LITERATURE, AMUSEMENT, AND INSTRUCTION.
|Vol. XVII. No. 473.]
||SATURDAY, JANUARY 29, 1831.
THE STRAND, ANCIENT AND MODERN.
(Inscription copied from the original of the annexed Engraving.)
In its ancient state, anno 1547.
With the Strand Cross, Convent Garden, &c.
With the Procession of Edward VI.
And its Neighbourhood, anno 1700.
Looking from Arundel House, northwards,
With the Maypole and Garland.
We have often, in our antiquarian notices of the Metropolis, touched upon the olden topography of COVENT GARDEN and THE STRAND, and illustrated our pages with some portion of its history. Thus, in vol. xii. p. 40, the "regular subscriber" will find, an Engraving, and descriptive notes of Old Covent Garden: in vol. xiii. p. 122, he will find a second notice of the same spot; and in the same volume, p. 241, is a whole-page Engraving of the original Somerset House, with ample details of its foundation, the neighbouring district, &c. The reader should turn to these pages, and re-read them in connexion with the few particulars we have now to add.
To aid the first Engraving, with the Strand Cross and Covent Garden, we may quote that—
"Most of the ground occupied by the above parish was, in ancient times (anno 1222), an extensive garden, belonging to the Abbot and Convent of Westminster, and thence called the Convent Garden, from which the present appellation is an evident corruption. This estate, with other contiguous lands of the Abbots, which were originally named the Elms, and afterwards Seven Acres, and Long Acre, having reverted to the town at the Dissolution, was given by Edward the Sixth to his ill-fated uncle, the Duke of Somerset; after whose attainder, as appears from the original Minutes of the Privy Council, there was a patent granted in March, 1552, to John Russell, Earl of Bedford, and Lord Privy Seal, per Bill. Dom. Regis 'of the gift of the Covent, or Convent Garden, lying in the parish of St. Martin in the Fields, near Charing Cross, with seven acres, called Long Acre, of the yearly value of 6l. 6s. 8d., parcel of the possessions of the late Duke of Somerset, to have to him and his heirs, reserving a tenure to the King's Majesty in socage, and not in capite.' Shortly after, the Earl of Bedford erected a mansion, principally of wood, for his town residence, near the bottom of what is now Southampton Street; 1 and that building, which obtained the name of Bedford House, remained till the year 1704: it was inclosed by a brick wall, and had a large garden extending northward, nearly to the site of the present market-place."
The Engraving scarcely requires further explanation. The Royal Procession to the Convent in the distance, with the young King, Edward VI. beneath a canopy, has a picturesque, if not imposing effect. By the way, a Correspondent, who appears to delight in the quaint sublime, tells us that in digging the foundation of the Market just erected in Covent Garden, a quantity of human bones were dug from a rich black mould, at the depth of five feet from the surface, opposite James-street. "The Irish labourers threw them forth, and the sun again gleamed upon the probable particles of holy nuns, till the heavy feet of costermongers, &c. scattered them, and carried the crumbling relics sticking to their muddy heels, throughout the town. This northern portion of the market might probably have been the Convent burial-ground."
A general descriptive outline of the Strand will assist the second view. Malcolm tells us that "the Strand once consisted of palaces for the Monarch, Archbishop, Bishops, a Royal Hospital, and mansions of the nobility. Yet a complaint occurs in the rolls of parliament of the high road between the Temple and the village of Charing being so deep and miry as to be almost impassable." Mr. Brayley, in his interesting Londiniana, gives the following:—
"In ancient times the STRAND was an open space, extending from Temple Bar to the village of Charing, sloping down to the river, and intersected by several streams from the neighbouring high grounds, which in this direction emptied themselves into the Thames. In after ages, when the residence of the court at Westminster had become more frequent, and the Parliament was held there, the Strand, being the road thence from the City, became the site of several magnificent mansions belonging to the nobility and clergy, most of which were situated on the south side, and had large gardens extending to the water's edge.
"The first of these mansions from Temple Bar, was Exeter House, an inn belonging to the Bishops of Exeter, afterwards called Paget House, and Leicester House, and finally Essex House, from being the residence of the favourite of Queen Elizabeth; under the latter appellation it has given name to the street, now built upon the spot where it formerly stood. Between that mansion and the present Milford Lane, was a Chapel, dedicated to the Holy Ghost, called St. Spirit, 'vpon what occasion founded,' says Stow, 'I have not read.' 2 To the west of this chapel was an Inn, belonging to the Bishop of Bath, called Hampton Place, and afterwards Arundel House, standing on the site of the present Arundel Street.—Further to the westward was an Inn of Chancery, called Chester's Inn, and Strand Inn, near which the Bishop of Landaff had also an Inn. At a short distance from the latter place was the Strand Bridge; 'and vnder it,' says Stow, 'a lane or way down to the landing-place on the bank of the Thames,' 3 the site of which is still marked by Strand Lane. Not far from the bridge stood the Bishops of Chester's Inn ('commonly called Lichfield and Couentrie.' 4), and adjoining it the Bishop of Worcester's Inn, both of which were pulled down by the Protector Somerset, in 1549, when he erected Somerset House.