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

Wilkinson, Robert


Ancient Mansion called Monteagle Housc: Montague Close, Southwark.

Ancient Mansion called Monteagle Housc: Montague Close, Southwark.



There existed for a considerable time in this part of London, numerous remains of ancient buildings which, from their decorations, were evidently above the ordinary class of dwellings, and were generally considered to have been the residences of superior persons; whilst the well-known mansions of the Bishop of Winchester, the Abbot of Battle, the Prior of Lewes, Lord Montague, &c., which also stood here, appear to confirm the conjecture concerning those whose possessors were unknown. On the eastern side of the , in particular, were some houses apparently of the architecture of the century, with fronts richly ornamented, on of which was a defaced shield of arms and crest, and beneath a castle with sentinels and other decorations.[*]  The building represented in the annexed Engraving was also evidently a house of some importance at period, but of very considerably less antiquity than the former: and, though it had probably undergone many alterations, was certainly not even of the age of King James I., to which common tradition assigned it, by connecting it with Lord Monteagle, and the Gunpowder Plot. The exact site of it may be traced in the Plan of and the vicinity, engraven beneath the View of the Gateway of Priory, , contained in the Volume of this work; this building forming the north-eastern side of , which was taken down about , for the improvement of the spot, and the approaches to the . The mansion consisted of a large irregular brick edifice, with projecting wings, and a narrow centre containing a tall door-way, surmounted by a very deep compass-pediment enclosing a carved shell; the approach to the entrance being by a series of semi-circular stone steps. The whole of the building was lighted by transom-casement windows, with dormer-attics in the roof, some of which were hidden by the modern parapet on the south. Within the apartments were large and lofty, and long retained the remains of rich mouldings, with very spacious fire-places. Many years previous to its destruction, the whole building was parted into numerous tenements, and the principal part fell into irreparable decay; though in the back still remained in a more perfect state than the front, the roof being complete for the entire width of the structure represented in the Plate. At that time the vacant ground behind was of more than double the width of the space shewn in front, as may be seen in the Plan referred to; and was occupied as a stonevard by a builder, who also engaged the lower part of the mansion itself as workshops, in . The steps had been then taken away from the entrance, and the door itself was replaced by common boards nailed together; the small recess in front between the wings was shored-up, so as completely to conceal the entrance; and the general dilapidation of the whole edifice prevented it from having even a distant resemblance to the place represented in the View.—Such was the last appearance of the Mansion, which ordinary tradition has asserted to have been the residence of William Parker, Lord Monteagle, son and heir of Edward, Lord Morley; at which was delivered the celebrated anonymous letter which led to the discovery of the Gunpowder Plot. Without entering in any degree into the wellknown history of that atrocious conspiracy, it appears to be a proper illustration of the present subject, to add some historical notices shewing the probable origin of this traditional error, and that the letter itself was altogether unconnected with this place.

The very old and celebrated Religious House of St. Mary Overies, , was dissolved in , the year of Henry VIII., at which time it was valued at ,[*]  and was probably soon after taken down, and the materials used for other buildings. After the dissolution, the inhabitants of the adjoining Parishes of St. Margaret and , petitioned the King for a grant of the Church which had belonged to the Priory; and being supported by the Diocesan, Stephen Gardiner, Bishop of Winchester, they were permitted to buy it, to which is to be attributed the perfect preservation of that extremely fine and interesting structure to the present period. In addition to this favour the Parishes were incorporated by Act of Parliament, in ,[*]  by the new name of St. Saviour; which, however, has not even yet entirely supplanted the ancient title, excepting in formal documents and proceedings.[*]  On the , the year of Henry VIII., the ground of the Religious House was granted to Sir Anthony Brown, Knt. Master of the Horse to Henry VIII. and Edward VI., who also received numerous gifts of similar places which had been situate in Surrey and other Counties; and the words of the grant probably express that the monastic edifice itself had been then destroyed, the description being

the whole site of the enclosure encircling around the late Monastery or Priory of the Blessed Mary Overy, in the County of Surrey, with the precints;

and all messuages, wharfs, shops, &c. within the Close of the same late Monastery, in the Parish of St. Saviour, lately in the tenure of Henry Delinger and others, and the brewhouse and houses in .[*] —Sir Anthony Brown died , leaving Anthony his son and heir in possession of this property; by of whom a mansion was erected in the Close formerly belonging to the Priory, part of which house was long remaining. On , the Anthony Brown was created Viscount Montague, from whose title, and from the original employment of the place where his house stood, the area received the name of . He died , but the mansion appears to have been the residence of his widow in and : since in the former year is an


entry on the Parish-Books, that

a new door should be made in the Church-wall, entering into my Lord


and in the latter year the Register of Burials belonging to states, that Mr. Graye, a priest, was buried from the old Lady Montague's house, the family being Roman Catholics.[*] 

It will be observed, that in the of these notices there is a corruption of into , which was altogether a different family, barony, and name; and it is probable that some similar corruption or mistake has also changed it into , and fixed that title to the house in .

In the for , volume lxxviii. part. ii. page , are a view[*]  and some illwritten notices of this mansion, in which it is positively called

Monteagle House,

Montague Close



, an ancient and extensive building, which was undoubtedly the residence of the Lords Monteagle, or Mounteagle; and is the house where the anonymous letter was sent to Lord Monteagle which led to the discovery of the Gunpowder Plot, by his shewing the letter to King James I.

In a note it is added, that

the letter is inserted in an old book in the possession of a family who had it many years, and can trace their having lived near the spot up to the time alluded to; and it has been handed down to the present generation as a fact, that Lord Monteagle lived there when the letter was sent him.

—Notwithstanding this statement, the original letter is at present in the most proper depository for such a document, the State-Paper Office, with all the correspondence and examinations relating to the Gunpowder Plot.[*]  At the time of the proposed sale of the splendid collection of Historical MSS. belonging to William, Marquess of Lansdowne, now in the , considerable interest was excited by an article in the papers of Sir Michael Hicks, entitled in the Auctioneer's Catalogue,

the remarkable letter sent to Lord Monteagle, conveying obscure hints about the Powder Plot:

but this, however, is more honestly described in the Catalogue drawn up by Sir Henry Ellis, as

a copy on parchment.

[*]  It consists of a transcript in a very fair Italian hand of the period, utterly unlike the very barbarous disguise of the writing of the original, being also somewhat larger in size, than the real letter;[*]  and it is probable that the original referred to in the is no other than such a copy or a fac-simile.

Besides these circumstances, all that is known of the mysterious delivery of that letter is directly opposed to the common tradition of Monteagle House in . In

the Relation of the Discovery of the Gunpowder Plot under the Parliament House,

preserved in the State-Paper Office, with revisions in the hand-writing of Robert Cecil, Earl of Salisbury,—it is stated that,

before the King's Majesty's comming from Royston, there was a letter delivered to the Lord Mounteagle's footman, as he passed in the streete towards night, directed to his lord, by a party unknowne, written in a hand disguised without date or name; whereof these were the contents. My lord—out of the loue i beare (you)In the letter itself this word is erased by marking it over with the pen, and the personal nature of the original expression has been supposed to be some proof that the letter was written by Mary, wife of Thomas Abington of Hinlip, in the County of Worcester, Esq. eldest sister of Lord Monteagle. to some of youere frendz i haue a caer of youer preseruacion therfor i would aduyse yowe as yowe tender youer lif to deuvse some excuse to shift of your attendance at this parleament for god and man hathe concurred to punishe the wickednes of this tyme and thinke not slightlye of this aduertisement but retyere youre self into youre contri wheare yowe maye expect the euent in safti for thowghe theare be no appearance of anni stir yet i saye they shall receyue a terrible blowe this parleament and yet they shall not seie who hurts them This cowncell is not to be contemned because it maye do yowe good and can do yowe no harme for the dangere is passed as soon as yowe haue burnt the letter and i hope god will giue yowe the grace to mak good use of it to whose holy proteccion i comend yowe.—Address on the back To the ryght honorable the lord mownteagle.Archæologia, Vol. xii. pp. *200-211.* An account similar to the above, with some additional particulars, is also given in a letter from the Earl of Salisbury to Sir Charles Cornwallis, Ambassador at Madrid, dated Nov. 9th, 1605, and printed in Memorials of Affairs of State in the Reigns of Queen Elizabeth and King James I. collected chiefly from the Original Papers of Sir Ralph Winwood, &c. Lond. 1725, fol. Vol. ii. pp. 171-173.

The street in which the delivery of this epistle took place is not named in the above official narrative, though it entirely contradicts the tradition that the notice was left at Monteagle House. This deficiency, however, is supplied by the account contained in Edmond Howes' edition of Stow's , which states that



days before the Parliament should begin, the Lord Mounteagle, son and heire to the Lord Morley,

being then in his own lodging at the Strand

, ready to goe to supper at seuen of the clock,


of his footmen,

whom hee had sent of an errand ouer the streete, was met with by an vnknown man of indifferent stature, who suddenly deliuered him a letter, charging him to put it presently into his lord's hands: the which letter, so soon as his lord could open it, he began to peruse, and perceiuing the same to bee an vnknown and somewhat vnlegible hand, without either date or superscription, he called


of his men vnto him to helpe him read it.

[*]  Another contemporaneous account of the Gunpowder Plot brought forward by Dr. Lingard,[*]  also appears to invalidate the tradition that the epistle was carried to any place so near to London as . It is there stated, that Lord Monteagle had

ordered a supper to be prepared,

not at his residence in town, but at a house belonging to him at a short distance from London:

a circumstance so unusual that it excited much surprise in his family. Whilst he sat at table, a letter was delivered to him by


of his pages, who had received it from a tall man, whose features he did not recognise in the dark. Monteagle opened the letter, and seeing that it was without date or signature, and written in a very disguised hand, ordered a gentleman in his service to read it aloud.—The following day the individual who had been requested to read the letter called on Thomas Winter,


of the conspirators. He related to him the occurrences of the preceding evening; added that his lord had laid the mysterious paper before the Secretary of State; and ended by conjuring him if he were a party to the supposed plot, to provide for his safety by immediate flight.

Winter endeavoured to dissemble, and treat the matter as a delusion on the credulity of Lord Monteagle; but took the opportunity of leaving his house unobserved, and of giving the alarm to Catesby at White-Webbs, near Enfield Chase.

From the tenor of these narratives, Dr. Lingard considers it to have been the belief of the conspirators themselves, that the letter to Lord Monteagle was in reality written by Francis Tresham, of the last members received into the plot. They appear to have attributed it to him from a suspicion that there was a secret understanding between him and Lord Monteagle, or at least between him and the gentleman employed to read the letter: because Tresham had repented of engaging in the design, and endeavoured to persuade the conspirators to abandon it and return to Flanders; and also because he had contrived to give them information that the letter had been given to the Secretary of State, in the hope of inducing them to seize the opportunity of escaping. In this he would undoubtedly have been successful, had he not been defeated by the superior policy of Cecil, who would not allow the cellar beneath the Parliament-House to be searched. From that moment Tresham avoided all participation in their counsels, and when they fled, he still remained in London and shewed himself openly; but he was afterwards accused in the confession of some of the prisoners, and died in the Tower before the end of November.[*] —It is proper also to notice in this place, that other persons have been frequently and confidently named as the writers of the letter; of whom was the principal conspirator, Thomas Percy, because, as it is stated in Cecil's , there had been long acquaintance and familiarity betwixt him and the Lord Monteagle. This conjecture appears also to receive some support from a passage in the examination of Fawkes, Winter, Rookwood, and Keyes, before the Privy-Council, , which states that the conspirators wished that certain of the nobility should be preserved, that is to say, the Lord Viscount Montague, the Lord Stourton, and others: and the Earl of Northum berland and It was agreed between them that the The other, and more general, supposition is, that the letter was written by Mary, the eldest sister of Lord Monteagle, then wife of Thomas Abingdon, or Habington, of Hinlip, in the County of Worcester, Esq. who was a rigid Romanist, and after the discovery of the conspiracy was condemned to die for concealing the Jesuits Garnet and Oldcorn, in his house contrary to the Proclamation: his life was saved, however, by the intercession of his wife and Lord Monteagle.[*]  If this lady were really the writer of the letter, she must have been informed of the plot at the least or days before the time appointed for the meeting of Parliament, and it is thought would have been implicated in the proceedings; but neither the language nor character have in them anything at all feminine, and the information seems to be that of who knew the design only very imperfectly and obscurely. In , Lond. , to. attributed to Bishop Burnett, Mrs.


Habington is asserted to have been the writer; but in the for , Vol. xcviii. part , Supplement, page , there is a paper attributing it to her most intimate friend and confidante, Mrs. Anne Vaux, child of William, Lord Vaux, of Harrowden. The arguments adduced in proof of this conclusion are, the well-known close connection between the families; the suspicion attaching to Mrs. Vaux, who was at committed to the Tower as a supposed conspirator; and the handwriting of a letter dated , preserved in the State-Paper Office, which bears such an exact resemblance to the very peculiar character of the notice sent to Lord Monteagle, that it is impossible to compare them together without observing their identity. It is supposed, however, that Mrs. Habington may still be regarded as the original cause that the letter was sent.

In consideration of the very eminent service Lord Monteagle had rendered the state and nation by his timely disclosure of this letter, he received an estate of per annum, out of the Crown-lands to him and his heirs, with per annum to himself for life. He was also summoned to Parliament as William Parker, De Monteagle, from , in the year of James I., , to his year , in consequence of his mother being sole heiress of William Stanley, Baron Monteagle.[*]  His Armorial Ensigns after having received this title are represented beneath the annexed View; being Argent, between bars Sable, charged with bezants, on the upper and on the lower,—a lion passant Gules; in chief bucks' heads cabossed of the . On the dexter side an heraldical antelope, Sable, armed, and ducally gorged and chained, Or: on the sinister a griffin with wings inverted, Or, similarly gorged and chained, Argent. Issuing from a ducal coronet, Or, the head of a bear, muzzled of the .

Beside the tradition concerning Monteagle House being in , there is another that in consequence of its being the residence of the discoverer of the plot it was endowed with certain privileges. If it ever possessed anything of the kind, however, they must have been derived from the Religious House which stood here; but in the Act of Parliament for executing legal process in privileged places, passed in the and years of William III., , it is mentioned only as of the in the County of Surrey.


[*] These houses last formed No. 19, High-Street, Borough, and were taken down in the autumn of 1830, for making the south approach to the New London Bridge; but several representations of them have been engraven.

[*] Monasticum Anglicanum, by Roger Dodsworth and Sir William Dugdale, Vol. i. Lond. 1682. fol. p. 1044. In John Speed's Theatre of the Empire of Great Britain, Lond. 1611, fol. Vol. ii. book ix. chap. 21. folium 798, the valuation of this Priory is £ 656. 10s. 0 1/2d. The dissolution of it is stated in the History and Antiquities of the County of Surrey, by the Rev. Owen Manning and William Bray, Esq. Vol. III. Lond. 1814, fol. p. 559, to have taken place about Christmas 1539; on p. 566 in 1535, the 26th of Henry VIII.; and on p. 560 to have been surrendered by Bartholomew Linsted, the Prior, 14th October, 1541.

[*] Private Acts xxii. Henry VIII. cap. 15.

[*] Manning and Bray's History of Surrey, Vol. iii. p. 559.

[*] Ibid. p. 566.

[*] There is not any account of the sale of this property by the Montague family, but in 1740 it belonged to William Overman, Esq. who, by his Will dated in that year, devised it equally between his daughters, Alice-Shaw-Overman, and Mary Overman. He died 1st Febr. 1748, his daughter Mary, Dec. 2nd, 1765, and his daughter Alice, Nov. 3rd, 1772; by the latter of whom eight Alms-houses, for as many poor women, were erected on part of this estate. These, however, were subsequently rebuilt in a better situation; and in 1814 the whole of the estate comprising Montague Close was the property of Samuel Doddington, Esq.—Hist. of Surrey, Vol. iii. pp. 567, 568.

[*] Another view of this building, executed in aqua-tinta in 1822, is in An Account of the National Anthem, entitled God save the King, by Richard Clark, Lond. 1822, 8vo. p. 81, where the inscription affirms that it was undoubtedly the residence of Lord Mounteagle at the time the anonymous letter was sent to him.

[*] One of the divisions of the records of this Office includes papers relating to rebellion, sedition, and treason, with the examinations and correspondence concerning plots, incendiaries, &c. First Report on the Public Records of the Kingdom, Lond. 1801. fol. p. 73. Append. C. 1. a. In Mr. C. P. Cooper's very meritorious Account of the most important Public Records of Great Britain, Lond. 1832, 8vo. Vol. ii. pp. 384- 387, are copies of the interrogatories for the examination of Guy Fawkes from the autograph of James I., and the answers thereto, from the collection of documents relative to the Gunpowder Plot in the State-Paper Office, Nos. 17. 19.

[*] Catalogue of the splendid Collection of MSS. belonging to the late William, Marquess of Lansdowne, to be Sold by Auction by Messrs. Leigh and Sotheby, Lond. Apr. 20th. 1807, &c. Lond. 8vo. Vol. i. p. 352.—Catalogue of the Lansdowne MSS. in the British Museum. Lond. 1819. fol. Vol. i. p. 173. Vol. lxxxix. No. 77.

[*] This remarkable letter has been thrice engraven in fac-simile; namely by Basire, in the Archæologia, Vol. xii. 1796, p. 200: in Mr. E. W. Brayley's Londiniana, Lond. 1829, 12mo. Vol. iv. frontispiece: and by J. Netherclift in lithography on a small folio sheet, with a fac-simile of an ancient engraving of the Conspirators. The writing is large, rude, and something between a gothic and a current character.

[*] Annales, or a Generall Chronicle of England, Begun by John Stow, Continued and augmented to 1631, by Edmund Howes, Lond. 1631. fol. p. 876. In Speed's Chronicle, Vol. ii. p. 892, paragr. 57, it is also stated that the letter was delivered upon Thursday in the evening, ten days before the intended Parliament, by an unknown person in the street to Lord Mounteagle's servant.

[*] Dr. Lingard's very curious account of this plot was partly compiled from two MS. narratives, one in Italian by Father John Gerard, and the other a translation of it into English, with some additional circumstances, by Father Oswald Greenway; both of whom were Jesuit Missionaries, who learned the particulars which they recorded from the confessions of the conspirators themselves, whom they visited on the 6th of November.—History of England, by J. Lingard, D.D. Vol. vi. Lond. 1825, 4to. pp. 28, note 49, 50.

[*] Lingard's History of England, Vol. vi. p. 50 note. It appears that many of the conspirators were maintained by the resources of Catesby, and when they were exhausted, for raising a farther supply, it was proposed to receive into the plot two other Catholic gentlemen, Sir Everard Digby, of Drystoke in the County of Rutland, Knight; and Francis Tresham, of Rushton, in the County of Northampton, Esq. Between the 14th and 26th of October, Catesby and Fawkes had gone to White-Webbs, a house near Enfield Chase, and whilst the former was conversing with Winter he received an unexpected visit from Tresham, who appeared very much embarrassed. He was then particularly anxious that notice of his danger should be given to Lord Monteagle, who had married his sister: and after stating that he should require farther time to raise money by sales, suggested that the destruction would take place with as much effect at the close, as at the meeting, of Parliament; recommending also that the conspirators should make use of his vessel then lying in the Thames, and spend the interval in Flanders. The confession of this conspirator declared, this was the only way I could resolve on to overthrow the act, to save their lives, and to preserve my own fortunes, lyffe, and reputation.—Ibid. pp. 48, 49, note. Beside the above arguments in favour of the anonymous letter having been written by Tresham, it should be observed, that in the answer to Sir Anthony Weldon's Court of King James, by Godfrey Goodman, Bishop of Gloucester, it is positively stated that Tresham sent the letter. Somers Tracts, Edit. by Sir Walter Scott, Lond. 1809, 4to. Vol. ii. (James I.) p. 104.

[*] The History and Antiquities of the City and Suburbs of Worcester, by Valentine Green. Lond. 1796, 4to. Vol. ii. p. 102.—Collections for the History of Worcestershire, by the Rev. Treadway Nash, Lond. 1781, fol. Vol. i. pp. 585-588; in which will be found a View of Hindlip, portraits of Thomas and Mary Habington, and an account of the concealment of Garnet and Oldcorn in the secret chambers of the mansion.

[*] The title of Baron Monteagle was originally granted to Sir Edward Stanley, second son of Thomas, first Earl of Derby, who commanded the rear of the English Army at Flodden Field, and by his archers forced the Scots to descend the hill, which causing them to open their ranks, gave the first prospect of that day's victory. As a reward for this service, when Henry VIII. was keeping the feast of Whitsuntide at Eltham, in the ensuing year, 1514, he directed that for those valiant actions by which Sir Edward kept the hill and vanquished all that opposed him, as also because his ancestors assumed an eagle for their crest,—he should be proclaimed Lord Mount Eagle: by this title he was summoned to Parliament, Febr. 5th, 1514-15.—William Parker, 4th Baron Monteagle, married Elizabeth daughter and heiress of Sir Thomas Tresham, by whom he had issue three sons and as many daughters: he was succeeded in the Barony by Henry, his son, and Thomas, his grandson; upon whose death in 1686, the title fell into abeyance.—The Baronage of England, by Sir William Dugdale, Vol. ii. Lond. 1676, fol. pp. 255, 307.

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 Plan of the Fire in Bishopsgate Street, Cornhill, and Leadenhall Street: November 7th, 1765
Frost Fair on the River Thames
 Part of the Strand: St. Clement's Danes
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Elsinge Spital, Sion College, and the Church of St. Alphage, London Wall
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Crosby Hall, Bishopsgate Street
The Priory and Church of St. Helen, Bishopsgate Street
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The Parish Church of St. Paul, Shadwell: In the County of Middlesex
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 Winchester Palace, Southwark
 Chapels at the Eastern End of the Church of St. Saviour, Southwark
 Hospital of St. John of Jerusalem
 An Account of Bermondsey, its Manor, Priory, and Abbey
 Priory of the Holy Trinity: In the Ward of Aldgate
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 Guildhall Chapel
 A short Account of Lazar Houses in and near London
 Knightsbridge Chapel
 Lambe's Chapel and Alms-Houses: Monkwell Street, Cripplegate
 The late Mr. Skelton's Meeting House, Erected Near the Site of the Globe Theatre, Maid Lane, Southwark
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 Oratory, Under the Antient Mansion, or Inn, of the Priors of Lewes in Sussex
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 The British Museum
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 Peterborough House, afterward Grosvenor House, Millbank, Westminster
 Craven House, Drury Lane
 Ancient Mansion called Monteagle House: Montague Close, Southwark
 Oldbourne Hall, Shoe Lane: In the Parish of St. Andrew, Holborn