« PreviousContinue »
The latter is now extremely rare, and is consequently highly valued by collectors.* After the regatta was over, Ranelagh was splendidly illuminated: the band, led by Giardini, and consisting of two hundred and forty musicians, was considered the finest that had yet been listened to in England; and, at the conclusion of the concert, there was a magnificent supper and ball. George the Fourth, when Prince of Wales, was a constant frequenter of Ranelagh, and under his auspices it continued for some years to be a formidable rival of Vauxhall.
The principal cause of the downfall of Ranelagh appears to have been the levelling effect produced on society by the French Revolution. The price of admission to Ranelagh had always been extremely small, and yet as long as dress continued to be a distinctive mark of good birth, the tradesman in his sober apparel never dreamed of mingling with the swords and bag-wigs, the hoops and satin trains, of his superiors in rank, even at so public à place of amusement as Ranelagh. But, as we have already mentioned, these in vidious distinctions were fortunately swept away by the effect of the French Revolution : costume ceased to be any longer the distinction of a class ; places of public amusements became open to all ranks of the community; and, accordingly, Ranelagh (whose principal fascination appears to have been its fashionable exclusiveness) having lost its charm in the eyes of
* Faulkner’s “ Description of Chelsea,” vol. ii. p. 305.
the upper, and being little adapted to the tastes of the middle classes, grew to be gradually forsaken by both. One of the last entertainments which took place at Ranelagh, appears to have been a magnificent ball given by the Knights of the Bath, at their Installation in 1803. Two years afterwards, Ranelagh, with its vast rotunda and its gay temples, was razed to the ground.
BOROUGH OF SOUTHWARK.—THE MINT.- QUEEN'S BENCH PRISON. –
CELEBRATED PERSONS CONFINED THERE.
-BANKSIDE.—CLINK STREET. —PARIS GARDEN.-BEAR
-GLOBE THEATRE.—THE STEWS. -WINCHESTER HOUSE.-CHURCH
OF ST. MARY OVERY.
BATTLE BRIDGE STAIRS.-ROTHERHITHE.
The borough of Southwark comprises the parishes of St. George, St. Thomas, St. Saviour, St. John Horsley-down, and St. Olave. Being situated in a different county, it continued to be long independent of the city of London: nor was it till the reign of Edward the Sixth that it was formally annexed to the City, and placed under the jurisdiction of the Lord Mayor, by the title of Bridge Ward Without. The name is said to be derived from the Saxon word Southverke, or south-work, probably from some fort, or military works, which anciently stood here.
The parish church of St. George the Martyr, Southwark, was erected by John Price between the years 1733 and 1736. The old church, on whose site it stands, appears to have been of great antiquity; inasmuch as, in 1122, we find Thomas of Arderne conferring it upon the monks of the neighbouring Abbey of Bermondsey. In the church-yard, under the east window of the
old edifice, was interred the infamous Edmund Bonner, Bishop of London, who breathed his last in the neighbouring prison of the Marshalsea, where he had been incarcerated for nearly ten years.
In order to avoid any disturbance on the part of the populace, by whom his name was held in abhorrence, it was thought necessary to bury him at midnight, with the utmost secrecy. In St. George's church, we find the celebrated George Monk, Duke of Albemarle, married to his dirty and imperious mistress, Anne Clarges; and here also were interred, the indefatigable student, John Rushworth, author of the “Historical Collections ;" Nahum Tate, the associate of Brady in the metrical version of the Psalms of David ; and Edward Cocker, the famous arithmetician, who died in 1677.
Immediately opposite to St. George's church, stood the splendid mansion of Charles Brandon, Duke of Suffolk, the brother-in-law and magnificent favourite of Henry the Eighth. After his death, in 1545, it became the property of King Henry, who established a Royal Mint on a part of the property, from whence the present Mint Street derives its name. The Mint long continued to be a place of sanctuary for fraudulent and insolvent debtors, who, forming a villanous colony within its precincts, set their creditors completely at defiance. This grievance at length became so great, that, after having been more than once brought under the notice of Parliament, it was found necessary, in the reign of George the Second, to obtain an Act of Parliament to annul its absurd privileges. Gay, in his “ Beggar's Opera,” has celebrated the Mint as the resort of his light-hearted miscreants; and Pope has immortalized it as affording an asylum for decayed poets. In his “ Epistle to Arbuthnot,” he writes :
No place is sacred, not the church is free,
Happy to catch me just at dinner-time.
If want provoked, or madness made them print,
I waged no war with Bedlam or the Mint. It was in the Mint that the unfortunate poet, Nahum Tate, sought for refuge from his creditors, and here, in extreme poverty, he breathed his last on the 12th of August 1715.
The name and site of Suffolk Place are still preserved in Suffolk Street and Suffolk Court.
Near the east end of the Borough Road stands the Queen's Bench Prison, a place of great antiquity and of considerable historical interest. Here it was that Henry Prince of Wales—the future victor of Agincourt, was committed by the Lord Chief Justice, Sir William Gascoyne, for insulting, and, it is even said, striking him, on the Bench. Many other persons of some celebrity have been confined at different periods in this prison. Among these may be named Thomas Dekker, the poet, whose distresses and imprudence led to his being more than once an inmate within its walls. According