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

Allen, Thomas


Hospital of St. Mary of Bethlehem.


At a small distance from the north side of St. Botolph's church, is a narrow place, called Alderman's walk, nearly adjoining to which are a street and several courts, known by the general name of Old Bethlehem. On this spot formerly stood a priory of canons, with brethren and sisters. It was dedicated to St. Mary of Bethlehem, and was founded by Simon Fitzmary, of the sheriffs of London, in the year .

King Edward III. granted a protection for the brethren, , within the city of London, the year of his reign. The following is a copy of an ancient deed of gift given to Bethlehem, or Bedlem, by Simon, the son of Mary :--

To all the children of our mother holy church, to whom this present writing shall come, Simon the son of Mary sendeth greeting in our Lord. Where, among other things, and before other lands, the high altitude of the heavenly councils, marvelously wrought by some readier devotion, ought to be more worshipped, of which things the mortal sickness (after the fall of our first father Adam) hath taken the beginning of this new repairing: therefore, forsooth, it beseemeth worthy, that the place in which the sonne of God is become man, and hath proceeded from the Virgin's womb, which is increaser and beginner of man's redemption, namely, ought to be with reverence worshipped, and with beneficial portions to be increased. Therefore it is that the said Simon, sonne of Mary, having special and singular devotion to the church of the glorious virgin at Bethlem, where the same virgin of her brought forth our Saviour incarnate, and lying in the cratch, and with her own milk nourished, and where the same child to us there born, the chivalry of the heavenly company sang the new hymn, gloria in excelsis Deo. The same time, the increaser of our health (as a king, and his mother a queene) willed to be worshipped of kings. A new starre going before them at the honour and reverence of the same child, and his meek mother: and to the exaltation of my noble lord Henry, king of England, whose wife and child the aforesaid mother of God, and her only Son, have in their keeping and protection; and to the manifold increase of this city of London, in which I was born; and also for the health of my soul, and the souls of my predecessors and successors, my father, mother, and my friends; and especially for the souls of Guy of Marlowe, John Durant, Ralph, Ashwye, Maud, Margaret, and Dennis, women; have given, granted, and by this my present charter here have confirmed to God, and to the church of St. Mary of Bethlem, all my lands which I have in the parish of St. Botolph without Bishopsgate of London; that is to say, whatsoever I there now have or had, or in time to come may have, in houses, gardens, pools, ponds, ditches, and pits, and all their appurtenances, as they be closed in by their bound, which now extend in length from the king's high street east, to the great ditch in the west, which is called deep ditch, and in breadth, to the lands of Ralph Downing in the north, and to the land of the church of St. Botolph in the south, to have and to hold the aforesaid church of Bethlem, in free and perpetual alms; and also to make there a priory, and to ordain a prior and canons, brothers, and also sisters; when Jesus Christ shall enlarge his grace upon it: And in the same place, the rule and order of the said church of Bethlem, solemnly professing which shall bear the token of a star openly in their copes and mantles of profession, and for to say divine service; therefore the souls aforesaid, and all christian souls, and especially to receive there the bishop of Bethlem, canons, brothers, and messengers of the church of Bethlem, for evermore, as often as they shall come thither.

And that a church or oratory there shall be built, as soon as our Lord shall enlarge his grace, under such form, that the order; institution of priors, canons, brothers, sisters, of the visitation, sorrection, and reformation of the said place, to the bishop of Bethlem, and his successors, and to the charter of this church, and of his messengers, as often as they shall come hither, as shall seem to them expedient, no man's contradiction, notwithstanding, shall pertain evermore, saving always the services of the chief lords, as much as pertaineth to the said lands. And to the more surety of this thing, I have put myself out of this land, and all mine; and lord Godfrey, then chosen of the nobles of the city of Rome, bishop of Bethlem, and of the pope, confirmed then by his name in England, in his name, and of his successors, and of the chapter of his church of Bethlem, into bodily possession. I have intended and given to his possession all the aforesaid lands, which possession he hath received and entered in form abovesaid. And in token of subjection and reverence, the said place in London, without Bishopsgate, shall pay yearly in the said city a mark sterling at easter, to the bishop of Bethlem, his successors, or his messengers, And if the faculties or goods of the said place (our Lord granting) happen to grow more, the said place shall pay more in the name of pension at the said term to the mother church of Bethlem. This (forsooth) gift and confirmation of my deed, and the putting to of my seal for me and mine heirs, I have steadfastly made strong, the year of our Lord God a thousand two hundred forty seven, the Wednesday after the feast of St. Luke the Evangelist: These being witnesses, Pyers, the son of Aleyne, then mayor of London; Nicholas Bet, then sheriff of the said city, and alderman of the said ward; Ralph Sparling, alderman; Godfrey of Campes, Simon Comicent, Simon Bonner, Robert of Woodford, Thomas of Woodford, Walter Pointell, Walter of Woodford, &c.

Newcourt says, that in the year , an agreement was entered into between the master and brethren, and John de Bradeley, rector of St. Botolph, that when the chapel of this hospital was finished, the master and brethren should receive the oblations and abventions (or church fees,) of all that were buried in the chapel, or consecrated ground, excepting the parishioners of St. Botolph, whose fees and gifts were to be equally divided between the parties. By the same agreement the master and brethren were to receive the tithes of gardens, fruit, and grass, but no other dues of the rector. The composition received by the rector was

Stephen Gennings, merchant-taylor, gave towards the purchase of the patronage of this hospital, by his testament, anno .

And, in the year , the mayor and commonalty purchased the patronage thereof, with all the lands and tenements thereunto belonging. The same year Henry VIII. gave this hospital to the city, and it has ever since been in their possession.

In the year , a protection was granted, by letters patent from king Edward VI. dated , to John Whitehead, proctor


for this hospital of Bethlem, to beg within the counties of Lincoln and Cambridge, the city of London, and the isle of Ely, for year.

At a court of aldermen, held on Tuesday the , anno Edward VI. it was ordered, That the inhabitants within the precinct of Bethlem should be, from thenceforth, united to the parish church of St. Botolph without Bishopsgate, and so by the parson and parishioners of the same parish accepted and taken, and to be allotted and charged with them to all offices and charges (tythes and clerks wages excepted); in consideration whereof, the parson of the parish was to receive yearly out of the chamber of London , and the parish clerk .

In the year , sir Thomas Roe, merchant-taylor, mayor, caused to be inclosed with a wall of brick about acre of ground, being part of the said hospital of Bethlem, to wit, on the west, on the bank of Deep Ditch, so called from, parting the said wall of Bethlem from the Moorfield. This he did for burial ease to such parishes in London as wanted convenient ground within their parishes. The lady his wife was there buried (by whose persuasion he inclosed it), but himself, born in London, was buried in the parish chureh of Hackney.

This was called New Church-yard, near Bethlem; where, upon Whit-Sunday, the lord mayor, and his brethren the aldermen, used to resort to hear a sermon: and this was practised anno ,

When (according to a letter from recorder Fleetwood to the lord treasurer) a very good sermon was preached at this new churchyard before the lord-mayor, sir Edward Osborn, and his brethren; and, by reason no plays were the same day [i. e. Whit-Sunday, as there used to be] all the city was quiet.

This has been for a considerable time discontinued.

The church or chapel of this hospital were taken down in the reign of queen Elizabeth, and houses built there by the governors of Christ's-Hospital, in London.

On the south side of this church-yard, over a folding gate, was the following inscription:--

Thomas Roe, Miles, sum Praetor esset Londinensis, hunc

Locum Reipublicae in usum Publicae Sepulturae communem,

suo Sumptu dedicavit, Anno Dom.




[] What was called Broker's Row and now Bloomfield-street.

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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