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
Craven House, Drury Lane.
Craven House, Drury Lane.
The site on which Craven House stood, was occupied previously by a mansion erected by Sir William Drury, a great commander in the Irish wars, but who unfortunately lost his life in a duel with Sir John Boroughs, in a quarrel about precedency. Sir Robert Drury, his son, succeeded him in the possession of the house, and was a distinguished patron of the celebrated Dr. Donne, who had apartments assigned to him here. During the time of the discontent and troubles of the favourite Essex, Drury House was the place where Sir Robert held frequent councils with his imprudent advisers, which terminated with confusion on his adherents, and the loss of his own head.
Whose possession it came into immediately after the Drurys does not appear; but soon after the restoration, the old house being taken down, it was rebuilt from the ground by the gallant William, Earl Craven, from whom it was ever after called Craven House, the name of Drury only being remembered in that of the lane, in which this house until of late years stood.
Earl Craven was descended from a family anciently seated at Appletreewick, in Craven, in the county of York. His ancestor John Craven, who lived in the reigns of Henry VII and VIII, had sons; Henry, William, and Anthony. The son, William Craven, by Beatrix his wife, daughter of John Hunter, was the father of Sir William Craven, knight, sheriff of London, in the year of Queen Elizabeth, and lord mayor in the year ; he died in , and was buried in the Church of St. Andrew , , without any monument to his memory. He married Elizabeth, daughter of William Whitmore, Esq. of London, and left issue sons and daughters, viz. William, his son and heir; John, who was held in such esteem by Charles I, that by Letters Patent, bearing date at Oxford in the year of his reign, he was advanced to the dignity of a baron of the realm, by the title of Lord Craven of Ryton, in the county of Salop; he married Elizabeth, daughter of William, Lord Spencer, but died without issue; and Thomas, the son, died unmarried. The daughters were, Mary, married to Thomas, Lord Coventry; and Elizabeth, to Percy Herbert, Lord Powis, father of William, Earl of Powis.
William Craven, the eldest son of the knight, was much affected with military exercises from his youth, and signalized himself in Germany and the Netherlands, under Henry, Prince of Orange; in which valiant adventures he gained such honour, that, on his return, he was knighted at Newmarket, , and in the same month raised to the dignity of a baron of the realm, by the title of Lord Craven, of Hamstead Marshal, in the county of Berks, , Cha. ; with remainder, for want of issue male of his own body, to John Craven and Thomas Craven his brothers successively, and the heirs male of their bodies.
In , he was of the commanders of those forces sent to the assistance of that great hero Gustavus, King of Sweden, then in arms in Germany, for the defence of the Protestants; and when that monarch, with the King of Bohemia, marched against Creutznach, the English volunteers, by their bravery in assaults, obliged the garrison to surrender; and the capitulation was signed by William Lord Craven, and Colonel Boulin, Quarter-master General of the King of Sweden's army. Lord Craven was wounded in the assaults, and, on his coming into the King of Sweden's presence, was told by him, he adventured so desperately, he bid his younger brother fair play for his estate.
He afterward went to the assistance of the Elector Palatine, who having besieged Limoges, in the year , a battle ensued, in which the emperor's army being victorious, the Elector with difficulty escaped by flight, but his brother, Prince Rupert, and Lord Craven, were taken prisoners. As soon as his lordship obtained his liberty, he went into the service of the States of Holland, under the Prince of Orange; and here he resided without coming to England for above years, till the restoration of Charles II.
Though Lord Craven did not personally serve Charles I, against his rebellious subjects, yet he manifested his loyalty by sending him considerable supplies; as also to Charles II, in his greatest necessities, as the King himself acknowledged after his restoration, when by his Letters Patent bearing date , Cha. II, he advanced him to the titles of Viscount Craven, of Uffington, in the county of Berks, and Earl Craven, of Craven, in the county of York.
And by reason that both his brothers were then dead without issue, the title of Lord Craven of Hamstead Marshal was then limited, for want of male issue of his own body lawfully begotten, to Sir William Craven, of Leuchwike, in the county of Worcester, knight, and to the heirs male of his body; and for default of such issue, to Sir Anthony Craven, knight, brother to the same Sir William, and to the issue male of his body.
How great a sufferer Lord Craven was for his adherence to Charles II, is evident from a printed case in those times, setting forth the injustice done by the Parliament of England, in confiscating his estate. By which it appears, that in the year , Falconer deposed, that Lord Craven did promote a petition, in which several persons
And Col. Hugh Reyly deposed, ,
Also Capt. Thomas Kitchingman deposed, ,
Whereupon, , it was resolved by the Parliament, that Lord Craven is an offender against the Commonwealth of England, within the declaration of the , entitled, A Declaration of the Commons assembled in Parliament, declaring all persons who have served the Parliament of England in Ireland, and have betrayed their trust, or have or shall adhere to, or assist, Charles Stewart, son to the late King, to be traytors and rebels.
Resolved, by the Parliament, that the estate of Lord Craven be confiscated accordingly.
Resolved, that the commissioners for compounding be empowered and required to seize and sequester all the estate, real and personal, of the said Lord Craven, and to receive the rents, issues, and profits thereof, to the use of the Commonwealth.
Accordingly his personal estate throughout all England (which was of no small value) was seized upon as confiscate, and sold, and much of it bought by members of that Parliament, who condemned him unheard, and who probably had then in their eye the parchase of his estate; for some of them, ever after that vote of confiscation, violently pressed on the sale of his estate, procuring an act for it, which passed , and bought large portions thereof at easy pennyworths.
The Elector Palatine and the States General interceded with the Parliament to rescind their act for the confiscation of these estates; but all the interest Lord Craven could make, and the precedents and witnesses produced by his council, could not bring the Parliament to reverse their judgment; whereby he was kept out of his estate till the restoration of Charles II, when he claimed and recovered the whole. It was offered to the Parliament to prove Falconer's perjury; but on their refusal to be judges thereof, he was afterward convicted for it in the Court of Upper Bench (as it was then called) when it
| was proved by witnesses, who read and signed the petition he swore to, and that there were no such words in it as |
though Falconer himself often pressed those words might be put in, having without doubt his design on Lord Craven; and the original draught of that petition was produced in court, all of Falconer's handwriting, which he could not deny, wherein there was not the least mention of those words. Yet, on his single testimony, Lord Craven lost his estate; for what Reyly and Kitchingman deposed, carried not treason, or cause of confiscation, along with it. However, these proceedings and sale of Lord Craven's estate never passed with the clear judgment of the Parliament, but met with great and high opposition, dividing times; when, on the it was carried only by a single vote, the by , the by , and the time by votes. And when the act for the sale of his estate was put to the question, on the division of the House, there were in the negative and only members in the affirmative, of whom contracted for near per annum of the estate, as appeared by the books of Drury House; beside what was bought in other men's names, for the use of the members of that parliament, and those who were of the former parliament, which voted the confiscation of his estate.
From the circumstance of these entries in the books concerning his lordship's estate, being denominated as the books of Drury House, it is most likely the Drury estate came into his possession on the death of Sir Robert Drury, the only son of the builder of Drury House, Sir William; of the descendants of whom in the female line, the particulars were recorded on a monument that was preserved in the old Church of St. James Clerkenwell, until its demolition.[*] It stood at the east end of the south aisle, and was a very curious black and white marble tomb with arms, mantling, and coronet carved, and the following inscription: Here lyeth interred Elizabeth, Countess Dowager of Exeter, daughter of Sir William Drury, of Hamstead in the county of Suffolk, knight, and coheir with Sir Robert Drury, her brother. She was married to William Cecil, knight of the noble order of the garter, Lord Burleigh, Earl of Exeter, son of Thomas, Lord Burleigh, Earl of Exeter, and grandchild of the illustrious William, Lord Burleigh, lord treasurer to Queen Elizabeth. By the said Earl she had daughter, and co-heirs: Elizabeth married to Thomas Howard, Viscount Andover, Earl of Berkshire; Dinah, married to Henry, Lord Vere, Earl of Oxenford, and after his death to Thomas, Lord Bruce, Baron of Wharlton, Earl of Eglyn; Ann, married to Henry, Lord Gray, of Grooby, Earl of Stamford. She died at her house called , the , aged years; leaving behind her an example for piety, wisdom, bounty, charity, and all goodness, fit for imitation of all ladies of honour and virtue. And close by this tomb was a painted table, setting forth that this lady was honoured and beloved by all for her hospitality and charity to the poor, was free from pride, left great legacies to her servants (to some annually for life,) was grandmother to children, and great grandmother to .
To return to Lord Craven.—King Charles, on his restoration, taking into consideration his great losses in his service, created him an Earl as before mentioned, and constituted him colonel of the regiment of foot guards, called the Coldstream regiment. He was likewise of his privy council, lord lieutenant of the county of Middlesex and of the borough of , custos rotulorum of Berkshire, of the governors of the , and of the lords proprietors of the province of Carolina in North America.
Earl Craven continued in the esteem of King Charles the , during the whole course of his reign; and Elizabeth, Queen of Bohemia (to whom he was privately married, and built for her the fine seat at Hamstead Marshal, in the county of Berks, which was afterward destroyed by fire) died in Craven House, .
Earl Craven, in his younger days, was of the most accomplished gentlemen in Europe; charitable, abstemious as to himself, generous to others, familiar in his conversation, and universally beloved. He continued in London during the whole time of the great plague, in , braving the fury of the pestilence, with the same intrepid coolness as when fighting the battles of his beloved mistress, the Queen of Bohemia, or when mounting the tremendous breach at Creutznach. He was indeed, what he was generally termed, the intrepid soldier, the gallant lover, and the genuine patriot.
In , Lord Craven purchased a piece of waste ground for the purpose of erecting a pest-house, which consisted of small tenements, for the reception of those affected by the plague. The site of this was called the Pest-house Field; it became surrounded with buildings soon after the revolution in , but long remained a dirty waste till occupied much of the west part. But is now () no more; every shop, stall, and shamble being pulled down for the purpose of carrying into effect the wonderful improvement of building in this quarter of the metropolis. The Pest-house Field where those who died of the infection were interred, extended in length from to , and in breadth from to Marshal Street. The circumstance of the property of the ground being vested in the Craven family, is still commemorated on the front of a house in Marshal Street, called the Craven Brewhouse. At the lower end of Marshal Street was a common cemetery, where some hundreds of bodies were buried in that calamitous year.
In , he, in conjunction with George Monk, Duke of Albemarle, came forth to render their assistance during the raging of the dreadful fire of London; and took every means to alleviate the calamity, and to prevent its progress: here their valour was put to the test; but amid the horrors of death and destruction, they both behaved with the same coolness, as when they were supported by the glory of victory, amid the thunder of artillery and flights of bullets, in the field of battle.
When King James came to the throne, Earl Craven attended his coronation, and for some time was in his favour, and sworn of the privy council; but at length having intimation, that the King would be pleased with the resignation of his commission, he said, If they took away his regiment, they had as good take away his life, since he had nothing else to divert himself with.
The bigoted James, when the Prince of Orange approached in force near to the capital, sent him a most necessitated invitation to take up his lodgings at . The prince accepted it; but at the same time hinted to the frightened monarch he must leave that palace. It was then customary to mount guard both at St. James' and : the old hero, Lord Craven, was on duty at the latter place, at the time when the Dutch guards were marching through the park to relieve, by order of their master—from a point of honour he had determined not to quit his station, and was preparing to maintain his post; but receiving the command of his sovereign, he reluctantly withdrew his party, and marched away with sullen dignity.
On King William's accession to the crown, the Earl being very aged, his regiment was given to General Talmash, and the Earl of Clare was constituted lord lieutenant of the county of Middlesex. But Earl Craven to the time of his death, , was ever ready to serve the public, and particularly famous for giving directions in extinguishing fires in the city of London and suburbs; of which he had so early intelligence, and was so ready to mount on horseback, and assist with his presence, that it became a common saying, His horse smelt a fire as soon as it happened.[*]
On the decease of William, Earl Craven, without issue, the title and estates descended to the heirs of Sir Thomas Craven, as was limited Cha. II. and from whom the present noble proprietor is lineally descended
The Craven estate in and its neighbourhood form but a small portion of the family property, which lies in distant places. A few houses in , , and , including the Olympic Theatre, and the whole of Craven Buildings, comprise the total of his lordship's rental in this quarter. Of that part of the premises known by the sign of the Queen of Bohemia's Head, of the last uses of its capacious dining-room was the meeting-place of a society called the Sols, in estimation only to that of the Freemasons, which society was dissolved immediately after the house was taken down.
[*] On its site the present church was erected, and consecrated by Beilby Porteus, Bishop of London, July 10, 1792.
[*] At the end of Craven Buildings was a good picture of this noble hero, in armour, brandishing a trunch on, and mounted on his white horse. It was painted on plaster, and twenty years ago in tolerable preservation; but, from decay, or rather actual destruction, there is now (1822) scarcely a trace of colouring to be seen.