The History and Antiquities of London, Westminster, Southwark, and Parts Adjacent, vol. 3

Allen, Thomas


Albion Chapel.


This is a large heavy building of brick, occupying the south-west angle of , and belonging to seceders from the presbyterian kirk of Scotland. The western front has a recessed portico, flanked by antae and containing columns of the Ionic order supporting an entablature and pediment. The entablature, with the addition of a blocking course, is continued as a finish to every part of the building; there are no windows in this front. The entrance is within the portico, and has an arched head. The south side of the chapel has arched windows, and a door leading to a vestibule, in which are the stairs to the gallery; at the east end is a vestry, on the upper part of which is a sun-dial, ornamented with a figure of Time. The north side corresponds with the just described. An attic story of an horseshoe form rises above the principal walls, sustaining a low dome, covered with copper, and pierced with circular windows. The interior is very plain, without the least attempt at ornament; the plan is in the form of a horseshoe, the end closed with a wall. The whole building is surrounded with a gallery, sustained on Ionic columns. This building was erected in the year , A. Joy, esq. being the architect.

On the north side of is the


The design of forming a public library in the city of London, appears to have been suggested by Carte, the historian; who, early in , published a prospectus for the establishment of a library, upon a large scale, at the ; and, in the details of his plan, it was proposed, that the principal companies of the city, should each subscribe for the purchase of books, and other incidental expenses. This scheme, however, did not meet with the desired encouragement, and it was reserved for the active patriotism of a few affluent and public spirited citizens, to carry into effect so laudable an undertaking. In furtherance of the plan, a meeting was held at the city of London tavern; and, sir Francis Baring being called to the chair, the following resolutions were unanimously adopted:--



That it is expedient to establish an institution, on a liberal and extensive scale, in some central situation of the city of London, the object of which shall be to provide a library, to contain works of intrinsic merit; lectures for the diffusion of useful knowledge; reading rooms for the daily papers, &c. That this institution shall consist of a limited number of proprietors, and of life and annual subscribers. That the interest of the proprietors shall be equal, permanent, transferable, and hereditary, and shall extend to the absolute property of the whole establishment; they shall be entitled to such extraordinary privileges as may be consistent with general convenience; and upon them shall devolve the exclusive right to the management of the institution. That the life and annual subscribers shall have the same use of, and access to, the institution, as the proprietors. That the qualifications of a proprietor be fixed at


guineas. That ladies shall be received as subscribers to the lectures. That this institution be denominated the

London institution

, for the advancement of literature, and the diffusion of useful knowledge.

The general meeting of the proprietors was held on the , and, on the in the following year, extensive premises in the were rented for temporary purposes, and completely prepared for the use of the proprietors. This spacious edifice was erected in , by sir Robert Clayton and, during the time it was appropriated to the use of the institution, the library was arranged on the floor, and the newspapers and pamphlets in small apartments on the ground floor. The staircase of this mansion was finely painted by sir James Thornhill, for the original proprietor, and it exhibits several allegorical designs from the mythology of Hercules; among which are the rape of Dejanira, copied from a celebrated painting by Guido. On the expiration of the lease of the above mansion, the board of management purchased more extensive premises iii Kings Arms yard, , which were entered upon at the beginning of .

of the principal objects of the institution, however, still remained unprovided for: namely, the diffusion of literary knowledge by the delivery of literary and scientific lectures. To effect this desirable object, the board of management entered into a treaty with the committee of city lands, for the purchase of a suitable site in . This was accomplished on terms highly advantageous to the institution, as the committee nearly doubled the extent of the original ground plot, without any increase in the sum specified. The premium of guineas offered for the best design, was awarded to William Brooks, esq. architect, and the stone of the new edifice was laid by the right hon. Samuel Birch, lord mayor, . Mr. C. Butler read an admirable and eloquent

inaugural oration

on the occasion.

The architect and builder, (Mr. Cubitt) had considerable


difficulties to contend with in the performance of his arduous duty, but by dint of great exertion, the present elegant and spacious mansion was erected for the use of the proprietors, .

The principal front, which has an extent of feet inches, and an elevation of feet inches, is built with Portland stone; the elevation is in stories. In the centre is a portico composed of fluted Doric columns of the Greek order, between square and insulated antae which conjointly support an entablature; the frieze, in imitation of the choragic monument of Thrasyllus, is charged with chaplets of myrtle; the entablature is continued along the whole front, and forms a finish to the story: within the portico is a lintelled doorway between arched windows, and in each of the lateral divisions are other windows of a similar character; the design is bounded by piers forming pedestals to the coupled pilasters; in the upper story, the height of the portico is composed of fluted columns of the Corinthian order sustaining their entablature, the frieze enriched with festoons of foliage suspended from the horns of the skulls of bulls, and the whole surmounted with a pediment; the entablature is also applied as a finish to the story, the enriched frieze being omitted: a range of lofty arched windows occupy the whole extent in breadth of the front, and above these, are a like number of square windows; the piers between the windows have attached ante, which are coupled at the extremities of the front; the side divisions are finished with a ballustrade relieved by a sculptured block. The flanks have no windows, the walls are relieved by antae, and finished by an entablature continued from the front surmounted by a parapet. To give effect to the building, it was detached from the adjacent houses; on each side are small wings, each of which consists of a recess containing columns of the Doric order sustaining an entablature of the same description as the lower order of the main building, and surmounted by an acroterium: the entrance in the western wing leads to the gas works of the establishment. The eastern is intended to connect the circus with a covered way leading to the lecture room. The interior is divided into floors; the around floor has a spacious hall in the centre, the remainder of the plan being partitioned into pamphlet and newspaper rooms, right and left of the hall in the front, and a committee room, and apartment for the sub-librarian in the rear. The principal entrance within the portico opens into the hall, which is spacious and handsome, and equal in depth with the building; the ceiling is pannelled, and sustained upon fluted Ionic columns of Bath stone: opposite to the principal entrance is a small vestibule, from whence the other parts of the edifice are approached by a handsome flight of stairs leading to a landing, from which a door communicates with the lecture department; above the landing flights of stairs


branch off right and left, and communicate by means of a small vestibule on the upper landing with the library, which occupies the entire upper story, and contains upwards of volumes. spacious and noble room is covered with an horizontal pannelled ceiling; the area is an irregular octagon occasioned by a series of recesses fronted by ante, and crowned by a continued entablature and dental cornice; recesses on each side of the entrance, and on the opposite side of the room, contain bookcases; the central recess at each end is occupied by beautiful fluted Corinthian columns from Greek examples; and in the wall behind are fire places, the side walls being occupied with bookcases; the lateral recesses uniting with the others diagonally, create the octangular form; they are filled in with screens, and form small private reading rooms. A gallery occupies the entire covering of the recesses, and the walls around it are lined with shelves for books; instead of a ballustrade, the gallery is fronted with a breastwork of reticulated iron railing. The dimensions of this noble room are feet by , and the height is feet; the bronze candelabra set against the ante of the recesses are handsome in design, but proved inadequate to light the saloon, which is at preseent effected by pendant gas pipes of lights each, which being only experimental, are without ornament.

The lecture department of the establishment occupies a secondary pile of building, situated behind the western part of the back front of the principal pile; the exterior from its concealed situation, is without architectural ornament: the theatre is only approached at present by the entrance hall and grand staircase; the doorway on the landing of which leads into an octangular vestibule lighted by a lantern; from this a passage leads directly into the theatre, which in plan forms a portion of a circle greater than the half, the wall which cuts the circle is constructed to avoid acute angles, being partly strait and partly diagonal; the portion which is not occupied by the rising benches for the auditory is in stories; the lower comprises lintelled recesses, the side ones containing entrances to the laboratory and apparatus room. In the upper story is a large recess, containing fluted Ionic columns, and the back wall is ornamented by a pediment, sustained on ante; the side walls are relieved by antae, which, with the columns, sustain a continued entablature, on the cornice of which rests the ceiling, which is horizontal and marked by lines accommodated to the form of the building; the light is only admitted by a circular lantern. The fittings up for the lecturer and company, shew a small pit for the former, in the centre of which is the lecture table, by which arrangement, room is afforded for the removal of apparatus, &c. during the lecture, without disturbing the company; the seats rise theatrically, and afford accommodation for spectators; a low wall, or rather breastwork, separates this portion from a walk by which the communication is kept up


with the benches by staircases; the light is excluded when necessary by a false ceiling sliding down the lantern, which excludes the windows from the room; the laboratory and apparatus room are situated behind the theatre, and with some domestic apartments complete the buildings of this grand establishment; the laboratory is furnished with furnaces, sand-baths, a still, wormtub, and a complete collection of chemical apparatus.

The apparatus-room forms the opposite wing to the laboratory. It is lighted by an oblong lantern; and the models and philosophical instruments were constructed and purchased under the direction of Mr. Pepys. An observatory to be erected above the roof of the saloon, formed a part of the original plan, but it is understood the idea has been abandoned.

The library is open from o'clock in the morning until the same hour at night, with the exception of Saturdays and Sundays, on the former of which days it is closed at o'clock, and on the latter, it is of course always shut. On the nights of the scientific converzationes, which have recently been established here, viz. on the and Wednesdays of the months of February. March, April, and May, the saloon is appropriated to the company who attend this new species of entertainment, to which only proprietors are admitted with liberty to introduce friend, the pamphlet and news-room are not closed on those days.

The following course of lectures have been delivered on the evenings appropriated to a converzatione:--

Mr. Partington on a series of new discoveries, by M. Clermont.

Mr. Barry on electro-magnetism.

Dr. Birkbeck on a new rotary steam engine.

Mr. Partington on steam carriages. Mr. Brande on the new extract of bark, called Quinine.

Mr. Brayley on the quinarary arrangement of Mr. Vigors.

Dr. Birkbeck on ventilation.

Mr. Partington on the application of acoustical science to the construction of musical instruments.

The last-mentioned gentleman, who is well known in the scientific and literary world, from having been the author of several valuable and interesting works, is the curator of the above novel species of entertainment.

The receipts of this institution, for , amounted to . and the disbursements to . , out of which for books, l for lectures, and for newspapers was paid.


[] Account of the London Institution. by Charles F. Partington, Britton and Pugins' edifices of London, vol. 1. pp. 186, 192.

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 Title Page
 CHAPTER I: The site, extent, buildings, population, commerce, and a view of the progressive increase of London
 CHAPTER II: List of the parishes and churches in London, with their incumbents, &c
CHAPTER III: History and Topography of Aldersgate Ward
CHAPTER IV: History and Topography of Aldgate Ward
CHAPTER V: History and Topography of Bassishaw Ward
CHAPTER VI: History and Topography of Billingsgate Ward
CHAPTER VII: History and Topography of Bishopsgate Ward, Without and Within
CHAPTER VIII: History and Topography of Bread-street Ward
CHAPTER IX: History and Topography of Bridge Ward Within
CHAPTER X: History and Topography of Broad-street Ward
CHAPTER XI: History and Topography of Candlewick Ward
CHAPTER XII: History and Topography of Castle Baynard Ward
CHAPTER XIII: History and Topography of Cheap Ward
CHAPTER XIV: History and Topography of Coleman-street Ward
CHAPTER XV: History and Topography of Cordwainer's-street Ward
CHAPTER XVI: History and Topography of Cornhill Ward
CHAPTER XVII: History and Topography of Cripplegate Ward Within
CHAPTER XVIII: History and Topography of Cripplegate Yard Without
CHAPTER XIX: History and Topography of Dowgate Yard
CHAPTER XX: History and Topography of Farringdom Ward Within
CHAPTER XXI: History and Topography of Farringdon Ward Without
CHAPTER XXII: History and Topography of Langbourn Ward
CHAPTER XXIII: History and Topography of Lime-street Ward
CHAPTER XXIV: History and Topogrpahy of Portsoken Ward
CHAPTER XXV: History and Topography of Queenhithe Ward
CHAPTER XXVI: History and Topography of Tower Ward
CHAPTER XXVII: History and Topography of Vintry Ward
CHAPTER XXVIII: History and Topography of Wallbrook Ward