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
Clarendon House, called also Albemarle House.
Clarendon House, called also Albemarle House.
This superb and magnificent building was erected by , Earl of , Lord High Chancellor of England, shortly after the restoration of King II. The circumstance of his Lordship's purchasing, and applying to this purpose, the stones that were intended for the repair of the old cathedral church of , London, and expending in the building, which employed men, brought an odium on his character, aggravated by his enemies, who denominated this expensive fabric, II. having recently sold to the French, the public conceived the measure to originate with the , and challenged him with appropriating part of the money towards the expense of his great undertaking of this noble dwelling, though it afterwards sufficiently appeared, he had so greatly embarrassed his circumstances, as to be under the necessity of selling the same to , Duke of Albemarle, from whom it derived its denomination of The great cause of jealousy and envy among the nobility, towards Lord Clarendon, arose from the circumstance of his eldest daughter, Anne Hyde, being lately married to the Duke of York, the presumptive heir to the Crown; and there were many who asserted this was not only affected through the contrivance of the Chancellor, but that he was the sole person who planned and carried into effect the marriage of the King with the Infanta of Portugal; from which match very little prospect of issue was expected, to prevent the descendants of the Chancellor, by his daughter, coming in direct succession to the throne. Of this, however, the King sufficiently clears him, in his speech to Parliament, in these very words:
Much about this time a serious affair took place, which caused the great trouble and difficulty to encounter. There had been a long course of uninterrupted friendship, both at home and abroad, between George, Earl of , and the Earl of , so that the same seemed to be like the knot, indissoluble: but the Chancellor refusing a small boon, as the Earl of took it to be, which it was said, was the passing a patent in favour of a court lady, and wherein the Chancellor, who was the best judge of his own office, was certainly in the right; this so soured the other's spirits, as never dreaming he should be denied, that his thoughts suggested nothing to him from thenceforwards, but malice and the highest revenge; and having digested all things within himself, which he imagined might tend to the disadvantage of the Chancellor, he made a bitter and artful speech against him in the ; and then, on the , exhibited articles of high treason, and other heinous misdemeanours, against , Earl of , Lord High Chancellor of England. This bold attack upon the Lord Chancellor, though he came off without any blemish, rendered him more cautious and circumspect in his conduct: so that things, in all outward appearance, went smoothly on with him, bating that the gout racked him now and then, till the war with the Dutch broke out, which the libellers of that age made to be of his heinous crimes, though he abhorred it.
But the Earl's greatest misfortune befell him on the , when the Great Seal was taken from him; and it is incredible with what rage and fury everybody fell upon him. When the Parliament met on the of following, both Houses thanked the King in a more especial manner, for having displaced the Earl, and removed him from the exercise of any public trust and employment; and the Commons proceeding to draw up articles against him, Mr. , in the name of the Commons of , impeached him, at the bar of the , of treason, and other high crimes and misdemeanors. About this time, his Lordship thinking it advisable for him to withdraw out of the kingdom for his greater security, he sent a petition to the in a very noble style; and, though writ with an air of great candour and sincerity, had no influence at all in his favour. There were several conferences held between the Lords and Commons, about the manner of proceeding against the Earl, which ended at last in a bill for banishing and disabling him.
It should be observed, that my Lord address, or paper, to the , which was printed in those days under the opprobrious title of , Clarendon's England; , on the d of December; was, on the of the same month, according to the sentence and judgment of both Houses of Parliament, burnt by the hands of the common hangman, in the presence of the Sheriffs of and , with great and signal applause of the populace. Everybody now flung dirt at him, and, like gudgeons, greedily swallowed all that tended to his disreputation and
| disgrace, without ever inquiring into the reasons of them. , in his satirical Advice to a Painter, could not, among the rest, forbear to have a fling at him in the opprobrious lines:
But the true cause of the noble Earl's disgrace, proceeded from the opposition he made to the desires of the royal brothers, Charles II. and the Duke of York, it being well known his zeal for the Protestant religion was such, that some time before he was turned out, he refused to seal a new commission for the Duke of York to evade a late act made against Popery.
, in his Memoirs, informs us, on the restoration of Charles II. he possessed so entirely the hearts of the people, that they thought nothing was too much for them to grant, or for him to receive. Among other designs to please him, there was formed at , to settle such a upon him by Parliament, during life, as should place him beyond the necessity of asking more, except in the case of a war, or some such extraordinary occasion; that the Earl of , Lord High Treasurer, came heartily into it, out of a mere principle of honour and affection to the King, but that Chancellor secretly opposed it; that it happened that they had a private conference about the matter; and the Chancellor, being earnest to bring the Treasurer to his opinion, took the freedom to tell him, that he was better acquainted with the King's temper and inclinations, than could reasonably expect to be, having had long and intimate acquaintance with His Majesty abroad; and that he knew him so well, that if such a was once settled upon him for life, that was brought over, but that this passage could not be kept so secret, but it came to King Charles's ears; which, together with other things, wherein was misrepresented to him, proved the true reason why he abandoned him to his enemies.
On the death of the Duke of Albemarle, which happened -, Clarendon House came into possession of James, Duke of Ormond, who, in , in his way to this place, where his Grace at that time lived, was seized and dragged out of his coach by the infamous Colonel Blood and his associates, who intended to hang his Grace at Tyburn, in revenge for justice done, under his administration in , on some of their companions. This refinement in revenge saved the Duke's life; he had leisure to disengage himself from the villain on horseback, to whom he was tied, by which time he was discovered by his affrighted domestics, and rescued from death. Blood was soon after taken in the attempt to steal the crown. But the Court had use for so complete a villain, and sunk so low as to apply to his Grace for pardon of the offence against him; the Duke granted it with a generous indignation. Blood had a pension of a year, and was constantly seen in the presence-chamber, as is supposed to show to the great uncomplying men of the time what a ready instrument the ministry had to revenge any attempt that might be made against them in the cause of liberty.
The residence of the Duke of Ormond at Clarendon House, could have been but for a short time, the Duke of Albemarle having sold the house and grounds prior to his decease. Strype notices it in the following words:
—Strype's Stow, edit .
The site on which Clarendon House stood, now forms ; the others were erected on the extensive gardens and grounds belonging to the House.