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
St. Martin-le-Grand College, and St. Vedast, Foster Lane.
St. Martin-le-Grand College, and St. Vedast, Foster Lane.
The College of St. Martin-le-Grand, in , within Aldersgate, was founded by and Edwardus (or ) his brother, in the year of Christ . It is described of old time as a fair and large College, of a Dean and Secular Canons, or Priests,—and was confirmed by William the Conqueror, by his charter, bearing date , in the year of his reign; who not only permitted their enjoyment of all the lands the Founders gave, but himself gave all the moor-land without Cripplegate; and freed this Church and the Canons, from all disturbance and exaction of any Bishops, Archdeacons, or their Ministers; and from all regal services; and granted them and and , with all those ancient liberties, in the fullest manner that any Church in England had.
In former times, the Deans and Canons of were great men. , in the reign of Edward III. was Dean of ; who was Chief Chamberlain of , Receiver and Keeper of the King's Treasure and Jewels. Then , a Prebendary of , was Clerk of the Privy Seal. was Dean in the reign of Edward I. This Church of anciently was free from episcopal visitation, and even from papal exactions; and peculiarly belonged to the King; for King Henry III. brought the Pope into suit, for taking some payments from the Church of Newport, that belonged to this Deanery.
This College claimed great privileges of sanctuary, and otherwise, as appeareth in a book written by a Notary of that House, about the year , the of Henry VI. wherein, amongst other things, is set down and declared, that on the , in the year aforesaid, a soldier, prisoner in Newgate, as he was led by an officer towards the of London, there came out of of his fellowship, took him from the officer, and brought him into sanctuary at the west door of . But the same day and , then Sheriffs of London, with many others, entered the said Church, and forcibly took out with them the said men, thither fled; led them fettered to the Compter, and from thence, chained by the necks, to Newgate. Of which violent taking, the Dean and Chapter in large manner complained to the King; and required him, as their patron, to defend their privileges, like as his predecessors had done, &c. All which complaint and suit, the citizens by their counsel, , Serjeant at the Law, , late Common Clerk of the City, and others, learnedly answered; offering to prove, that the said place of had no such immunity or liberty as was pretended: namely, offered to lose his life-lode, if that Church had more immunity than the least Church in London. Notwithstanding, after long debating of this controversy, by the King's commandment, and assent of his Counsel in the Star Chamber, the Chancellor and Treasurer sent a writ unto the Sheriffs of London, charging them to bring the said persons, with the cause of their taking and withholding, afore the King in his Chancery, on the vigil of On which day the said Sheriffs, with the Recorder and Council of the City, brought and delivered them accordingly, afore the said Lords; when the Chancellor, after he had declared the King's commandment, sent them to , there to abide freely, as in a place having franchises, whiles them liked, &c.
This Church, or Chapel, of St. Martin, with the sanctuary and precinct thereof, and all advowsons, gifts, collations of all canonries, prebends, churches, vicarages, chapels, chantries, hospitals, &c., belonging thereunto, were by King Henry VII. on , in the year of his reign, given and granted to the Monastery of in . Afterwards, when that Monastery was made a Bishoprick by King Henry VIII., this Church or Chapel of , with the premises, were granted by that King, in the d of his reign, to the Bishop of ; and afterwards, in the of his reign, to the Dean and Chapter of , upon the endowment of them. But upon the dissolution of the episcopal See by King Edward VI., that King, by his Letters Patents, bearing date , the of his reign, granted the jurisdiction of the site of this College, together with the precinct and territory of the same (among other exempt jurisdictions in this Diocese), as to ecclesiastical matters, to the Bishop of London, and to his successors for ever. Though afterwards, in the same King's reign, this, with the rest of the jurisdictions, privileges, and immunities belonging to the Church of , were by Act of Parliament restored to the Dean and Chapter there; which in Queen Mary's time, when she again made it a Monastery, were enjoyed by the Abbot and Convent during her reign, and to this very day by the Dean and Chapter, from the time that Queen Elizabeth converted it into a Collegiate Church, in .
Since the time that King Henry VII. gave this College to the Church of , all processes to be executed within this Liberty, are directed by the Sheriffs of London to the Constable of the Dean and Chapter of the Collegiate Church of , of their Liberty within the precinct of , in the City of London, to whom the execution of such processes within that Liberty belongs to be done. This is the sole and only Liberty acknowledged to be within the City of London where foreigners dwell, and use their trades, without the jurisdiction of the Lord Mayor or Sheriffs of London, and where they keep a court of their own, within their own precinct, of which there is a Steward or Judge.
This College was surrendered to King Edward VI. in the year of his reign, anno ; and the same year the College Church being pulled down, in the east part thereof a large wine tavern was built; and withal down to the west, and throughout the whole precinct of that College, many other houses were built, and highly prized by foreigners and others that claimed and enjoyed the privilege granted to the Canons, serving God day and night there (for such are the words in the Charter granted by the Conqueror), which can hardly be wrested to extend to artificers, buyers, sellers, &c.
In clearing for the , a Crypt was discovered, a view of which, with the workmen employed, is engraved from a drawing made on the spot, with a ground-plan of the structure; but on further progress, more satisfactory points of observation appearing, it was deemed necessary to make other drawings of the same subject, S. E. and S. W. views of which are given on a Plate, under the steeple view of the Church of St. Vedast, and the ruins of the burial-ground of St. Leonard, , which Church was destroyed in the dreadful fire in . The groined pointed arch of this subterraneous edifice was an object of universal admiration to all who visited the spot, for the short period it was permitted to stand, subsequent to its being found by the workmen. That the light ribbed stone-work arched roof, springing from the supporting columns, should resist the immense weight of building it had supported for so many ages, was a matter of general wonder. The stone coffin represented in the views, was of great antiquity, and in all probability was that of of the early Deans of this College: in shape it differs materially from those we generally see, the socket being only formed to receive the head, and no way moulded to the breadth of the shoulders, but regularly sloping to the feet.
This College was repaired at the expense of , Dean of the same, about the year , who is said to have had many accumulated preferments before he was promoted to the See of Winchester.
St. Leonard, , the ruins of which and its burial-place appear in the view (with part of St. Vedast's Church and Steeple), was founded between the years and , by the Dean and Canons of , as appears in the London Registry (), and continued in the patronage of the Dean of St. Martin-le-Grand, till Henry VII. annexed that Deanery to the Abbey of ; and from that time it continued in that Abbot and Convent, and after them in the Dean and Chapter of to the present time.
The old churchyard belonging to this parish, situate on the north side of the church, containing about feet in length, and about feet and a half in breadth, being too little for their burying-place, was, by agreement of the Dean and Chapter of leased out for years to and others, churchwardens and inhabitants of the said parish; and a greater piece of ground, containing in breadth, at the east end feet, and at the west end feet and inches; and in length, at the north side feet and a half, and on the south side feet or thereabouts, within the precincts of aforesaid, called the , taken by the said church wardens and inhabitants for the term of years; and being walled in for a burying-place for the inhabitants of this parish, and called the new churchyard, was granted, by way of exchange, for years to the parson and parishioners; all which was confirmed by , then Bishop of London, , but so that it should not be prejudicial to the ordinary jurisdiction of the Bishops and Archdeacons of London for the future. This Church being burnt down in the fire of , was annexed to that of , which is now the parochial church of both parishes; both of which together were made of the yearly value of in lieu of tithes to the incumbent; and by Act Geo. III. increased to
The Church of St. Vedast, the steeple of which forms a prominent feature in the view, stands on the east side of , and is named after St. Vedast, once Bishop of Arras, of whom many miracles are recorded. Stow mentions it as a fair church, newly built; and that , goldsmith, of the Sheriffs of London, deceased in , built St. Dunstan's Chapel here. , another of the Sheriffs of London, in , gave to the building of this Church by his testament. , Serjeant-Painter, Alderman, deceased in , was a great benefactor, and was here buried. This Church was repaired and beautified in , and at the chancel end were added feet of ground; which ground, so to lengthen the Church, was given to the parish out of a fair court then belonging to
The Church of is a rectory, and of the peculiars within this city, belonging to the Archbishop of Canterbury, of which the Prior and Chapter of Canterbury seem to have been patrons till the year , inclusive; but some time after that, it appears likewise, that the said Archbishops have been and continued patrons thereof, from the year to the present time.
The Church suffered much in the dreadful fire; yet not so, but that it was afterwards repaired, for the most part upon the old walls; and the tower or steeple stood till the year ; but it being very much weakened by the fire, the parishioners caused it to be wholly taken down, and rebuilt it from the foundation, at their own charges, and such benefactions as they could obtain. It is made the parochial Church for this and the parish of , which is annexed to it, and both together were made of the yearly value of in lieu of tithes to the incumbent; and by the above-mentioned Act of Geo. III. augmented to
The Church of is feet long, feet broad, and feet high to the roof; and is well enlightened by a range of windows, placed so high that the doors open under them. The tower is plain, and the spire, which is short, rises from a double base.
After the fire of London, when the Parliament annexed to this Church the parish of , the right of presentation was vested in the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Dean and Chapter of , alternately.
The association of St. Martin-le-Grand College with the Churches of and St. Vedast, , is in consequence of their immediate vicinity, and because appertained to the College of St. Martin-le-Grand, the presentation to which peculiarly belonged to the Deans of this place, prior to the grant of Henry VII.
By the section of the Act for enlarging and improving the west end of , &c., &c., &c., the Corporation of London were bound to purchase a fit and convenient burial-ground, within the distance of a quarter of a mile from the usual burial-ground of St. Leonard, , in lieu thereof; which has been effected by the procuration of what the Act required, in the parish of St. Botolph, immediately adjoining the burial-place of the said parish.