It is far from impossible but that this delightful work was written in Crosby Place. In the preface we have a complete picture of Sir Thomas's domestic habits about this period, and which, if it does not directly apply to Crosby Place, may certainly be applied to it with the mere substitution of his

Life of Richard the


for the


there being little or no doubt but the former work was written within its chambers, however it may be with the latter. He writes, Whilst I daily either plead other men's causes, or hear them sometimes as an arbiter, otherwhiles as a judge-whilst this man I visit for friendship, another for business, and whilst I busy myself abroad about other men's matters all the whole day; I leave no time for myself, that is for study. For when I come home I must discourse with my wife, chat with my children, speak with my servants; and seeing this must needs be done, I number it amongst my affairs; and needful they are, unless will be a stranger in his own house; for we must endeavour to be affable and pleasing unto those whom either nature, chance, or choice hath made our companions; but with such measure it must be done that we do not mar them with affability, or make them of servants our masters by too much gentle entreaty and favour. Whilst these things are doing, a day, a month, a year passeth. When then can I find any time to write? for I have not yet spoken of the time that is spent in eating and sleeping, which things alone bereave most men of half their life. As for me, I get only that spare time which I steal from my meat and sleep, which, because it is but small, I proceed slowly; yet it being somewhat, I have now at the length prevailed so much as I have finished, and sent unto you, Peter, my



We must add to this account of More's domestic life, that his royal master's favour became now so great, that the latter was accustomed not unfrequently to come and spend the day with his witty and learned favourite, without even the formality of previous notice. In


Sir Thomas More sold Crosby Place to Antonio Bonvisi, a merchant of Lucca, then settled in England, and, as we learn from More's own words, his dearest friend. When he was lying in the Tower he wrote a letter to Bonvisi with a piece of coal, the cruel enemies of More having actually debarred him from any better medium of correspondence.

As this letter is little known, as it was the last but


written by the great chancellor, and as it contains some interesting proofs of the close intimacy that existed between him and Bonvisi, we make no apology for giving a part of it from the collection of More's English works formed by his nephew William Rastell, who was an eminent printer. The original is in Latin, but Rastell has translated it.

The faithful prosperity of this amity and friendship of yours towards me (I wot not how) seemeth in a manner to counterpoise this unfortunate shipwreck of mine, and, saving the indignation of my Prince, of me no less loved than feared, else as concerning all other things, doth almost move the counterpoise. For all those are to be accounted among the mischances of fortune. But if I should reckon the possession of so constant friendship (which no storms of adversity hath taken away, but rather hath fortified and strengthened) amongst the brittle gifts of fortune, then were I mad; for the felicity of so faithful and constant friendship in the storms of fortune, which is seldom seen, is doubtless a high and a noble gift proceeding of a certain singular benignity of God. And, indeed, as concerning myself, I cannot otherwise take it nor reckon it, but that it was ordained by the great mercy of God that you, good Master Bonvyse, amongst my poor friends, such a man as you are, and so great a friend, should be long afore provided; that should by your consolation assuage and relieve a great part of these troubles and griefs of mine, which the hugeness of fortune hath hastily brought upon me. I therefore, my dear friend, of all mortal men to me most dearest; do that which now only I am able to do, earnestly pray to Almighty God, which hath provided you for me, that sith He hath given you such a debtor as shall never be able to pay you, that it may please Him of his benignity to requite this bountifulness of yours, which you every day thus plenteously pour upon me; and that, for His mercy's sake, He will bring us from this wretched and stormy world into His rest, where we shall need no letters, where no wall shall dissever us, where no porter shall keep us from talking together, but that we may have the fruition of the eternal joy with God the Father, and with His only begotten Son, our Redeemer, Jesus Christ, with the Holy Spirit of them both, the Holy Ghost proceeding from them both. And in the mean season, Almighty God grant both you and me, good Master Bonvyse, and all mortal men everywhere, to set at nought all the richness of this world, with all the glory of it, and the pleasure of their life also, for the love and desire of that joy. Thus of all friends most truly, and to me most dearly beloved, and as I was wont to call you the apple of mine eye, right heartily fare ye well. And Jesus Christ keep you safe and sound, and in good health all your family, which be of like affection towards me as their master is.-THOMAS MORE. I should in vain put to it-yours, for thereof can you not be ignorant, since you have bought it with so many benefits; nor now I am not such a


that it forceth whose I am.

But for Bonvisi, with possibly another friend or of his stamp, and Margaret Roper, More's daughter, this great and good man would have been left by his murderers without proper clothes to cover him, or proper food to eat. When the order for his execution came to the Tower, and Sir Thomas Pope,

his singular good friend,

having informed More of his fate


--he was to die before in the morning of that same day-had left him to himself, Sir Thomas, as that had been invited to a solemn banquet, changed himself into his best apparel, and put on his silk camlet gown, which his

entire friend, Mr. Antonie Bonvisi,

gave him whilst he was in the Tower. He was induced, however, by the representations of the lieutenant, to take it off again, as it would have otherwise become a perquisite of the executioners. He then went cheerfully to the block, his wit and humour flashing brightly to the last.

Mr. Lieutenant, see me safe up,

said he, referring to the danger that had been expressed of the weakness of the scaffold,

and for my coming down let me shift for myself.

So perished this the greatest of the inhabitants of Crosby Place. His connexion with it can be scarcely said to have ended even then; for Bonvisi in leased Crosby Place to William Roper, the husband of More's favourite daughter, Margaret, the affectionate and noble and high-spirited woman who so greatly contributed to the comfort of her father in his worst trials; and to William Rastell, his nephew before mentioned. In the reign of Edward VI., Bonvisi, Roper, and Rastell appear to have been all driven abroad by religious persecution, and the estate of Crosby Place forfeited. It was then granted to Sir Thomas D'Arcy, knight, Lord D'Arcy of Chule. But immediately on the accession of Mary, the persecution having changed sides, Bonvisi and his friends were free to return, which they did in the year of her reign, and immediately regained their property. The next proprietors were Peter Crowle, Germayne Cioll, who married a cousin of Sir Thomas Gresham's, (the daughter of Sir John Gresham, with whom Thomas was apprenticed,) and William Bond, Alderman of London, and his sons. Some extensive alterations are supposed to have been made during the alderman's proprietorship; a turret in particular is mentioned as having been built by him, which greatly increased the height of the building. No traces of this turret are now to be found. From the inscription on the alderman's tomb in the adjoining church of St. Helen's it appears that he had been in his day a personage of considerable energy and importance :--

Here lieth the body of William Bond, alderman, and some time Sheriff of London, a merchant adventurer, and most famous in his age for his great adventures both by sea and land.

In Sir John Spencer purchased Crosby Place, and kept his mayoralty that year in it, doubtless with great splendour. He was perhaps the richest citizen of his day, as he died worth nearly a million sterling. He was called

The Rich Spencer.

His daughter and sole heiress married William, the Lord Compton, afterwards Earl of Northampton, who was so transported at the value of his inheritance that he lost his wits, and remained for some years in that state. If he had weighed a little more closely the capabilities of his wife to spend the enormous wealth she brought him, it would perhaps have somewhat moderated his transports. Her fortune was large certainly, but we may see from the following unique letter, written to her husband soon after their marriage, that her ideas of her wants were fully

equal to



My sweet Life,--Now I have declared to you my mind for the settling of your state, I suppose that it were best for me to bethink and consider within myself what allowance were meetest for me. I pray and beseech you to grant to me,

your most kind and loving wife, the sum of


, quarterly to be paid. Also I would, besides that allowance, have


, quarterly to be paid, for the performance of charitable works; and those things I would not, neither will be, accountable for. Also I will have


horses for my own saddle, that none shall dare to lend or borrow; none lend but I, none borrow but you. Also I would have


gentlewomen, lest


should be sick, or have some other let; also, believe it, it is an undecent thing for a gentlewoman to stand mumping alone, when God hath blessed their lord and lady with a great estate. Also when I ride a-hunting or a-hawking, or travel from


house to another, I will have them attending; so for either of these said women I must and will have for either of them a horse. Also I will have




gentlemen; and I will have my




lined with velvet to myself, with


very fine horses; and a coach for my women, lined with cloth, and laced with gold, otherwise with scarlet and laced with silver, with


good horses. Also I will have




for my own coach, the other for my women. Also, at any time when I travel, I will be allowed not only coaches and spare horses for me and my women, but I will have such carriages as shall be fitting for all; orderly, not pestering my things with my women's, nor theirs with either chambermaid's, nor theirs with wash-maids'. Also, for laundresses, when I travel, I will have them sent away before the carriages, to see all safe; and the chambermaids I will have go before, that the chamber may be ready, sweet, and clean. Also, for that it is undecent for me to crowd up myself with my gentleman-usher in my coach, I will have him to have a convenient horse to attend me either in city or country. And I must have


footmen. And my desire is that you defray all the charges for me. And for myself, besides my yearly allowance, I would have


gowns of apparel,


of them excellent good ones,


of them for the country, and


other of them very excellent good ones. Also I would have to put in my purse




, and so you to pay my debts. Also I would have


to buy me jewels, and


to buy me a pearl chain. Now, seeing I have been and am so reasonable unto you, I pray you do find my children apparel and their schooling, and all my servants, men and women, their wages. Also I will have all my houses furnished, and my lodging-chambers to be suited with all such furniture as is fit; as beds, stools, chairs, suitable cushions, carpets, silver warming-pans, cupboards of plate, fair hangings, and such like. So for my drawing-chambers in all houses, I will have them delicately furnished, both with hangings, couch, canopy, glass, carpet, chairs, cushions, and all things thereunto belonging. Also my desire is that you would pay your debts, build up Ashley House, and purchase lands, and lend no money, as you love God, to my Lord Chamberlain, who would have all, perhaps your life.

So now that I have declared to you what I would have, and what it is that I would not have, I pray you, when you be an earl, to allow me


more than I now desire, and double attendance.

This lady, who so considerately values herself upon her reasonableness, most probably occasionally resided here with her husband, during Sir John Spencer's lifetime, as well as after his death, which took place in . Sir John, it appears, made some alterations in the place, and

builded a most large

warehouse near thereunto.

Ambassadors were entertained on several occasions here. The most important event of this kind took place during the

Rich Spencer's

proprietorship; when no less important a person than M. de Rosney, afterwards the Duke of Sully, Henry IV. of France's great adviser, was entertained in Crosby Place. He came to London on a special embassy to James I., in the hope of inducing James to maintain the league which had existed between Elizabeth, France, and the Hollanders, and to prevent him from making peace with Roman Catholic Spain. Sully had difficulty to contend with. Many excesses had been committed by the retinue of a former ambassador, and he therefore anticipated finding a strong popular prejudice against him. Referring to this and to the discredit which he felt such transactions cast upon his country, Sully writes,

I was fully resolved that if my conduct could not clear France from this reproach, it should not at least be incurred by those over whom I had authority. But in these cases precepts are seldom effectual; I therefore enforced them by an example, for which an opportunity happened almost immediately. I was the next day accommodated with apartments in a very handsome house (Crosby Place), situate in a great square, near which all my retinue were also provided with the necessary lodgings. Some of them went to entertain themselves with common women of the town. At the same place they met with some English, with whom they quarrelled, fought, and


of the English was killed. The populace, who were before prejudiced against us, being excited by the family of the deceased, who was a substantial citizen, assembled, and began loudly to threaten revenge upon all the French, even in their lodgings. The affair soon began to appear of great consequence; for the number of people assembled upon the occasion was presently increased to upwards of

three thousand

, which obliged the French to fly for an asylum into the house of the ambassador. I did not at


take notice of it; the evening advanced, and I was playing at primero with the Marquis d'Oraison, Saint-Luc, and Blerancourt. But observing them come in at different times, by




together, and with great emotion, I at last imagined something extraordinary had happened, and, having questioned Terrail and Gadancourt, they informed me of the particulars. The honour of my nation, my own in particular, and the interest of my negotiation, were the


objects that presented themselves to my mind. I was also most sensibly grieved that my entry into London should be marked at the beginning by so fatal an accident; and at that moment I am persuaded my countenance plainly expressed the sentiments with which I was agitated. Guided by my


impulse, I arose, took a flambeau, and, ordering all that were in the house (which was about a


) to range themselves round the walls, hoped by this means to discover the murderer, which I did without any difficulty, by his agitation and fear. He was for denying it at


, but I soon obliged him to confess the truth. He was a young man, and the son of the Sieur de Combant, principal examiner in Chancery, very rich, and a kinsman likewise of Beaumont's (the resident French ambassador), who, entering at the moment, desired me to give the young Combant into his hands, that he might endeavour to save him.

I do not wonder,

I replied to Beaumont, with an air of authority and indignation,

that the English and. you are at variance, if you are capable of preferring the interest of yourself and your relations to that of the King and the public; but the service of the King, my master, and the safety of so many gentlemen of good families, shall not suffer for such an imprudent stripling as this.

I told Beaumont in plain terms, that Combant should be beheaded in a few minutes.

How, Sir

cried Beaumont,

behead a kinsman of mine, possessed of two hundred thousand crowns, an only son!--it is but an ill recompense for the trouble he has given himself, and the expense he has been at to accompany you.

I again replied, in as positive a tone,

I had no occasion for such company,

and, to be short, I ordered Beaumont to quit my apartment; for I thought it would be improper to have him present in the council, which I intended to hold immediately, in order to pronounce sentence of death upon Combant. In this council I made choice only of the oldest and the wisest of my retinue; and the affair being presently determined, I sent Arnaud to inform the Mayor of London of it, and to desire him to have his officers ready the next day to conduct the culprit to the place of execution, and to have the executioner there ready to receive him. The mayor returned me for answer, that his


care had been to quiet the tumultuous populace, not doubting but I would do him justice, and that he was just coming to demand it of me when he received my letter and the sentence; he moreover exhorted me to moderate it, either because my severity had disarmed his, or, which seemed most probable, because he had already suffered himself to be corrupted by presents from the friends of the criminal. I sent again to this magistrate to inform him that as no superior authority, nor respect for any person whatever, had determined me to pronounce this sentence, I could not consent to revoke it; that by carrying it into execution I should justify the King my master, and give the English nation a convincing proof that I had done everything upon the occasion which my duty required; therefore, in such an affair, I could only acquit myself of it by committing it to him, and by resigning the prisoner to such punishment as justice and the laws of England required. I accordingly sent Combant to him; so that the whole procedure became a particular affair between the mayor and Combant, or rather Beaumont, who, without much difficulty, obtained this magistrate's consent to set Combant at liberty,--a favour which none could impute to me; on the contrary, I perceived both the French and English seemed to think that if the affair had been determined by me, it would not have ended so well for Combant; and the consequence of this to me, with respect to the English and French, was that the former began to love me, and the latter to fear me more.

[n.327.1]  Although the character of Sully precludes the idea that he would have hesitated in allowing the civic authorities to put Combant to death, had they so wished, yet it seems to us tolerably evident that Sully deserves great credit for his finesse; his severity disarmed that of more dangerous judges, and we have no doubt saved the young man's life. We may dismiss the Duke de Sully with the remark that by his address, his winning manners, (it is said he bribed the Queen herself), he completely succeeded in his objects. During the proprietorship of Lord Compton and his rich wife, another distinguished tenant


graced the halls of Crosby Place. This was the lady whose name was so affectionately attached by Sir Philip Sidney to his famous romance:

The Countess of Pembroke's Arcadia

is its title, in compliment to his beloved sister. We need scarcely add that this also was the lady whom Ben Jonson has celebrated in of the prettiest epitaphs in our language. The Countess of Pembroke lived so many years in Crosby Place that her history is a part of its own.

Underneath this sable hearse

Lies the subject of all verse:

Sidney's sister, Pembroke's mother.

Death, ere thou canst find another

Good, and fair, and wise as she,

Time shall throw a dart at thee!

Spencer, Earl of Northampton, the son of the last-mentioned proprietor, resided here in . This nobleman was of the most strenuous supporters of Charles I., and almost the of his order who shed his blood in his service. He was killed by the King's side at Hopton Heath, in Staffordshire, in . years before Crosby Place had been leased to Sir John Langham, who was sheriff in , during whose occupation it is said to have been used as a prison for royalists. His son, Sir Stephen Langham, succeeded him, and it is supposed that it was during his tenancy that the fire occurred by which Crosby Place was so greatly injured, that from that period it ceased to be used as a dwelling. In the hall was converted into a Presbyterian meeting-house, and so remained for nearly a century (a son of the eminent divine, Calamy, was of the assistant preachers here about ), and in the present houses in were built on the ruins of the parts of the old mansion that had been destroyed. Its history is now nearly brought to a conclusion. After the disuse of the hall as a meeting-house it was degraded into a packer's warehouse, and whilst thus occupied, received the most serious injury from the alterations which were made in it. In the lease upon which the hall had been held expired; and from that time the most unremitting exertions have been made by a committee of gentlemen, who had taste to appreciate the historical and architectural value of Crosby Place, to restore the remaining parts of the structure to their pristine state: and the subscriptions received have in a great measure enabled them to accomplish this object. Extensive reparations have taken place, and much of the original mansion has been rebuilt. The stone of the new works was laid on the , by the Right Honourable W. T. Copeland, Lord Mayor, when a plan of them, with other documents of the subject, were deposited in a bottle, and the latter placed in a cavity of the stone formed to receive it. After that portion of the ceremony was over the Lord Mayor led the way into the hall, which was fitted up in a characteristic manner for the occasion. Banners floated along the walls, the floor was strewed with rushes, and a genuine old Elizabeth breakfast, including a noble baron of beef, was spread upon the tables.

Our description of Crosby Place will necessarily be but brief, when compared with the space we have devoted to its history. For although, as a work of art, Crosby Place presents some unrivalled features, the roof of its hall for instance, yet its historical recollections constitute its greatest charm. If we take as our guide the plan of the vaults still existing beneath the site of


Crosby Place and the neighbourhood, it will be evident that the original edifice must have been as magnificent for its extent as for the general beauty of its decorations. Large as is the space occupied by the hall and the council-chamber, with the throne-room above, (the only remaining portions of Crosby Place,) yet it scarcely occupies half the extent denoted by the remains below the soil. Among these remains there is particularly interesting feature, a crypt with a finely groined roof, now occupied as a wine cellar. From its situation it appears highly probable that this stood beneath a chapel belonging to Crosby Place; although we must also state that it is the opinion of persons well qualified to judge that it belonged to a chapel of the old Priory of St. Helen's. The entrance to Crosby Place is through a small gateway; as we pass through this, the view shown at the commencement of our paper meets the eye. This is the exterior of the hall, consisting of story only, with its lofty and elegant windows, and its exquisitely beautiful oriel window, reaching from the ground to the top of the building, and the exterior of the council-chamber, with the throne-room above. It may be noticed that the windows to the extreme right of the hall differ from the remainder, in being closer together. These give light to a part of the building which formed the gallery of the hall, extending over the gateway seen in the drawing, which leads into , formerly the inner court of the great mansion. Beneath this gateway, it is supposed, was the original entrance to the hall; at present, however, we reach the interior of Crosby Place through a low postern doorway, situated in the angle between the wall of the council-chamber and the great oriel window. We enter upon the council-chamber, or, as it is sometimes called, the dining-room. This is lighted by windows which look into the small quadrangle we have just quitted, and by situated in the left-hand corner of the opposite wall. This window is large, lofty, and of a very unique character--a restoration of a former work. There was formerly also a beautiful bay window looking into the quadrangle, and the blank arch of which still remains. The only other peculiar features of this room are the flat, massy-ribbed ceiling, which is modern, (and although in accordance with the character of the room, forms still but a poor substitute for the elaborately elegant work of stucco and gold, with dropping pendants, which formerly met the eye in the same place;) and the chimney-piece, which consists of a low, pointed, and very broad arch, set within square deep mouldings. We next ascend to the throne-room: why so called it is impossible to say. This is a very beautiful room, with a rounded ceiling, divided into small compartments by slender ribs of oak, and lighted in a very similar manner to the room beneath. of the windows, however, looking into the quadrangle has the additional ornament of a richly-painted border, and the window in the corner is still more unique, as well as infinitely more beautiful, than that of the council-chamber directly below. It extends from floor to ceiling, is situated within a small recess panelled at the sides and beautifully ornamented at the top, and is divided into compartments by a slender stem in the centre, which at the top has a small knot of ornament falling, like a bunch of fruit, a little on each side, and giving to the ster, when seen from the opposite wall, of the most graceful forms that it is possible to conceive. Descending to the


council-chamber, we find, besides the low postern door through which we entered, a larger , which admits us into the innermost sanctuary of the place,--the Great Hall. The noble proportions of this place, and the surpassing beauty of its roof, built not less than years ago, will be more evident to our readers from an attentive examination of the engraving of the hall than from any written description that we could give them. We pass on, therefore, to notice such other of its chief features as the engraving does not or cannot convey. And as to its dimensions. It is feet long, ½ broad, and feet high. The breadth of the oriel window is feet inches, and its height the height of the hall. This window is richly decorated with a series of armorial bearings, the tasteful and munificent present of Thomas Willement, Esq., and which, though of so recent an origin, have all the appearance of ancient works of art. We see among them the arms of St. Helen's Priory, the earliest proprietor of the place, of Sir John Crosby the builder, of the City of London, so many of whose eminent citizens have made the hall ring again with the sound of festive hospitality, of Richard the

crook-backed tyrant,

whose few days' residence here will preserve the name of Crosby Place when the last vestige of its architectural glories shall have disappeared, and of Henry's murdered Chancellor, Sir Thomas More, the wise, learned, amiable, and witty author of the


The remainder comprise the arms and badges of Richard's Queen, and of the House of York, Sir Thomas D'Arcy, William Bond and his company, and the

Rich Spencer

and his company. The other windows of the hall are similarly decorated, those on the same side containing the arms of various subscribers to the expenses of the restoration, and those on the opposite, among others, of Sir John Rest, the Duke of Sully, Lord Compton, and the present owner, W. P. Williams Freeman, Esq. In the very beautiful roof of the oriel window we perceive, among the knots of foliage that still bloom for us as they bloomed for our ancestors hundreds of years ago, a boss of superior size, on which is carved in relief a ram trippant,--the crest of Sir John Crosby, and which is looked upon, and in all probability correctly, as having been placed there by Sir John himself to commemorate his name as the founder of the magnificence around. The louvre, or opening in the centre of the roof, has caused much discussion. In ancient halls the smoke had frequently no other mode of escape than by the louvre; but here there is a regular chimney, with a front like that of the council-chamber :--perhaps the chimney was of later construction. The aperture of the louvre is now closed by the same piece of woodwork that was formerly elevated above it. of the hall remains to a certain extent in its original state, when it was paved with stone in small square slabs arranged diagonally, the whole being divided by lines formed in a similar manner, running from end of the hall to the other.

It is singular,

says Mr. Blackburne,[n.330.1] 

that Crosby Hall shows no indication of a


dais; and the only instance I recollect of a similar departure from the general custom is to be met with at Sawston Hall, Cambridgeshire.

The walls of the part thus distinguished were usually hung with arras, and this was no doubt the case in Crosby Hall. The dais here must have occupied a very large space, as the oriel window, which was always included in it, stands at some considerable distance


from the northern wall. In this wall there was most probably a communication with a little room still existing behind it, from which a handsome doorway, with lights above (lately restored), led into the part which was then, it is supposed, the small private garden or


of the mansion, but which now forms an open space in front of St. Helen's Church. Lastly, we may notice the gallery of the hall, which still remains, though stripped of all its decoration, and hidden by the canvass which covers that end of the room. We have taken the liberty to restore it in our engraving to what we may conceive to be something like its original aspect. Galleries of this kind were generally denominated the Minstrels' Gallery, and the name bespeaks its use. At the commemoration of Sir Thomas Gresham, celebrated on the , the gallery of Crosby Hall was occupied by the choir engaged in the musical performance of that interesting festival after the conclusion of the service in the church. This, if we may adopt the opinion of the eloquent Gresham professor of music, given in a lecture delivered in Crosby Hall in , was but a type of the rich musical memories of the place. Referring to of the many madrigals, and other vocal pieces, composed in honour of the

fair vestal throned by the west,

under the poetical appellation of Oriana, and which it has been supposed Elizabeth herself could not resist from encouraging, Mr. Taylor says, and with his remarks we conclude:--

In this spacious and beautiful hall we may not only be sure that these compositions have often been sung, but this is the only remaining edifice in London in which we may feel equally assured that some of our greatest vocal writers have assembled to give and to receive pleasure in the social performance of their own compositions. Near to this spot was born and lived the celebrated William Byrde, whose writings remain to this day monuments of splendid genius and profound erudition; from whom his scholar, Morley, gratefully confessed to have

received the will and the power to enter into the contemplation and searching out of the hidden mysteries and divine enjoyments of his art, and derived the wish and the means to live in after times.

Near to this spot was also born the pupil whose affectionate gratitude is recorded in these words, and whose works abundantly prove that he had indulged in no vain and visionary anticipations in predicting their prolonged existence. Near to this spot also lived the sweetest of all that illustrious choir, who enriched our art with never-dying strains, John Wilbye. Near this spot were produced those compositions which are still the study and delight of his successors, and which are destined to charm generations yet to come. Near this spot, too, stood the princely mansion of Gresham, bequeathed by him to the use and benefit of his fellow-citizens, where he designed instruction in religion, in science, and in art, to be freely and liberally dispensed to all; founding a temple of learning, whose doors should be open, and whose advantages should be accessible, to every inquirer after knowledge, however humble in station or mean in acquirements; and, lastly, near this spot repose the honoured remains of its founder (in the same church that contains the ashes of Sir John Crosby, the founder of the splendid


). Here, then, a


interesting associations crowd upon the mind, and connect themselves with the lives and labours of these illustrious men; for here the musician, as well as the

architect and the historian, feels that he is treading classic ground. Imagination calls up the time when this hall was thronged with the noble, the learned, the graceful of past ages; when the hospitable board was here spread, and among the guests, Gresham, the princely merchant, the friend, and the neighbour; Byrde, Wilbye, Morley, the most accomplished musicians of their time, all living under the shadow of this building, when this spacious roof echoed to the sound of their harmonies, and when

The health of the Queen

was followed by some madrigal in praise of fair Oriana.


[n.321.1] Hall's Chronicles, 1548, fol. lvi.

[n.321.2] Survey, Ed. 1633, p. 321.

[n.322.1] See the Old Spring-Time in London, p. 172.

[n.322.2] As translated from the original by Sir Thomas More's great grandson, in his Life of his illustrious ancestor.

[n.327.1] Memoirs of the Duke of Sully. 4to. London, 1756. Vol, ii. p. 174,

[n.330.1] Architectural and Historical Account of Crosby Place.