The History and Antiquities of London, Westminster, Southwark, and Parts Adjacent, vol. 3
St. Michael, Royal.
On the east side of is the parish church of St. Michael, Royal, so denominated from its dedication to St. Michael, and its vicinity to the . It is a rectory, the patronage of which appears to have been in the prior and canons of Canterbury as early as the year , when Hugh de Derby was collated thereto.
The church was rebuilt, and, by licence from Henry IV. in the year , made a college of the Holy Spirit and St. Mary, by sir Richard Whittington, times mayor, for a master, fellows, clerks, choristers, &c. contiguous to which was erected an alms-house, denominated God's house, or hospital, for the accommodation of persons, of whom to be chief, with the appellation of tutor.
To encourage so laudable an undertaking, the lord mayor and commonalty of London, in the year , granted a spot of ground whereon to erect the intended college and hospital. But sir Richard dying before the accomplishment of the work, it was soon after finished by his executors; who made laws for the good government thereof, by which, the master of the college (besides the accustomed rights and profits of the church) was to have an annual salary often marks; the chaplains each; the and a half; the choristers, each a-year; the tutor of the alms-house a week; and each of the brethren, .
The extensive charity and numerous acts of benevolence of this worthy citizen, could not, however, secure an undisturbed repose to
|his ashes; for, in the reign of Edward VI. the incumbent of the parish, a wicked and rapacious priest, imagining that Whittington's beautiful monument was a repository of something more valuable than his terrestrial remains, caused it to be broken open; but being disappointed of his expected prey, robbed the body of its leaden covering, and re-committed it to the tomb. In the following reign the body was again disinterred, and inclosed in lead, and for the time deposited in its sepulchre, where it remained unmolested till the great fire of London involved its resting place in the common ruin.|
While this college remained, the master and wardens of the mercers' company, who were trustees of it, nominated the rector for the approbation of the monks of Canterbury. It is at present of the peculiars belonging to that see.
The old church was destroyed by the fire in , after which the present structure was erected in its stead, and made parochial, for this and the adjoining parish of St. Martin, Vintry, the church of which was not rebuilt. The plan of the church is an oblong square, having its principal front facing , the south side abutting on , formerly Elbow lane, and the eastern front on a small burying-ground. The north side is concealed from observation. The tower is situated at the south western angle of the building within the walls. The west front is divided into principal stories in elevation. In the lower is a doorway with a low arched headway, surmounted by a cornice resting on consoles. In the upper part are lofty windows with semi-circular arched heads, the key-stones carved with cherubs; the whole is finished with a cornice and ballustrade. The tower has stories, and a window corresponding with the church below the cornice, and stories above; in the is a circular, and in the upper an oblong square window, above which is a block cornice sustaining a parapet, pierced with circular apertures instead of a ballustrade, with vases at the angles; abuse this portion, the elevation is continued in an octagon form in diminishing stories. In each face of the lower story, is an oblong square opening, and at the angles are insulated Ionic columns, sustaining an entablature broken and recessed above the intercolumniations, and upon the cornice are vases corresponding with the columns. The story has arched openings. and buttresses attached to the angles, which rise from the cornice of the lower story, and are finished with vases; this story is considerably smaller than the lower ; upon its cornice is a tall circular pedestal sustaining a vane. The south side of the church only differs from the western front in having windows. It had also an entrance which is walled up. The tower also presents a copy of its western front. All the parts already described are faced with Portland stone. The east end is brick, with stone dressings; it has windows with semicircular heads, the central larger than the others has a shield on its key-stone; those of the side windows have cherubs; above the
| centre window is a pediment, the tympanum pierced with a circular window. A vestry room is attached to this portion of the building. The interior is very plain, and is roofed in span without any supporting pillars. The west end has an awkward appearance in consequence of the tower occupying of the angles. A gallery is erected in the void portion northward of the tower, sustained upon Done columns, and occupied by the organ, and seats for the charity children. On the front of the gallery is an inscription stating, that the church was finished in . The ceiling is coved at the sides, and springs from a continued impost formed of acanthus leaves and mouldings, and the cove is terminated by a wreath of foliage in alto relievo, and a cornice of the Corinthian order; the centre is horizontal and without ornament. The altar screen is composed of Corinthian columns, sustaining an entablature; the whole constructed in brown oak; in the intercolumniations are the usual inscriptions, and above the cornice is Mr. Hilton's painting of |
On a pannel above the frame, is inscribed,
The pulpit at the north side of the church is hexagonal, with a sounding board, not remarkable for decoration. The font at the north-west angle of the building is a small octangular basin on a pillar of the same form, both of white marble, the former inscribed
The architect was sir C. Wren. The dimensions are, length feet, breadth , height of church , and of the tower feet. The expense of the building
By an inscription on the front of the tower within the church, it appears that the
Against the south wall is a handsome monument surmounted by a bust of the deceased, to the memory of Samuel Pennant, esq.; died , aged .
The , formerly situated at the north end of the street now so called, was a spacious, strong, and magnificent mansion, pertaining to the kings of this realm, but its origin cannot now be traced, though it is supposed to have been founded by Henry I. However this may be, it was certainly inhabited by king Stephen, who, having called William de Ypres from Flanders, with a number of Flemings, to assist him against the empress Maud, was so satisfied with his services, that he permitted him to build a house for himself, nearly adjoining, at the west end of the church of St. Thomas the Apostle.
In the early part of the reign of Edward I. this appears to have been the residence of a private individual, of the name of Simon Beawnies; but it is probable that he was only a tenant; for Edward III. in the year of his reign, gave it, by the name of his inne called the Royal, in his city of London, unto his college of St. Stephen at .
Notwithstanding this gift, it must have reverted to the crown; for in Richard the 's reign it was called the
as Stow thus relates from
Hence it is probable, that this was a place of considerable strength at this time; for, when the rebels had got possession of the , the queen-mother being obliged to fly, came hither for security: and it may be supposed that the king also lodged here; for, in , when Leon III. king of Armenia, who had been expelled his kingdom by the Turks, fled to England for refuge, this was the residence of Richard.
This great house, belonging anciently to the kings of England, was inhabited by the duke of Norfolk of the family of the Howards, granted unto him by king Richard III. as appears in an old ledger-book of that king's; where it is said,
The parish church of St. Martin, Vintry, annexed to that of St. Michael Royal, stood at the south-east corner of , in , the site of which is now used as a cemetery for the inhabitants of this parish.
In St. Thomas Apostles there was a messuage perhaps some time the dwelling of the earls of Cornwall, called Ringed-hall; for in the reign of Edward III. a place so called, with shops and gardens, in this parish, was granted by Edmund earl of Cornwall to the abbot of Beaulieu near Oxford; and re-granted, and a plea thereupon in the hustings, in the of Richard II.
On the same side, was great messuage, some time called Ipres-inn, of William of Ipres, a Fleming, the builder thereof, who was called out of Flanders, with a number of Flemings, to the aid of king Stephen, against Maud the empress, in the year , as before related, and grew so far in favour with the said king for his service, that he built this house near the , in which tower it seemeth the king was then lodged, as in the heart of the city, for his great safety.
In , formerly called Horse-bridge-street, is