The History and Antiquities of London, Westminster, Southwark, and Parts Adjacent, vol. 4
The Clock Tower, or Bell House, stood opposite the hall gate, and is said to have been erected on the following occasion;
The tower was not demolished till the year , when the great bell was granted to the clock of the new cathedral of , London, whither it was removed, and stood under a shed in the church yard till the turret was prepared for its reception.
The clock had not long been up before the bell was cracked, and re-cast, but with such bad success, that in a few years afterwards it was thought necessary to take it down again; and the experiment was repeated, with better success.
The old bell had the following inscription
Signifying that the king gave this bell, and named it Edward, that the hours of
It is probable that Henry III. having been a refounder of the adjoining abbey of , some years before erected by Edward the Confessor, might dedicate this bell in honour of their patron saint.
The New was formerly inclosed with a wall, and had gates, on the east, leading to stairs, of which some part still remains; the others are totally demolished; that on the north led to the Woolstaple; that on the west, called Highgate, was a very stately and beautiful structure; but being deemed an obstruction to the members of parliament in their passage to and from their respective houses, was taken down, in the year , as was also the , leading to Old , in the year .
On the west side of the Bell Tower, before mentioned, stood a beautiful fountain, with numerous spouts, from every of which, on certain festivals and rejoicing days, used to issue streams of wine, and from which, on ordinary occasions, the neighbouring inhabitants received the waste water for their domestic purposes.
Though the kings of England are crowned in the chapel of St. Edward the Confessor, in the abbey of , it has, for many ages, been the practice for them to hold their coronation feasts in Hall. It has also been used at the trial of peers accused of high treason, or other crimes and misdemeanours, besides the courts of chancery, exchequer, king's bench, and common pleas, which, ever since the reign of Henry the , have been held in different apartments of this extensive building.
At the Conquest, and even for some time after, it does not appear that there was more than supreme court of judicature in this country: this was the or King's Court, which was always the place of the royal residence.
At this court, especially at some solemnities of the year, the king held his great councils, and transacted affairs of national importance, attended by his principal lords and barons. There coronations, &c. were celebrated: there also was constantly placed a stately throne, a sovereign ordinary court of judicature, wherein justice was administered to the subjects: and there
|affairs of the royal revenue were transacted. To the king's court belonged the following officers : . . "The chief justicier, who was next the king in power and authority; and in his absence governed the realm as viceroy. If the king was not present in person in this court, the justicier was chief judge, both in criminal and civil causes. . The constable, or , or who was a high officer, both in war and peace. This office was at time hereditary. . The , which office was, and indeed still is hereditary. As an officer in the king's court, the was to provide for the security of the king's person in his palace, to distribute lodgings there, to preserve peace and order in the king's household, and to assist in determining controversies, &c. within the royal precincts. . The , or steward, which office was likewise hereditary. . The chamberlain, or The great officers are distinguished from the inferior ones, of the same name, by the epithet ; as the officer of king's chamberlain is called ; also , etc, . The chancellor, or , so called to distinguish him from the inferior chancellors of the dioceses, &c. Very little is said of this office. It appears, however, that part of his duty was to supervise the charters to be sealed with the king's seal, and likewise to supervise the acts and precepts that issued in the proceedings depending in He was of the king's prime counsellors. . The treasurer, who was for the most part a prelate, or some other ecclesiastical person.
For some time after the Conquest the justicer used to perform many duties, which afterwards pertained to the treasurer's office.
The , where all the liege-men of the kingdom repaired for justice, was undoubtedly established in England by the Normans, there being no notice whatever of such a court among the Anglo-Saxons. All pleas or causes were then determined below in a plain manner, by the courts in the several counties, towns, or districts. And indeed, at , there were but few causes reserved to the king's courts after the Conquest, till the Norman lords, who were possessed of the larger seigneuries, carried it with so high a hand towards their vassals and neighbours, that the latter could not have right done them in the ordinary way, and so were constrained to seek for justice in the King's Court. This was likewise done when contentions arose between the great lords themselves. However, few or no causes were brought thither without permission, and the party's making fine to the crown to have this plea in These were sometimes called , or voluntary fees.
When the pleas in the King's Court became very numerous, there were certain justices appointed to go , now called circuits, through the realm, to determine pleas and causes within the
|several counties. These were vested with great authority. It is not known, however, when they were instituted, but they were new modelled, and their circuits appointed by Henry II.
A branch of the King's Court was the Exchequer. It was a sort of subaltern court, resembling in its model the itself. For in it sat the great officers abovementioned, and sometimes the king himself. It was called , because a chequered cloth, like a chess-board, was anciently spread on the table in the court; and the great persons that assisted in this court were denominated To these were left the care and management of the crown revenue, &c.
The chief justicier let to farm the king's manors, held pleas at the Exchequer, and made allowances to the accomptants. The other great officers had likewise their part in affairs transacted at the Exchequer.
As to the causes, the Exchequer was at called a court having jurisdiction in Common Pleas. Matters remained in this state till the division of the King's Court and separation of the Common Pleas from it.
The Exchequer being the place into which the revenue is still paid, it will be interesting to shew in what manner it was paid in early times.
At the tenants of knight's fees answered to their lords by military service; and the tenants of soccage, lands, and demesnes, in a great measure, by work and provisions. Afterwards the revenue of the crown was answered in gold and silver, and sometimes in palfreys, destriers, chaseurs, leveriers, hawks, &c. (horses, dogs, and game fowl) and the like. Sometimes in both together.
When a man paid money into the exchequer, it was said, so much; the same phrase is still continued.
These payments were made and and blank silver and numero by tale. was by paying sixpence over and above each pound and , which at was thought sufficient to make good the weight. was the persons making good the deficiencies of weight, though it was more than sixpence per .
But as the money might be deficient in fineness as well as weight, a way of payment was by combustion, or melting down part of the money paid in, and reducing it to plate of due fineness. When the ferm was melted down, it was said to be dealbated, or blanched. As suppose a ferm of a was paid into the Exchequer after the combustion, it was said to be a blank. Frequently, the part, or , was accepted in lieu of combustion, to save trouble and expense.
The payment by , ortale, requires no explanation.
|Payments, or at least computations, were made by marks, and half marks; ounces and half ounces of gold; and in pounds, marks, half-marks, shillings, pence, &c. of silver. The ounce of gold was equal to of silver; the pound of silver by tale was ; the mark and fourpence; and a penny was the part of an ounce, equal to our threepence.
The royal revenue in those times was collected and issued in the following manner: the person principally entrusted with the levying of it, was the sheriff of each county, who was an officer of great authority. However, there were several other collectors and accountants: namely, the escheators, the fermers, (or custodes of such towns and boroughs as were not within the sheriff's receipt;) the , or customers, the keepers of the wardrobe, and, in general, all persons who held bailiwicks from the king, or received any of his treasure or revenue, by impress or otherwise, were obliged to render an account thereof; and, in succeeding times, the collectors of tallages, dismes, quinzimes, &c. But in case these officers could not enforce the king's debtors to make payment, the sheriff was armed with sufficient power to do it.
The most ancient process made use of was the of the exchequer, which issued twice a year into all the counties of England, and was returnable against the times of holding the : namely, the , or exchequer of Easter, and the , or exchequer of Michaelmas, which were the general terms for the sheriffs and other accountants to pay in their fermes, or rents, and other issues of their bailiwicks.
This was the ordinary process; but upon urgent occasions, the king issued special writs to the sheriffs, and others concerned in collecting the revenue, commanding them to levy debts, &c. with all speed.
The manner of issuing the king's money, was by several methods. Whilst the money remained in the hands of the collectors, it was usual for the king, his chief justicier, great officers of his court, treasurers, or barons of the Exchequer to order them, by writ, to make provisions and payments out of the money in their hands. This writ was sometimes called the sheriffs warrant; for, upon producing it, he had allowance made to him upon his accompt. Sometimes the king's money was issued by way of , or , , either out of the receipt of the exchequer, the wardrobe, or, some other of the king's treasuries. seems to have been of the nature of a , or , and when a man had money impressed to him, he became accountable to the crown for the same.
In the year of king Stephen, an account was rendered at the exchequer, of certain monies to the accomptant, when the empress Maud came into England.
According to ancient usage the king's treasurer was to be issued by virtue of a writ or mandate under the great, or privy seal, and directed sometimes to the chief justicier and barons of the exchequer; but most commonly to the treasurers and chamberlain of the receipt. The writ was founded upon a bill or certificate from the exchequer or wardrobe, or other matter of record. But the usual writ for issuing the king's money out of the exchequer was the (so called from that word used in it) directed to the treasurer and chamberlain. This writ was of sorts: a for paying a sum ; and a current, or dormant, for paying in continuance, or more than once.
From William the Conqueror to the time when king John signed Magna Charta is called the period in the history of the exchequer; from the end of John's reign to the end of Edward II.'s is called the period; and this history is to be gathered from the revenue rolls and other records in this and some other public offices. The rolls, which are called the great rolls, are kept in the pipe-office; the exchequer records are of the greatest importance; not inferior in interest to the Domesday book itself.
From the very establishment of the exchequer it was customary to make a great roll every year, containing an exact account of every branch of the royal revenue, as it was collected in each county. The great rolls of most of the years of Henry II. Richard I. and John, are still in being. But the most ancient of these records is The Great Roll, of the year of king Stephen. A famous monument of antiquity, says Madox, whether we consider the handwriting, or the contents. This great roll, or bundle, consists of large rolls, written on both sides, of about feet long, with another, for they are not of an equal length, and a foot broad.
Though generally called the Roll of Stephen, it is no doubt a roll of some year of Henry I., as Madox has clearly proved.
These records, and all others of the court holden before the king, of those of the common bench, and of the justices in Eyre, still remain under the custody of the treasurer and chamberlains of the exchequer.
In process of time the kings's justicier ceased to preside in this court, by which the power of the treasurer was considerably increased. The-affairs was then managed by the treasurer and the barons of the exchequer, to whom may be added the king's council, whom we often find acting both in the superior court and in the exchequer; and that persons were sometimes summoned to appear before the council there, on set days.
Henry III. by his charter, granted his treasury of his exchequer of England and Wales, to Walter Maurice, bishop of Carlisle, to hold during life.
Some persons have been inclined to think that the office of the king's treasurer (or, as we now call it, treasurer of England), and
|that of the treasurer of the exchequer, were distinct offices; but, in numerous instances, the treasurer, during the reigns of Henry III. Edward I. and II. are stiled, sometimes, The King's Treasurer, and sometimes Treasurer of the Exchequer. It does not appear what appointment the treasurer, in the most ancient times, received of the king.
In the reign of Henry III. the salary was ; the same salary was paid to John bishop of Ely, treasurer Edward I. But at that time the king used to make other provision for his treasurers, by some beneficial grant, or ecclesiastical preferment; and so likewise for the chancellors, and other officers, who were ecclesiastical persons.
Sometimes there was at the exchequer an officer, called the treasurer's lieutenant, who acted in the treasurer's absence, or, if no treasurer executed the treasurer's offices and was in effect the treasurer's deputy. There were lieutenants to several other officers; as to the king's chancellor, &c. &c.
After the treasurer came the chancellor, who seems to have been appointed as a check upon the treasurer. He took an oath upon entering into office to this effect: that he would well and truly serve the king, in his office of chancellor of the exchequer: that he would well and truly do what appertained to his office: that he would dispatch the king's business before all other: and that he would--seal with the exchequer seal no judicial writ of any other court, besides the exchequer; whilst the chancery (or chancellor,) was within miles of the place where the exchequer was holden.
The rest of the persons that sat in the exchequer were the barons, who were appointed by the king in the following manner:
The business of the Exchequer in those early periods shall be treated of as briefly as possible. This relates, , to the affairs of the revenue, of which, generally, we have already treated; and there was little difference in the management of those matters to the end of the reign of Edward II. from which time they have ducted on similar principles.
Secondly, to pleas and causes. After the separation of the Common Pleas from the king's court and palace, it was forbidden by the great charter, and, subsequently, by an ordinance, to hold Common Pleas in the Exchequer; yet, in fact, some Common Pleas were still holden; and the king sometimes gave leave to
|particular persons, to bring their suits and recover their debts there. In suits moved between parties in the Exchequer, the king granted preference to person: namely, that he should be paid before other creditors.
Thirdly, this business may be said to be of various kinds, such as conventions and recognitions, which were frequently made in the exchequer, and the presentation and admission of officers of the exchequer. Several officers of the exchange and coiners of money, were, from time to time, presented and sworn in the exchequer, as well as some others, as customers and commissioners of perambulation of forests. The mayors and chief officers of towns, escheators, &c. were presented at the exchequer.
The citizens of London, after they had chosen a mayor presented him before the treasurer and barons, who swore and admitted him to his office; as also their sheriffs.
If the sheriff of London did not come to the Exchequer at the king's command, to take upon him his office, he was to be amerced. Sometimes sheriffs of counties were in like manner sworn in person at the Exchequer. Several of the king's tenants, , by rent service, paid their rent at the Exchequer.--Waller le Brun, a farrier in , was to have a piece of ground in the parish of St. Clement, to place a forge there, he rendering horse shoes with the nails belonging thereto annually. This rent was anciently paid at the Exchequer; and in process of time, the same piece of ground coming into the possession of the mayor and citizens of London, a similar service is still demanded, on the , when the sheriffs are sworn before the cursitor baron of the Exchequer, and alderman, and in the presence of the lord mayor,
as an acknowledgment to the king, though the original cause has been for ages abolished.
Of the records, or rolls of the Exchequer sufficient has already been said.
To enter upon a detail of the accounts of the Exchequer would lead us much beyond our limits; we may state, however, generally, that when the Chancery was separated from the Exchequer, and the charter rolls, writs, and precepts of the great seal came to be entered by themselves in the , commenced the present method of sending estreats from the Chancery to the Exchequer.
Besides trials relating to the revenues of the crown, in this court are now not unfrequently tried matters of equity between subject and subject. The judges are, the lord chief baron of the Exchequer, and other judges, called barons of the Exchequer; also cursitor baron.
The King's Rembrancer's Offfce is attached to this court; and there are the remembrancer, his deputy, and secondaries; sworn clerks; the lord treasurer's remembrancer, his deputy, secondaries, the being also filaser; sworn clerks, and
|bag bearer; clerk of the errors in the Exchequer chamber, and his deputy; an hereditary chief usher, a deputy, ushers of the court, and a court-keeper; messengers for England, and for Wales. There are also a marshal of the court of Exchequer, and his deputy; a foreign apposer and his deputy; a clerk of the estreats and his deputy; a surveyor of the green wax, a clerk of the nichils; a serjeant at arms, and a tipstaff.
The Pipe-office, belonging to the Exchequer-office, is at Somerset-house; as is also the Comptroller's-office.
The Exchequer-office of Pleas is in , , of which the reader will find an account in a subsequent part of the present volume.
In the court of the Exchequer, though the cursitor baron takes the oaths of some great officers, and of the sheriffs of London, he does not sit on the bench.
If any case should appear so difficult that the judges are divided in their opinion, the vote of the chancellor finally determines the suit.
Besides the court of Exchequer, there are holden in this hall, the court of Common Pleas, which was established by Magna Charta in the year ; before which time the court was ambulatory and followed the king.
Its early history is much involved in that of the Exchequer, of which an ample account has just been given.
It was called the Common Pleas, because here all civil actions, whether real, mixed, or personal, are tried, and all fines and recoveries sued out. It has a chief justice and other judges, but no person can plead in it unless he has been called up to the degree of a serjeant at law.
The Court of Chancery is so called from the Latin word or screen, within which the judges formerly sat to determine causes without being annoyed by the spectators, who came to be witnesses of their proceedings.
The supreme judge of this court is the lord high chancellor of England, who, next to the king, is the magistrate in all civil affairs whatever. He is also usually speaker of the , and commonly appointed high steward on the trial of peers.
The Chancery consists of courts, in of which the Chancellor proceeds according to the law of the land; but the principal is the Court of Equity, designed to moderate the rigour of the common law, and grant redress of grievances, where the statute law has not made any provision.
The business of the court is very extensive; all writs for the election of members of parliament are issued from it; patents for sheriffs, and all other officers, made out; writs of against false judgment, letters patent, treaties with foreign princes, and commissions both of appeal, and oyer and terminer, granted.
Here no juries are summoned, for the actions are all by bill, and the depositions of the witnesses are taken at the Examiner's office, and afterwards read in court as sufficient evidence; so that the determination of the sentence is solely invested in the judge.
The officers belonging to the high Court of Chancery are very numerous, and are in different parts of the metropolis, the following are their names: the Crown-office, having about officers and clerks: the Clerks office, in , of which hereafter; the Report-office, the Register-office, the Hanaper-office, the Alienation-office, the Record-office, the Dispensation-office, and the Examiner's-office. The clerks of the petty bag, and the commissioners of bankrupts, and the corporation, all belong to this court, as also the master of the rolls, and an immense number of other officers, clerks, keepers, messengers, &c.
The Court of King's Bench, is so called from a high bench on which our ancient monarch usually sat in person; the judges, to whom, in their absence, was deputed the judicature, sat on benches at their feet.
The account already given of , is sufficient to convey an idea of the early history of the court.
Here are determined pleas between the crown and the subject, of treasons, felonies, and other pleas, which properly belong to the king; and also in whatever relates to the loss of life or member of any subject in which the king is concerned. Here likewise are tried breaches of the peace, oppression, and mis-government; and this court corrects the errors of all the judges and justices of England, in their judgments and proceedings, not only pleas, real, personal, and mixed; except only pleas in the exchequer. This court is general, and extends to all England; and where ever it is held, the law supposes the king to be present. Here generally sit judges, the of whom is stiled the lord chief justice of the court of king's bench, (at present, . The right hon. Charles, lord Tenterden,) who is sometimes called the lord chief justice of England, being in fact the same as was originally called the king's chief justicier, before spoken of.
The manner in which the judges are now created is as follows; the lord chancellor having taken his seat in the court where the vacancy is to be filled, bringing with him the king's letters patent, causes the serjeant elect to be brought in, to whom, in open court, he notifies the king's pleasure, causing the letters to be publicly read: which done, the master of the rolls reads to him the oath he is to take, stating,
On this oath being administered, the lord chancellor delivers to him the king's letters; and the lord chief justice of the court assigns him a place in the same, where he then places him, and he is enjoined afterwards to keep this place.
The justice thus created is not to be at the charge of any dinner, solemnity, or other costs, because there is no degree in the faculty of the law, but an office only, and a room of authority to continue during the king's pleasure.
Prior to the reign of Mary I. the judges rode upon mules to court: but sir John Whiddon, a justice of the court of king's bench, disliking the uneasy gait of those obstinate animals, introduced a more eligible mode of conveyance.
The various courts of law are built on the west side of the great hall. The designs are by John Soane, esq.; they were commenced in , and continued until ; the exterior of this extensive pile was at a copy of Palladio's Basilica at Vicenza, but after the latter year, at the suggestion of a committee of taste appointed by the , the facade was altered in the modern Gothic style.
The design of the courts are nearly similar, and greatly resemble the offices in the Bank by the same architect. The Court of King's Bench is the from the principal front of the hall, and is the most richly-decorated; it is feet inches long, feet wide, and feet inches high; adjoining is the Bail Court feet inches long, feet wide, and feet inches high. The next is the Court of Exchequer; it is feet long by feet inches wide and feet high. The Court of Equity is feet long by feet inches wide and feet high. The Court of Common Pleas succeeds; it is a neat court, feet by and feet high. The next in rotation is the Vice Chancellor's Court; it is feet by feet and feet high. The last court is the Lord Chancellor's; it is a neat but plain structure; the dimensions are feet by and feet high. Attached to all the courts are robing and retiring rooms and a library; they are respectively approached by pointed arches in the wall of the great hall, which leads into a narrow corridor, which answers in breadth to the space between the buttresses and the wall of the great hall.
The courts of law are generally devoid of accommodation for the public, and the judges and counsel have repeatedly complained of the currents of air and ill arrangements connected with them. In consequence of this failure and the more extensive of the front of the New Palace, St. James' park, a select committee was appointed by the to enquire and report on the office of works and public buildings. This report embraces so much information connected with the city of , that it has been thought expedient to reprint it here as a record of
of the members composing the board of works.
 Hughson's Lond. IV. 249, 250. It appears by the following distich, set to music by Eccles, that this bell, after the Reformaiton had its name changed to that of Tom: Hark, Harry, 'tis late, 'tis time to be gone, For Westminster Tom, by faith strikes one.
 Maitland, ubi supra.
 Madox Hist. Excheq.
 Mag. Rot. 5 Stephen.
 Rap. i. 386.
 Lib. Rub. Scac. p. 04.
 Vide Mag. Rot. 19 Hen. III.