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

Allen, Thomas


Bank Side


Bank Side was formerly a range of dwellings licensed by the bishops of Winchester, for

the repair of incontinent men to the like women.

These were-denominated

the Bordello, or Stewhouses.

They are mentioned so early as the reign of Henry II. , when they were eighteen in number, under the jurisdiction of the bishop of Winchester, from whence they were called

Winchester geese;

for their regulation, constitutions were published by the bishop, and confirmed by parliament, and subsequently further confirmed by the crown Edward II., .

In a parliament holden at , in the year of the reign of Henry II. it was ordained by the commons, and confirmed by the king and lords,

That divers constitutions for ever should be kept within this lordship or franchise, according to the old customs that had there been time out of mind.

Some of these were:

That no stewholder, or his wife, should let or stay any single woman to go and come freely at all times when they listed.

No stewholder to keep any woman to board, but she to board abroad at her pleasure.

To take no more for women's chamber in the week than fourteen pence.

Not to keep open his doors on the holidays.

Not to keep any single woman in the house on the holidays, but the bailiff to see them voided out of the lordship.

No single woman to be kept against her will that would leave her sin.

No stewholder to receive any woman of religion, or any man's wife.

No single woman to take money to lie with any man by; she may lay with him all night till the morrow.

No man to be drawn or enticed into any stewhouse.

The constables, bailiffs, and others, every week to search every stewhouse.

No stewholder to keep any woman that hath the perilous infirmity of burning; nor to sell bread, ale, fish, wood, coal, or any victuals, &c.

These and many more orders were to be observed, upon great pain and punishment.

There were also several patents of confirmation; exclusive of those mentioned above. In the of Richard II. these stewhouses, then belonging to sir William , mayor of London, were farmed by froes, or bawds, of Flanders, and were destroyed by Wat Tyler and other rebels of Kent.



It seems highly probable, that resentment for the personal injury sustained on this occasion might have had its share, as well as loyalty, in producing the action for which is particularly distinguished. The ordinances respecting these houses were, however, again confirmed by Henry VI., but in , as Fabian informs us, they were for some time uninhabited. It was not long before they were again opened, that is, so many as were permitted;

for whereas before were eighteen houses, from thenceforth were appointed to be used but



These privileged stews had signs painted on the fronts which looked towards the Thames, as the Boar's-head, the Cross-keys, the Gun, the Cardinal's-hat, &c. Stow relates, that the women who frequented them were forbidden the rites of the church, and excluded from Christian burial, unless they were reconciled to it before they died. A plot of ground, called

The Single Women's Church-yard,

at some distance from the parish church, was therefore appointed for their interment. In , these stews were suppressed by Henry VIII. and it was proclaimed by sound of trumpet that they should be no longer privileged and used as a common brothel, but that the inhabitants were to keep good and honest rules, as in other places of this realm.

In the volume of a collection of proclamations, in the library of the Society of Antiquaries of London, p. , is the following:

The king's most excellent majestie, considering howe by tollerac'on of such dissolute and miserrable persons, as putting awaie the feare of Almightie God and shame of the world, have byne suffered to dwell besides London and ells where in common open places, called , and there, without punishment or correccion, exercise therein abhominable and detestable synne, there hath of late encreased and growne such enormities, as not only provoke instantly the anger and wrath of Almightie God, but also engender such corrupcion among people as tendeth to the intollerable annoyance of the common wealth, and where not only the youth is provoked, enticed, and allured to execute the fleshly lusts, but also, by such assemblies of evil disposed persons, haunted and accustomed as daily devise and conspire howe to spoyle and robb the true labouring and well-disposed men; for theis cosideracions hath, by the advise of his counsele, thought requisite utterly to extinct such abhominable license, and cleerely to take away all occasion of the same; wherefore, his majestie straightlie chargeth and commandeth, that all such persons as have accustomed most abhominably to abuse their bodies, contrary to God's lawe and honestie, in any such common places called , in or about the cittie


of London, are, before the feaste of Easter next coming, to depart from those common places, and resort incontinently to their natural countries, with their bags and baggages, upon paine of ymprisonment, and further to be punished at the king's majestie's will and pleasure. Furthermore, his majestie straightlye chargeth and commaundeth that all such househoulders as under the name of bawds have kept the notable and marked houses and known hostelries, for the saide evil-disposed persons; that is to saie, such householders as do inhabite the houses, whited and painted with signes on the front for a token of the said houses, shall avoyd with bagge and baggage, before the feaste of Easter next comyng, upon paine of like punishment at the kinge's majestie's will and pleasure. Furthermore, the king's majestie straightlie chargeth and commaundeth, that all such as dwell upon the banke, called nere London, and have at anie tyme before this proclamation, sold any manner of victuals to such as have resorted to their houses, are before the sayd feaste of Easter to cease and leave off theirvictualling, and forbear to retaine any host or stranger into their house, either to eat, drink, or lodge, after the feaste of Easter next comyng, until they have presented themselves before the king's majestie's counsele, and there bound themselves with suretie in recognizance not to suffer any such disorders in their houses, or lodge any serving man, prentice, or woman unmarried, other than their hired servants, upon the paine before specified. The king's most excellent majestie also chargeth and commaundeth, that no owner or meane tenant of any such white houses, or house, where the sayd lewd persons have had resort and used their most detestable life, do from the saide feaste of Easter presume to let any of the houses heretofore abused in the said mischeefe, in the streete called aforesaid, to any person or persons, before the same owner or mean tenant intending to make lease as afore, doe present the name or names of such as should bier the same to the king's majestie's counsele, and that before them the leassee hath putt in bond and suretie, not to suffer any of the said houses to be abused, as bath beene in tymes past with the saide abhomination, upon like paine as before is mencioned.

Finallie, to the intent all resort should be eschued to the said place, the king's majestic straightlie chargeth and commaundeth, that from the feast of Easter next ensuing there shall be no bearebating be used in that rowe, or in any other place on that side of the bridge called London-bridge, wherebye the accustomed assemblies may be in that place clerely abolished and extinct, upon like paine as well to them that keepe the beares and dogges which have byn used to that purpose, as to all such as will resort to see the same.

Et hoc periculo incumbenti nullatenus omittat. Teste me ipso apud Westm. xiiio die Aprilis, anno tricessimo septimo regni Regis Henrici Octavi.



The liberty of the Clink is of considerable size, extending from the river to , and from cast, to south. This liberty belongs to the see of Winchester, and a court leet is held yearly at Michaelmas, for the election of officers.

There was a prison belonging to this liberty, situate at the corner of Maid-lane, turning out of ; but in it was in great decay, and a dwelling house on the was used; but it was burnt in the great riots of , and at the present time there is none.

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 Title Page
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