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

Allen, Thomas

1827

Winchester House.

 

The town residence of the prelates of that see. It was erected about the year , by bishop Gifford, and was of the most magnificent structures in the city or suburbs of London, having a park or domain of or acres. In the of Edward I. , John de Pontissara, a bishop, who was put in by the pope of his own authority, aliened to the prior and convent of St. Swithin, in Winton, certain houses, with a garden, &c. contiguous to his park here, which the bishop had of the gift of William Wyselham, held of the king by the service of knights fees, of the value of This became afterwards the house of the bishops

511

of Rochester. It continued to be the abode of his successors till the beginning of the century, when it was forsaken for the more agreeable residence at lately destroyed.

In , the parliament resolved that the bishop's house here should be used as a prison, and that Mr. William Devenish should be the keeper; and Mr. Willson Ratcliffe was committed thereto during the pleasure of the house. In February following, Devenish was authorised to provide some orthodox and godly ministers to preach in this house for the instruction of the souls of the prisoners, and he was to prohibit any to preach there who were not so qualified, or that were not well affected to the king and parliament.

Among the prisoners confined here was the celebrated sir Kenelm Digby, who here wrote his book on

Bodies,

and amused himself with chemical experiments, and mating artificial stones in imitation of emeralds, rubies, On , it was sold by parliament to Thomas Walker, of Camberwell, for In the indenture of sale was included the park belonging to this mansion; but reverting at the restoration to the rightful owner, the house was for the greatest part demolished, and its site, as well as the park, leased out to different persons, to the great emolument of the see of Winchester.

Vain would be the attempt to determine the extent and arrangement of this palace from its present remains. The site was probably divided into or more grand courts, the principal of which appears to have had its range of state apartments fronting the river; and part of this range is now almost the only elevation that can be traced. Though its external decorations on the north or river front, have been either destroyed or bricked up, yet in the other, facing the south, are many curious doorways and windows in various styles, from that of the early pointed down to the era of Henry VIII. but wofully mutilated, and concealed by sheds, stables, and warehouses.

On the site of a considerable part of this palace was erected the extensive oil and mustard-mills of Messrs. Wardle and Jones. On the evening of the , these extensive works were discovered to be on fire. They burnt with great rapidity: and the flames communicating with several other warehouses, great fears were entertained for the safety of the ancient church nearly adjoining; through great exertion, however, the fire was got under, and no lives were lost.

Ruinous as this alarming fire proved to the valuable property in this neighbourhood, the ever watchful antiquary and the passionate admirers of art, were indebted to it for the discovery of of the finest specimens of early domestic architecture this country has at any time produced. This was the remains of the ancient palace of the bishops of Winchester.

512

 

The ruins of this venerable palace, as they appeared immediately after the fire, are described in various publications of that year; but they have since been considerably demolished, and little now remains; the great wall, which divided the hall from the other apartments, with a magnificent circular window, was built against in the early part of this year.

This beautiful window consists of several triangular compartments, enriched with highly finished tracery of a noble and intricate design. The centre commences with foliage richly worked, from whence proceed radical mullions of alternately unequal intervals; these converge to a pointed trefoil head, and are so arranged as to fall within a hexagon of inches radius, whose sides form the bases of equilateral triangles; these, with more attached to the other sides, compose a hexagon of radius nearly double the extent of the inner hexagon. From the sides of the respective triangles, other indications of the mystical number are set forth by the curvilinear lines, forming rich and beautiful trefoils, which ornament the whole. The diameter of this window, on the west side, inclusive of the architrave or moulding which encircles the whole, is feet inches; but on the east side the architrave is not so wide, though richer in workmanship. The diameter on this side is feet inches.

In the spandrils of a doorway are the arms of Dr. Stephen Gardiner impaled with those of the see of Winchester; and the same arms again repeated on the opposite side of the doorway, leaving out those of the see. Mr. Gwilt, in a communication to the Gentleman's Magazine, says,

This doorway is connected with, and in fact led into, a range of buildings shown in Hollar's View of London, circa

1660

, branching southward of the hall to a considerable distance, much of which is still standing.

 
 
Footnotes:

[] Escheat 27 Edw I. n. 119.

[] Journals of the House of Commons.

[] Ma, 1828.

[] Azure, on a cross or between four gryphons' heads erased ar. a cinque-foil gu.-Vincent, 152.

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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