Londina Illustrata. Graphic and Historical Memorials of Monasteries, Churches, Chapels, Schools, Charitable Foundations, Palaces, Halls, Courts, Processions, Places of Early Amusement, and Modern Present Theatres, in the Cities and Suburbs of London and Westminster, Volume 1
Buildings Composing St. Helen's Priory.
We shall finish our account of this ancient Priory and Church, by enumerating some of the principal buildings of which it consisted, when in a perfect state, in order that the reader may better understand the accompanying Plan, and the other Plates before alluded to.
In the different parts of the Nunnery mentioned in Kentwode's Constitutions, are more particularly named—
or hospital for
or dormitory; the cloister, with its doors ( of which was a
); the kitchen, with its hatch, guarded by iron spikes; and the
with its door. In the survey made at the dissolution, some of the above, with other places, are thus further noticed:[*] The gate-house, or chief entrance, leading from . This stood where was formerly the entrance to Little St. Helen's, and where is now the opening to . It is described as leading to an outer court, surrounded with chambers, houses, and buildings, probably occupied by the officers and servants of the establishment. This outer court occupied the small square on entering into Little St. Helen's, where, before the late alterations, a meeting-house, &c. stood. It led, by an entry, to a or inner court, likewise surrounded with buildings (to guard it from the gaze of the neighbouring houses), and where were the steward's lodging and counting-house. You then came to what might be properly termed the interior of the Convent, where stood its principal and finest buildings. These consisted more particularly of the hall, kitchen, cloisters, the great or convent parlour; the chapter-house, the fratry, the dorture, evidence house, &c. The situation of all these, and their contiguity to each other, are distinctly marked out in the survey. The
with its pastry house, larder houses, &c. was the building after passing through the inner court; and was adjoined, on its east end, by a passage leading to the hall, and a small ante-room. This passage (which was a vaulted ) is marked in the Plan by the letter A. It led to the crypts under the same hall and anteroom, which are described as having various offices, or
in them, and to have adjoined the cloister there (i.e. the east side of it), where also was the great chamber called
This crypt was the to which the passage A leads in the Plan, and is the same of which the view is given in Plate I. looking from the north. It had doorways leading to the cloisters, which are shown on the right hand of the view. The of these, opening to the passage marked in the plan, was a piece of very solid masonry, and is delineated in Plate II. as an
| Above, and adjoining the hall, were |
In a straight line with this entry or passage, ran the north side of the cloister, at the western extremity of which was
The remains of this fratry, with the wall of the north side of the cloister, are the principal objects shown in Plate III. which also exhibits opposite, the side of St. Helen's Church, with the door into the Nuns' quire (as it is called), or rather the conventual Church, and in the foreground the ruins of the crypts under the hall, &c. The door leading from the cloister to the fratry, which the writer of this well remembers to have seen at the late demolition of it, was particularly elegant, the mouldings of the upper part being filled with roses of stone, painted scarlet and gilt; the windows of the fratry itself also, which were nearly lancet-shaped, were extremely beautiful. A piscina stood a little west from this doorway, which is shown in the view. On the east side of the cloister was the sub-prior's lodging, with a small garden attached; next to which were stairs leading to the dormitory, evidence-room, &c. These latter rooms stood over the vaults to which the entrance, marked B in the Plan, leads; which were not double, as were those under the hall, but notwithstanding of an elegant make: their form and situation will be exactly understood from the Plate. From the crypts on the south, it will be seen, the Nuns had apertures to view the celebration of divine service in their Church, without being obliged to attend there, as we have elsewhere observed. The form, style of architecture, and other detail of this elegant range of vaults, will be seen in the accompanying views of them.
The cloister is described in the survey as then standing perfect,
From the foundation of this cloister numberless sculls, and other remains of morality, were dug up in forming : in many of the former the teeth were perfectly sound and white, though we know they must have been buried there before the dissolution. This site had been for many years occupied as a garden.
The situation of the chapter-house is not mentioned in either of the authorities we have quoted, though such a building formed part of the Convent, and was the place at which many of their deeds and leases were dated.
containing half an acre, kitchen-garden with its dove-house, a wood-yard, &c. are also places enumerated as parts of the ancient Priory. Probably the Leather-sellers' Company's garden might be the former of these.
The Convent possessed the advowson of St. Ethelburg, near the Priory; of St. John the Baptist, and St. Mary Wolnoth; the manor of Marks, at Layton, and the manor of St. Helen, in East Barming, Kent, &c. &c. Their seal (a perfect impression of which is among the records of the Leather-sellers' Company), was the discovery of the cross by St. Helen. It has been engraved by Dr. Rawlinson, and has been copied by Malcolm, Lond. Rediv. iv. p. .
[*] The Parishe of Saint Elenes, within the Citie of London, and the Scite of the late Priory therein.—Fyrste, the cheaf entre, or cominge in to the same late Priory ys in and by the street gate lyying in the parishe of St. Elenes, in Bishopsgate-street, which leadeth to a little cowrte next adioning to the same gate, havinge chambers, howses, and buyldinges, environinge the same, out of wch cowrte there is an entre leadinge to an inner cowrte, wch on the North side is also likewise environed wth edificyons and buyldings, called the Stewards lodging, with a countinge house apperteninge to the same. Item, next to the same cowrte ther ys a faire kechinge, withe a pastery house, larder houses, and other howses of office, apperteninge to the same; and at the Est ende of the same kechyn and entre leadinge to the same hall, wth a little parlor adioyning, having under the same hall and parlor sondrie howses of office, next adioyning to the cloyster ther, and one howse called the Covent parlor. Item, III fair chambers adioyninge to the hall, whearof the one over the entree leadinge to the cloyster, thother over the buttree, and the third over the larder. Item, from the said entre by the hall to the cloyster, wch cloyster yet remaneth holly leaded, and at the North side of the same cloyster a faire long howst called the Fratree. Item, at thest ende of the same cloyster, a lodginge called the Suppryor's lodging, wth a litle gardin lieing to the same. And by the same lodginge a pare of staires leading to the dortor, at the South end whearof ther is a little howse, wherein the evidence of the said howse nowe dou remayne, wth all howste and lodginges vnder the same dortor. Item, at the West ende of the same cloyster, a dore leadinge in to the nunnes late quire, extending from the dore out of the churche-yarde unto the lampe or perticyon devidin the priorye from the parishe, wch is holly leaded. Item, at the estende of the said cloyster, an entre leading to a little garden, and out of the same littell garden to a faire garden called the Covent garden, conteninge by estimacion half an acre. And, at the North end of the said garden, a dore leading to another garden called the kechin garden; and at the West ende of the same ther is a dovehowshe; and in the same garden a dore to a faire woodyerde, wth howses, partic'ons, and gardens, wthin the same woodyerd. A tenement, wth a garden, a stable, and other thappurtenances to the same belonginge, called Elizabeth Hawte's lodginge. All which premisses ben rated, extentyd, and valued, the King's Highnesse to be discharged of the reparac'ons, of the yerely value of VIl. XIIIS. IIIId.