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

Allen, Thomas

1827

The Admiralty.

The present extensive edifice was erected in the reign of George II. from the designs of Ripley, on the site of Wallingford house, a fine mansion built by William lord Knollys, viscount Wallingford, and earl of Banbury, in the year of the reign of Charles I. From the roof of this building it was that the pious archbishop Usher was prevailed upon to take his last sight of his beloved master when brought up to the scaffold before . He sunk with horror at the sight, and was carried in a swoon to his apartment. This house in the reign of William III. was appointed for the admiralty office, which had been removed from , . The present edifice is very extensive. The front facing the street has deep wings, and in the centre is a portico formed of lofty columns of the Ionic order; these support a pediment, within which are the admiralty arms. The interior is very convenient, and comprises a large hall and numerous offices appropriated to transacting maritime concerns.

The screen before the court has been much admired; it consists of a piazza of the Doric order supporting its entablature and enriched with marine ornaments.

On the top of the building is a semaphore for the quick conveyance of intelligence from the coast.

The jurisdiction of this office is very extensive; it controuls the whole navy of the united kingdom; nominates admirals, captains, and other officers, to serve on board his majesty's ships of war, and gives orders for courts martial on such as have neglected their duty, or been guilty of any irregularities.

Returning towards , in , is a house No. , remarkable for having been the residence of the celebrated Dr. Benjamin Franklin, and at present as the place of meeting for

The Society for the Relief of Persons Imprisoned for Small Debts.

-- This society rose through the endeavours of the Rev. Dr. Dodd, in ; and within months from the commencement of the plan, they were enabled to discharge persons, many of whom

250

were confined only for their fees! To these belonged wives, and children, making in all souls, essentially relieved by this mode of humanity. It is impossible now to ascertain the number of persons whom this institution has rescued from misery and wretchedness.

The objects of this charity are those, whether men or women, who are actually imprisoned, whose debts, or the composition for them, do not exceed ; those have the preference who are infirm, or have large families.

Hungerford Market takes its name from the family of the same name, of Farleigh, in the county of Wilts. Sir Edward Hungerford was created knight of the Bath, at the coronation of Charles II. and had a large mansion here, which he converted into tenements, and a market: over the market-house was a large room called

The French church,

which was afterwards the charity-school for in the Fields, but is at present in a state of dilapidation. On the north side of the building is a neglected bust of Charles II.

On the site of several streets eastward of Hungerford-market, was so called from having been the residence of the archbishops of York. It had been anciently the bishop of Norwich's inn; but was exchanged in , in the reign of Henry VIII. for the abbey of St. Bennet , in Norfolk. The next possessor, Charles Brandon, duke of Suffolk, had it in exchange for his house called place. In the reign of queen Mary it was purchased by Dr. Heath, archbishop of York, and called York-house. Archbishop Matthew, in the reign of James I. exchanged it with the crown, and had several manors in lieu of it. It was the residence of lords chancellors Egerton and Bacon; after which it was granted to George Villiers, duke of Buckingham, who rebuilt it most magnificently. In , the parliament bestowed it on general Fairfax, whose daughter and heir marrying George Villiers, the duke of Buckingham, the house reverted to its true owner, who resided here for several years subsequent to the Restoration, It was disposed of by him, and several streets laid out on the site, which go under his names and titles:

George

-street,

Villiers

-street,

Duke

-street,

Of

-alley, and

Buckingham

-street.

The only vestige now remaining of the splendid mansion of the Buckinghams, is the Water Gate at the bottom of . It has been thus justly characterized:

251

 

York-stairs form unquestionably the most perfect piece of building, that does honour to the name of Inigo Jones: it is planned in so exquisite a taste, formed of such equal and harmonious parts, and adorned with such proper and elegant decorations, that nothing can be censured or added. It is at once happy in its situation, beyond comparison, and fancied in a style exactly suited to that situation. The rock-work, or rustic, can never be better introduced than in buildings by the side of water; and, indeed, it is a great question whether it ought to be made use of any where else.

On the side next to the river--appear the arms of the Villiers family; and on the north front is inscribed their family motto:-- .-The cross is the touch-stone of Faith.

Water Works, was an edifice with a high wooden tower, erected for raising Thames water, for the supply of and its neighbourhood. The works are under the superintendance of a company, incorporated by an act of parliament in the year . The site of the water-works, which were at the bottom of , is now occupied as a coal-wharf. In former times the banks of the Thames, from to Somerset-house, were ornamented with numerous palaces of the nobility, many consisting of and courts, and fitted up in the most sumptuous manner. In the time of Edward VI. elegant gardens, protected by lofty walls, embellished the margin of our great river, from Privy-bridge to Baynard's-hall. These gardens appended to the sumptuous buildings of the Savoy, and York, Paget, and Arundel places. Each intervening spot was still guarded by a wall, and frequently laid out in decorative walks, a most pleasing contrast to the present state of the same district. On side of the original , the lapse of centuries has Worked wonders in improvement. There was no continued street here till about the year . The side next the Thames then consisted entirely of distinct mansions, skreened from the vulgar eye by cheerless extensions of massive brick wall. The north side was formed by a thin row of detached houses, each of which possessed a garden; and all beyond was country. was a distant Country hamlet.

Opposite to Chester Inn stood an ancient cross. On this cross, in the year , the judges sat to administer justice, without the city. In the reign of Edward III. was an open highway. A solitary-house occasionally occurred; but in , the ruggedness of the highway was such, that Edward appointed a tax on wool, leather, &c. to its improvement.

, from Charing-cross to Chester-cross, was so ruinous in the reign of Henry VIII. that an act was made for its repair.

252

 

At the commencement of the last century, was lighted only by lanthorns, hung gratuitously by the inhabitants, without resemblance of parochial uniformity. Ignorant of the advantages of regular pavement, both road and footpath boasted, in their improved day, only the pointed misery of fortuitous flints. Indeed , in Edward the VIth's time, does not appear to have been a thoroughfare of great resort: at any rate, barrows, and broad wheeled carts were the only carriages of passage. Access to the court, whether held at the Tower, , or , was most readily found by means of the Thames. Modern elegance has discovered a more refined (but not more eligible), method of approaching St. James's.

Nearly opposite , is . Here stood

 
 
Footnotes:

[] Some idea may be formed of the magnificence of the building from the view, Vide ante, p. 246, which is taken from a drawing by Hollar, in the Pepysian library, Cambridge.Houses of the Nobility in the Strand: York House

[] Critical Review of Public Buildings.

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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