The History and Antiquities of London, Westminster, Southwark, and Parts Adjacent, vol. 3
Hospital of St. Thomas of Acons.
On the site of the extensive pile of building situated between and , and known as Mercers'-hall, was formerly an hospital dedicated to St. Thomas of Acars, or Acons, for a master and brethren, , being a branch of the Templars. It was founded by Thomas Fitz-Theobald de Helles, and Agnes his wife, sister to Thomas Becket, in the reign of Henry II. They gave to the master and brethren the lands with the appurtenances, that some time were Gilbert Becket's, father of the said Thomas, in the which he was born; there to make a church. There was a charnel, and a chapel over it of St. Nicholas and St. Stephen.
William Bouyndon, , London, by his last will dated June , gave to John Neet, master of the
|house of St. Thomas the Martyr of Acons, and the brethren of the said place, and their successors, his tenement in Bershaw-lane, in the parish of St. Mary de Cole church.|
This hospital was valued to dispend It was surrendered the of Henry VIII. the , and was since purchased by the mercers, by means of sir Richard Gresham, and was again set open on the eve of St. Michael , the of Henry VIII.
The image of Thomas Becket, to which saint this chapel was dedicated, stood over the gate. But in the month of January, the of queen Elizabeth's reign, somebody threw it down and broke it; and set a writing on the church door, reflecting on them that placed it there.
There is an ancient register of the lands belonging to this hospital at Mercers-hall, and another among the Cottonian MSS. in the .
Annexed to the acknowledgement of supremacy, , in the Chapter-house, , is an impression of the common seal of this hospital, representing male figures, an archbishop seated; the other, half-length, addressing him--Legend,
The arms of this hospital were a cross pattee per pale and
At the time Stow made his survey, there were several monuments here for the following persons; though many of them were defaced.
James Butler, earl of Ormond, and dame Johan his countess, Henry VI. Stephen Cavendish, draper, mayor, ; Thomas Cavendish, and William Cavendish. The former, viz. Thomas Cavendish, bequeathed his body to be laid here in these words (by his will, proved ).
Thomas Canon (or Gernon) called Pike, of the sheriffs . William Rule, , buried in the church of St. Thomas the Martyr de Acon, Lond. This will bore date ; wherein are these words:
John Trusbut, mercer, ; Thomas Norland, sheriff, ; sir Edmund Shaa, goldsmith, mayor: sir Thomas Hill, knt.
|mayor, ; Henry Frowicke; Thomas Ilam, sheriff, ; Lancelot Laken, esq.; Ralph Tilney, sheriff, ;--Garth, esq.; John Rich,; Tho. Butler, earl of Ormond, ; sir Willam Butler, grocer, mayor, ; William Browne, mercer, mayor, ; sir William Locke, mercer, sheriff, ; sir John Allen, mercer, mayor, , deceased, ; sir Thomas Leigh, mercer, mayor, ; sir Richard Malory, mercer, mayor, ; Humphrey Baskervile, mercer, sheriff, ; sir George Bond, mayor, , &c.|
Add to the former these persons here also buried, whose monuments were defaced long before the fire: Henry Frowicke; John Amerce; Richard Wayte, of Hampshire, ; William Goldwyn, ; Henry Cumber; Richard Laundsey, ; Rosse Cryspe, under the same stone, ; William Jenkes, and Christian his wife, ; John Perys, and Margaret his wife; William Goodwyn, Nic. Arguz, ; John Tanne; Richard Martys and Agnes; Thomas Morrys, and Joan his wife.
To these, Mr. Maitland adds, the following from a MS. in the college of arms.
Margaret, wife of John Bracebridge, merchant of the staple, ; and he the same year died at Calais.
Radulphus Tilney, grocer of London, and alderman, obiit . His bearing, Baron and Femme . A chevron between . Heads erased , Semy de crosses botonee, a lion passant gardant.
Thomas Hubbart, late of Gray's-inn, gent. obiit , and Elizabeth his wife, had issue sons and daughters.
John Lock, of London, mercer, and Mary his wife, obiit .
William Lock, knt. and alderman of London, obiit , had wives, Alice, Catharine, Eleanor, and Elizabeth.
John Hare, citizen and mercer of London, and Dorothy his wife, had sons and daughters, and died .
This John Hare was a wealthy mercer, living in , in the parish of St. Mary le Bow, son of John Hare of Homersfield, in the county of Suffolk, esq.: and brother to sir Nicholas Hare, knt. master of the rolls. He had sons, Nicholas, his heir, Thomas, John, Hugh, Ralph, Richard, Edmund, &c. and daughters, Isabel, married to Cholmley; Margaret, married to Audley, mercer, &c. by his industry in his calling, he left manors, lands, and tenements among his children, and made his will, .
Thomas Leigh, knt. obiit .
Walter Garraway, draper, obiit .
Thomas Low of London, merchant, obiit , and Elizabeth his wife, had issue Margaret, Thomas, and Elizabeth. Which Margaret, living after her father, was wife of Rowland Leigh, son and heir of Thomas Leigh, knt. and alderman of London.
William Allen, knt. and alderman of London, died . His coat on his stone, parted per a fess, and or, a pallet engrailed, counterchanged, and talbots passant of the .
John Allen, knt. and mercer of London. He had his coat upon his monument; in roundlets as many talbots passant. On a chief a lion passant gardant between anchors.
Charles Hoskins, citizen of London, and Anne his wife, had issue sons and daughters, obiit .
Richard Baron, armig. and mercer of London, obiit , had issue of his wife, Alice Harpsfield, son and daughter; and of Margaret Morton, his wife, sons and daughters. His coat was borne impaled with his wives; . lions passant gardant. . Harpsfield, harps. .Morton, escallop, between wolves heads erazed.
Elizabeth, daughter of Matthew Hoppie, gent. wife to Nathaniel Derdes, grocer of London, by whom he had issue sons and daughters. She died .
A daughter of Peter Naplesden, wife of the said Nathaniel, by whom he had issue sons, and she died .
Roger How, citizen and grocer of London, obiit . His wife was Jane, daughter of William Syms of Charde in Somersetshire, armig. by whom he had issue, Elizabeth and Mary. Stephen Soame, knt. alderman of London, obiit . He bore in divers quarters, . , a chevron between mullets, . barry, and in a canton, or. a tun, . , annulets, . ( cinquefoils) between chevronets , moorcocks
. , a chevron engrailed, . , a fess nebule
. a less, between chevrons His wife bore cinquefoils, a chief......
Robert Soame, D. D. brother to Stephen, died
Before this hospital, towards the street, was built a handsome and beautiful chapel arched over with stone, and thereupon the mercer's hall, a most curious piece of work. Sir John Allen, mercer, being a founder, was there buried; but afterwards his tomb was removed into the body of the hospital church and the chapel was made into shops, and let out for rents by his succesors the mercers.
On Tuesday, the , anno Henry VIII., it was granted unto the master and his brethren of the hospital of St. Thomas of Acons, in West-cheap, where St. Thomas the martyr was born, (because they wanted room in the hospital) that for their more ease they might make a gallery in convenient height and breadth, from their said house across the street in the , into a certain garden and buildings, which the master and brethren had then lately purchased; so as the said gallery should be of such height, as should not annoy man, horse, nor cart; and to make a window on either side of the said gallery, and therein, yearly, in the winter, to have a sufficient light, for the comfort of them that passed by.
In the year , on night, king Henry VIII. and queen Jane his wile, stood in the mercer's hall, then new built, and
| beheld the |
sir , mercer, of the king's council, being mayor.
The mercer's hall and chapel were demolished by the great fire, but new and magnificently built by the company.
The front of Mercer's hall, in , which, from the contiguity of dwelling-houses, &c. is almost the only part of the exterior that can be seen, is very narrow; and it presents a somewhat whimsical arrangement of architectural parts and sculptured adornments, in which propriety of design has given place to fanciful substitutions. The doorway exhibits an ornamented arch, with cherubim above, in the act of mantling the virgin's head, which is the cognizance of the company, and is displayed upon the key-stone of the arch. Above is a cornice with brackets, sustaining a small balcony, from the floor of which, on each side, rises an Ionic pilaster, supporting an entablature and open pediment of the same order: between the pilasters and the central window, are the figures of Faith and Hope, m niches; and from a niche over the entablature, protrudes the statue of Charity, sitting, with her children. wheel-like windows, each encircled by a wreath, are seen above, under the terminating cornice; and on the top of the building are pedestals, that once supported as many statues. This part of the edifice will probably be soon rebuilt, as it has been condemned by the surveyors, and is in a state of complete decay.
The entrance in leads into a covered cloister, partly surrounding a small court, the superstructure is sustained upon Doric columns, the exterior range of columns sustaining their entablature and a cantiliver cornice of extraordinary projection; the frieze has chaplets of roses in the metopes. This cloister is used as a burying place, and contains several monuments. The most ancient is an altar-tomb, contained in a recess in the north wall, covered with an elliptical arch; on the front of the pedestal is inscribed:
and on the ledger lies extended the recumbent figure of the deceased in full costume, in his livery gown, holding his gloves in his hands; the effigy alone is ancient: much it is to be regretted that the original colours have been tastelessly effaced, and the effigy painted white. In its original state it would have presented the finest specimen of the civic costume of the age in the metropolis. The chapel is situated at the eastern extremity of the cloister; it is approached by doorways, the latter ones have elliptical pediments. On a pannel over the lintel of the centre, is inscribed
. The interior is nearly square, the walls are lofty, and in each, except the which abuts on the cloister, are lofty semicircular arches; the central, which is the widest, is a window; the lateral ones are recesses containing series of windows, the lower square the upper circular; the eastern windows have been
|walled up. The ceiling is horizontal, slightly coved at the sides, the latter part arched above the windows, the imposts enriched with cherubim, the residue is pannelled into compartments, square and oblong, the soffits of the former occupied by circular wreaths. In the centre rises an octangular lantern lights The dados under the windows are wainscotted to the height of the sills, the wainscot pannelled and enriched with coupled pilasters of the Corinthian order, sustaining their entablature and surmounted with elliptical pediments. The portion above the altar is more enriched; the entablature sustains an attic surmounted by an elliptical pediment, in the tympanum of which is painted on a square pannel a choir of angels. The decalogue, creed, and paternoster, occupy the pannels, over which are the royal arms, between those of the city and the company, all richly carved in oak, and accompanied with a variety of oak carving in palm branches and foliage.|
At the west end is a gallery; the pulpit and desks are grouped in the front of the altar rails; they are not remarkable for carving. The area of the chapel is fitted up like a church, and entirely pewed; even the stand for the lord mayor's sword is not forgotten ; the pavement is marble in black and white squares. It has neither organ nor font.
The entrance to the hall most used is in Ironmonger's lane, where is a small court, with convenient offices, a fire proof room for the archives, &c. Adjoining to this is a more extensive court and piazza, with pillars of the Doric order, with their proper entablature, at the eastern extremity of which is the chapel above described. A high flight of stairs leads from the piazza to the hall, which is a handsome apartment, having a screen and music gallery at the west end; the whole of this apartment is wainscotted round, and ornamented with Ionic pilasters, and a profusion of elaborate carving of fruit, foliage, &c. Above the master's seat, at the east end, is a full length portrait of Edward Forster, esq.governor of the Exchange Assurance, and, on each side, are portraits (full lengths) of Benjamin Morland, esq. F. R. S. master of school, in the reign of George I., and Dr. Roberts, late master of the same school; lower down are small paintings on pannel of sir Thomas Gresham, and sir R. Whittington, with his cat. In this hall are also portraits of Thomas Papilion, esq. Rowland Wynne, esq. an interesting head of dean Collet, founder of school, on pannel, and a man in a rich Turkish dress. From the ceiling depend magnificent cut glass chandeliers. The court room which adjoins the hall, is a plain apartment, wainscotted round in a similar style to the hall, with Ionic pilasters, &c. The ceiling is perforated with an oval light. In this apartment is a half length portrait of sir Thomas Gresham, on pannel; this has been a good picture, but is much damaged through injudicious cleaning. From this apartment a door leads into a spacious gallery in the chapel, which was
|formerly used by the company, previous to commencing business. This gallery is now used for lumber and rubbish!|
In the hall, not only the ordinary business of the company is transacted, but the meetings also of the Gresham committee are regularly held. This committee, to whom the important trusts attendant on the magnificent bounties of sir Thomas Gresham are delegated, consists of aldermen, (of whom the lord mayor for the time being is constantly ) and other members of the corporation of London, with whom, for this purpose, are associated a select number of the court of assistants of the mercers company.
In the ladies chamber, which is a small apartment over the entrance from , is a beautiful chimney-piece, decorated with some exquisite carvings in wood, by Gibbons.
The whole of this edifice, though repaired in , possesses but a mean appearance, considering that it belongs to the company in the city. It is certainly unworthy so distinguished a body of merchants, as at present compose the court and livery of this ancient and affluent fraternity.
 Tiberius. c. 5.