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

Allen, Thomas

1827

Ancient Crypt.

 

The cellar beneath the house at the south-east corner of

89

, consists of a curious crypt, in excellent preservation, which has been generally considered to be the ancient parochial chapel, or church of St. Michael. The crowns of the arches are rather below the level of the pavement, and there is every indication of the structure having been the basement of a superior erection.

The above engraving shews the building in a restored state.

 

What is to be seen at the present time, is evidently the whole of the original structure; its greatest length from north to south is feet, and its breadth from east to west, . In length it is made into aisles by clusters of columns, consisting of an union of cylinders, conjoined at the capitals, from which spring the ribs that support the vaulting; this is of the simplest kind, consisting only of arches and cross springers, the latter making an acutely pointed arch, the former being more obtuse. On the points of intersection of the ribs are circular bosses, carved with masks in a grotesque but bold style; of the best is annexed.

 

The pillars are buried about feet below the present level of the cellar floor; in the vignette they are represented as perfect; the vaulting receives a subsidiary support from half columns attached to the walls, of a corresponding character with the main clusters. The entrance to the crypt, is by a flap in the front of the house, (in the view a pointed window is substituted,) nearly opposite to this is an acutely pointed opening, (also shewn in the cut,) which was originally intended for a window, but has at some later period been converted into a door-way, and was then the entrance to the crypt from above, as a winding flight of stairs still existing on the outside of the opening evinces. The windows are square, the frames remaining appear more modern than the main structure; they are all walled up except in the northern extremity of the crypt, which is partially vacant; the sills are formed close below the vault, proof that the erection was at all times a crypt; the termination northward of both the aisles is curious; it is irregular in plan and elevation, and the vaulting displays

90

a greater degree of masonic skill in consequence of the irregularity of the walls. In the western wall an opening has been broken through, which leads into an extensive range of cellaring, in which there is no vestige of antiquity except a wall constructed of old materials.

From the absence of any religious or sacerdotal emblem appearing in the carvings, as well as the circumstance of the structure standing in its longest proportions north and south, it is not at all probable that it ever was a church, or the crypt of ; that it might appertain to some of the various ecclesiastical establishments, which existed in this quarter is somewhat borne out by the high character of its architecture; from the style of which it is probable that these remains are the workmanship of the latter part of the century.

The bull of pope Innocent II, noticed before, mentions the chapel of St. Michael, in the church-yard of the monastery.

It is singular that Stow does not notice the existence of this relic of ancient London, although it is generally supposed the superstructure was occupied by his dwelling-house.

It appears the ground in the neighbourhood of has been much raised. Stow says,

Betwixt this, Belzeter's (Billeter) lane, and

Lime-street

, was (of later time,) a frame of

three

fair houses, set up in the year

1590

, in place where before was a large garden plot, inclosed from the

High-street

with a brick wall; which wall being taken down, and the ground digged deep for cellarage, there was found right under the said brickwall, another wall of stone, with a gate arched of stone, and gates of timber, to be closed in the midst, towards the street; the timber of the gates was consumed, but the hinges of yron still remained on their staples, on both sides. Moreover, in that wall were square windows, with bars of yron, on either side the gate; this wall was under ground about

two

fathoms deepe, as I then esteemed it, and seemeth to bee the ruins of some house burned in the raigne of king Stephen, when the fire began in the house of

one

Aleward, near London-stone, and consumed east to

Aldgate

; whereby it appeareth how greatly the ground of this citie hath been in that place raysed.

In is the West , a large edifice, with offices attached for conducting the business of the . In the court-room is a fine painting of G. Hibbert, esq.

The African-house stood in , east of . It had been the mansion of sir Nicholas Throkmorton.

The name of a church which stood formerly on the west side of , is still preserved in that of the name of the street; it was also called St. Mary Pellyper. This church was in the gift of the prioress and convent of St. Helens, but was united by letters patent under the great seal, dated , Eliz. to St. Andrew . It received its appellation of

at the Axe,

from a

91

sign which hung opposite the east end of it, and that of St. Mary, Pellyper, from a spot of ground on the north side, belonging to the company of skinners. The church was on its desecration let as a warehouse, and for mechanical purposes, till, at length, it became so ruinous that it was entirely taken down.

On the north side of is

 
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 Title Page
 Dedication
 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