Page images
[merged small][ocr errors]

may be mentioned John Leland, the antiquary, and Sir Anthony Denny, the well-known statesman in the reign of Henry the Eighth, both of whom were amongst its first scholars. Here also were educated the great antiquary, William Camden; the author of "Paradise Lost ;" the gossiping Secretary of the Admiralty, Samuel Pepys; the learned Richard Cumberland, Bishop of Peterborough ; John Strype, the antiquary; the great Duke of Marlborough; the pious Robert Nelson, author of "Fasts and Festivals;" Edmund Halley, the astronomer and mathematician; and the munificent Alured Clarke, Dean of Exeter. St. Paul's School having been burnt down in the great Fire of London, it was shortly afterwards rebuilt by the Mercers' Company, in whom, by the decree of the founder, is perpetually vested the care of the funds, as well as the government of the school. Dr. Colet was once asked his reasons for having selected a company of merchants and shopkeepers to be the custodians of his noble charity. "There is no absolute certainty," he replied, “in human affairs; but, for my part, I have found less corruption in such a body of citizens, than in any other order or body of mankind." The present school was erected in 1823.

On the south side of St. Paul's Cathedral, a narrow street, called Paul's Chain,* leads us into

* Paul's Chain derives its name from a chain which was formerly drawn across the road, to prevent carriages from passing and repassing during the performance of divine service in the cathedral.

Knightrider Street, so called, it is said, from the Knights usually riding this way from the Tower Royal, near Blackfriars, to the tournaments at Smithfield. On the site of No. 5, in this street, lived Thomas Linacre, the celebrated philologist, and physician to Henry the Seventh, who died in 1524, and was buried in St. Paul's Cathedral. In Little Knightrider Street lived Ralph Thoresby, the antiquary.

Close by, on the east side of St. Benet's Hill, is the Heralds' College, a venerable foundation, but which was first formed into a corporate body by Richard the Third, who conferred upon them the stately mansion in Cold Harbour, of which we have already given a notice.* Having been arbitrarily driven from this mansion by Henry the Seventh, they remained for some time without a fixed abode, till Queen Mary established them on the site of their present college; "to the end," says the grant, "that the said Kings-at-arms, heralds, and pursuivants-at-arms, and their successors, might at their liking dwell together, and at meet times congregate, speak, confer, and agree among themselves, for the good government of their faculty, and that their records may be more safely kept."

The house in which Queen Mary established them,-which stood on the site of the present Heralds' College,—had been long the London residence of the Stanleys, Earls of Derby. Here its * See ante, vol. i. p. 36.

founder, Thomas the first Earl, who married the mother of King Henry the Seventh, lived and died; and here Edward, the third Earl, kept up that magnificence which has been chronicled by Stow and Holinshed, and which led Camden to remark, that "with Edward Earl of Derby's death, the glory of hospitality seemed to fall asleep." In 1552, Derby House was exchanged by this nobleman with Edward the Sixth for certain lands adjoining his Park at Knowsley, in Lancashire; and on the 18th July 1555, Queen Mary conferred it on the heralds. The old mansion having been burnt down in 1666, the present sombre and venerable-looking edifice was erected shortly afterwards, principally at the expense of the officers of the College. The armorial bearings of the Stanleys may still be seen on the south side of the quadrangle.

Fronting Heralds' College is a passage leading to Doctors' Commons, so called from its having been originally a college where the law was propounded or taught; the word Commons being added from its members living in community together, as in other collegiate establishments. The building, which is of brick, is of considerable size, but we are not aware that any historical interest attaches itself either to the edifice or to the site on which it stands.

Close to Doctors' Commons stands the church of St. Bennet, or rather St. Benedict, one of the numerous churches rebuilt by Sir Christopher Wren

after the great fire, in 1666. The only interest which attaches itself to this church, is the circumstance of the great architect, Inigo Jones, having been interred under its roof. He was buried in the chancel of the old church, where a monument was erected to his memory, upon the north wall, which was destroyed by the Fire. Here also lies interred William Oldys, the author of "The British Librarian."

Retracing our steps to St. Paul's Churchyard, we find ourselves on Ludgate Hill, the site of Lud Gate, one of the ancient entrances into the city of London. It was rebuilt by the victorious Barons in the reign of King John, and again in 1586. "It was in my memory," says Pennant, "a wretched prison for debtors: it commenced what was called a free prison, in 1373, but soon lost that privilege. It was enlarged, and had the addition of a chapel, by Sir Stephen Forster, on a very romantic occasion. He himself had been confined there, and, while begging at the grate, was accosted by a rich widow, who asked him what sum would purchase his liberty. She paid it down, took him into her service, and afterwards married him. In the chapel was an inscription in honour of him and Agnes, his wife, dated 1454, the year in which he enjoyed the honour of being Lord Mayor of the city." Anciently there was to be seen, affixed to the wall of Lud Gate Prison, a copper-plate, on which were engraved the following doggerel lines:-

Devout souls, that pass this way,
For Stephen Forster, late Mayor, heartily pray,
And Dame Agnes, his spouse, to God consecrate,
That of pity this house made for Londoners in Ludgate;
So that, for lodging and water, prisoners here nought pay,
As their keepers shall answer at dreadful doom's-day.

It was Lud Gate that gave the final check to the ill-advised insurrection of Sir Thomas Wyat. Finding the gates closed against him, he retreated with the few followers who still remained true to him, and was shortly afterwards arrested near the Temple Gate. The gate was taken down in November, 1760.

Not many years have elapsed, since the sign of the Belle Sauvage,-representing a large bell with a wild man standing beside it, was a conspicuous object on Ludgate Hill. The old hostelry,-perhaps one of the oldest in London,-was burnt down in the great Fire: it was rebuilt, however, and still retains its ancient name. It was on a bench, opposite to this tavern, that Sir Thomas Wyat, on finding the city gates shut against him, is said to have seated himself in great despondency in order to meditate on the step most advisable for him to take in his altered fortunes. Stow conjectures that the name of the Belle Sauvage was derived from one Isabella Savage, a former possessor of the house. There can be little question, however, that the correct definition is that given in the "Spectator," where it is traced to a romantic story of a beautiful woman who had been discovered



« PreviousContinue »