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Highways and Byways in London By Emily Constance Baird Cook Characters: 58370

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:02

"I have seen the West End, the parks, the fine squares; but I love the City far better. The City seems so much more in earnest; its business, its rush, its roar, are such serious things, sights, sounds. The City is getting its living, the West End but enjoying its pleasure. At the West End you may be amused; but in the City you are deeply excited."-C. Bront?: "Villette."

"And who cries out on crowd and mart?

Who prates of stream and sea?

The summer in the City's heart

That is enough for me."

-Amy Levy: "A London Plane Tree."

The City is, by common consent, the most interesting and vital part of the metropolis,-interesting, not only for its past,-but for its present; ever-living,-eternally renewed;-a never-ceasing, impetuous, Niagara of energy and power. It is the pulse,-or rather the aorta,-of the tremendous machine of London; through its crowded veins rushes the life-blood of commerce, of industry, of wealth, that feeds and stimulates not only the town, but also the country and the nation. Through its ancient and narrow highways, crowds of black-coated human ants hurry, day by day, eager in pursuit of money, of power, and of their daily bread.

And yet, curiously enough, it is close by these very crowded thoroughfares of human life and energy, that the most secluded haunts of peace may be found; calm "backwaters," all deserted and forgotten by the flowing stream that runs so near them; tiny spots of unsuspected greenery and ancient stone, absolutely startling in their quiet proximity to the surrounding din and whirl. Though the area of the "City," so-called, is but small, yet it abounds in such peaceful, undreamed-of spots; places where the painter may set up his easel, or even the photographer his camera, without fear of let or hindrance. Secluded bits of ancient churchyard, portions of long-forgotten convent garden, of old wall or bastion, or of antique plane-tree grove; it is such nooks as these that, even more than in Kensington Gardens, suggest Matthew Arnold's lovely lines:

"Calm soul of all things! make it mine

To feel, above the city's jar,

That there abides a peace of thine

Man did not make and cannot mar."

To see and know the City with any proper appreciation of its interests and beauties, would require many days of wandering and leisured perambulation. In no part of London do things and views come upon the pedestrian with more startling suddenness. Emerging from some narrow and smoky alley, where the house-roofs, perhaps, nearly meet overhead, he may find himself, by some sharp turn of the ways, almost directly under the enormous blackened dome of St. Paul's,-looking, in such close proximity,-and especially if there happen to be any fog about,-of positively incredible size. Or he may find peaceful red-brick rectories, that suggest country villages, adjoining, in all charity, noisy mills and warehouses; or railways and canals, which give forth smoke and steam with amiable impartiality, and intersect streets where fragments of old houses yet linger in picturesque decay; or, again, noisy tram-lines, cutting through medi?val squares, that, once upon a time, were peaceful and residential. Yet, after all, it ill becomes us to murmur at the tram-lines and the railways; we ought rather to be thankful that anything at all of the old time is left us. For, in the City, where things are, and ever must be, chiefly utilitarian, the survival of ancient relics is all the more to be wondered at.

But the time of careless and rash destruction is past. The antiquarian spirit is now fairly in our midst, and medi?val remains are preserved, sometimes even at no slight inconvenience. And when the progress of the world, and of railways, requires certain sites, even then the buildings on these, or their most interesting portions, are, so far as possible, spared and protected from further injury. Thus, when the site of "Sir Paul Pindar's" beautiful old mansion in Bishopsgate Street was required for the enlargements of the Great Eastern Railway Company, its elaborately-carved wooden front was transported bodily to the South Kensington Museum, which it now adorns; and the church tower of the ancient "All Hallows Staining," surviving its demolished nave and choir, still stands, a curiously isolated relic, in the green square of the Clothworkers' Hall; that company being bound over to keep it in order and repair. Similarly, the pains and the great expense incurred in the careful restoration of that old Holborn landmark, Staple Inn, a score or so of years back, are well known. And "Crosby Hall," anciently Crosby Place, that famous Elizabethan mansion commemorated in Shakespeare's Richard III., is now, after much danger and many vicissitudes, utilised for the purposes of a restaurant, which, at least ensures the keeping of it in proper and timely repair. Fifty, even thirty, years ago, ancient monuments were more lightly valued, sometimes even rescued with difficulty from the hands of the destroyer; now, however, the veneration for old landmarks is more widespread. Repairs to old buildings are, to a certain extent, always necessary; for in London, more than anywhere, long neglect means inevitable decay and destruction. And if in certain districts Philistines may yet have their way, if the taste of the builder and restorer is not always faultless, things have at any rate much improved since early Victorian days.

Of the many delightful excursions to be made in and about the City, perhaps that to the ancient priory church of St. Bartholomew the Great, Smithfield, and the neighbouring precincts of the Charterhouse, ranks first. The church is a Norman relic unique in London, a bit of medi?valism, left curiously stranded amid the desolation and destruction of all its compeers. Though St. Bartholomew the Great is easily reached from Newgate Street, being indeed but just beyond the famous hospital of the same name, it is yet difficult to find. Its diminutive and somewhat inadequate red-brick tower is but just visible above the row of houses that divide it from Smithfield, and the modest entrance to its precincts, underneath a mere shop-archway, may easily be missed. The church is, in fact, almost hidden by neighbouring houses. While its main entrance faces Smithfield, the dark, mysterious, densely-inhabited district called "Little Britain" crowds in closely upon it on two sides, and the picturesque alley named "Cloth Fair" abuts against it on another. It is, therefore, difficult to get much of a view of it anywhere from outside; you may, indeed, get close to it, and yet lose your way to it. The ancient priory church has only recently been disentangled from the surrounding factories and buildings, that in the lapse of careless centuries had been suffered to invade it.


The entrance door from West Smithfield, though insignificant in size, is yet deserving of notice; for it is a pointed Early English arch with dog-tooth ornamentation. Hence, a narrow passage leads through a most quaint churchyard; an old-time burial-ground, a bit of rank and untended greenery, interspersed with decaying and falling gravestones, and hemmed in by the backs of the tottering Cloth Fair houses; ancient lath-and-plaster tenements, crumbling and dirty, their lower timbers bulging, yet most picturesque in their decay. They all appear to be let out in rooms to poor workers; above, patched and ragged articles of clothing are hanging out to dry, while on the ground floor you may see a shoemaker hammering away at his last, or a carpenter at his lathe, his light much intercepted by a big adjacent gravestone, on which a black cat, emblem of witchery, is sitting. The gravestones seem not at all to affect the cheerfulness of the population; perhaps, indeed, as in the case of Mr. Oram, the coffinmaker, these wax the more cheerful because of their gloomy surroundings. The whole scene, nevertheless, is most strangely weird, and reminds one of nothing so much as of that ghoulish churchyard described by Dickens as in "Tom-All-Alone's;" with this exception, that Dickens only saw the sad humanity of such places, and not their undoubted picturesqueness.

Beyond this strange disused burial-ground the church is entered. The history of its foundation is a romantic one. The priory church, with its monastery and hospital, was the direct outcome of a religious vow. In the twelfth century, when the little Norman London of the day was the town of monasteries and church bells likened by Sir Walter Besant to the "?le Sonnante" of Rabelais; in or about 1120, one of King Henry I.'s courtiers, Rahere or Rayer (the spelling of that time is uncertain), went on a pilgrimage to Rome. At Rome he, as people still often do, fell ill of malarial fever, and, as is less common, perhaps nowadays, vowed, if he recovered, to build a hospital for the "recreacion of poure men." Rahere was, says the chronicler, "a pleasant-witted gentleman, and therefore in his time called the King's minstrel." (Hence, no doubt, he has been called also "the King's jester"; though this appears to be incorrect.) Lively and "pleasant-witted" people are, we know, apt to take sudden conversion hardly; and Rahere was certainly as thorough in his dealings with the devil as was any medi?val saint. In his sickness he had a vision, and in that vision he saw a great beast with four feet and two wings; this beast seized him and carried him to a high place whence he could see "the bottomless pit" and all its horrors. From this very disagreeable position he was delivered by the merciful St. Bartholomew, who thereupon ordered him to go home and build a church in his honour on a site that he should direct, assuring him that he (the saint), would supply the necessary funds. Returning home, Rahere gained the king's consent to the work, which was forthwith begun, and assisted greatly by miraculous agency; such as bright light shining on the roof of the rising edifice, wonderful cures worked there, and all such supernatural revelations. When Rahere died, in the odour of sanctity, and the first prior of his foundation, he left thirteen canons attached to it; which number his successor, Prior Thomas, had raised in 1174 to thirty-five. Thus the monastery grew through successive priors, till it was one of the largest religious houses in London. Its precincts and accessories extended at one time as far as Aldersgate Street; these however vanished with the dissolution of the monasteries by Henry VIII., and all that remains to the present day is the abbreviated priory church and a small part of a cloister. In monastic times the nave of the edifice extended, indeed, the whole length of the little churchyard, as far as the dog-toothed Smithfield entrance gate; but of the ancient church nothing now remains intact but the choir, with the first bay of the nave and portions of the transepts. Yet the recent restorations have been most successfully carried out, and the first view of the interior is striking in its grand old Norman simplicity. The choir has a triforium and a clerestory, and terminates in an apse, pierced by curious horseshoe arches; behind runs a circulating ambulatory dividing it from the adjoining "Lady chapel." Worthy of notice is the finely-wrought modern iron screen, the work of Mr. Starkie Gardner, that separates this chapel from the apse. The church has been altered, added to, or mutilated, from time to time; and other styles of architecture, such as Perpendicular, have occasionally been introduced; but yet the main effect of the interior is Norman. The beautiful Norman apse, built over and obliterated in the 15th century, has, by the talent of Mr. Aston Webb, been now restored to its original design. Indeed, the whole edifice has in recent times and by the efforts of late rectors and patrons, been extricated from dirt, lumber and decay; the work of restoration beginning in 1864. The restorer has done his work most faithfully, preserving all the old walls, and utilising the old Norman stones used in previous re-buildings.

The high value of every inch of space, in this crowded colony of workers, had in course of centuries caused many and various irruptions into the sacred precincts. But some of the worst encroachments may possibly have arisen in the beginning more from the action of venal and careless officials and rectors, than from outside greed. Thus, supposing that a parishioner had, by some means or other, obtained a corner of the church for the stowing of his lumber, and that he paid rent for it duly to the churchwardens; he being in time himself nominated churchwarden, the rent would lapse, himself and his heirs becoming eventually proprietors of the said corner. Thus it is that abuses creep in. The state of St. Bartholomew-the-Great, a half-century ago, must indeed have been grief, almost despair to the antiquary. A fringe factory occupied the "Lady-Chapel" and even projected into the apse; a school was held in the triforium; and a blacksmith's forge filled one of the transepts. The fringe factory cost no less than £6,000 to buy out; the blacksmith whose forge had been inside the church for 250 years, was removed for a sum of £2,000. In the north transept you may still see the stone walls and arches blackened with the smoke of the forge, and a curious white patch, yet remaining on the pillared wall, testifies to the exact spot where the blacksmith's tool-cupboard used to stand. The feet of the horses can hardly be said to have improved the Norman pillars. Pious legend is already busy with the history of the reconstruction of the church, and I was assured that in one case the compensation money did its recipient little good; for he immediately set himself, as the phrase goes, to "swallow it." But, indeed, all that remained of the old church was before 1864 so hemmed in on all sides by encroaching houses, that the work of "buying out" must have been one of immense difficulty and patience. Some few of the tenants have, it seems, proved very obdurate and grasping; these, however, are wisely left to deal with till the last. One window in the now cleared and restored "Lady-Chapel" is still blocked by a red-tiled, rambling building, a highly unnecessary but most picturesque parasite which has at some period or other attached itself limpet-like to the old church wall.

The old church is, like all London churches, dark, and it requires a bright day to be thoroughly appreciated. Lady sketchers are sometimes to be seen there, their easels set up in secluded nooks. The church, however, is generally more or less desolate, a curious little island of quiet after the surrounding din of the streets and alleys. Perhaps one or two strangers,-Americans most likely,-men by preference,-may be seen going over it; but old city churches do not, as a rule, attract crowds of visitors. Passers-by can rarely direct you to them, and even dwellers in the district can but seldom tell you where they are. For cockneys, even "superior" cockneys, are born and die in London without ever troubling themselves over the existence of these ancient relics of the past. Yet, if the natural beauties of St. Bartholomew are great, greater still is its historical interest. The vandalisms of the Reformation, and, later, of the Protectorate, have fortunately spared most of its ancient monuments, and the tomb of Rahere, the founder and earliest prior, shows its recumbent effigy still uninjured under a vaulted canopy. The tomb is on the north side of the choir, just inside the communion rails. Though the canopy is admittedly the work of a fifteenth-century artist, the effigy is said to belong to Rahere's own time. The founder is represented in the robes of his Order (the Augustinian Canons); his head has the monkish tonsure; a monk is on each side of him, and an angel is at his feet. The effigy, like several other monuments in the church, has been darkened all over, probably by the misplaced zeal of Cromwellian iconoclasts, with sombre paint; this coating, however, has been to a great extent removed. (In some of the other tombs and monuments the darkening is done with some thick black pigment, impossible entirely to remove.) The Latin epitaph on Rahere's tomb is simple:

"Hic jacet Raherus primus canonicus et primus prior hujus ecclesiae."

Some twenty years ago the tomb was opened, and Rahere's skeleton disclosed, together with a part of a sandal, which latter may be seen in a glass case among other relics in the north transept.

Almost opposite the founder's tomb, looking down from the south triforium, is Prior Bolton's picturesque window, built by him evidently for the purpose of watching the revered monument. Prior Bolton, the most famous of Rahere's successors, ruled the convent from 1506 to 1532; his window is a projecting oriel, and on a middle panel below is carved his well-known "rebus," a "bolt" passing through a "tun"; this rebus occurs also at other places in the church.

The splendid alabaster tomb of Sir Walter Mildmay, a statesman of Queen Elizabeth's day, and founder of Emmanuel College, Cambridge, should be noticed in the south ambulatory. The vandalism of former times had, curiously enough, not blackened this tomb, but endued its alabaster with an upper coating of sham marble-now removed. The remainder of the tombs and monuments will all repay inspection; and some of the inscriptions are very quaint. For instance, in a bay in the south ambulatory is a monument to a certain John Whiting and his wife, with the verse (nearly defaced) from Sir Henry Wotton:

"Shee first deceased, he for a little try'd

To live without her, lik'd it not and dy'd."

And in another place is the monument to Edward Cooke, "philosopher and doctor," which is made of a kind of porous marble that exudes water in damp weather, and has inscribed on it the following appropriate epitaph:

"Unsluice, ye briny floods. What! can ye keep

Your eyes from teares, and see the marble weep?

Burst out for shame; or if ye find noe vent

For teares, yet stay and see the stones relent."

Yet the marble was not altogether to be blamed. It is sad to spoil a poetic illusion; but it seems that in old days the church was damp, so damp that the rector-if report is to be believed-had to preach sometimes under an umbrella, and the marble "wept" abundantly. Now, however, that the building is repaired and properly warmed, the "stones relent" no more.

St. Bartholomew has had, too, its quota of famous parishioners. Milton, that constant though wandering Londoner, lived close by at one time, in his "pretty garden-house" of Aldersgate (that garden-house that was yet so dull that his young wife ran away temporarily both from it and him!); and the poet probably attended divine service in the church. Hogarth, the painter, was baptised here, as the parish registers tell. The congregation of the present day, however, comes, as is so often the case with old city churches, mainly from outside. The immediate neighbourhood is hardly church-going, being a collection of narrow alleys and mysterious courts. And yet, in these dark purlieus of "Little Britain," house-room is frightfully dear, and in the crumbling tenements of "Cloth Fair," a poor room costs about 6s. per week. As to the population, only fifteen years ago they were rough, rowdy, even criminal in places; now, however, the district is mainly respectable, although overcrowded by workers-factory hands, private manufacturers, widows who work in City offices and who cling to the locality as being near and convenient. It is very difficult for the authorities to obviate overcrowding in certain central London districts. Little Britain, now devoted to warehouses and tenement dwellings, was in old days filled with book-shops; indeed, the whole district used to be literary, for Milton Street, near by, was the "Grub Street" of Pope's obloquy in the Dunciad. In Little Britain are still good houses to be seen here and there; and Cloth Fair itself was once inhabited by grandees and merchant princes. That dingy but romantic alley still boasts an old lath-and-plaster house, that once was the Earl of Warwick's; its picturesque windows surmount a humble tallow chandler's shop; but its towering decrepitude still has dignity, and the Earl's arms still adorn its front. It was good enough for an Earl in old days; now, however, his dog would hardly be allowed to sleep in it!

When "Bartholomew Fair" was a great annual festivity, it was in Cloth Fair that the famous "Court of Pie Powdre" used to be held, that court which, during fair-time, corrected weights and measures and granted licenses. It was called the "Court of Pie Powdre" because "justice was done there as speedily as dust can fall from the foot."

In medi?val days, the open space of Smithfield-now a meat market-was, as every one knows, a shambles of another sort. Here suffered that noble army of Marian martyrs, who proudly for conscience' sake faced the flame; here burned those hideous fires that long blackened the English name. The little row of houses facing Smithfield,-under which is the archway and dog-toothed gate to the old church, already mentioned,-is, so far as one can gather from an old print, little altered since those cruel days when mayors, grandees, and respectable citizens would sit and watch the tortures of poor, faithful men and women. Especially at the beautiful Anne Askew's burning, "the multitude and concourse," says Foxe, "of the people was exceeding; the place where they stood being railed about to keep out the press. Upon the bench under St. Bartholomew's Church sate Wriothesley, chancellor of England, the old Duke of Norfolk," etc. etc.... Strange times, indeed! when, (said Byron):

"Christians did burn each other, quite persuaded

That all the Apostles would have done as they did."

At the Smithfield fires perished in all 277 persons, whose only memorial is now an inscribed stone on the outer wall of St. Bartholomew's Hospital, commemorating three of them in these words:

"Within a few yards of this spot John Rogers, John Bradford, John Philpot, servants of God, suffered death by fire for the faith of Christ, in the years 1555, 1556, 1557."

Smithfield, or Smoothfield as it was first called, was even in very early times a place of slaughter and execution; here the Scotch patriot, Sir William Wallace, was done to death in 1305, and here, in 1381, the rebel Wat Tyler was slain by Sir William Walworth. Originally a tournament and tilt ground, Smithfield was in those days a broad meadow-land fringed with elms, beyond the old London walls. Miracle-plays, public executions, tortures, fairs, and burnings appear to have taken place here in indiscriminate alternation, until Smithfield became, first, the great cattle-fair of London, and, finally, the modern meat-market. Its present charm, if any, must be all "in the eye of the seer;" for it is, in truth, a noisy, unattractive spot, with but little suggestion of ancient romance about it.

St. Bartholomew's, Smithfield.

St. Bartholomew's Hospital, of which the long front faces the market-place, forms part of Rahere's original foundation. Refounded by Henry VIII. after the dissolution of the monasteries, it is now almost the wealthiest, as well as the oldest, hospital in London. It admits over 100,000 patients annually, and its medical school is famous. Just within its Smithfield gateway, which dates from the year 1702, and is adorned by a statute of Henry VIII., is the church of St. Bartholomew the Less, originally built by Rahere just after his return from Rome, but re-erected in 1823. The spacious courtyards of the hospital, collegiate in size and cleanliness, and pleasantly shaded by trees, afford pretty and pathetic sights. Here, on fine days of spring and summer, a few convalescents, pale and bandaged, may be seen sitting out and enjoying the fresh air and sunshine, talking, reading, or simply engrossed in watching a game of ball played by the students. Those boy- or girl-patients who are well on the road to recovery, often tend or supervise still younger patients, the pretty white-capped nurses occasionally lending a hand-it is a charming sight. The last time that I passed by the Smithfield front of the hospital, a poor tramp lay prone on the broad steps of the patients' entrance, and a porter was sympathetically and tenderly preparing to lift him inside; it was a picture of the Good Samaritan.

But St. Bartholomew's precincts are not the only "haunts of peace" in this noisy neighbourhood. Crossing the Metropolitan Meat Market, and picking your way northward, through innumerable ugly tram-lines, you presently reach the quiet and restful Charterhouse Square, whence, through an archway, the precincts of the ancient monastery are entered. Charterhouse Square, once an enclosure of seventeenth-century palaces, is a delightful old place even yet; though its sober residential look of time-darkened red brick is now but a blind, and it is rapidly becoming a square of hotels and lodging-houses. Such a fate was, of course, inevitable in its case; and yet it seems mournful. The spot where Rutland House, the ancient residence of the Venetian ambassador, once stood, is only commemorated now in the name of Rutland Place. The City palaces have crumbled; they have all been rebuilt in the far West; and even Bloomsbury has none left, except those which are devoted to the modern flat! One of the prettiest houses now to be seen in the present Charterhouse Square,-its front trellised over with bright Virginian creeper, such a house as Miss Thackeray loved to describe,-is now a "home" fitted up by a big city warehouse for the accommodation of its working girls. The square garden is still nicely kept; Janus-faced, it looks on to the world's noisy mart on the one side, and, on the other, towards conventual peace.

But you must not linger in Charterhouse Square; time is passing, and the archway leading to the ancient sanctuary invites you. The guide-books tell you that this archway is in the "Perpendicular" style; that its projecting shelf above is supported by lions; this and much more; but you do not always feel in a mood to digest guide-books. They are so aggressive in their information, and so distracting to one's own thoughts! For, how many associations does not this classic abode recall! You can easily imagine groups of tonsured, cowled friars, standing here and there in the shadows of the quadrangles; one "grey friar" of a later time, with "the order of the Bath on his breast," perhaps, most of all.

This Carthusian monastery, so powerful in medi?val times, and founded by Sir Walter Manny as early as 1321, was suppressed by the rapacity of Henry VIII., that brutal though necessary reformer. The story of the dissolution is a cruel and heartrending one. Prior Houghton, the last superior of the monastery, protested against the king's spoliation of Church lands; he was promptly convicted of high treason, and, with several of his monks, was "hanged, drawn, and quartered" at Tyburn. They died gallantly, and in their deaths we revere that true and sturdy spirit that still in our own day leads England on to glory:

"If" (says Froude) "we would understand the true spirit of the time, we must regard Catholics and Protestants as gallant soldiers, whose deaths, when they fall, are not painful, but glorious; and whose devotion we are equally able to admire, even where we cannot equally approve their cause. Courage and self-sacrifice are beautiful alike in an enemy and in a friend. And while we exult in that chivalry with which the Smithfield martyrs bought England's freedom with their blood, so we will not refuse our admiration to those other gallant men whose high forms, in the sunset of the old faith, stand transfigured on the horizon, tinged with the light of its dying glory."

Prior Houghton's bloody arm, severed from his murdered corpse, was hung up over the gateway of his sanctuary, to awe his remaining monks into obedience; while his head was exposed on London Bridge. Brutal, indeed, were our forefathers of the Tudor time!

The Charterhouse, after the banishment and death of its monks, passed through the hands of several of the king's favourites, and came eventually into those of the Duke of Norfolk, who altered it considerably, making it less monastic and more palatial in character. But a new era of usefulness awaited the ancient convent; better days for it were at hand. For it was finally sold by the Norfolk family to one Thomas Sutton, a rich and philanthropic Northumbrian coal-owner, who converted it into a "Hospital" for eighty poor men, and a school for forty poor boys. The school, so picturesque in Thackeray's Newcomes, no longer exists here as in old days; in 1872, the modern craze for fresh air transferred it to new premises at Godalming; and the boys' vacated buildings were sold to the Merchant Taylors' Company for their own school. The almshouses for the poor brothers remain, however, just as they were. Times change, and, though the aged bedesmen are yet poor, it is doubtf

ul whether all the boys who benefit from the foundation, can still be called so. The school, like other foundations of its kind, probably now benefits a higher class than old Thomas Sutton intended.

Many noted men have been pupils of the Charterhouse; Thackeray, especially, has immortalised his old school in his touching description of "Founder's Day"; when old Colonel Newcome, in his turn both pupil and poor brother, sits humbly among the aged pensioners, clad in his black gown:

"I chanced to look up from my book towards the swarm of black-coated pensioners: and amongst them-amongst them-sate Thomas Newcome. His dear old head was bent down over his prayer-book; there was no mistaking him. He wore the black gown of the pensioners of the Hospital of Grey Friars. His order of the Bath was on his breast. He stood there amongst the poor brethren, uttering the responses to the psalm.... I heard no more of prayers, and psalms, and sermon, after that."

The whole of the Charterhouse breathes the old man's spirit; is perambulated by his frail ghost, the shadow of a Grey Friar. The letters, "I.H." worked out in red on the bricks in Washhouse Court, (part of the old monastery), though supposed to show the initials of the martyred Prior Houghton, are not so vivid to us as the little house in the same court, pointed out as the place where Colonel Newcome died!

Ghosts there may be in the Charterhouse, but their identity is not divulged. "Some people," the porter owns, under pressure, "have been known to see strange things," though he for his part has only come across rats, so far. Perhaps the boys have "laid" them! boys, it must be confessed, would make short work of most ghosts. The boys, on the "Founder's Day" mentioned by Thackeray, used always to sing the Carthusian chorus in the old merchant's honour:

"Then blessed be the memory

Of good old Thomas Sutton,

Who gave us lodging, learning,

As well as beef and mutton."

They sing it still, no doubt, equally heartily at Godalming; yet, surely, some among them must yearn for the historic associations of the old place. But, indeed, all the ancient schools are going, or gone, from the City; St. Paul's School is moved to Hammersmith; the picturesque Christ's Hospital is just disintegrated; its characteristic Lares and Penates are removed to Horsham; and the passengers along noisy Newgate Street will no longer stay to enjoy the romps and the foot-ball of the yellow-legged, blue-coated boys.

The brick courts of the Charterhouse have a solid and collegiate air; its small Jacobean chapel, of which the groined entrance alone dates from monastic times, contains a splendid alabaster tomb of the Founder. Here is Thackeray's striking description of a "Founder's Day" service:

"The boys are already in their seats, with smug fresh faces, and shining white collars; the old black-gowned pensioners are on their benches; the chapel is lighted, and Founder's Tomb, with its grotesque carvings, monsters, heraldries, darkles and shines with the most wonderful shadows and lights. There he lies, Foundator Noster, in his ruff and gown, awaiting the great Examination Day.... Yonder sit forty cherry-cheeked boys, thinking about home and holidays to-morrow. Yonder sit some three-score old gentlemen of the hospital, listening to the prayers and the psalms. You hear them coughing feebly in the twilight,-the old reverend blackgowns.... A plenty of candles lights up this chapel, and this scene of age and youth, and early memories, and pompous death. How solemn the well-remembered prayers are, here uttered again in the place where in childhood we used to hear them! How beautiful and decorous the rite; how noble the ancient words of the supplications which the priest utters, and to which generations of fresh children, and troops of bygone seniors have cried Amen! under those arches! The service for Founder's Day is a special one; one of the psalms selected being the thirty-seventh, and we hear-'v. 23. The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord: and he delighteth in his way. 24. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the Lord upholdeth him with his hand. 25. I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging their bread."

The Carthusians, as visitors to the monastery of the "Grande Chartreuse" already know, lived almost entirely in small houses of their own. These exist here no longer, but the ancient brick cloister that extends along the playground belongs to the old convent. The many rambling courts and low buildings of the Charterhouse are, no doubt, puzzling on a first visit. "There is," says Thackeray, "an old Hall, a beautiful specimen of the architecture of James's time; an old Hall? many old halls; old staircases, old passages, old chambers decorated with old portraits, walking in the midst of which, we walk as it were in the early seventeenth century." The dining-hall, which used to be the monastic guest-chamber, is used now by the old bedesmen; it is fine, with its dark panelling and its look of comfortable solidity. This was the part of the old Charterhouse adapted for his own dwelling by the Duke of Norfolk; and the wide Elizabethan staircase, leading to the "Officers' Library," is almost exactly as it was in his time. A curfew, tolled every evening at eight or nine o'clock p.m., proclaims the number of the poor brethren. It was with reference to this custom that Thackeray wrote his infinitely touching description of the death of Thomas Newcome:

"At the usual evening hour the chapel bell began to toll, and Thomas Newcome's hands outside the bed feebly beat time. And just as the last bell struck, a peculiar sweet smile shone over his face, and he lifted up his head a little, and quickly said 'Adsum,' and fell back. It was the word we used at school, when names were called; and lo, he, whose heart was as that of a little child, had answered to his name, and stood in the presence of The Master."

But the Charterhouse has now come more or less to be a "show place"; and, interesting as are visits to the show places of London, I often think that a mere aimless ramble through the streets of the City is more soothing and refreshing to the average mind. Human nature is contradictory, delighting in the unexpected; also, so far as lasting impressions go, it is incapable of thoroughly taking in much at one time. Everybody knows that places where you are "shown round" are fatiguing; what you really enjoy is what you can find out for your own poor self. In London streets, the unexpected is always happening; thus, through the hideous plate glass of a bar parlour, you may catch glimpses of waving trees and grey towers, and even the dreadful glare of London advertisement hoardings does not "wholly abolish or destroy" the ancient charm of the crowded, irregular City streets. A City of parallel lines and squares, such as the Colonials love! Perish the thought! Let them widen Southampton Row if they will, remove Holywell Street and King Street if they list; but let us at any rate keep to our old and devious ways through the heart of the City!

Just west of the Charterhouse, reached from Smithfield by St. John Street, is another stranded islet of the past, St. John's Gate, Clerkenwell. This is the only remaining relic of the medi?val Priory of St. John, the chief English seat of the "Knights Hospitallers of St. John of Jerusalem," founded in Henry I.'s reign by a baron named Jordan Briset and Muriel his wife. The early Priory was burnt by the rebels under Wat Tyler, and, when rebuilt, the newer building was used in many reigns as a resort of royalty. After many vicissitudes, the Order of St. John's Knights was suppressed by that archiconoclast Henry VIII. who, for the purpose, resorted to his usual persuasive methods of beheading, hanging, and quartering. Nevertheless, the Priory continued to be used as a Royal residence by Henry's daughter, Mary. The fragment of the old building that remains to us is its south gate, built by Prior Docwra in 1504. It is a fine bit of perpendicular architecture; on the gateway's north side are the arms of Docwra and of his Order, on the south side, those of France and England. In the centre of the groined roof is the Lamb bearing a flag, kneeling on the Gospels. The rest of the Priory buildings have long vanished; destroyed, for the most part, by the ambitious Protector Somerset, by whose order they were blown up for building materials for his fine new Strand palace. The later history of the old Gate is mainly journalistic; demonstrating that typical change from the calm of conventual seclusion to the thunder of printing-press publicity, so common in central London. Dr. Johnson lived here in his early days of hack work in the old rooms above the Gate, working for Cave the printer, the founder of the Gentleman's Magazine, at so much per sheet, and living here an inky, dirty, hermit-like existence; seeing no one, and "eating his food behind a screen, being too shabby for publicity." The chair he used is still treasured. (St. John's Gate is a familiar object to many who have not really seen it, owing to its representation, in pale purple, on the outside cover of the Gentleman's Magazine.) The gate is now appropriately occupied by the Order of St. John, a charitable institution devoted to ambulance and hospital work. Part of the old priory church may be seen in the fine Norman crypt of St. John's Church close by. People used to visit this crypt to see the coffin (now buried), of "Scratching Fanny, the Cock Lane Ghost": this was a fraud perpetrated by a girl and her father, for gain. A plausible story was invented, and many notable people were duped by it; but by Dr. Johnson's investigations the hoax was at length discovered.

A ramble down Bishopsgate, in the inconsequent way already suggested, will be found thoroughly enjoyable; though it has, of course, the defect of being exceptionally easy of accomplishment. For this purpose, an omnibus to the Mansion House will land you exactly where you want to be. I may add that it is very important to choose a fine day for the excursion, a day when those imposing golden letters on the Royal Exchange-the "Anno Elizabethae" and "Anno Victoriae"-glitter like so many suns above the unceasing whirlpool of human life and energy below. Have you ever thought, as you looked on those golden letters, how interesting they may prove to some future antiquary? Like the "M. Agrippa Cos Tertium Fecit" on the Roman Pantheon, they tell, proudly, of the glory of a great nation. It is noteworthy that the names of two queens should here represent England's highest fame, and commemorate thus, in close juxtaposition, the Elizabethan and Victorian Age.

The Victorian Age, however, with its bustle and movement, is very much with us as we approach Bishopsgate along the route of Holborn Viaduct. If you elect to travel on the top of an omnibus, you will find that Newgate Street and Cheapside show, in turn and on each side, a scintillating kaleidoscope of light and colour. Rambles are all very well in their way; but, under some circumstances, Mr. Gladstone's dictum was a right one; the top of an omnibus is a wonderful point of view. So we will go on a 'bus to the Mansion House, and ramble afterwards. First comes St. Paul's, its imposing dome rising majestically in ponderous blackness through its surrounding greenery; then the gloomy walls of grim Newgate prison; next, the pale, ghost-like spire of St. Mary-le-Bow, shining over its blackened base and the many-coloured street vista below, and, finally, the great civic buildings of the City proper, forming in the sunlight, a sort of white-and-golden circle, a central focusing point of colour and energy, whence diverge, like so many wheel-spokes, all the great business thoroughfares. The stranger, set down here for the first time, generally completely loses his bearings, and even the practised Londoner sometimes finds himself at a loss. (In a "London particular" he may even find himself in a very Inferno.) But the cool inner courtyard of the Royal Exchange, sought as a refuge, will speedily restore his disordered faculties, and give him time to get out his pocket-map. Here, let into the inner wall of the colonnade, are modern paintings of scenes in the history of London by eminent artists, among which the contrasted pictures of the two great queens (respectively by Ernest Crofts and R. W. Macbeth) carry out something of the feeling suggested by the gold-lettered pediment. Elizabeth, on a spirited charger, golden-haired and in picturesque sixteenth century dress, opens Sir Thomas Gresham's earlier building; Victoria, a slim girlish figure, standing between the "great Duke" and Prince Albert, inaugurates the later.

Round about the "Exchange" precincts, several sensible, sober, and practical-looking gentlemen sit, casually, on stone chairs; Mr. Peabody is on one side, Sir Rowland Hill, the penny postage reformer, is on the other. So far as I have seen, they are the only people in this crowded ant-heap who have any leisure for sitting down! Opposite the Royal Exchange, at No. 15 Cornhill, is a little shop of old time-Birch and Birch-painted in green and red. It is a very unassuming little confectioner's shop, and its tiny, abridged shop-front with the narrow panes of glass has certainly an antique look. But not unassuming are the civic banquets which this firm is often called upon to supply. The churches in the narrow street of Cornhill come upon the pedestrian, if, indeed, they come upon him at all, as surprises. Of St. Michael's nothing can be seen from the street but its tower and richly-carved modern doorway fixed between two plate-glass shop-fronts. The doorway has projecting heads and a relief of St. Michael weighing souls; a business-like proceeding, I may remark, that well befits the City. Further on, comes St. Peter-upon-Cornhill, the body of the church completely masked by shops, and only the tower to be seen over the roofs from the further side of the street. Most of these City churches are open at mid-day, and the stranger is usually free to walk round and see what he will, without let or hindrance, ignored by the sextoness or pew-opener, who is generally a superior old lady in black silk, attached to the church some thirty or forty years, and almost as much a part of it as its furniture. Church caretakers' lives must be healthier than one would imagine, for they seem, as a race, given to longevity. Visitors are rarely encouraged in London churches. The charwomen employed in scrubbing the aisles seem to regard intruders as unnecessary nuisances. "Church shut for to-day," one cried triumphantly when she saw me coming. It is interesting to note that, when Thackeray edited the Cornhill Magazine, his editorial window looked out upon this church of St. Peter. Now, Bishopsgate Street turns down out of Cornhill to the left, and spacious banks, built in varying degrees of splendour, line the thoroughfare.

Close by, in Threadneedle Street, was the old "South Sea House," noted for the famous "Bubble" of 1720, that ruined so many thousands. E. M. Ward's picture of the wild excitement caused by the "Bubble" in the neighbouring Change Alley, is well known. In Bishopsgate Street, almost opposite Crosby Hall, is the splendid "National and Provincial Bank," unique in sumptuousness, its large hall lined with polished granite columns in the Byzantine-Romanesque style-a style, one would think, more ecclesiastical than financial. If they had dug this sort of place out of old Pompeii, what would the antiquaries have called it? No statues of Plutus or of Mercury would have helped them to their finding! Alas! in our foggy climate, we dare not indulge ourselves with sculptured Lares and Penates; and we must needs content ourselves with those few square-toed, frock-coated celebrities whose statues, of gigantic size, confront us at our chief partings of the roads. They have, certainly, gathered funereal trappings galore in their time; their grime and blackness deceive even the wary London sparrows, who build their nests fearlessly about the giants' heads and shoulders.

To return to Bishopsgate Street: Crosby Hall, the ancient medi?val palace and modern restaurant, to which I have before alluded, is, though much repaired and repainted, still dignified; in the interior of the restaurant all details are carefully studied, even to the antique china stands for glasses, and the old-fashioned spotted cambric dresses of the serving-maids.

Close by Crosby Hall is the turning into Great St. Helen's; indeed, the long windows of the hall back on to the square of that name. This curious old convent church, set in its little secluded enclosure, has been called "the Westminster Abbey of the City." It is certainly rich in historical tombs and monuments. Originally founded in the 13th century as the "Priory of St. Helen's for Nuns of the Benedictine Order," its accessories have, like those of St. Bartholomew the Great, been long removed and built over, and its cloisters exist no more. Yet what remains of it is full of interest. It is comparatively very unvisited. The last time I was there, I noticed one depressed American, "doing" the tombs sadly. I felt for him, for though it was only 3 o'clock on an October day, it was much too dark to read or see, and he had evidently lost himself among the monuments. The sextoness, who was apparently engaged in the careful brushing of her black silk dress in the vestry, was much too superior to notice him. St. Helen's is a dark church at any time; on this occasion a "London particular" was also impending, and even the gold letters on Sir Thomas Gresham's massive tomb scarcely showed in the fading light. But it was a picturesque scene, despite the sad lack of "glory on the walls." The old knights and ladies, motionless on their narrow beds, glimmered in ghostly fashion, silent witnesses of the flight of the centuries. The quaint, stiff effigies, clad in ruff and farthingale,-while they have knelt there, how many generations, in the turbulent world outside, have been born and died? Bancroft's unwieldy tomb is gone from its old place; else you might well have imagined the shade of the eccentric philanthropist stealing from it by night, pressing back its careful hinges, and fumbling for the bread and wine that he had ordered by will to be placed near by for his awakening. You mistook, in the dim light, Sir John Spencer's kneeling heiress-daughter for a guardian angel, and you were awed by the still, calm medi?valism of the altar-tomb of the Crosbys.... It was all so vague and so misty that the mind really seemed to participate in the general fog, and I remember gazing vaguely on the words, "Julius Caesar,"-inscribed, in enormous letters, on a sumptuous altar-tomb,-feeling that I fervently sympathised with the royal lady who, when shown the magic name, is said to have remarked na?vely:

"But I always thought that Julius Caesar was buried in Rome!"

It is surely very unfair for individuals to perpetrate post-mortem puzzles of the kind! For this "Julius Caesar," (who, by-the-way, gained his false honours by dropping his surname) was merely a Judge and a Master of the Rolls of Elizabeth's day, and, evidently, as shown by his tomb, designed by himself, what is called "a crank" also. When I had got over the "Julius Caesar" deception, I sympathised duly with the large family of "John Robinson, alderman," whose children form a long kneeling procession behind him; and still more did I mourn for those unhappy nuns who, poor things, were immured in the darkness behind "the Nuns' Grate," or "hagioscope"; their scant peepholes so unkindly devised that they could only see the altar, and not the congregation! These "Black Nuns" of St. Helen's must, nevertheless, one thinks, have been often but naughty, giggling school-girls, despite their show of conventual discipline. Perhaps, as Chaucer would have us believe, such discipline was but lax in England in the middle ages. Be that as it may, we find, at one time, no less authorities than the Dean and Chapter of St. Paul's admonishing them thus:

"Also we enjoyne you, that all daunsyng and reveling be utterly forborne among you, except at Christmasse, and other honest tymys of recreacyone, among yourselfe usyd, in absence of seculars in alle wyse."

Of the two aisles that form the church, the "Nuns' Aisle" is that to the left as you enter, and the steps to their destroyed cloister (now blocked up) open out of it. The little garden plot outside the church is neatly kept, and on my last visit I noticed some gardeners putting in a plentiful supply of bulbs for spring blooming. Doubtless, the "Black Nuns" enjoyed among their other "recreacyones," a lovely and a well-ordered convent garden outside their cloister; "cherry trees" are specially mentioned in St. Helen's register; and, as we know, the London of that day grew many luscious fruits.

Farther down Bishopsgate Street, is the tiny church of St. Ethelburga, uninteresting as regards its interior, but one of the oldest existing churches in London, and certainly the smallest. It escaped the ravages of the Great Fire, and history mentions it as early as 1366. I passed it three times without noticing it, for its little spirelet rises but slightly above the roofs of the intervening shops, and its tiny doorway, labelled itself like a small shop, is easily overlooked between two projecting windows. (The smallness of the place can be imagined from the fact that, only a few doors from it, no one can be found to direct you to it.) The verger lives in a very picturesque and overhanging slum-alley close by; though his abode suggests Fagin, he is, nevertheless, an amiable and obliging gentleman.

Just east of Bishopsgate is Houndsditch (its somewhat unpleasantly suggestive name commemorating the ancient City moat), with, near by, the Jewish quarter of St. Mary Axe, "Rag Fair," and Petticoat Lane (now Middlesex Street), noted, like Brick Lane, Spitalfields, for its Sunday morning markets. Why is the Jewish quarter so invariably concerned with old clothes? As the rhyme says:

"Jews of St. Mary Axe, of jobs so wary

That for old clothes they'd even axe St. Mary."

Close by Houndsditch is Bevis Marks (Bury's Marks), now descended from its ancient glories; it used to contain the City mansion, "fair courts and garden plots," of the Abbots of Bury St. Edmunds, but now principally recalls Dickens's unsavoury characters, Miss Sally Brass and her brother Sampson (in The Old Curiosity Shop). Here, once again, Dickens gets thoroughly the strange, semi-human spirit of London slums and by-ways; it is in such places that his genius attains its highest flights. That he was always, too, very careful as regarded his details, is shown in a letter on this subject to his friend Forster. He spent (he says), a whole morning in Bevis Marks, selecting:

"the office window, with its threadbare green curtain all awry; its sill just above the two steps which lead from the side-walk to the office door, and so close on the footway that the passenger who takes the wall brushes the dim glass with his elbow."

It seems, however, almost too invidious to select special rambles. For, the whole of this heart of the city,-except only for certain well-defined "infernos" of modern industry and ugliness, such as the great Liverpool-Street terminus, must be deeply interesting to every Londoner and every Englishman. Even in comparatively dull streets, lined with warehouses and offices, there will always be some little oasis to rest and refresh the wanderer. Suppose that, instead of going up Cornhill, you take another wheel-spoke from the Mansion-House; say Lombard-Street, the home par excellence of the bankers. This street is solid and stately, as you would expect; the very name has a moneyed ring about it! The derivation of the name, by-the-way, is curious; it comes from Lombard bankers who appear to have settled here at an early date; the street bore their name in the reign of Edward II. The square tower, crowned by an octagonal spire, that rises on the north side of Lombard Street, is that of the church of St. Edmund the King and Martyr, in which was made poor Addison's not too happy marriage with the Dowager Countess of Warwick and Holland. Still continuing east, past Gracechurch Street, we come to Fenchurch Street, a thoroughfare that runs parallel with the busy mart of Eastcheap, famed in Shakespeare, and possibly no less dirty and noisy than it was in Dame Quickly's time. Out of Fenchurch Street opens Mincing Lane, a name that commemorates the "minchens" or nuns of St. Helen's; that convent owned a great deal of property about here. The Clothworkers' Hall, close by, is reached through an iron gate; its garden, or court, is formed by the ancient churchyard of All Hallows, Staining, a church destroyed, all but its tower, by the Great Fire, and not rebuilt. The tower of All Hallows, a stranded fragment of antiquity, forms the centre piece of the garden court, where its effect is most curious and striking.

The narrow old streets that lead north out of Cheapside, the "Chepe" of the middle ages, with their quaint old names, afford many pleasant rambles. In Wood Street, the old plane-tree, still standing, recalls Wordsworth's poem. Milk Street leads by the old church of St. Mary Aldermanbury, with the statue of Shakespeare in its little churchyard, to the still visible bastions of London Wall, and along the street of that name, to Cripplegate. The church of St. Giles, Cripplegate, is interesting; its churchyard, too, is a green and favoured spot. A street of warehouses near it was burned down quite recently with terrible loss, and the church itself was threatened, but fortunately escaped; but the streets, now rebuilt, look, thanks to the City's wonderful recuperative powers, as solid and as flourishing as ever. The noisy thoroughfare of Fore Street, lined with warehouses and foundries, is built upon the ancient line of wall, which also appears, black against sunflowers, asters, and greenery, in St. Giles's churchyard and rectory garden. This part of the City wall is probably of Edward IV.'s time. Portions of the old Roman wall have indeed been discovered here and there in the City; a large fragment of it was, for instance, laid bare at the building of the new departments of the General Post Office in 1891. But the oldest fragments of wall existing near Cripplegate are, though black, grimy, and mouldering, probably Norman or Saxon. Roman relics that have been discovered in the City are on view, some at the Guildhall, others in the British Museum; the most interesting of them all, however, is still in situ, being the large fragment called "London Stone," built into St. Swithin's Church opposite the Cannon Street Terminus; supposed to be a "milliarium," or milestone, and possibly, like the golden milestone in the Roman Forum, "a central mark whence the great Roman roads radiated all over England."

The street called "London Wall" testifies to the care of the City for its ancient monuments. The ruins of the old fortifications are carefully built up, embanked, and made picturesque by a narrow strip of greenery that was once the churchyard of St. Alphage over the way. They are railed in from injury, and a memorial tablet is affixed. The dwellers in the district still, however, seem densely ignorant as to its meaning. I lately asked several youthful inhabitants, engaged in the fascinating pavement game of "hop-scotch," what they supposed the place was. They could not answer. The School Board, if rumour speaks truly, is surely doing well to include the history of London in its curriculum.

The street of London Wall has the distinction of possessing the very ugliest church in the metropolis, that of St. Alphage. It has, indeed, the one merit of being so small as easily to escape notice; though hardly its ancient foundation, or the interesting monument inside it to Lord Mayor Sir Rowland Hayward's two wives and sixteen "happy children," redeem it from utter dreariness.

But we must now desist from our rambles, though there is yet much to see; night is falling; that mysterious night that brings such strange contrast to the City streets; the wild, fitful fever of their long day is ended, and they are left to silence. The busy throng of workers hurries homeward; soon, in the highways scarcely a belated footfall resounds, while in the byways, by day so crowded, there reigns a calm as of the sea at rest; like the sea's, too, is that faint, unceasing tremor of the great City, the City that never sleeps. To quote the poet of "Cockaigne":

"Temples of Mammon are voiceless again-

Lonely policemen inherit Mark Lane-

Silent is Lothbury-quiet Cornhill-

Babel of Commerce, thine echoes are still.

"Westward the stream of humanity glides;-

'Buses are proud of their dozen insides;

Put up thy shutters, grim Care, for to-day,

Mirth and the lamplighter hurry this way."

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