The History and Antiquities of London, Westminster, Southwark, and Parts Adjacent, vol. 3
The Royal Exchange.
In the reign of queen Elizabeth, sir Thomas Gresham, son to sir Richard, who very laudably persevered in his father's design, proposed to the corporation, (anno ,)
This offer was accepted; and in , various buildings, houses, tenements, &c. in , and the adjoining alleys, were purchased for rather more than and the materials re-sold for on condition of pulling them down, and carrying them away. The ground plot was then levelled at the charge of the city, and possession was given to sir Thomas, who, in the deed, is styled
The superstructure was carried on with rapidity, and the whole covered in with slate before the end of the year .
The plan adopted by sir Thomas in the formation of his building, was similar to that of the Exchange at Antwerp. It was an oblong square of brick, with an arcade, as at present, the supporting pillars being of marble. Beneath the arcade were ranges of shops for traders; and others were fitted up in what were denominated the lower vaults; but the darkness and damps rendered the latter so
|inconvenient, that they were subsequently let out for the storing of bales, pepper, &c. Above the inner pannelling within the arcade, were sculptures of river gods; and in niches over the arches were statues of the English sovereigns. cornices were continued round the quadrangle; and the attic was furnished with casement windows. On the north side, but not exactly from the centre, rose a Corinthian pillar, surmounted with a grasshopper, (the crest of sir Thomas,) and the figure of a grasshopper was also elevated above each corner of the building.|
The success of the shops, for or years after the edifice was completed, was not answerable
furnish and adorn them with wares and wax lights,
the queen's majestie, attended with her nobilitie, came from her house at the Strande, called , and entered the citie by , through Fleete-streete, Cheape, and so by the north side of the Burse, to sir Thomas Gresham's in Bishopsgate-streete, where she dined; after dinner, her majesty returning through , entered the
Among the tenants of the shops, as enumerated by Howe, in his continuation of Stow's annals, were haberdashers, armourers, apothecaries, booksellers, goldsmiths, and glass-sellers.
Sir Thomas Gresham, by his last will and testament, dated on , of Eliz. bequeathed
after the determination of the particular uses, estates, and interest for life, and entail thereof upon the lady Anne, his wife,
upon trust, that the citizens out of their moiety should pay per annum each, to professors who should read lectures on divinity, astronomy, geometry, and music, at his mansion-house between and , afterwards called Gresham college; per annum each, to alms-people, living behind the said mansion; and annually, to each of the prisons of Newgate, Ludgate, the Marshalsea, King's Bench, and Compter: and that the mercers, out of their moiety, should pay annual salaries of each, to persons who should read lectures on law, physic, and rhetoric, at his mansion-house; per annum for dinners, quarterly, at their
|own hall, for the entertainment of their whole company; and yearly to Christ's, St. Bartholomew's, St. Thomas's, and Bethlehem, hospitals, the Spital, and the Poultry Compter.|
The emoluments derived by the lady Gresham from the in rents, fines, &c. are stated to have amounted to per annum; and these she continued to enjoy till her decease in the year .
An entry in the ward-book, under the year , gives some information of the manner in which the vaults were appropriated; it runs thus--
In the tremendous conflagration of , this fabric shared the common fate, and was burnt almost to the ground.
When the Exchange was burnt in , only belonging to the trust was in the company's possession; yet they begun the work of re-building, as soon as possible; for on the following, their sub-committee was ordered to assist the city surveyors, in giving directions for removing of rubbish, cleansing of arches, taking down defective walls, &c. and to give a joint estimate of the ground necessary for convenient streets at each end of the intended structure. On the , the joint-committee agreed to petition the king for an order to obtain Portland stone.
The ensuing particulars are from a book [belonging to the Mercers' company] produced to a committee of the , in .-
Mr. Cawne produced a continuation of this account down to , when the principal and interest amounted to d.
During the period occupied by the re-building of this edifice, the merchants held their meetings at Gresham college; but the works being sufficiently advanced, the new Exchange was publicly opened on theth of . Since that time it has undergone a substantial reparation, under the superintendance of Mr. Robinson, city surveyor, who about the year , when parliament granted the sum of towards the repairs, found it requisite to rebuild almost the whole of the west side.
Very extensive repairs and alterations took place between the years and , under the direction of Geo. Smith, esq. architect to the Mercers' Company. A new tower was erected, the whole exterior cleaned and rendered uniform, and the sculptures in different parts restored, the various expenses exceeding half of which was provided by the corporation, the other by the Mercers' company.
The plan is a quadrangle, surrounded internally by a piazza, and having piazzas also at the principal fronts. The southern facade is feet in extent, and feet inches in height. It consists of a centre and wings; the former is taken up by a noble entrance gateway, formed on the design of a triumphal arch; it is made by lofty -quarter columns of the Corinthian order into divisions; in the central is a large arch, much admired for the grandeur of its proportions; the side divisions have entrances surmounted by handsome niches of the Corinthian order, containing statues of Charles I. and II. in fancy costumes, sculptured by Bushnell: the whole is finished with an entablature, formerly surmounted by elliptical pediments above the side divisions, which have been altered in the last repair into attic walls, fronted by ballustrades, and by a tower over the central division. The old tower was a lofty structure, ( feet in height) it was made into stories, with grouped columns and pilasters of the Corinthian and composite orders at the angles: the lower story was stone, the
|upper ones timber, finished by a cupola, on which was sustained a ponderous weathercock, in the form of a Grasshopper. It was, upon the whole, a singular design, and strikingly dissimilar to the various church towers near it. It was succeeded in by a common-place erection, only feet inches in height, the design of which does little credit to the genius of the architect; it consists of a square unsightly basement finished with a cornice of acanthines, and gifted with a clumsiness which is never seen in any of the works of sir C. Wren ; in the west front is a plain niche, containing a poorly executed statue of sir Thomas Gresham; the story takes an octagonal form, and in each of the faces are dials, appertaining to the clock, and the others telling the state of the wind, but the whole are so greatly obscured by the bustos and griffins upon the pedestal, that their utility is almost destroyed; the story consists of a peristyle of Corinthian columns round a cella pierced with arched windows; the whole is crowned with an entablature and cupola, on the vertex of which is a vane, retaining the form but not the proportions of the original; the whole design is completely at variance not only with the structure on which it is raised, but with the style practised by sir Christopher Wren.|
The alterations which took place in the original architecture of the side divisions, consisting of attics attached to the flanks of the tower, are in an equally bad taste; the ballustrade which fronts their additions has statues, emblematic of the quarters of the globe on the pedestals, and the attics are occupied by reliefs, the western represents the opening of the Exchange by queen Elizabeth ; the latter an allegorical group, typifying the commercial prosperity of London; the sculptures are executed in composition by Mr. Bubb.
It is to be hoped that the alterations will act as a caution to future architects, who may be trusted to repair the works of sir Christopher Wren not to introduce designs of their own, or if alterations are indispensably necessary, that they will learn to assimilate them to the main building, and that no will ever be found hardy enough to add another
tower (and the present well deserves the appellation) to any building of our great national architect. The wings are composed of rusticated arches on each side the centre and other divisions at the extremities, which retire behind the line of the former; the upper story has lintelled windows, the piers being decorated with grouped columns and pilasters of the Corinthian order, and the elevation is finished with a ballustrade; the west flank is in a similar style of architecture; it has no piazza, and the elevation is made into stories; the ground floor is a range of shops, above which is a mezzanine story; the upper, or principal story, is a continuation of the like portion of the principal elevation; the north, or back front, assimilates in its main features with the southern, but the entrance
|in due subordination is in a plainer style of decoration; the eastern flank has never been finished ; it is built with brick and plastered, and as it abutted on a narrow alley, the architect left it in the present state.|
The inner court is made in height into stories; the is a piazza, fronted by an arcade comprising arches on the north and south sides, and on the east and west: the arches are sustained upon single columns of the Doric order, except at the several angles, where a large pier is formed by an union of columns. The spandrils are richly sculptured in relief with foliage and shields. The story is decorated with blank arches, separated by pilasters of the Ionic order; in each arch is a handsome niche: the central arch in each side is more ornamented than the rest, and contains windows at the sides of the niches, and is fronted by a balcony. The elevation is finished with an entablature and ballustrade, the latter broken by elliptical pediments over the central divisions, decorated with shields of arms in the tympanum of each, viz. the arms of king George I., the city of London, the Mercers company, and sir Thomas Gresham. The northern pediment is surmounted by a sun-dial. Above the keystone of the central arch, on the south side, is the following inscription :--
Most of the niches contain statues, some of winch were formerly gilt; many of them possess considerable merit. The following is an enumeration of them, with the inscriptions upon the pannels beneath the niches, commencing from the south-east angle:--
In a suit of body armour, with trunk breeches, the costume of Henry VIII.«s time; in the right hand a sword, and in the left an orb; the crown, without bows, consists of a fillet set round with fleurs de lis and crosses patee, alternately.
In armour, with a long beard; a shirt of mail appears under the body armour, and the whole surmounted by the collar and robes of the garter; in the right hand a sword, and in the left an orb: crown as the last.
Also in armour, covered by a mantle; in right hand a truncheon, the crown as before.
This peaceable monarch is represented in royal robes, without armour; in the right hand a sceptre, and the left an orb; the crown has bows or diadems.
In a suit of complete armour, surmounted by a royal mantle; a truncheon in the right hand; the crown with bows.
The statue of the infant king is attired in regal robes; in the right hand a sceptre reversed, in the left an orb; the crown is suspended above the head from a bracket.
This is also in armour ; a truncheon in the right hand ; the head distinguished by the cap always seen in the portraits of this monarch, surmounted by a crown with bows.
A good representation of the well known person and costume of this monarch; a truncheon in the right hand.
This youthful monarch is shown in his costume in a graceful attitude; a sceptre in the right hand.
In the costume of the times, with a sceptre in the right hand, orb in the left.
A characteristic statue of the original, in the stiff formal dress which marks every portrait of this princess.
There is no inscription beneath this statue, which is in the regal costume, and possesses the least merit in the collection.
This statue is in armour surmounted by the collar and mantle of the garter, in the right hand a truncheon.
Richly attired in the regal robes, a sceptre in the right hand, th left on the hilt of the sword.
In Roman costume, cuirass, and mantle; in right hand a truncheon, left on the hilt of the sword; a wreath of laurel round the temples.
A double niche containing graceful statues of both the sovereigns crowned, and richly attired in regal robes.
A stiff and formal statue, occasioned by the boddice and hooped petticoat of the time.
In a complete suit of armour; a truncheon in right hand, the left rests on an orb upon an altar, or pedestal; the neck encircled with the collar of St. George; the head distinguished by a large flowing wig, surmounted by a crown.
A spirited statue in Roman costume, attired in a cuirass and mantle, with laurel round the temples, a truncheon in the right hand.
This statue was also in the Roman costume; it was removed at the late repair to be renovated, and has not been set up again.
Caius Gabriel Cibber sculptured these statues, as far as Charles II.; those of George I. and II. were executed by Rysbracht; and that of George III., which was placed here in , by Wilton.
The spacious area in the centre of the quadrangle, where the merchants, and other persons engaged in mercantile pursuits, daily assemble to discourse on trade, arrange business, &c. measures feet by ; and is surrounded by a broad piazza, which, as well as the area itself, is, for the general accommodation, arranged into distinct parts, called the walks: this will be better understood from the plan below:
The area is neatly paved with small square stones, said to be real Turkey stone, the gift, as tradition reports, of a merchant who traded
| to that kingdom. In the centre, on a marble pedestal, about feet high, surrounded by an iron railing, is a handsome statue of Charles the , in a Roman habit; this was executed by Mr. John Spiller, and set up in place of a former statue of the same king, which had been sculptured by Quellin, of Antwerp. On the south side of the old pedestal, under an imperial crown, palm branches, &c. was the following inscription:
The ceiling of the piazza is groined with intersecting ribs, in a style resembling the ancient vaultings of churches; at the points of junction of the ribs are numerous bosses, representing griffins, grasshoppers, shields of the Mercers, and city arms, the badge of queen Elizabeth, and other devices. The surrounding walls are wainscotted to about feet of their height, over which are accommodations for painted show-boards, and placards of various descriptions, both printed and written, which are permitted to be set up here as advertisements, on paying a small sum to the beadle. Behind these, in the walls, are niches, in only of which are statues: that in the north-west angle represents sir Thomas Gresham, by Caius Gabriel Cibber; the other, in the south-west angle, is the statue of sir John Barnard, and was placed here in his life-time, at the expense of his fellow-citizens,
A raised seat and step goes round the entire piazza, excepting where interrupted by the entrances.
Under the north and south fronts, on the right of the entrances, are spacious flights of steps, which lead to the gallery, and to the various apartments and offices that connect with it: these were originally opened as shops of different descriptions, but are now occupied by the Assurance office, the Lord Mayor's court office, the River Dee office, the Merchants'-Seamans' office, Lloyd's Subscription coffee-house and committee rooms, the Gresham Lecture rooms, the Pepper office, and divers counting houses for merchants and under-writers.
These staircases have been entirely rebuilt, and much improved at the last repair; the north and western flights were wood, and very inconvenient in their construction, and deficient in light; upon the ceilings of every flight, handsome lantern lights have been constructed. Upon the upper landing of the southern staircase a neat little monument has been erected in an arched niche, to commemorate the foundation of the Marine Society. It consists of a square pedestal surmounted by an altar, on which are small bronze statues exemplifying Charity, and of the objects of the institution. On a brass plate, in the front of the altar, is this inscription :
On the pedestal-
A corridor or gallery, which nearly surrounds the building, is constructed over the cloister; this was left in a very unfinished state by sir C. Wren, and has been improved and embellished in a handsome and tasteful style; a false ceiling is constructed about midway of its height which is richly pannelled, and although the mouldings are in a different taste to the main structure, the variation is not obtrusive, owing to the passage not being seen in contact with any of the original work. In addition to the alterations before noticed, many improvements were effected in the building at the recent repair; some of the shops which disfigured the bases of
|the great columns have been removed, and the others will follow when the leases expire: the placards which were formerly allowed to be affixed to any part of the piazza, even the columns, are now confined to a place allotted for such purpose above the wainscotting; the whole area was relaid and drained.|
The contract for rebuilding the tower amounted to which, with the addition of . for extra works: for sculpture; and for the clock and chimes, makes the entire expense of rebuilding the tower
Lloyd's Coffee-house has long been a very celebrated commercial rendezvous, and it maintains a distinguished superiority over every other establishment of the kind. The persons who resort to it are the most eminent merchants, under-writers, insurance, stock, and exchange brokers, &c. In all naval concerns, a general priority of intelligence is found in Lloyd's Books, which are designed for the purpose of registering the arrival and sailing of vessels, losses at sea, captures, re-captures, engagements, accidents, and other important matters connected with the shipping interests. The rooms are neatly fitted up; the business of the coffee-house being kept completely distinct from the divisions appropriated to the subscribers. That valuable institution, the Patriotic Fund, was began by the merchants, &c. subscribers to Lloyd's, on the , about months after the breaking out of the late war, with a view of providing a suitable stock for the relief of the widows, orphans, and dependent relatives of the brave men who, in their country's service, should fall in battle with the enemy, or die of wounds received in action; and likewise to furnish effectual assistance to the wounded themselves in all cases of disability or loss of limb. The subscribers to the coffee-house commenced the donations by voting per cent consols, from their general fund, besides contributing liberally as individuals. Since that period, the exertions of the committee have been so well seconded by the public at large, that nearly has been distributed in furtherance of the designs of the institution; and more than is still in hand to answer future applications! Some part, however, of this great aggregate of upwards of half a million sterling, has arisen from investments in the funds, from interest, &c. The number of cases in which relief has been afforded to wounded and disabled officers, seamen, private soldiers, their widows, orphans, and helpless relations, has amounted to more than . But it is not by this establishment alone that the frequenters of Lloyd's Coffeehouse have evinced their patriotic spirit and liberality. On all great occasions, where the utility of a public subscription is apparent, they generally take the lead; and, under their auspices, the donations are always considerable. After the great battle of the Nile, in , the subscriptions received here for the benefit of the widows and the wounded seamen amounted to and lord Howe's victory on the , was also followed
|by a subscription for similar purposes, of all which was paid into Lloyd's.|
The Gresham lectures, as already stated, were established in pursuance of the will of sir Thomas Gresham, who devised his property in the , &c. in trust to the city and the Mercers' company, for the purpose (among others) of defraying the salaries of lecturers in divinity, astronomy, music, and geometry, and readers in civil law, physic, and rhetoric; and for the general instruction, the lectures on those sciences were to be read daily, both in Latin and in English. The trustees, however, have long been induced to suffer the lectures to be delivered (agreeably to the practice of the universities) only in term-time, although in direct opposition to the will and intention of the founder; by which inadvertence, and through the studied brevity observed in the lectures, the professors' places have almost dwindled into mere sinecures, and the public derive little or no advantage from sir Thomas's munificence. The yearly salary of each professor is now
The is kept open as a thoroughfare from o'clock in the morning till half-past in the afternoon. The hours of business have been several times altered, but are now considered to extend from till ; the last hour is always the most busy . To a person unaccustomed to the view, the crowded assemblage of merchants and traders of all nations which may be daily held within the area, forms an interesting, as well as instructive scene.
The extent of the from north to south is feet, and from east to west feet.
On the site of the Pope's Head tavern was formerly a royal palace, in which king John resided when Hubert de Burgh, earl of Kent, was put upon his defence, and acquitted himself, says Matthew Paris,
The Pope's Head tavern, with other houses adjoining, were strongly built of stone, and were formerly in , belonging to some person of great state, as may be supposed by the arms, viz. lions passant-guardant, which was the whole arms of England before the reign of Edward III. who quartered them with the arms of France. These arms, supported by angels, were handsomely and largely carved in the tore front of this house towards the high street.
On , a dreadful fire broke out in , destroying nearly houses, and extending nearly from Change-alley to St. Michael's church east, and from to the churchyard of St. Edmund the king, south. was immediately collected for the benefit of the sufferers.
, as before-mentioned, originally received its name from
| being the principal market whence the city was supplied with corn. It does not appear that the factors lived in the street, but that stalls were erected, at which they attended on market-days. The houses were at that time chiefly occupied by respectable drapers, who were so numerous as to be formed into a distinct guild, under the title of the |
The drapers, on leaving this street, were succeeded by a less respectable class of dealers in old clothes, who did not appear to have been very particular as to what they bought. Lidgate, the monk of Bury, in his
thus notices :--
The building of the restored to its present respectability. On the north side of is , corruptly for Burchover-lane, so denominated from the builder.
 Anec. of Painting, vol. iii. p. 147.
 Ibid. vol. iv. p. 209.
 Mal. Lond. Red. vol. ii. p. 442.
 Anec. of Painting, vol. iii. p. 152.
 Brayley, ii. p. 494.