CHAPTER VIII - THE MONASTIC BUILDINGS
In the Monastic Precints. A Sketch by Sir T. G. Jackson, Bt., in 1858. (See pp. 50, 143.)
The Cloister used as a Stable, 1903. (See p. 138.)
Rahere, we may assume, set out on his plan the position and
arrangement of the conventual buildings as well as those of the
church, but there is no evidence that any of them were built during
his lifetime (pl. LXVIII).
The usual practice seems to have been, as pointed out by J. T.
Micklethwaite, to build as much of the quire as was necessary for the
services of the convent, then to proceed with the monastic buildings
which were essential to the life of the monastery, and afterwards to
complete the church. At any rate this course seems to have been
followed at St. Bartholomew's, because the architecture shows that
about sixty or seventy years must have elapsed between the completion of the conventual quire and the building of the nave; and also
it shows that the cloister, chapter-house and dorter were commenced
at the same time as the conventual quire was completed. Whether
the frater, infirmary, guest-house, and other offices were built at the
same time there is no evidence to show, but judging from the time
before the nave was built they probably were so.
The arrangement of the monastic buildings, which were on the south
side of the church, was on the usual Augustinian plan which resembled
that of the Benedictines. The cloister was on the south side of the
nave with a western processional door, as at Westminster and elsewhere; the chapter-house was on the east side of the cloister, separated
from the south end of the transept by the slype. The dorter ran south
from the chapter-house extending into the close with an undercroft
beneath, the south end of which was probably used as the warming
house; the frater was on the south side of the cloister, with a misericord at its eastern end and a library over. The great hall, or guesthouse, we may assume was as usual on the west side of the cloister,
with the cellarer's building below, combined with which was probably,
at first, the prior's lodgings; new lodgings were built in the sixteenth
century by Prior Bolton at the south-east of the quire. The farmery,
or infirmary, was somewhere east of the dorter, as at Westminster,
but the actual site is not determinable at present with exactness.
The woodhouse and bakery are shown by the older plans to have
been near the farmery. The brewhouse was in Long Lane outside the
walls, where the Manchester Hotel now stands. The garner is shown
on Agas' map in the north-east corner of the Fair ground; the buryingground of the canons was, as usual, on the south-east side of the
church; that of the parishioners was on the north side.
The laundry was at the west end of the Fair ground, with the
stables adjoining: Prior Bolton's own stables were, by tradition,
on the east of the prior's house and built by him.
The present bounds of the parish were, with a small exception
at the south-east corner, the bounds of the monastery; the wall on
the north being of stone, that on the east of brick, where they did not
consist of dwelling-houses, as they did on the western and southern
The main entrance to the monastic precincts was in the south-west
corner in what is now Little Britain. The entrance to the Fair ground
was on the north side of the church in Smithfield, as now; Agas'
map also shows a small gate to the north-west into Long Lane.
In the year 1616 a survey was made for Henry Lord Holland of
his possessions in the parish. Those houses which had been originally
part of the church or of the monastic buildings are called in the survey
the Capital Mansion House. The surveyor's description of them is
very exact and it is evident that during the seventy years that had
elapsed since the suppression, the walls of all these houses had remained
unaltered, although they had been internally adapted for dwellinghouses. The survey is therefore a valuable record of the position
of these houses and the purpose for which they were originally built.
For this reason the 'particular' given of each house is here transcribed
and can be followed on the plans given on pages 77 and 199.
Unfortunately the frater and the guest-house do not appear in the
survey as they had already been sold.
The Cloister (claustrum) was on the south side of the nave. It
is now destroyed, excepting the east walk, of which three bays have
been restored and six bays await restoration.
The entrance from the church is by the original twelfth-century
doorway, in which now hang once more the pre-suppression doors of
the fifteenth century. This doorway has shafts with scalloped caps
and a base which indicates a date not earlier than 1160. It leads
directly into the three bays of the east walk which were recovered
and restored in 1905 (pl. LXIX).
That this east walk was built in the third quarter of the twelfth
century is confirmed by a portion of the plinth remaining at the base
of the east wall, and by the drawing of the doorway with trefoil
cusping made by Sir Thomas Jackson in 1858 (if our assumption is
correct that this represents the entrance from the cloister to the
slype). (fn. 1)
That this east walk was rebuilt early in the fifteenth century, as
stated by the pope, (fn. 2) there is ample evidence remaining in the vaulting
shafts, springers and ribs, and the work was probably done about the
year 1405, as was the other work mentioned by the pope (pl. LXX);
but there are indications that the rebuilding was in contemplation at
an earlier date, for in the year 1387 John Royston, who—as already
stated—bequeathed twenty pounds to be expended about the high
altar, also bequeathed ten pounds to the fabric of the cloister. (fn. 3)
The north walk was probably not built until the nave and aisles
were completed early in the thirteenth century. Archer (fn. 4) certainly
in 1851 speaks of a remnant then existing beneath the 'Coach and
Horses' public-house (fn. 5) containing 'the remains of a clustered column
belonging to the transition period of the twelfth century', but as he
also refers to a window of Early English character in that part of
the cloister, and as the western processional doorway into the church
was also Early English, it is highly improbable that this walk was
built before the nave wall along which it ran; we must therefore
conclude that it was of the later date.
The walk of the cloister next the church was not included in the
Sunday monastic procession, and was sometimes enclosed at both
ends to allow of study; there is evidence of this being so here, at any
rate during the occupation of the Dominicans (1555–1559), because
a brick wall was built at the east end of the walk in which still remains
the stone jamb of a Tudor door. (fn. 6)
Of the south walk, Carter, when writing in 1809, (fn. 7) said: 'the avenue
on the south side of the cloister, lately destroyed (which I unfortunately
neglected to sketch in 1791) if my recollection does not fail me, had
arches and corbels corresponding to those in the chapter-house'.
The work in the chapter-house here referred to was probably the
thirteenth-century mural arcade, fragments of which were found on
the site in 1912, and are now preserved in the cloister. Carter also
described this south walk as 'an avenue of much rich work'. From
these statements the work would seem to have dated from the
thirteenth century, but Hardwick's plan of 1791 at the Society of
Antiquaries has a semicircular dotted line at the west end of this
south walk, such as he was accustomed to use to indicate the groined
vaults of the twelfth-century undercroft of the dorter. If his plan
in this instance can be relied upon, this suggests that the south walk
was of that date and points to the refectory (or frater) having been
built at the same time, which for other reasons is highly probable.
It may be that the building itself dated from the latter part of the
twelfth century and that the arches and corbels referred to by Carter
were a thirteenth-century insertion, marking the site of the lavatory
used by the canons for washing their hands before entering the frater.
A lavatory is found in this position at Chester, and elsewhere.
Of the west walk there are no records other than the approximate
plan indicated by the arrangement of the existing houses and that of
the west processional door at its northern end which led into the church.
The internal dimensions of the cloister walks were 12 ft. 6 in. in
width and about 108 ft. in length, as regards the north and south
walks; and 112 ft. as regards the east and west walks: though
Hardwick's plan of 1791 shows the length a little more in each case.
The length of the north walk is fixed by the position of the western
processional door, the foundations of which remain in the church
path, and which Hardwick's plan shows to have been central with the
west walk of the cloister.
The south walk Hardwick shows of the same length as the north
walk, the length being fixed by an old building at that time standing
at the western end of it. The same building also fixes the south
boundary of the west walk.
The length of the east walk at first presented some difficulty; for
at the southern end of it there is, in the back yard of No. 62 Bartholomew Close, an arch which is not a transverse arch of the cloister vault,
for its height, from the ground to the apex, is only 10 ft. 6 in. instead
of 14 ft. as the arches of the vault; and its internal width is apparently
(for one-half is still embedded in a wall of the house) only 10 ft.
instead of 12 ft. (fn. 8) This arch is therefore an evident insertion. But
on the supposition that the bays of the cloister all measured 12 ft.
6 in. in length, like the bays now in the possession of the church, this
arch came very awkwardly in about the middle of the eighth bay
When, in the year 1912, the chapter-house entrance was exposed
on the east side of the cloister wall, leave was obtained to tunnel
from the base of the south jamb of the arch to the cloister side where
the base of the vaulting shaft on the south side, and the remains of
the other shaft on the north side, were found. By these and the
arched openings on either side of the arch of entrance it was possible
to prove that the width of the three bays of the cloister in front of
the entrance to the chapter-house was less in length by 18 in. each
than the other bays, which, when put on plan, brought the inserted
arch—referred to above—immediately beneath the transverse arch
of the vault between the eighth and ninth bays, instead of in the
middle of the eighth bay. We may therefore assume that this arch was
inserted to carry, as at Westminster, a gate to shut off the east walk, or
to carry the wall of a building projecting over the cloister at this point.
The ninth bay thus occupied the whole of the yard of 62 Bartholomew Close, making the backs of the houses 62–65 Bartholomew Close
conterminous with the south wall of the south cloister walk, and giving
a total length to the east walk of 112 ft. Maitland in 1737, Vetusta
Monumenta in 1784, and Malcolm in 1803, all stated that this east
walk consisted of eight bays only; but Carter, in 1809, said that he
was inclined to think there was a ninth bay to the south, (fn. 9) as has now
been proved to be the case. Hardwick concurred with this and
indicated a ninth bay with dotted lines on his plan, and this was
copied by Wilkinson in Londina Illustrata.
The east wall of the three northern bays of the east cloister walk
was conterminous with the south transept and had no opening, but
the fourth bay before destruction contained the entrance to the slype.
The sketch of what we assume to have been the doorway, referred to
above, was made by Sir Thomas Jackson within the precincts of the
priory in the year 1858. It shows a twelfth-century arch with trefoil
cuspings of the same date as this part of the cloister (fig. 6, p. 130). (fn. 10)
It is difficult to assign any other position for this doorway in work
standing in 1858. There is corroborative evidence of the correctness
of the assumption in the fact that previous to the year 1877, when this
part of the cloister was again made into a stable, it was in the occupation of a timber merchant and portions of timber appear in the sketch. (fn. 11)
The next three bays were occupied with the entrance to the chapterhouse and the windows on either side of the arch of entrance opening
into the vestibule. In the eighth bay was the arched entrance to the
dormitory stair, exposed for a few hours in the rear of the City of
London Union Offices, 61 Bartholomew Close, in the year 1903. (fn. 12)
Hardwick's plan shows a wall about 10 ft. south of the dorter stair
in the undercroft, which may have formed a passage to the infirmary,
as at Kirkstall, but we incline to think that the approach was by
a passage farther to the south (Middlesex Passage), as at Westminster.
As to the roof of the east walk, it is evident that when built in the
twelfth century it had a wooden lean-to, as was customary at that
period, because there is still existing—though now hidden by the
temporary roof over the three northern bays of the east walk—a Norman string on the wall above the north bay in such a position
as to prove this. It is also evident that there was a groined vault
over the portion rebuilt in the early fifteenth century, with bosses
at the intersections, to the beauty of which all the writers testify.
Above the east walk was a gallery, probably added as a scriptorium
at the time of the rebuilding in the fifteenth century; translated it is
thus referred to in Lord Rich's grant to Queen Mary in 1555: (fn. 13)
'All the enclosure or square ambulatory now or late called Le
Cloyster with its appurtenances and the ground soil walls and
buildings of the aforesaid enclosure or ambulatory with their
Appurtenances parcel of the said late priory and all those four
sides of the same enclosure or ambulatory with their appurtenances,
and also all and singular the houses chambers places and erections
with their appurtenances above and beneath the said enclosure
or ambulatory and also a long chamber or corridor with its appurtenances being above the eastern side of the aforesaid enclosure
It is likewise referred to in the re-grant from Queen Elizabeth to
Lord Rich in 1560: (fn. 14) thus:
'All erections chambers and buildings whatsoever erected and
built above the said cloister.'
The reference in Henry VIII's grant to Rich, in 1544, is simply
les Cloysters le Galleries, (fn. 15) which may mean that there was only one
gallery, but at the junction of the north and west walks there was a
chamber or gallery which still existed in 1851, and then formed a floor
of the Coach and Horses public-house (pls. LXXIV–V). It was thus
described by Archer (fn. 16) at that time:
'It has originally been a noble apartment about thirty-four
feet in length and upwards of twenty feet high with an arched
roof, the ends of which being distorted by the pull of the strong
timbers which help to support it . . . the wall is three feet in thickness. . . . A heavy cornice which skirts the spring of the roof belongs
to the style of the end of the fifteenth, or beginning of the sixteenth
century, and some indications of a small door which has been built
seem to refer to about the same period.'
This room may have had some connexion with the guest-house.
At Wenlock there is a large scriptorium in this position, but to what
use this room was put at St. Bartholomew's we have no record.
The cloister garth measured about 83 ft. by 77 ft. It was used
occasionally as a burial-ground, probably for the priors, because in
1851 two stone coffins were discovered by the Messrs. Palmer beneath
their premises (No. 69 Bartholomew Close), which ran east and west
across the middle of the garth. The coffins were about 12 ft. below the
ground level; they measured 6 ft. 6 in., and each contained a skeleton
but in one coffin there were two skulls. (fn. 17)
At the time of the suppression and until Queen Elizabeth's reign
the cloister apparently remained intact, for it was conveyed as a cloister
by Rich to Queen Mary and by Queen Elizabeth to Rich. After the
second suppression in 1559, the cloister was given up to secular
occupation; but there is no direct record of what occurred, because
the property was evidently sold by Rich quite early, no mention
being made of it in the Rental of 1616. But it was probably owned
by Sir Walter Mildmay, who lived in the parish, and with his wife
lies buried in the church, for he addressed a letter on the 6th February
1560–1561 to Sir William Cecil (afterwards Lord Burleigh) dated from
St. Bartholomew's; and although nine years later Lord Burleigh in
his diary says that Sir Walter had his house in Paul's Wharf, still in the
Subsidy Rolls of 1563–1564 Mildmay appears as owner of lands in the
parish assessed at £100, which probably included lands which had been
sold to him by Dr. Bartlett (as will be seen later); and among the
MSS. of the House of Lords mention is made, in the year 1691, of
'the house in the cloister which had formerly belonged to Sir Walter
Mildmay'. We consider that this house in the cloister was the
frater, and that Sir Walter purchased the frater and cloister from
Rich, and was succeeded there by William Neale and later by Sir
Thomas Neale. Further, indirect evidence that Mildmay owned
the cloister is contained in the fact that the present 'Coach and
Horses' public-house was, up to the year 1746—and later—called
the 'Flying Horse Inn' (fn. 18) and the stable-yard the 'Flying Horse
yard'. (fn. 19) Now Mildmay, in the year 1552, had a new coat of arms
granted him consisting of a winged horse on a bend, (fn. 20) and nothing is
more likely than that the public-house should have taken its sign
from the arms of the owner of the property. The name of the inn
was changed before 1755, for in April of that year the vestry resolved
that the parish stocks 'should be fixed in the churchyard by the wall
of the Coach and Horses ale house'. (fn. 21)
We have no other record of the cloister until the year 1739, when
Maitland says (fn. 22) that the east walk was 'reduced to the mean office
of a stable'. In the year 1784 we are told that it served as a stable
to the Black Horse Inn (fn. 23) (which, by the way, was in Long Lane), (fn. 24)
and it may have been so used by Mildmay and Neale.
In the year 1809 Carter calls the east cloister 'a very comfortable
eight stall stable' (fig. 7, p. 130, and pl. LXX b, p. 133). This probably
refers only to the three northern bays, for Knight, writing in 1841, thus
describes the condition of the eight bays, beginning at the southern end: (fn. 25)
'Much of this beautiful part has been lost of late years by the
fall of the roof and part of the wall on one side. Climbing, however,
as well as we can, and on the double or treble row of great barrels
which fill the entire space, we find that on the opposite or eastern
wall are five arches, more or less entire, yet remaining, and one
on the west'. . .
These five arches in the east wall there can be little doubt were those
of the entrance to the slype, of the entrance to the chapter-house,
of the windows on either side of it, and of the entrance to the dorter
Knight's description then continues:
'Further north the space is walled up with an arch. . . . The space
within, extending to the church, which was entered by a fine
Norman arch still existing, includes the remainder of the cloister;
and one can only lament that, as it not only possesses the arches
on both sides but (also) the groined roof, it should be completely
walled up. We had ourselves to break a hole in another part of
the wall to obtain admittance, and then to reclose it. Here the
delicacy and proportion of the style, the fine finish of the groins
and keystones, and the elaborate workmanship of the many curious
devices and historical subjects carved in different parts are alone
visible in their natural combination. Over this part is now built
a house in a line with and joining to the tower of the church.'
Vetusta Monumenta, in 1784, states that 'The key stones are
richly carved with scripture histories, animals, &c.'
Carter (fn. 26) speaks of the bosses as having 'a variety of historic bassorelievo shields and foliage'.
Malcolm (fn. 27) (1802) describes them as 'most delicate and exquisitely
Five bosses are reproduced by Malcolm, but in whose possession
they may now be is not known. They represent: the Legend of
St. Nicholas and the three Children; the Emblems of our Lord's
Passion; the Martyrdom of St. Lawrence; three Fleur-de-lis on
a shield, but what the fifth boss represents is not clear.
Three other bosses are now preserved in the cloister: one—a mermaid with the usual mirror and comb (pl. LXVII (13), p. 129); another,
an angel with a lyre; and another, an uncouth head. These, in the
middle of the nineteenth century, came into the possession of Mr. E. B.
Price, F.S.A., and in the years 1852 and 1854 two were reproduced
in the publications of the Antiquarian Etching Club. (fn. 28) Price's
original drawings of all three are in the Gardner Collection. The three
stones later came into the possession of Mr. Alfred White, F.S.A.,
and were inherited by his son Mr. Paul Thomas White, who, in
the year 1911, presented them to the writer, who restored them to
The vaulting of the east cloister is said to have fallen on the 8th
August 1834, with the upper gallery and part of the wall, but from the
above it would seem that the vault of the three northern bays was
standing in 1841. The house above was destroyed probably in the fire
of 1830, but, whatever the date was when it was rebuilt, it was made
to encroach upon the west wall of the south transept, as already
described. (fn. 29) It was not the first encroachment, for in the year
1726 Thomas Hunt, the publican, was granted leave by the vestry
'to break a window or two out of the vault into the green churchyard', (fn. 30) the closing of which, by the way, gave great trouble at the
restoration of the transept.
The North cloister, after the suppression, suffered as much as the
eastern walk; for it too was used in part as stables and in part as
a blacksmith's smithy; also in part by the public-house already
referred to. The latter was rebuilt in 1856 (fn. 31) and all the remains of
the cloister destroyed. The south end of the west cloister walk was
used as a cowshed, and in 1791 the south cloister was in part used
'as a broker's shop'. (fn. 32)
To return to the east cloister: (fn. 33) the five southernmost bays were
demolished about the year 1886, and the present stables erected
on their site. The cloister walls doubtless still exist below the
ground. The three northern bays were—at some time unknown—filled with earth up to the ground level (about 7 ft.) and continued
to be used as stables until the year 1904. In the year 1900 the
Restoration Committee of the church opened negotiations for the
purchase of the freehold of the site of these three bays. The matter
proved to be very complicated so that possession was not obtained
until Michaelmas 1904, and even then the leasehold interest in the
western portion had to be left to run out until June 1926. (fn. 34)
There being 7 ft. of earth on the floor of the cloister, the horses'
manger was at that time on a level with the crown of the twelfthcentury doorway leading into the church. In 1905 the earth was
excavated, the vaulting restored and tracery inserted in the cloister
windows. The excavation brought to light the twelfth-century door
jambs and the lower portions of two slender shafts attached (measuring
about 2 ft. in height). The capitals of these are still in position;
that on the east side shows the scallop ornament, but that on the west
is much mutilated. The bases also remain, but the one on the east
side only is in good condition with mouldings almost Early English
The round-headed arched doorway had a hood mould, a fragment
of which remains on the west side. A portion of the Norman wall
also remains in the north-east corner with a small portion of the
original floor tiles and about 10 ft. of the Norman plinth. For some
reason the face of the twelfth-century wall in the north-east bay was
not followed in the fifteenth-century rebuilding but a new face was
brought forward some 7½ inches, as is seen in the lower part of the
centre bay of the east wall where the original face remains. The
fifteenth-century rebuilding is well seen in the transverse rib above
the north door and in the shafts with caps and bases from which
the rib springs. There is also a fairly perfect cluster of shafts on
the west side at what was the south-west angle of the north and
Fragments of other shafts and the springers of the vaulting, all
much damaged, also remain and, having been left in the same condition as they were found, they are easily distinguishable from the
restored portions. The only window arch in good condition is the
southern one on the west side, which retains its original boss. The
tracery of the windows is entirely the work of 1905. The wall below
the windows is original and part of the stone bench remains, but the
sills have all disappeared.
The new vaulting corresponds with that of the fifteenth century,
the setting out of which was found on one of the springers in the centre
bay. The portions of the original ribs, found during the excavations,
have been re-used, some being placed in each bay. Five small
original bosses have also been refixed, two in the north bay and three
in the south. The new bosses bear shields emblazoned as follows:
In the north bay the royal arms (King Henry I having granted the
site) and the arms of the diocese.
In the centre bay the arms of the priory surrounded by the emblems
of the four Evangelists; and the arms of the then rector,
the Rev. Sir Borradaile Savory, Baronet.
In the south bay the arms of the City of London.
The new floor tiles correspond with the old portions found by the
north door. There are also other portions in the north-west bay,
at a level 7½ inches below those by the door. The matrix of a brass,
found during the restoration of 1865, and a seventeenth-century
head-stone, the inscription on which is illegible, have been inserted
in the flooring.
The entrance doors were taken down at the suppression in 1539,
and the opening built up with rough fragments of stone. When this
filling was removed in 1905, a wooden lintel was found therein in such
a position as to suggest that a temporary entrance had been formed
in it by the Dominicans in 1555. There was also found a piece of
finely worked stone of Early English date, which has the appearance
of having formed a canopy to a tomb. (fn. 35) It is preserved in the cloister.
The doors at the time of the suppression had been used for the
entrance to the west porch. These were taken down at the restoration of 1864, to make room for a window, and were stored in the
triforium. When it was found, in the year 1905, that they exactly
fitted the cloister door they were once more hung in their original
position (pl. XVIII, p. 10; pl. LXIX, p. 132).
Outside the west wall of the cloister the excavations exposed the
lower portion of the angle buttress at the junction of the north and
east walks, and of the two buttresses between the bays southward.
The site of the remaining bays of the East walk of the cloister was
purchased in 1919 with possession in December 1922, when the
number of bays, now conjectural, will be settled.
The glass case at present in the cloister contains the matrix of the
priory seal used during the occupation of the priory by the Dominicans
in Queen Mary's reign, and a manuscript copy of a book of Spiritual
Exercises written by William Perrin, the prior at that time. There
is also a portion of a leather sandal from the foot of Rahere,
a portion of his wooden coffin, some late twelfth-century carved
stones, and several fifteenth-century bosses from the cloister vaulting.
On the bench against the wall is a twelfth-century stoup or mortar
from the infirmary; an arm of the prior's chair from the chapter-house
dating from the thirteenth century (pl. LXVII (13), p. 129); an incised
grave slab with a French inscription of the fourteenth century, and
other worked stones of different periods found from time to time in
the church during excavations. There is also a badly damaged seventeenth-century almsbox (pl. XXXIIb, p. 26). On the floor is a stone
coffin from the chapter-house believed to be that of Prior Thomas;
also twelfth, thirteenth, and early fifteenth-century fragments from
the same place. These have all been referred to in previous chapters.
In the parish safe are plans (fn. 36) made by the architect in the year
1906, at the suggestion of Sir Borradaile Savory, for building a
dwelling-house over the cloister, the rent of which it was intended
should be applied to the cost of the maintenance of the services of
the church; but, as counsel's opinion was that it was impossible to
separate the rent of a building so situated from the glebe of the
rectory, it was decided, in the meanwhile, only to erect a temporary
roof over the cloister.
When fixing the roof some stones were removed from the wall of
the tower, but they were numbered and stored beneath this temporary roof.
The observations in the Observator of August 21st, 1703, as to the
cloister of St. Bartholomew's being used at that time as 'a market
of lewdness' do not refer to the cloister of the priory (fn. 37) , (fn. 38) .