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

Allen, Thomas

1827

St. James's Palace,

, properly belongs to that portion of the present work now under consideration.

On the site of this royal palace anciently stood the hospital of St. James, which was founded by some wealthy and benevolent citizens of London for the reception of leperous women. This, it is said, and with great probability, was long before the Conquest. According to a MS. in the Cottonian library, it was visited by Gislebertus, abbot of , on Wednesday after the feast of St. John the Baptist, A. D. .

The hospital admitted only patients, who were to be unmarried persons. For their support the charity was endowed with hides, or ploughs of land, with their appurtenances, adjoining.

Some time after, several of the citizens, conferred upon the hospital lands to the value of per annum, when brethren, for the celebration of divine offices, were added to the foundation. This exercise of religion and benevolence, duties at all times inseparable, and supporting each other, inspired other citizens with similar sentiments; and they accordingly gave to the foundation hides of land in the same neighbourhood; besides acres of wood and arable land in the parishes of Hendon, Calcote and Hampstead. These several grants were not only confirmed by Edward I. but he likewise granted to the hospital an annual fair of days, to begin on the eve of St. James's Festival.

The hospital above-mentioned was rebuilt in the reign of Henry III. and the custody of it was given by Henry VI. to Eton college; and that at the time of its surrender its annual revenues were estimated at per annum.

Henry VIII. the destroyer of any thing venerable, pious, or

272

useful, took this hospital to himself, in the year ; but he certainly acted on this occasion better than on most others of a like nature for he granted to the several sisters during their lives certain annuities, in lieu of the domestic comforts, and religious advantages of which he had sacrilegiously robbed them. Henry having demolished the ancient building, erected on its site a stately mansion, or, as Stow denominates,

a goodly manor, but it does not appear to have been made the royal residence before the destruction of

Whitehall

Palace, by fire, in

1697

.

Some remains of this building are still to be seen, especially in the north gate-way.

The mansion erected on the site of this hospital was partly surrounded by a wall; or rather, the neighbouring fields were thus converted into a park for the convenience of this and the palace of . , already mentioned, belonged to the same mansion, as at the present time.

The mansion was given by James I. to his son Henry, prince of Wales, who resided in it till his death, in .

To this place the regicides brought their king, Charles I. from Windsor, and here the unfortunate monarch spent the last days of his life. He was brought here on the . Mr. Kinnersley, his servant of the wardrobe, hastily furnished his apartment. Some part of the days were spent in hall, and of the nights in the house of sir R. Cotton, adjacent to his place of trial.

On the his majesty was carried back to St. James's, where he passed the last days in acts of devotion and piety, preparatory to that shameful death to which his sanguinary judges had consigned him.

In this palace was born James, the son of James II. afterwards styled the Pretender, according to Pennant, in the room now called the Old Bed Chamber, at present, the anti-chamber to the levee-room. The bed stood close to the door of the back stairs, which descended to an inner court. It certainly was very convenient to carry on any secret design, and might favour the warming-pan story, were not the bed surrounded by of the privy council, other men of rank, ladies, besides pages and other attendants. James. with imprudent pride, neglected to disprove the tale; it was adopted by the party, and firmly believed by its zealots. But as James proved false to his high trust, and his son shewed every symptom of following his example, there was certainly no such pretence wanting for excluding a family inimical to the great interests of the nation, and whose religious creed was evidently at variance with that of a large majority of his subjects.

In that year of English liberty, , when the Prince of Orange had approached very near to the metropolis, the weak and superstitious James sent a message, offering him his palace for his habitation; that

they might amicably and personally confer together

about the means of redressing the public grievances.

No answer was returned to this apparent friendly invitation, yet it appears the offer was accepted, though not on the terms the imbecile monarch had proposed; for the prince called a council, and it was deemed necessary to hint to the king, that it would not be safe for him, in future, to reside at either of his palaces of St. James's, or . James was not unmindful of this admonition. It was resolved to convey him to Ham in the county of Surrey; but he afterwards obtained permission to go to Rochester; from whence, in a day or afterwards, he privately withdrew, and a small frigate conveyed him to France; thus abdicating a throne for which he seems by no means to have been qualified either by nature, his principles, or his education.

The evening of the day on which James left London, Dutch guards took possession of all the posts about and St. James's, and William soon became the royal possessor of these palaces.

On the trying occasion just briefly detailed, an old officer of the degraded monarch gave a memorable proof of his fidelity to what he conceived to be his royal master.

At this time it was customary to mount guard both at and St. James's. Lord Craven was on duty at the latter place, when the Dutch guards, under the orders of the prince of Orange, were marching through the park to relieve him. His lordship, with the bravery of a hero and a loyal subject, obstinately refused to quit his post, and seemed resolved to make a most determined resistance to the orders of the foreign intruders, when he received a command from James himself to obey. This was an authority which he had not accustomed himself to disobey, and, with

sullen dignity,

he gave the command to his party and marched off.

After the revolution, during the reign of William, was superbly fitted up for the residence of the princess, afterwards queen Anne, and her consort, prince George of Denmark. From that time it has been considered as the town residence of the British monarchs; but has of late years been used only for purposes of state.

The various houses, offices, &c. in the immediate precincts of, or attached to the palace, are occupied chiefly by some branches of the royal family, and other persons of the household.

On the morning of the , great part of this palace was consumed by an accidental fire, which reduced to ashes the whole south-east corner, comprehending the queen's private apartments, those of the duke of Cambridge, some of the state apartments, together with the French and Dutch chapels. The damage was estimated at about The repairs have not yet been completed; and, since that accident, was seldom visited by the royal family. The whole of , and some buildings contiguous, form a precinct separate from the parish of St. Martins in the Fields.

274

 

The principal front towards has a mean appearence; it consists of a brick gateway with a flat pointed arch, and at the angles are octagonal turrets; the centre has a plain but neat cupola, with a clock.

The state apartments look towards the park; and this side, though certainly not very imposing, cannot, with truth, be pronounced mean. It is of story, and has a certain regular appearance not to be found in other parts of the building.

Before the marriage of his present majesty, the state apartments were very old and poorly furnished; but on that occasion they were fitted in the state in which they were before the fire. Though there is nothing superb or grand in the decorations or furniture of these apartments, they are commodious and handsome. They are entered by a staircase that opens into the principal court, next to Pall-mall.

At the top of the staircase are guard-rooms; to the left called the queen's, and the other the king's guard-room, leading to the apartments just mentioned. Immediately beyond the king's guard-room is the presence chamber, now used only as a passage to the principal rooms. There is a range of of these, opening into each other successively. The presence-chamber opens into the centre-room, called the privy chamber, where is a canopy, under which his late majesty was accustomed to receive the society of friends, or quakers, upon occasions of their presentations of addresses, petitions, &c.

On the right of the canopy are drawing-rooms, within the other. At the upper end of the farther was a throne, with its canopy, where the late king was wont to receive corporation addresses. The canopy was made for the queen's birth-day, immediately following the union of Ireland with Great . It was of crimson velvet, with a broad gold lace, having embroidered crowns, set with real and fine pearls. The shamrock, the national badge of Ireland, formed of the decorations of the crown, and was very finely executed. In tins apartment the king and queen used to be present on certain days; the nearer room being a kind of anti-chamber, in which the nobility were permitted to sit down during the presence of their majesties in the farther , there being numerous stools and sofas for the purpose.

On the left, on entering the privy chamber, from the king's guard-room and presence chamber, are levee-rooms, the nearer serving as an anti-chamber to the other.

In the grand drawing-room is a magnificent chandelier of gilt silver; and in the grand levee-room a very noble bed, the furniture of which is of crimson velvet, manufactured in Spitalfields. This bed, with the tapestry, was put up on the marriage of his present majesty.

These several apartments are covered with tapestry of exquisite workmanship, which, though made for Charles II. a short time

275

prior to that royal marriage, was found in a chest, never having been used, and quite fresh in the colours.

Several pictures adorn the apartments; but few of them have superior claims of merit either in the design or execution. The most remarkable are: a small full-length of Henry, prince of Wales; Arthur, prince of Wales, elder brother of Henry VIII. by Mabuse; Henry VII. and VIII.; queen Jane Seymour; half-lengths, by Lely, of the duchess of York and her sister; a child in the robes of the garter,

perhaps,

says Pennant,

the youngest knight known.

He was the son of James II. whilst duke of York, by Anne Hyde, his duchess. On the , he was elected knight of the garter, at the age of years and months. The sovereign (Charles) put the George round his neck, and prince Rupert the garter round his leg. He would of course have been installed, but he died the year following. Here is also a portrait of Geoffry Hudson, the dwarf, mentioned in the account of , in the preceding volume of this work: also Henry, lord Darnley, consort of Mary, queen of Scots, and father of James I. resting on his brother, Charles Stuart, earl of Lenox, in a black gown; Charles II. of Spain, at years of age, in black, with a sceptre in his hand. He was inaugurated in . Mabuse's picture of Adam and Eve is also here; with the curious or whimsical anachronisms of navels, and a fountain richly carved.

Scarcely had his late majesty ascended the throne, than he commenced the formation of an extensive and splendid library. The purchase that he made was that of the library of Mr. Joseph Smith, the British consul at Venice, in , at an expense of ; years afterwards, Mr. Bernard, the librarian, who was previously instructed by Dr. Johnson as to the best means of completing the royal library, was sent to the continent by his majesty, where he--made large purchases. To these collections, which formed the nucleus of a good library, his majesty added other books to the amount of a year until his death, and a similar sum has been annually expended by his present majesty. This library, consisting of volumes, and formed at an expence of paid out of the privy purse of the king, was deposited in spacious apartments fitted up for the purpose in Buckingham-house. It is now deposited in the ; his present majesty (whose reign may be justly termed the Augustan age of Great ), having, with a generosity which is above all praise, presented the whole library to the British nation. It has been justly observed, that

acts like these will perpetuate the memory of George the

Fourth

, when the military glories of his reign, great as they are, will be forgotten.

In a lumber room, formerly the queen's library, Mr. Pennant saw a beautiful View from Greenwich park, with Charles I. his queen, courtiers, &c. walking; others of the same prince and queen,

276

dining in public, and another of the elector palatine and his consort at a public table, with a carver looking most ridiculously, a monkey having in that moment reared from the table and seized his beard. Probably this feast was at , where he was most sumptuously entertained by the citizens in the year , when he made the match with the daughter of the British monarch, which ended so unhappily for both parties.

On the west side of the court yard is the Chapel Royal, a very small and plain room, which some have conjectured to have been the room used when the hospital stood here. It has nothing worthy of notice except its ceiling, which is divided into small painted squares. It is a royal peculiar, and as such, exempted from all episcopal jurisdiction. The service is performed in the same manner as at cathedrals; its establishment is a dean (usually the bishop of London), a lord high almoner, a sub-almoner, an hereditary grand almoner, a sub-dean, a confessor of the household, a clerk of the king's closet, deputy clerks, a closet keeper, and or inferior officers, as choristers, &c.

At the German chapel in the Friary there are chaplains, a reader, and a clerk.

In the Dutch chapel, in the middle court, are preachers and a reader; and at the French chapel, at the same place, there are preachers, a reader, and a chapel keeper.

Since the accession of his present majesty, this palace has received a most extensive repair, and some additions have been made. The presence-chamber has been enlarged, and furnished in a style worthy the sovereign of Great ; a new entrance has been formed from , and a court opened on the east side.

The main entrance is by a staircase and passage, which open into the principal court, next to ; here the interior walls are painted in distemper of a dead stone colour, and the exterior sprinkled to resemble granite. The king's guard-room, at the top of the staircase, is a kind of gallery, converted into an armoury, which is systematically decorated with daggers, swords, muskets, &c. arranged in various figures. Here, when drawing-rooms are held, the yeomen of the guard attend in full costume, armed with their battle-axes. The next is a small chamber, lined with excellently wrought tapestry. This forms the entrance to a suite of principal rooms, the innermost of which is called the grand Presence Chamber.

These apartments are fitted up with almost matchless splendour. The cornices, mouldings, &c. are richly gilt; the walls are lined with crimson damask, and the window curtains are of the same material. Sofas, ottomans, &c. covered with crimson velvet, trimmed. with gold lace, form part of the furniture, the effect of which is greatly heightened by rich and elegant lustres, and magnificent pier glasses. In the room is a painting of George II. in his parliamentary robes, and views of Tournay and Lisle; and in the

277

is George III. in the robes of the order of the garter, together with fine paintings of the victories achieved by lord Howe, on the , and lord Nelson, at Trafalgar, .

The Presence Chamber, or grand drawing-room, though fitted up in a style corresponding with the others, exceeds them much in size and splendid decoration. Over the fire-place is a full-length portrait of his present majesty, by sir Thomas Lawrence; and on each side are paintings of the battles of Vittoria and Waterloo. The sides of the rooms are decorated with plate glass; the cornices, mouldings, &c. are richly gilt; and the window curtains, of crimson satin, are tastefully trimmed with gold-coloured fringe and lace. The throne is extremely magnificent; it consists of a superb stale chair, surmounted by a canopy, &c. composed chiefly of rich crimson Genoa velvet, trimmed with gold lace; under the canopy is an embroidered star, in gold. The ascent is by steps, and there is a footstool to correspond with the chair. Behind this chamber are the king's closet and his dressing-room. In the former, which is splendidly ornamented, his majesty gives audience to his ministers, the foreign ambassadors, and the members of his own family.

The old ball-room has been recently new modelled upon the French plan, and formed into a supper room. Ornamental compartments of various kinds, richly gilt, diversify the walls; and from the ceiling lustres are pendant. The fittings--up and furniture are very elegant.

The private apartments of the king are on the ground floor, at the west end of the palace, principally beneath the throne-room and audience-chamber in the range above. There is entrance by the engine court, from the northern side, chiefly for officers and attendants, &c. and another for his majesty from the garden on the side of the park. The latter opens into a small vestibule, whence the stair runs up to the state rooms in the upper tier. On the right and left of the vestibule, on entrance, are the principal apartments of the monarch of Great : they consist of chamber on the left hand, and on the right, with a single bed room, and a room for his page above. The whole of the apartments are furnished in the plainest manner, and the walls are decorated with some of the finest cabinet paintings in the royal collection.

When this palace was erected by Henry VIII. as I have before observed, he at the same time enclosed a contiguous piece of ground, which had till then been a desolate marsh, laid it out in walks, and collected the waters. This spot became a bowling green, which, as appears from the Stafford papers, was open for the entertainment of the public.

Mr. Garrard, writing in to lord Stafford, says,

The bowling-green in the

Spring Gardens

was put down

one

day by the king's command, but by the intercession of the queen it was reprieved for this year; but hereafter it shall be no common bowling-place. There

was kept an ordinary of

six shillings

a meal (where the king's proclamation allows but

two

elsewhere), continual bibbing and drinking wine all under the trees;

two

or

three

quarrels every week. It was grown scandalous and insufferable; besides, my lord Digby, being reprehended for striking in the king's garden, he said he took it for a common bowling-place, where all paid money for their coming in.

In a subsequent letter, Mr. Garrard writes thus;

Since the Spring Garden was put down, we have, by a servant of the lordchamberlain's, a new Spring Garden, erected in the fields behind the Meuse, where is built a fair house and

two

bowling-greens, made to entertain gamesters and bowlers to an excessive rate, for I believe it has cost him

400l.

; a dear undertaking for a gentleman barber. My lord chamberlain much frequents the place, where they bowl great matches.

A writer of the century says of this place:

The inclosure is not disagreeable, for the solemnness of the grove, the warbling of the birds, and, as it opens into the spacious walk at St. James's; but the company walk in at such a rate, as you would think all the ladies were so many Atalantas contending with their wooers; but as fast as they run, they stay so long as if they wanted time to finish the race: for it is usual to find some of the young company here till midnight.

Mr. Lysons, who states these facts, observes, that this little trait of the fashion of the times will serve to account for many scenes in some of our old comedies, which still maintain their ground on the stage, to the probability of whose incidents a modern audience cannot easily be reconciled.

At the south-east angle of the is a noble mansion intended for the residence of the late duke of York, but now the property of the marquis of Stafford. It presents a very magnificent aspect when seen from the parks, the form of the building being nearly a square. The front side, which faces the canal in , projects slightly at each end; there is also a projecting in the middle, having Corinthian columns a little in advance, supporting a pediment. The windows on the ground floor, between the piers which support the columns, have circular heads. At each end are Venetian windows, on the ground floor, and on the floor: that on the floor has pilasters on each side of it, of the Corinthian order, of the same height as the columns which support the pediment in the middle. There are windows along the side of the building, both in the ground and floors; those of the floor are of large dimensions, and fully proportionate to the magnitude of the building. The west side, fronting the , resembles exactly the side just described, with these exceptions: there are no pilasters on the projections at the ends, neither has it the Venetian windows, as they are all made of the same dimensions. The east side, which is directly opposite

279

the duke of Clarence's new mansion differs from the other sides in its not having any columns in the centre projection, which contains only windows; between each of these windows are placed Corinthian pilasters; there are also pilasters at each of the angles of the centre projection. There are windows on each tier on this side. The remaining side to the north has been chosen for the entrance, owing to the open space in the Stable-yard, immediately in front of it, affording ample room for the purpose of a court yard. In the middle of this side of the building a portico is erected, projecting sufficiently far to leave a commodious carriage drive under it. It is sustained by Corinthian columns, in front, and placed behind the end ones near the building, which stand on piers, extending as high as the floor; the height of the portico corresponds with the height of the pediments on the south and west sides. Above the columns, pilasters, &c. an entablature runs uninterruptedly round the building. Above this entablature a very elegant ballustrade has been put up to serve as a screen to the attic windows. Within the outer wall, although at no great distance from it, is an attic wall, rising several feet above the roof, which goes completely round the building. Into this wall all the flues have been conducted. Nearly in the centre of the edifice, and still loftier than the attic wall, a lantern of considerable dimensions has been erected; it is to light the grand staircase leading from the ground floor to the state apartments on the floor.

On the east side of the Stable-yard, and opposite the last mentioned mansion, is the residence of his royal highness the duke of Clarence. It is a handsome edifice, with a portico in stories; the lower being of the Doric, and the upper of the Corinthian order.

 
 
Footnotes:

[] Titus, A. B.

[] Vide ante, vol. iii. p. 574.

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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