'"THOSE who, like Dr. Johnson, love to walk in Fleet Street, not because it is the direct road to the Bank, but as a field for the “ contemplative man’s recreation,” cannot but have observed a row of dull-looking brick houses on the east side of Chancery Lane, extending northwards from Old Serjeants’ Inn, that are now doomed to destruction. They are ugly enough to look at, and though they doubtless contain good honest work and, maybe, some fine carving of panel and staircase, there is but httle to regret in their destruction; and yet we feel that it will snap asunder yet i another link with a past, little removed indeed from us in point of date, but so widely different from our own times in fashion, manners and feeling, and moreover so pregnant with the seeds of that future which has become our present that the study of its features must ever be a source of interest to us.

We must not look for “ massive deeds, and great,” and far less for “ ornaments of rh5nne ” in the builders or inhabitants of those eighteenth-century houses. They were a matter-of-fact, thrifty, honest, hardworking race, who, to quote an old

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Epitaph, “next to treason hated debt; ” whose hatred of the Pope and the Pretender was strangely mixed up with love for the security of their own wares; whose favourite rehgious precept was to be “ dihgent in business ; ” whose church-going was part of their general respectabihty ; and whose higher acts of devotion were often undertaken chiefly for the sake of obtaining the certificate required by the Test Act that they had “ received the sacrament of the Lords Supper in their Parish Church,” thus proving themselves sound Protestants, and loyal subjects to King George, fit to be elected Common-Councilmen, and to hold other offices in the State.

But, commonplace as these men appear, they did good work in their day. They lived too near the times of Civil anarchy not to place a perhaps extravagant value upon peace and security, and were apt to sacrifice too much for their attainment ; but, like the bricks in their homely walls, they were made of good materials, and sturdily did their duty in the places to which they were appointed, and played a very definite •part in the making of England.

And let us not imagine that only obscure individuals hved in these houses. On the contrary. Chancery Lane a hundred and fifty years ago still contained, as in the days of Stow, “ sundry fair lodgings for gentlemen all of brick and timber besides V divers fair houses and large gardens, and was a place of great resort occasioned by its vicinity to the Rolls, the Six Clerks Office, Serjeants’ Inn, Symond’s Inn and the other Inns of Court and Chancery.” It is met with under the name of New Street as early as the reign of Henry III; but we read in Stow that it soon became so foul and miry that no man could pass, and John Briton, custbs of London, had it barred up by setting up two staples with one bar cross the lane to hinder any harm

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RYTr''

ENTRANCE GATE, ROLLS YARD

Plate XI IV

That might happen in passing that way. This bar was kept up for divers years by the Bishop of Chichester, whose house was there (and still gives the name to Chichester rents), but on its being presented as a nuisance on an inquisition made of the annoyances of London, the Bishop granted that what was an annoyance should be taken away, and so the sheriff was commanded to do it.

The name New Street was soon dropped in favour of Chancellor’s (which ultimately became Chancery) Lane.

As fortunately the lane is not now “ so miry that no-man can pass,” we will walk a little way up it and pass under the stone archway on the right. This leads to Rolls Yard, to which it was till recently the only entrance, but lately some houses have been removed, and a road carried through to Fetter Lane giving a good view of the beautiful tower of the Public Record Office. We must not however be tempted to enter that building now, lest the sight of illuminated manuscripts, of Domesday Book, of the treaty signed on the Field of the Cloth

Of Gold with its pendent golden seal, and of other historic treasures, should so dazzle our eyes with the lustre of the ages of chivalry as to leave us blind to the sombre lights and shades of the homely eighteenth century.

Turning to the left, we see on our right a large brick building known as the Rolls House, where the Master of the Rolls resided within living memory, and till recent years held his court; and which, until the erection of the present Record Office on part of them, boasted of very large and beautiful gardens. It was erected about 1717 from the design of Colin Campbell on the site of a former house described by Strype as a large but very old and decayed house much wanting new building. Sir William Grant, Master of the RoUs, is said to have lived here for sixteen years without ever going upstairs. When in 1817 he gave up the house to his successor, he said: “This is my sitting-room ; my library and bedroom are beyond, and I am told there are some good rooms upstairs, but I never saw them.”

This house was officially considered to be the home of the rolls and records of the Court of Chancery; but most of them were kept in the adjoining chapel, where prior to their removal to the present Record Office they were stacked in presses ranged along the walls, and even, as the number increased, under the seats of the pews and beneath the altar.

The original chapel was erected in 1233 by Henry III as part of a house for the maintenance of converted Jews, but on the number of them decreasing upon the expulsion of the Jews from England, Edward III in 1377 annexed the house and chapel to the recently-erected office of Keeper of the Rolls.

The chapel contains several monuments of great interest. Perhaps the most striking is that of Dr. John Young, Master of the Rolls, who died in 1516. It is attributed to Torrigiano,

YOUNG’S MONUMENT, ROLLS CHAPEL

The sculptor of the tomb of Henry VII and his Queen, Elizabeth of York, in Westminster Abbey. The fate of this sculptor is very sad. Having made a statue of the Virgin and Child, he was so much enraged at the smallness of the sum offered for it that he broke the figures into fragments. For this the Inquisition condemned him to die, and in order to avoid the execution of the sentence he starved himself to death.

The expression of the features of the recumbent effigy of Dr. Young is most placid, and seems to say, “After life’s fitful fever he sleeps well; ’’ and there are several points about the monument of great interest to the antiquary : but the general tone of the chapel, with its high square pews for the greater dignitaries, is altogether of a later date, and brings to our mind more readily those eighteenth-century worthies of Chancery Lane than pre-reformation clerics ; and as we open the large Prayer Book still remaining in the Master of the Rolls’ pew, the Collect for “ our most gracious Sovereign Lord King George, their Royal Highnesses Frederick Prince of Wales, the Princess of Wales, the Dukes and the rest of the Royal Family ’’ seems hardly out of date.

Sitting in those square pews, we almost fancy we hear the eloquence of Atterbury, or are listening to the celebrated sermon on “Human Nature’’ preached here by Butler the author of the “Analogy of Religion’’; and on looking up at the window richly dight with the Arms of James the First, through which the low afternoon sun is streaming and lighting up the unicorn (which on the union of the English and Scottish Crowns had taken the place of the red dragon of Wales as one of the supporters of the Royal Arms) we cannot help wondering whether a similar gleam of sunshine lighting up the heraldry had suggested to Burnet the idea of taking for the text of his 5th of

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November sermon the words, “ Save me from the lion’s mouth; Thou hast heard me from the horns of the unicorns ” ; and whether Charles the Second was correct in considering the words as an affront levelled at him through his coat of arms.

Be that as it may,—the sermon cost Burnet his office of preacher at the Rolls; and afterwards, when under WiUiam the Third he was Bishop of Salisbury, and wrote the “ History of his own Times,” his narrative may not have been the less

Pungent for this circumstance.....

But we must not stay longer in the comfortably-cushioned pew. We only came to have a last look at some old-fashioned houses that are being carted away; not to linger over all the associations connected with the Rolls Chapel and its preachers.

[This paper was written and illustrated, some sixteen years since, upon viewing the commencement of those demolitions which have made the Rolls buildings things of the past. As it portrays the actual thoughts and feelings, as written down at the time, to which the scene gave rise, it is thought it may contain an element of interest which would be lacking in a merely retrospective survey. It has not hitherto been printed.]

G. R. F.

_ •/

FiW.

THE ROLLS CHAPEL

/NE of the last courts on the north-east end of Fleet Street, Racquet Court forms a cul de sac, and for that reason, perhaps, it is not so well known as some of its neighbouring passages or alleys. Although there appear to be no historical associations of much interest connected with Racquet Court, and most of its buildings are of the painfully prosaic type of modern commercial architecture, it certainly possesses an interest of its own which should attract those who care for the relics of old Fleet Street. In this court are stiU to be found some beautiful old houses erected in the early eighteenth, or possibly late seventeenth century, when the district was still a residential one. There are but few houses left in this neighbourhood to remind us of the appearance of Fleet Street and its adjacent courts in the eighteenth century, and these few are so rapidly disappearing, it is a pity that these fine old houses are not more generally known. Owing to the preposterously high value of land in the City of London, and especially in the Fleet Street quarter, it is unlikely that these houses will be spared many more years. The expiration of leases is often responsible for the demolition, not only of single houses, but of whole streets and districts in London. Frequently a residential quarter has become a purely commercial one, and buildings originally erected for dwelling houses are found to be inconvenient, and sometimes dangerous for trade purposes. The landowners of such

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Property have generally determined long in advance what they propose to do when their leases fall in. So that when the archaeologist is distressed to find some favourite bit of antiquity in the hands of the house-breakers, it is often too late to utter any cry of protest.

R. I.

RACQUET COURT

' I 'OOK’S COURT is a narrow lane that runs in the shape of a right angle from Cursitor Street, Chancery Lane, to Furnival Street, Holbom, and is thus situated in the very centre of the legal quarter. The court is now mainly given over to printers, law stationers and law copyists. It formerly, however, boasted of some hterary associations. For many years the AtheruBum newspaper was printed in Took’s Court, until the removal of it's printing offices to Bream’s Buildings. About the year 1814 Richard Brinsley Sheridan, the dramatist, occupied for some days a spunging house in Took’s Court, and here he wrote, says Cunningham, his piteous letter to Whitbread, which is printed in Thomas Moore’s Life of Sheridan.

One of the most important printing establishments in London is situated in Took’s Court, namely the Chiswick Press of Messrs. Whittingham & Co. Some of the most beautiful specimens of typography have been produced at this justly celebrated Press, but its early history is so closely identified with the publishing firm of WiUiam Pickering, that it is difficult to speak of one without mentioning the other. Pickering’s establishment was, in its early years, situated in Chancery Lane, so that he was a close neighbour of Charles Whittingham. He was not only very careful in the selection of the books that he published, but he was equally particular as to their production. Most of his publications were printed by the Chiswick Press, and it was

His custom to discuss every detail regarding the size, type and paper of each book that he issued with his printer, generally in the garden summer-house of his country residence. In this way he produced the Aldine Poets, the remarkable series of liturgical books, and the many reprints of English classics so - widely associated with his name. Pickering, and his hfe-long friend, Whittingham, were buried side by side in Kensal Green Cemetery.

Many of the houses in Took’s Court are of modern date, but there still remain some old ones, of which the best specimens are given in our picture. These interesting buildings are decorated with graceful classical pilasters, and handsomely carved door canopies, apparently of the early eighteenth century period.

R. I.

F

TOOK’S COURT

ñêà÷àòü dle 12.1