St. Saviour's Church, Southwark.
This Church, founded on the site of the old Priory Church of St. Mary Overie, was newly erected about the year , towards which, John Gower, the celebrated English poet,[*] was a great benefactor. In the year , the roof of the middle aisle fell down; and in , the Priory was surrendered to Henry VIII., valued at per annum. About Christmas after this, the inhabitants of the purchased the said Priory Church, which was by charter made for the joint use, both of this and the parishioners of St. Margaret on , and called it by the name of , , the chapel of St. Mary Magdalene, on the south side, being laid to this, thereby enlarging the same, as is yet very apparent; and in the d of Henry VIII. the charter was confirmed by act of Parliament, constituting the churchwardens a corporation. In the year , a screen at the west end was set up; anno and , the Church was in many places repaired; the new chapel at the east end, which had been for above years let to , was in restored again to the Church, and laid out in the repair, all at the charge of the parish: the account of which is preserved on a table under the tower, in these words:
It is a noble, spacious Church, with aisles running from east to west, and a cross aisle, after the manner of a cathedral, and is probably the longest parochial church in England. It is built in the antient Gothic order, both pillars, arches, roof, and windows; the roof of the body of the Church and chancel is supported by pillars, in a range; that of , or (now used for the ), with smaller pillars; and that of the former Church of St. (on the south side), by pillars like the last. There are galleries in the walls of the choir, adorned with pillars and arches, as in The tower is erected on very strong pillars, over the meeting of the middle aisle with the cross aisle; at each of the angles of which tower is a spire, all built of stone, and the walls of the Church of brick and boulder; the roof is covered with lead and tile; the floor well paved with stone, and the floor of the chancel step higher; the pulpit and communion-table are of excellent wainscot, finely finniered, the latter having enrichments of a glory, cherubims, doves, &c. placed on a fine black and white marble foot-pace, inclosed with rail and bannister, and with a wainscot fence, having iron spikes; the altar-piece is very stately and beautiful, in altitude about feet of wainscot; it consists of an upper and lower part—the latter is adorned with fluted columns, and their entablature of the Corinthian order; the intercolumns are the commandments, done in black letters, on large slabs of white and veined marble, under a glory and triangular pediments, and between attic pilasters, with an acroteria of the figures of golden candlesticks replenished with tapers, all which ornament is under a spacious circular pediment belonging to the said Corinthian columns, which are placed between the and , curiously depencilled in gold letters on black, each under a pediment, and between small pilasters. The upper part is adorned with pedestals, and between them attic pilasters, with a small compass pediment; on these , and on the middle of the pediment, are placed lamps; and in the centre of this upper part is a glory, in the shape of a dove descending, within a circular group of cherubims, all very spacious and finely painted, presented to the view, as it were, by the withdrawing of a rich curtain, painted in festoons; behind all which is a light window, the arch whereof is enriched with the figures of swans and an angel. The organ-case is also of oak, very lofty, elevated on square pillars, the upper part whereof is adorned with Fames, carved, standing in full proportion, about feet from the area of the aisle.
There are handsome inner door-cases, opening into the choir, north and south, and an iron at the west end of the Church, under the organ; also an outer door-case, on the south side. Over the aperture of the west door are the words of xxviii. ; Psalm xxxix. ; Jeremiah vii. , .
The dimensions of the Church are as follows:
In which tower there are excellent bells, celebrated for their musical tone.
The monuments in this Church are very numerous, and several finely executed; the most interesting of which are those of Bishop Launcelot Andrews, of fine black and white marble, with his effigies adorned as Prelate of the Garter; John Bingham, Esq., sadler to Queen Elizabeth and King James, adorned with his bust; Richard Humble, with the figures of himself, his wives. and children, with the following beautiful lines:
John Trehearne, gentleman porter to King James I. with the effigies of himself, wife, and children; John Gower, the earliest of our English poets, with his figure at full length, his head resting on books of his writing; he flourished in the reigns of Edward III. and Richard II. and died in , aged ; Lionel Lockyer, with his effigy at full length, in a fur gown; Mr. Blisse, with his bust under a canopy, and many others of an inferior description.
The living may be called a rectory impropriate, the churchwardens receiving the tithes to the year , when the parish of being taken out of this, the tithes ceased, but the church wardens had power afterwards to raise (in lieu of the tithes) and levy upon the parish, a sum not exceeding per annum, to be thus applied: to preaching chaplains per annum each; to the master of the Free School, per annum; and the residue to be laid out in the necessary repairs of the Church. The present chaplains are the Rev. Dr. Harrison and the Rev. William Mann, who alternately perform the duty weekly.
The exterior views hitherto taken of this Church are from the south-west point; the present is therefore chosen from the north-east, as it not only forms a variety from those prospects already given, but that this side of the building makes a much more interesting and picturesque appearance, from the circumstance of its not having undergone the alterations and repair the southern side exhibits; every particle of its pristine architecture and original state, evidently shows it to have suffered little or no change, from the time of its erection; and it is without question as perfect a specimen of antient ecclesiastic building as any in England. The northern part of this neighbourhood is so completely blocked up with the old buildings of , and adjoining alleys and courts, that it is with extreme difficulty any thing like a sight of the Church in the direction the view here given represents, can be obtained, and it became an additional inducement to insert it, never before being engraved.
The vignette is composed from the most prominent and striking of the monumental antiquities still remaining within this sacred edifice; the most particular of which are the effigies of the Knight Crusader and old Overie, father of its original foundress, MARY OVERIE.
Gateway of Priory, and St. Mary Overie's, Otherwise , .
The Priory, of which the gateway at present is the only remains, was founded previous to the Norman Conquest, by a maiden named Mary, for sisters; unto the which house and sisters she left the profits of a cross ferry over the Thames, there kept, before that any bridge was built; this house was after, by , a noble lady, converted into a college of priests, who, in place of the ferry, built a bridge of timber, and from time to time kept the same in good repair; and lastly, the same bridge was built of stone, and then, in the year , was the Church of St. Mary Overie founded for canons regular, by , and , Knights,
The Priory was burnt about the year , wherefore the canons did found an Hospital near unto their Priory, where divine service was performed until the Priory was repaired, which Hospital was after (by consent of , Bishop of Winchester) removed into the land of , Archdeacon of Surry, in the year , a place where the water was more plentiful, and the air more wholesome, and was dedicated to St. Thomas.
is situate between Winchester House and , and has its principal communication with the Borough, through , which it immediately fronts; the neighbourhood consists of very old houses, straggling and irregularly built, and but meanly inhabited; near the Dock was the prison belonging to the liberty of the Bishop of , called the Clink Liberty, where he had his house to reside in when he came to In the last century, was, and still continues a very considerable place for the landing and unloading of goods, and likewise of account for the coal trade; and, being so much resorted to by waggons, carts, and trucks, rendered the place and adjoining streets and lanes incumbered, dirty, and not so well inhabited. hath several turnings leading to the Borough: , however, is the principal; as may be seen in the plan, near which are the almshouses, erected and endowed in the year , at the sole expense of ALICE-SHAW-OVERMAIN, for the benefit of widows and maidens. The Priory of St. Mary Overie, after its suppression by Henry VIII. was valued at per annum, after which the conventual church was purchased by the inhabitants of St. Mary Magdalene and St. Margaret, and the whole consolidated under the name of the parish of St. Saviour; by which title the Dock is now more generally distinguished than by its antient denomination of St. Mary Overie's.
In it is said the gunpowder-plot was discovered by the miscarriage of a letter, which fell by mistake into the hands of Lord Monteagle, who at that period resided in this place; but that the letter was intended for him is evident from the inscription on the back, which is,
Lord Monteagle had a sister married to Thomas Habington, of Hinlip, in Worcestershire, who was concerned in various plots for releasing Mary Queen of Scots, and setting up a papist to succeed her; and was condemned to die for concealing Garnet and Oldcorn, the Jesuits, concerned in the gunpowder-plot, but was pardoned at the intercession of his wife and Lord Monteagle. Tradition, in Worcestershire, says Mrs. Habington was the person who wrote the letter to her brother which led to the discovery. Percy, the conspirator, whose picture is at Hinlip, was very intimate both with Habington and Lord Monteagle, and is supposed by Guthrie to have written the letter; but the style of it seems to be that of who had only heard some dark hints of the business, which was perhaps the case of Mrs. Habington, and not of who was a principal mover of the whole, as was Percy. for a long time after enjoyed several privileges in consequence of the happy discovery made by Lord Monteagle; particularly whoever dwelt there were exempted from having any actions of debt, trespass, &c., served upon them. But this privilege, as also those of other places, has been suppressed by act of Parliament
is still remaining, but in a very ruinous state.
[*] There is a very good portrait of Gower, engraved from the monument, by Trotter, and has for a companion the head of John Lydgate, monk of Bury, who was likewise a poet and co-temporary with the former.
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Extracts from the Vestry Books of the Church of St. Peter upon Cornhill
Interments in the Old Church of St. Peter upon Cornhill
Monuments and Inscriptions in the Present Church of St. Peter upon Cornhill: Finished, A.D. 1681
Gifts and Charities of the Parish of St. Peter upon Cornhill
Rectors of the Church of St. Peter upon Cornhill
Library and School of St. Peter's upon Cornhill
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