The History and Antiquities of London, Westminster, Southwark, and Parts Adjacent, vol. 4
The Protestant Dissenters' Chapel.
This building, which stands on the south side of , affords a solitary instance of a Dissenters' meeting-house possessing claims to attention for its architectural character. The principal front, which projects a small degree before the adjacent houses, is composed of a hexastyle portico of the Doric order: The columns are of the most magnificent proportions of Grecian architecture, and the entablature is of a corresponding character; where it enters the walls of the main building, it is received upon antae of slight projection; the whole is crowned with a pediment; there is but entrance, which has a lintelled frontispiece; the whole design is chaste and grand, and it is only to be regretted that it does not occupy a more commanding situation. The interior of the chapel is very plain; the pulpit is situated opposite the entrance, between Doric columns, on a recess. This chapel was erected in . The congregation assembling here are independent Dissenters of the Unitarian persuasion.
At the foot of Blackfriars-bridge is a range of buildings, which formerly constituted part of the Albion-mills. This extensive concern was set on foot by a company of spirited and opulent individuals, with a view to counteract the impositions but too frequently practised in the grinding of corn. It was furnished with a steam engine, contrived by Messrs. Boulton and Watt of Birmingham, which turned pair of stones, each grinding bushels of corn in an hour without intermission, day or night; besides which it gave motion to the various apparatus for hoisting and lowering the corn and flour into and out of the barges, for fanning the corn to keep it free from impurities, and for sifting and dressing the meal, from its state, till perfectly cleared for the use of the baker. On the d of , the whole building, with the exception of the corner wing, occupied as the house and offices of the superintendant, was reduced to ashes, together with sacks of flour which it contained. The front remained for many years unrepaired, but was subsequently formed into a row of handsome private habitations.
On the opposite side of Albion-place is the house belonging to the British Plate Glass Manufactory. This company, incorporated by act of parliament in , carry on a flourishing concern here, and at their works at Ravenhead in Lancashire.
On the west side of Blackfriars-road, very near the bridge, is the building a few years since occupied by the Museum, collected by the late sir Ashton Lever, and removed hither from , when it became the property of Mr. Parkinson. This curious, extensive, and valuable collection here experienced the most mortifying neglect, till in it was finally dispersed by public auction, in a sale which lasted days. The premises were subsequently occupied by the Surrey Institution.
In the year , some gentlemen proposed to form an institution on the Surrey side of the river, on a plan similar to that called the Royal Institution in . It was intended to have a series of lectures, an extensive library and reading-rooms, a chemical laboratory and philosophical apparatus, and a supplementary library of books to be taken home by subscribers.
Their meetings were at the London coffee-house, on . Subscribers were to pay guineas, and become joint proprietors. They agreed for the lease of the house near the foot of Blackfriars-bridge, in which Mr. Parkinson had exhibited the Leverian museum. In , they had filled up a spacious room as a library, a theatre for lectures capable of containing persons, and a laboratory with the necessary apparatus. Dr Adam Clark was chosen principal librarian and secretary, with a salary and apartments in the house; Mr. Accum offered a gratuitous course of lectures on mineralogy, and Mr John Jackson was engaged to deliver a course of lectures on natural philosophy and chemistry. At this time shares were subscribed for by proprietors.
In , Dr. Clark resigned his situation, retaining the title of honorary librarian, and Mr. Knight Spencer offered his services as resident secretary, without a salary, on having the apartments of the principal librarian, with the appendages; which offer was accepted. In , the library consisted of volumes, in classes.
In , this valuable institution was dissolved, the library, &c. being sold by auction: since that time it has been occupied as wine and concert rooms, and is at present opened with a panoramic view of the battle of Navarino.
The , on the east side of Blackfriars-road, is a large octagon building, for the use of protestants of the Methodist persuasion, and was erected by the friends of the worthy but eccentric Rowland Hill, who here preaches to very crowded auditories. The structure is well adapted for the purpose of hearing, and is capable of holding near persons. The organ, by Elliot, is not more remarkable for the sweetness of its tone than for the extent of its powers; which are so great, that in of the hymns descriptive of thunder, many of the congregation are said to have fainted.
The Swan theatre was the most westerly of all the playhouses on the , and must have stood at no great distance from the Surrey end of Blackfriars-bridge. It was a large house, and flourished only a few years, being suppressed at the commencement of the civil wars, and soon afterwards demolished.
On the site of Messrs. Pellatt and Green's extensive glass-works, was formerly situated an old house, called Holland's Leaguer. This house was originally the manor-house belonging to the manor of Paris-garden, which adjoins westward that of , and included the Clink liberty and the parish of Christ-church. It was anciently part of the possessions of abbey, and was for some time
held of that monastery by the knights templars. On the dissolution of monastic establishments it came to the crown, and about the middle of the reign of Elizabeth was exchanged away to lord Hunsdon. Subsequently it fell into the hands of Thomas Cure, esq. (buried in ) Richard Taverner, &c. About , it was known by the name of
Among the collection of rare plays in the , is by Shackerly Marmion, called
from which we have some clue to the state of this place and neighbourhood in the middle of the century. After describing the mistress of this house, an old procuress, called Donna Hollandia, as having been routed from a former residence, and just escaped from Newgate, he makes her seek for a more convenient place where she might carry on her profession, which she ultimately finds in the then untenanted and deserted manor-house of Paris-garden.
After describing the house, which appears to have been moated, the rest of this tract is taken up with a list of the ladies of the mansion, and of its being beleagured or besieged by the police. The old mansion was taken down about the time of forming the road from Blackfriars-bridge to the Obelisk.
It is worthy of remark that the great sir Christopher Wren had a house next door to the Falcon Inn, from which he could view at a distance the progress made in the building of .