The History and Antiquities of London, Westminster, Southwark, and Parts Adjacent, vol. 2

Allen, Thomas


The Jewel Office.


Is a dark strong stone room, about yards to the eastward of the grand store-house. It is not certain whether this was always the identical repository of the crown jewels, but it is highly probable, that from the moment the Tower became a royal residence, it was the place where the regalia was deposited, though the evidence on record, of its being used as a jewel office, is in an order made in the year of Henry III., to the bishop of Carlisle, directing that the coffers of the king's jewels should be

laid up in the Tower.

From this time, the regalia appears to have been kept in the White Tower until about the middle of the century, when it was removed to a stone room near the grand store-house, which has since been known by the name of the Jewel Office.

Edward the 's expensive wars with France obliged him to pawn his crown and jewels to the merchants of Flanders, and Henry the , to enable him to carry on his wars,

pledged his great collar called the Pusan, or Rich collar, to the mayor and commonalty. of London, as security for

ten thousand marks


Henry the was also on several occasions, reduced to the necessity of pledging his jewels.

The situation of keeper of the regalia was formerly considered an office of great honour and dignity, as well as trust. In the reign of Edward III. John Flete, the keeper of the jewels, whose name


has been preserved, had an allowance of per day, which was in succeeding reigns, gradually increased, so that, in the time of Henry VIII. it was per annum. The smallness of this salary might induce an opinion, that the office was not of much importance, did we not find it held by persons of consideration, among whom was Thomas Cromwell, the favourite and victim of Henry VIII.

The keeper of the regalia was formerly styled

master and treasurer of the jewel-house;

and, in addition to the care of the crown jewels in the Tower, he had the purchasing and custody of the royal plate; the appointment of the king's goldsmiths and jewellers; the supplying of plate to ambassadors, &c. If the emoluments arising from such extensive patronage and authority were not very considerable, offices of this sort must have been differently managed in former times to what they are at present; but that the perquisites of the keeper of the regalia were very great, is evident from their amounting to a year in the reign of Charles II. although they had then undergone considerable reduction.

Previous to the restoration, the keeper of the regalia was allowed a table of dishes, with beer, wine, &c., or daily for board wages; his new-year's gifts amounted to more, for formerly such things were frequent at court, and queen Elizabeth impoverished more than of her courtiers, by receiving presents from them ill-suited to their fortune to bestow. The keeper got about more, by conveying presents to the ambassadors, and he had an allowance of ounces of gilt plate every year. The small presents sent to the king fell to the share of the keeper, and produced him some or annually; and the purses, in which donations of gold from the peers were handed to her majesty, were also given to him. These purses were very splendid, and generally worth or each.

These emoluments were much cut down on the restoration, when sir Henry Mildmay, who had been keeper during the interregnum. was attainted, and the office given to sir Gilbert Talbot; but, in order to augment the reduced salary, Charles II. allowed the regalia, for the time, to be exhibited to the public; a custom that has been continued ever since. Sir Gilbert appointed to the office of shewing the jewels Talbot Edwards, an old servant of his father's, who had the profit arising from the exhibition, for his salary. It was during the time that Mr. Edwards held this office, that colonel Blood made the daring attempt to carry off the crown of England, in which he so nearly succeeded.

The projector of this daring theft (colonel Blood) was an Irishman, who, having spent his substance in following the fortune of king Charles II. while in adversity, thought himself hardly used by being neglected when that prince was restored to his throne; and therefore having engaged in several very desperate,


though unsuccessful, plots, thought of a scheme to make himself amends, by seizing the crown, globe, sceptre, and dove, and carrying them all off together.

To effect this, he put himself into the habit of a doctor of divinity, as most proper for his design. Thus habited, he, with a woman whom he called his wife, went to see the curiosities in the Tower; and while they were viewing the regalia, the supposed Mrs. Blood pretended to be taken suddenly ill, and desired Mr. Edwards, (the keeper of the regalia) to assist her with some refreshment.

Mr. Edwards not only complied with this request, but also invited her to repose herself on a bed, which she did; and, after a pretended recovery, took her leave, together with Blood, with many expressions of gratitude.

A few days after Blood returned, and presented Mrs. Edwards, the keeper's wife, with pair of white gloves, in return for her kindness. This brought on an acquaintance, which being soon improved into a strict intimacy, a marriage was proposed between a son of Edwards and a supposed daughter of colonel Blood; but Edwards's son being at sea, the pretended daughter was under no necessity of making her appearance.

The night before the fact was to be done, the doctor told the old man that he had some friends at his house that wanted to see the regalia, but that they were to go out of town early in the morning; and therefore hoped he would gratify them with a sight although they might come a little before the usual hour. (In this enterprize, Blood engaged accomplices, named Desborough, Kelsy, and Perrot.) Accordingly, of them came, accompanied by the doctor, about in the morning, and the held their horses, that waited for them at the outer gate of the Tower, ready saddled; they had no other apparatus but a wallet, and a wooden mallet, which there was no great difficulty to secrete.

Edwards received them with great civility, and immediately admitted them into his office; but, as it is usual for the keeper of the regalia, when he shows them, to lock himself up in a kind of grate, with open bars, that those things of considerable value may be seen but not soiled, the old man had no sooner opened the door of this place, but the doctor and his companions were in at his heels, and, without giving him time to ask questions, silenced him by knocking him down with a wooden mallet. Blood instantly made flat the bows of the crown, which he put under his cloak; Perrot, of his associates, put the orb in his breeches: and the accomplice began to cut the sceptre in with a file, when the son of Mr. Edwards unexpectedly arrived at the Tower from Flanders: and being told that his father was with some friends that would be very glad to see him, at the Jewel office, he posted thither immediately, and met Blood and his companions just as they were coming out; who, instead of returning and securing him, as in good policy they


should have done, hurried away with the crown and globe, leaving the sceptre behind.

Old Edwards, who was not so much hurt as the villains had apprehended, by this time recovered his legs, and cried out

Treason! Murder!

which being heard by his daughter, she ran out, and gave an alarm; and Blood and Perrot, making uncommon haste, were observed to jog each other's elbows as they went, which gave great reason for suspecting them.

Blood and his accomplices were now advanced beyond the main-guard; but the alarm being given to the warder at the draw-bridge, he put himself in a posture to stop their progress. Blood discharged a pistol at the warder, who, though unhurt, fell to the ground through fear; by which they got safe to the little ward-house gate, where the sentinel, although he saw the warder, to all appearance, shot, made no resistance against Blood and his associates, who now got over the draw-bridge, and through the outer gate, upon the wharf.

At this place they were overtaken by captain Beckman, who had pursued them from Edwards' house. Blood immediately discharged a pistol at Beckman's head; but he stooping down at the instant, the shot missed him, and he seized Blood, who had the crown under his cloak. Blood struggled a long while to preserve his prize; and when it was at length wrested from him, he said,

It was a gallant attempt, how unsuccessful soever; for it was for a crown!

Before Blood was taken, Perrot had been seized by another person; and young Edwards, observing a man that was bloody, in the scuffle, was going to run him through the body, but was prevented by captain Beckman.

When his majesty was informed of these circumstances, and the apprehension of the villains, he desired to examine Blood himself; and while most people thought that some new punishment would be devised, to torture so daring an offender, the king thought proper not only to pardon him and his accomplices, but to grant Blood a pension of a year during his life. It is believed, that Charles's fear for his own safety induced him to pardon Blood, as he had threatened the king that he was connected with a formidable band, who would revenge any act done towards himself.

The arrangements of the jewel room have recently been entirely changed. The space for the visitors is greatly enlarged; and the elegant, but inconvenient iron-work in front is replaced by a smaller and lighter railing. Upon the entrance of a visitor a crimson curtain is drawn aside, and the numerous regalia are displayed at view within enclosures, lined with white cloth, and fronted with large squares of plate glass. The apartment is lighted by argand lamps, with the power of candles, throwing their full lustre on the jewels.



The object is the Golden Wine Fountain, which is nearly feet high, and of the same circumference. At the coronation and other state banquets, it pours out in several divisions.

The Ancient Imperial Crown, which was only laid aside at the crowning of his present majesty. Its arches, flowers and fillets, are covered with large jewels of every colour, surrounding a cap of purple velvet, faced with treble rows of ermine.

The Golden Orb is about inches in diameter, edged with pearls, and girded with precious stones. Under its cross is a remarkably large amethyst. This orb is placed in the king's left hand at the coronation.

The Queen's Crown is composed entirely of diamonds of the largest size. It was made for Mary of Modena, the consort of James II. In Sandford's account of the coronation of that sovereign, its cost is stated at .

The Prince of Wales's Crown is of plain gold, without any jewels. When there is an heir apparent to the throne, it is placed before his seat in the house of lords, on a velvet cushion. During the regency of the present king, it was placed at the left of the regal crown when he went to the parliament house.

The Queen's Orb is somewhat smaller than that of the king's, but composed of the same splendid materials and ornaments.

The Queen's Diadem, composed entirely of pearls and diamonds; differing in shape from her crown, as having no arches. It was made for the consort of William III.

The Ampulla or Golden Eagle; from which, our sovereigns are anointed with the holy oil at their coronation. This ancient piece was brought by the celebrated Thomas a Becket from the abbey of Sens, in France, where it had long been venerated as the actual gift of an angel from heaven!

The Golden Spoon, into which the oil is poured for anointing the king's bosom. It is of equal antiquity with the eagle.

The Golden Sacramental Dishes, which are used at the coronation. On of them is engraven in remarkably bold altorelievo,

The Last Supper ;

on the other, the royal arms of Great Britain. The Golden Chalice, which is used at the same august ceremony. These are also used at Easter, Whitsuntide, and Christmas in the royal chapel of the Tower.

On each side of the enclosure are the Swords of Justice, ecclesiastical and temporal; and in the front, the Curtana, or Sword of Mercy; in their embroidered velvet scabbards.

The Golden Tankards. Out of of these massive and richly chased vessels (that on the right hand), his present majesty drank to the health of his good people at the coronation.

The Golden Salt Cellars of State, which were placed on the table at the coronation banquet.



Interspersed with these splendid utensils, are several of the Golden Plate and Spoons which were displayed at that festival.

In the centre of the shelf, and reaching above the , which is cut through to receive it, is the Golden Baptismal Font; wherein the issue of the royal family are christened. It is upwards of feet in height.

Golden Salt Cellars. These ancient ornaments, which are of exquisite workmanship, were also used at the coronation banquet.

In a sloping frame, lined also with white cloth, and covered with plate glass, are exhibited the golden sceptres of our kings and queens.

The King's Sceptre with .the Cross, which is placed in his majesty's right hand at the coronation. Beneath the cross, which is covered with precious stones, is a very large and fine amethyst. The pommel is ornamented in the like manner; as is also the head, which is composed of triple leaves of jewellery, representing in their form and colour the emblems of the imperial union.

The King's Sceptre with the Dove. The cross, whereon this symbol of peace reposes, is, together with the centre and pommel, richly covered with jewels.

An Ancient Sceptre, discovered in this office in . It is adorned with several valuable jewels, and antique enamel of peculiarly brilliant colour. This sceptre is presumed to have belonged to William III.

The Queen's Sceptre with the Cross is fancifully ornamented with large diamonds. It was made for the coronation of queen Mary, the consort of the above monarch.

The Queen's Ivory Sceptre, which belonged to the consort of James II. is mounted in gold, and bears on its top a dove of white onyx. This sceptre has no jewels, and is only remarkable for its elegant simplicity.

The Staff of St. Edward, the King and Confessor, who reigned in the year . It is made of pure gold, feet inches and a half in length, and weighs lbs. ounces. On the top is a cross, and an orb, wherein a fragment of the real cross is said to be deposited.

On each side of the frame are the King's Golden Spurs, which were buckled on the king's heel at the coronation; and the Queen's Enamelled Bracelets.

On the right hand, standing on a pedestal, and enclosed within a large bell of plate glass, is the Golden Salt Cellar of State, which was set on the king's table at the coronation. It is the model of the White Tower, but fancifully set with jewels, and adorned with cannons, serpents, and other grotesque figures at its base. The spectator is agreeably surprised by the apparently spontaneous movement of this curious piece; which slowly revolves, displaying to the view all its parts in succession.



On the left hand of the spectator is the New Imperial Crown, which was made for the coronation of his present majesty in . The cap of this crown is of crimson velvet, and it is lined with the finest ermine. A double fillet of large pearls are set round the lower rim, and between each row is placed a magnificent band of jewels. crosses pattee, frosted with the richest brilliants, are placed at equal distances above the fillet of pearls. Under the front cross is the largest and the most beautiful azure-coloured sapphire that is known; and the ruby under the back cross, which is as large as the sapphire, is equally unique. It is in its natural state, and has received no polish from art. This beautiful gem, which is semi-transparent, and of a dark red colour, was brought by Edward the Black Prince from Spain, when this gallant hero assisted Peter the Cruel to recover his kingdom, and defeated the hitherto invincible Du Guesclin. This ruby is said to have been worn by the prince at the battle of Cressy, and afterwards by Henry V. in the equally memorable victory of Agincourt.

of the crown are of the imperial form; and the orb, or mound, on which the cross pattee, surmounting the cap rests, is formed of several hoops.of gold, studded with the finest brilliants. The diamond flowers between the arches are of the shape of the emblem of Gallic sovereignty, the This splendid crown, which is unrivalled in value and elegance, is enclosed in a glass globe, which is made to revolve by some ingenious machinery, invented by Mr. March, the resident officer of the board of works in the Tower. By this means, the spectators see every part of it, while powerful argand lamps are so disposed, as to throw upon the jewels every hue their prisms can exhibit.

To the north of the White Tower is the grand store-house, a noble building, extending feet in length, by feet in breadth. It was begun by king James II. who built it to the floor; but king William III. erected that magnificent room, called the new, or small, armoury; in which, when finished, he and his queen, Mary, dined in great form, having all the warrant workmen and labourers to attend them, dressed in new aprons and white gloves.

This noble structure is of brick and stone, and on the north side is a stately door case, adorned with columns, an entablature and triangular pediment of the Doric order. Under the pediment are the king's arms, with enrichments of ornamental trophy-work, by the celebrated artist Gibbons.

The next objects of attention in the Tower are the armouries, of which descriptions have been confidently given, assigning much higher antiquity than is correct. The learned Dr. Meyrick, in his valuable

Inquiry into the Origin of Armour,

satisfactorily proves,

that although in private families a few suits of

earlier date had been preserved in Italy, that of Maximilian, with its steel lamboys, and that of Henry VII., resembling it, are the oldest specimens in Germany and England.

It appears from a survey made by order of Charles II. in , that the principal armour now in the Tower was then at Greenwich, whence it has subsequently been removed. During the civil distractions of the preceding reign, the armoury in Gallery, at Greenwich, was despoiled by the soldiers, and that which remained was afterwards transferred to the Tower. In this survey, which is signed by sir John Robinson, lieutenant of the Tower, and other officers appointed to make the investigation, there is not the slightest mention of the Spanish armoury, or the thumbscrews, racks, &c. which now form so attractive a feature in this exhibition; and yet the surveyors give a very minute list of every thing found in the armouries of the Tower and Greenwich. The Spanish armoury must therefore have been made up subsequent to the reign of Charles II. In Burghley's State Papers, a lottery of foreign armour, probably that of the Armada, is said to have been drawn in the year of Elizabeth, and if the instruments of torture, and the Catholic banner, now exhibited, are really spoils of the Armada, they must have been collected at least a century after they were dispersed by the lottery. There is, however, so little reason to believe, that any portion of the armour, called Spanish, is really so, that little faith can be placed in the authenticity of the instruments of torture, which the growing enmity to the Roman Catholics would readily ascribe to them.

The charges that are made for admission to these


added to the demands of those persons who conduct strangers to view them, form a ground for loud and universal complaint, and are justly looked upon by foreigners as a scandal and disgrace to the nation.

After having noticed the doubts entertained as to the accuracy of the exhibitions in the Tower, a brief survey of the armouries will suffice:

Near the south-west angle of the White Tower is the


[] Rot. Pat. 4 Hen. v. m. 4.

[] Ibid. Hen. vi. p. 1, m. 27, &c.

[] Percy Histories, London, i. 245

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 Title Page
 CHAPTER I: History of London, from the Accession of William and Mary, to the reign of George the Second
 CHAPTER II: History of London during the reign of George the Second
 CHAPTER III: History of London from the Accession of George the Third, to the year 1780
 CHAPTER IV: History of London continued to the Union
 CHAPTER V: History of London from the Union to the Jubilee, 1809
 CHAPTER VI: History of London from the Jubilee to the Peace of 1814
 CHAPTER VII: History of London continued to the accession of George the Fourth
 CHAPTER VIII: Account of the Civil Government of the City by Portreves, Bailiffs, and Mayors, with a list of the latter...
 CHAPTER IX: An account of the Aldermen and Sheriffs, with a list of the latter
CHAPTER X: Lists and brief Accounts of the various Officers and Courts within the City
CHAPTER XI: Some account of the Ecclesiastical Government of the city of London, with a List and Biographical Notices of the Bishops of the see
CHAPTER XII: Some Account of the Military Government of London, and the Artillery Company
CHAPTER XIII: An Account of the twelve principal Companies of the City of London
CHAPTER XIV: An Account of the Companies of the City of London, alphabetically arranged
 CHAPTER XV: An Account of the River Thames
CHAPTER XVI: Historical and topographical account of London Bridge, Westminster Bridge, Blackfriars Bridge, Waterloo Bridge, Southwark Bridge, and the Thames Tunnel
CHAPTER XVII: Topographical and Historical Account of the Tower of London