The History and Antiquities of London, Westminster, Southwark, and Parts Adjacent, vol. 4

Allen, Thomas

1827

This parish is bounded on the north by in the fields and St. Andrew, ; on the west by , and in the fields; on the east by the ward of Farringdon Without, and on the south by the river Thames.

Its particular bounds are as follows: commencing at it advances northward between and Drury-court, behind the houses on the south side of , through , to the Roman , which is in this parish; thence to the south-west angle of Lincoln's-inn-fields, behind the houses on the south side of which it proceeds to about the middle of Lincoln's-inn gardens, where it turns north to ; thence on the north side of to the bars, where it abuts

338

on the city; its course is then southerly, on the west side of Castletie-street, behind Greystoke-place, and the west side of , by , to Temple-bar, and thence to .

of the notices of by our historians, is the gift of it by Henry II.--to the knights templars. After the dissolution of that order, the advowson was conveyed to the canons regular of the church of the Holy Sepulchre, Warwick, who had other possessions in this parish, part of which Newcourt supposes to have been the site of Essex-house. Those exchanged it with Stapleton, bishop of Exeter, in the gift of whose successors it continued till Edward VI. thought proper to grant it to Edward, duke of Somerset; after whose death, the crown, having a possession, granted it to sir Thomas Palmer. The earl of Exeter possessed the patronage at the commencement of the last century, and his successors still hold it. A composition is mentioned by Newcourt to have been made in , between the master and fellows of the hospital of the Savoy, and James Fitzjames, rector; in which it was agreed the hospital should receive all the tithes and other emoluments due from the inhabitants residing within its limits, for an annual payment to the rector of of ; the master and successors taking upon themselves the administration of all sacraments, &c. to their inmates. The priest and churchwardens are possessed (to the use of the church and the morrow-mass priests' wages) of tenements, of the rent by year . The parish clerks in , estimate the value at per annum, but that not more than was received; which, from the New View of London, , appears to have been repeated.

The origin of the addition of Danes to this church has never, been, and probably never will be, clearly ascertained; yet various have been the conjectures respecting it. Pennant says it was so called either from being the place of interment of Harold the Harefoot, or of the massacre of certain Danes who had taken refuge there.

The apocryphal William of Malmsbury says, that the invading Danes burnt the church which before their time stood on this spot; so that it would appear that here stood a church in very early times.

Another reason given for the denomination of this church is, that when most of the Danes were driven out of England, the few that remained, being married to English women, were obliged to live betwixt the Isle of Thorney and Ludgate, where they erected a place of devotion, which was afterwards consecrated, and called

Ecclesia Clementis Danorum.

Such is the account which the recorder Fleetwood gave to the lord treasurer Burleigh, who resided in this parish.

A much later writer thinks that the church was originally built

339

by the Danes; who, from the contentions arising betwixt them and the Normans, were banished by the city, and were obliged to inhabit this suburb. The church arose in consequence, and was dedicated in compliment to pope Clement II. or probably, as his reign was short, it might only be termed

the church of the Danes,

and acquired the addition or prefix of during the time of the crusade, in the reign of Richard I. as it was well known that Clement III. who then filled the papal chair, not only took an active part in the holy war, but, by the means of the knights templars, and other orders, had a much greater influence in this country than any of his predecessors; it is, therefore, probable Mr. Moser thinks that he might be honoured by the dedication of this and other churches to his patron saint and martyr of the century.

Hughson, in his History of London, gives the following account, which he supposes the most probable origin of this parish. He has, as he informs us, been favoured with certain manuscript collections made by Mr. William towards compiling a History of parish; and from this collection he has made the following extract. Mr. , after extracting from Francis Thynne,

that the Danes in the reign of Ethelred despoiled the abbey of Chertsey, and murdered

ninety

of the fraternity,

proceeds in William of Malmsbury's statement, as above: and then advances his own opinion.

That it could not take its name from the first of these events is certain; for Harold died in the year 1040, at which time it was the burying-place of the Danes, and seems to have been well known as such by the fishermen who found the body, bringing it immediately to this sepulture. This, I think, proves that its name did not originate from that circumstance. With regard to the second: take off its monkish dress, and it implies no more than that in an excursion made by the Danes, they plundered the monastery of Chertsey, and returned home, not to Denmark, but to their place of settlement, St. Clement Danes; where, for aught the monks knew, they died natural deaths; it not being probable that they would be destroyed by their own countrymen, who perhaps were sharers in the booty.

If I might be permitted to hazard a conjecture, it should be, that the church was built by Alfred the Great, about the year 886, when he drove the Danes out of London. Those who submitted to his arms and government, it is probable, he settled without the walls, beyond the bar; which, with Shire-lane, was the boundary of these aliens. The corroboration of this circumstance is strengthened by the names of the latter place, as Alfred was the first monarch who divided his kingdom into shires and parishes. His desire also to instil into the minds of the vanquished heathens a notion of Christianity, might induce him to form this district into a parish; and as in reforming the nation, he repaired many monasteries and built churches, the parish church of the Danes most probably was first constructed at this period.

Previous to , the church of St. Clement had felt the effects of time so severely, that the inhabitants were compelled to rebuild the steeple, which was finished in that year. The portion so rebuilt comprises all the square tower, except the upper story. The church underwent the same operation, and was completed in . The design of the church was made by sir Christopher Wren, and it was built by Edward Peirce under his directions, except the upper works of the steeple, which were added some years afterwards by James Gibbs. The church is a large and handsome building of stone: the plan shows an oblong square, the eastern end sweeping in a semi-circular direction, and broken in the centre by a small chancel, the end of which is square, but the angles are rounded off; at the west end is an attached tower, flanked by vestibules.

The tower possesses a considerable altitude; it is carried up square to the height of stories; the basement is fronted by a porch, consisting of an arched doorway between pilasters, in pairs, surmounted by an entablature: above the centre of which is a pannel, with the following inscription:--

This church was repaired A. D.

1817

. Rev. W. Gurney, M.A. rector;

Thomas Capper, William Dew, churchwardens.

The uncouth pedimental finish seems to mark an earlier period than the rebuilding of the church by Wren; the story has an arched window made into lights by a single million; the arch bounded by a sweeping cornice, a poor attempt at an imitation of the pointed style; the story has a circular window in the west front, and a sun-dial in the south flank. Up to this story the tower has buttresses at the angles, which have been modernized into obelisks. The story is clear of the church; in every front is a repetition of the window in the story. The elevation is here finished with a block cornice; and at this point the old tower terminated. The and last story is in a better kind of architecture; it consists of a stylobate, in each face of which is an ornamented pannel, containing the dials of the clock; in the upper part of the elevation an arched window rusticated, which is also repeated in every aspect. The elevation is finished by a block cornice, which

terminates the square portion of the tower. This story, and all the succeeding parts, are the work of Gibbs. A pyramidal structure of stone, which in plan is octangular, rises

from the platform in diminishing stories. The story is of .the Ionic order; it has its stylobate, from which Ionic pilasters, situated at the angles of the design, take their rise. They are surmounted by the entablature of the order, upon the cornice of which are vases corresponding in number and situation with the pilasters; in each face of the structure is an arched window; the angles of the square tower are surmounted with vases, to avoid the abruptness

341

occasioned by the sudden transition from the square to the octagon plan. The story is similar, the order being Corinthian, and each face of the elevation concaved; the story is of the composite order, and the angles have columns instead of pilasters. This story is crowned with a low dome, surmounted by a lantern, ending in a vane.

The lower stories of the tower are flanked by vestibules in stories; in the western fronts are low arched doorways, surmounted by circular windows, and in the flanks arched windows are substituted for the doorways. The elevations are finished with cornices and parapets, crowned with spherical domes covered with lead. The west front of the church rises to a considerable height behind the vestibules, and ends pedimentally raking up.to the tower. The south side of the church is made into stories; in the lower is a doorway near the west end, covered with a pediment and low arched windows, nearly square; in the upper story are lofty arched windows, the key-stones carved with cherubs, and the spandrils with festoons of foliage. The elevation finishes above the windows with a cornice, surmounted by a ballustrade, on which were formerly vases above the solids, which were tastelessly removed at the general repair in .

The doorway in this side had formerly a circular pavilion composed of columns of the Ionic order, sustaining a dome: this was evidently an addition of Gibbs to the work of Wren; it was removed at the last repair. The north flank is uniform with that already described, except the doorway, which has no pediment. The sweeping portion of the east front has windows on each side the chancel, corresponding in design with the side elevations of the church. The chancel has a large arched window divided by stone-work, so often met with in Wren's works, in the east front, and arched windows corresponding with the church in the upper story of the flanks; the elevations of which finish with a ballustrade, but the east end has an elliptical pediment instead, above which is a shield charged with an anchor, and the letters S. C. D.

The roof rises to a high ridge in the centre, and is increased in breadth by lean-tos above the aisles; it is entirely covered with lead. The interior is distinguished by a grandeur in its arrangement, which, if the length of the building was adequate, would have produced an effect almost unrivalled; on each side the nave square piers; the height of the gallery sustain as many Corinthian columns; at the east end other columns are disposed in front of the chancel to accommodate the semi-circular place; the ceiling is an arched vault, elliptical over the centre division, and coved at the altar end to suit the circular finish; it is pierced with arches over every intercolumniation, and the side aisles are divided into

342

groined compartments by other arches turned over the aisles, and received on an impost of fascia attached to the side walls. The ceiling of the nave springs from imposts over the columns, similar to the aisles; it is divided by bands into compartments equal with the intercolumniations; the soffits pannelled in squares and oblongs, the latter filled with foliage; the semicircular cove at the east end contains the arms of king James II.; in the centre, from the sides of which spring roses and thistles, overspreading the remainder of the vault; below the arms is a pannel with an inscription quite illegible, from its height and the darkness of this part of the church.

The springings of the ribs are enriched with shields with the anchor, &c. as before, and cherubic heads, and the soffits of the bands and arches with guillochi; the whole are executed in the most splendid style of composition, which prevailed in the period when the church was built; the arrangement of the eastern end would have a fine effect if the church were longer: the design shews the superior taste of the architect, and forms a pleasing variation to his numerous other works. The intercolumniation at the chancel is wider than the rest, and the flanks are covered with arches returned from the main columns and received on the capitals of engaged columns; the chancel is recessed and covered with a hemi-spherical dome; the soffit enriched with lozenge-shaped pannels containing flowers; the upright is divided into stories; the lower is occupied by the altar screen, which has a large division in the centre covered with an elliptical pediment; in the tympanum a pelican; on each side are Corinthian columns crowned with an entablature set round with vases; the intervals on the screen bear the customary inscriptions. The altar is porphyry sustained on a frame of wrought iron.

An upper gallery is constructed at the west end for the purpose of containing the organ and seats for the charity children.

The pulpit is hexagonal, and is enriched with a profusion of handsome carving; the material is dark brown oak; it is situated on the north side of the church. On the opposite side are placed the desks, which are plain and devoid of ornament.

The font, a handsome circular basin of white marble, is situated in a pew near the south-west entrance. Against the east end of the church is a tablet to sir Edward

343

Leche, of Shipley, Derbyshire, a master of chancery. He died , aged .

In the north aisle is a marble slab, recording the foundation of a lecture or sermon on Christmas-day, and Good Friday; by Mrs. Rupertia Hill, of , Cripplegate, on .

In the tower is a good peal of bells; they were cast in , and their weight is tons, .

The expence of rebuilding the church in , was

When the new sewers were constructing in , in , eastward of , the workmen discovered an ancient stone bridge of arch, about feet in length. It was covered several feet in depth by rubbish and soil, and found to be of great strength in the construction. A doubt arises whether this was , or Bridge of the New Temple, passed by the lords and others who attended parliament at , after going out of the city to this place by water; which, wanting repair, Edward III. called upon the knights Templars to effect, or an arch turned over a gully or ditch, when the road, now the street termed , was a continued scene of filth.

27

Edward III. De pavagio vitae quae se ducit a porta, vocat.

Temple Bar

Lond. usque ad Port Abbathiae

Westminster

.

This extract proves that a pavement of some kind was made here in very ancient times; but it must have been in a most lamentable state previous to the above date. If the petition of the inhabitants in the vicinity of the king's palace at may be relied on, , Edward II. which represented that the foot-way at the entrance of Temple-bar, and from thence to the palace, was so bad, that the feet of horses, and rich and poor men, received constant damage, particularly in the rainy season; at the same time the foot-way was interrupted by thickets and bushes; concluding by praying it might be amended. The consequence of this petition was an order appointing William de Leyre, of London, and Richard Abbott, assessors for levying a tax on the inhabitants between Temple-bar and ; and the mayor and sheriffs of London, with the bailiff of , overseers of the repair. But the statute of the and of Henry VIII. exhibits this road as being

full of pits and sloughs, very perilous and noisome.

A writer in the Gentleman's Magazine, describes the state of the earth, as it appeared in digging the sewers, as follows:--The top of this stratum, for about feet and a half deep, is of a reddish yellow colour, and contains here and there the of fossils, called clay balls. In the remaining depth of feet the clay is of a dark lead colour, and contains a few martial pyrites, or heavy irregular black lumps, composed of iron and sulphur, having a shining silver-like appearance when broken.

On the north side of , is St. Clement's-inn,

344

a place of considerable antiquity; proper notice of which will be taken in another part of the work.

Mr. Nightingale conjectures,

that near this spot stood an inn, as far back as the time of king Etheldred, for the reception of penitents who came to

St. Clement's

well; that a religious house was in process of time established, and that the church rose in consequence.

Be this as it may, the holy brotherhood was probably removed to some other situation; the holy lamb, an inn on the west side of the lane, received the guests; and the monastery was converted, or rather perverted, from the purposes of the gospel to those of the law, and was probably in this profession considered as a house of very considerable antiquity in the days of Shakespeare; for he, who with respect to this kind of chronology may be safely quoted, makes, in the part of Henry IV. of his justices a member of that society.

He must to the inns of court. I was of Clement's once myself, where they talk of Mad Shallow still.

A pump now covers well. Fitzstephen, in his description of London, in the reign of Henry II. informs us,

that round the city again, and towards the north, arise certain excellent springs at a small distance, whose waters are sweet, salubrious, and clear, and whose runnels murmur o'er the shining stones: among these, Holywell, Clerkenwell, and

St. Clement's

well, may be esteemed the principal, as being much the most frequented, both by the scholars from the school, (

Westminster

,) and the youth from the city, when in a summers' evening they are disposed to take an airing.

This well was also much resorted to on account of its being supposed of peculiar efficacy in the cure of cutaneous and other disorders, and was consequently a place of importance to devotees. The estimation of its efficacy and sanctity have long ceased.

The church is surrounded by an oval railing. The north side forms a semi-circle, and at the entrance of Clement's-inn, the corporation of London have erected a gate-way of stupendous architecture, to which are added the new almshouses, and vestry-room of the parish; all rebuilt at the expence of the city. The south side of is also rebuilt with very lofty dwellings, capacious shops of various descriptions; and, , notwithstanding the unlucky twist of the scite, has a situation superior to any other church in London.

parish (says Mr. Malcolm) certainly contained the residences of many of our most ancient noble families, nay, tradition will have it, that the great duke de Sully, minister to Henry IV. of France, was an inhabitant of .

At that time a house in it was occupied by Christopher Harley, count Beaumont, ambassador from France, in , and the duke de Sully, who came over as ambassador extraordinary, resided here for

345

a few days after his arrival, till Arundel-house, then situated where now is, could be prepared for his reception.

 
 
Footnotes:

[] Penn. Lond. p. 135.

[] Mr. Moser: vide Vestiges, &c. Europ. Mag. July 1802, p. 13.

[] Vol. iv. p. 150.

[] The columns are wood, and their appearance is not improved by the hoops of iron which bind them together.

[] In 1725, much ferment was occasioned in this parish, by an order from Dr. Gibson, bishop of London, for the removal of an altar-piece painted by Kent, which had been placed in the church at no small expence, and which was supposed to contain the portraits of the pretender's wife and children. Of this famous painting Hogarth engraved an exact fac simile. See Mr. Nichol's Biographical Anecdotes of Hogarth, 1783, pp. 136, 492. The original, after being removed from the church, was for some years one of the ornaments of the coffee-room at the Crown and Anchor in the Strand, from which place it was removed to the vestry-room, over the old almshouses in the church-yard, where remained till 1803; and has been since removed into the new vestry-room on the north side of the church-yard.

[] Vol. lxxii. p. 968.

[] Beauties of England, vol. x. pt. iv. p. 168.

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 Title Page
 Dedication
CHAPTER I: Site, local divisions, and government of the City of Westminster; history of the Abbey; Coronation Ceremonies; and lists of the Abbots and Deans
CHAPTER II: Westminster Abbey, and Description of the Tombs and Monuments
CHAPTER III: History and Topography of St. Margaret's Parish
CHAPTER IV: History and Topography of St. John's Parish, Westminster
CHAPTER V: History and Topography of the parish of St. Martin's in the Fields, Westminster
CHAPTER VI: History and Topogrpahy of the parish of St. James, Westminster
CHAPTER VII: History and Topography of the Parish of St. Anne, Westminster
CHAPTER VIII: History and Topography of the parish of St. Paul, Covent Garden
CHAPTER IX: History and Topography of the Parish of St. Mary-le-strand
CHAPTER X: History and Topogrpahy of the parish of St. Clement Danes
CHAPTER XI: History and Topography of the parish of st. George, Hanover Square
CHAPTER XII: History and Topography of the Precinct of the Savoy
CHAPTER XIII: History and Topography of the Inns of Court
CHAPTER XIV: History and Topography of the Precincts of the Charter-house and Ely Place, and the Liberty of the Rolls
 CHAPTER XV: Historical Notices of the Borough of Southwark
CHAPTER XVI: History and Topography of the Parish of St. Olave, Southwark
CHAPTER XVII: History and Topography of the parish of St. John, Southwark
CHAPTER XVIII: History and Topography of the parish of St. Thomas, Southwark
CHAPTER XIX: History and Topogrpahy of the parish of St. George's, Southwark
CHAPTER XX: History and Topography of St. Saviour's Parish
CHAPTER XXI: History and Topography of the parist of Christ-church in the County of Surrey
 CHAPTER XXII: A List of the Principal Books, &c that have been published in Illustration of the Antiquities, History, Topography, and other subjects treated of in this Work
 Addenda et Corrigienda
 Postscript