Of Schooles and other houses of learning


Centre for Metropolitan History



C. L. Kingsford (editor)

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'Of Schooles and other houses of learning', A Survey of London, by John Stow: Reprinted from the text of 1603 (1908), pp. 71-76. URL: http://british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=60022 Date accessed: 19 April 2014. Add to my bookshelf


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Of Schooles and other houses of learning.

Famous Schooles of philosophie by priuiledge in London.; Solenme meetings and disputing of schollers Logically and Demonstratinely.; Grammar schooles scholers: their exercises.

In the raigne of king Stephen, and of Henry the second, saith Fitzstephen, there were in London, three principall Churches: which had famous Schooles, either by priuiledge and auncient dignitie, or by fauour of some perticular persons, as of Doctors which were accounted notable & renowmed for knowledge in Philosophie. And there were other inferior schooles also. Vpon Festiuall dayes the Maisters made solemne meetings in the Churches, where their Scholers disputed Logically and demon stratiuely: some bringing Enthimems, other perfect Sillogismes: some disputed for shew, others to trace out the truth: cunning Sophisters were thought braue Scholers, when they flowed with wordes: Others used fallac(i)es: Rethoritians spake aptly to perswade, observing the precepts of Art, and omitting nothing that might serue their purpose: the boyes of diuerse Schooles did cap or pot verses, and contended of the principles of Grammar: there were some which on the other side with Epigrams and rymes, nipping & quipping their fellowes, and the faults of others, though suppressing their names, moued thereby much laughter among their Auditors: hitherto Fitzstephen: for Schooles and Schollers, and for their exercises in the Citie, in his dayes, sithence the which time, as to me it seemeth, by the increase of Colledges and Students in the Uniuersities of Oxford and Cambridge, the frequenting of schooles and exercises of schollers in the Citie as had beene accustomed hath much decreased.

Mathew Paris.; Euery Cathedral Church had his school for poore scholler-Ingulphus.; Free schoole at Westminster, in the raigne of Edward the Confessor.

The three principall Churches, which had these famous Schooles by priuiledges, must needes be the Cathedrall Church of Saint Paule for one, seeing that by a generall Councell holden in the yeare of Christ 1176. at Rome, in the Patriarchie of Laterane, it was decreed, that euerie Cathedrall Church should haue his Schoolemaster to teach poore Schollers, and others as had beene accustomed, and that no man should take any reward for licence to teach. The second as most auncient may seeme to haue beene the Monasterie of S. Peters at Westminster, wherof Ingulphus, Abbot of Crowland in the raigne of William the Conquerour, writeth thus: I Ingulphus an humble seruant of God, borne of English parents, in the most beautifull Citie of London, for to attaine to learning, was first put to Westminster, and after to studie at Oxford, &c. And writing in praise of Queene Edgitha, wife to Edwarde the Confessor: I haue seene, saith hee, often when being but a boy, I came to see my father dwelling in the Kinges Court, and often comming from Schoole, when I met her, she would oppose me, touching my learning, and lesson, and falling from Grammar to Logicke, wherin she had some knowledge, she would subtilly conclude an Argument with mee, and by her handmaiden giue mee three or foure peeces of money, and sende mee vnto the Palace where I shoulde receyue some victuals, and then bee dismissed.

The third Schoole, seemeth to haue beene in the Monasterie of S. Sauiour at Bermondsey in Southwarke: for other Priories, as of Saint Iohn by Smithfield, Saint Bartholomew in Smithfield, S. Marie Ouerie in Southwarke, and that of the Holie Trinitie by Aldgate, were all of later foundation, and the Friaries Colledges, and Hospitals in this Citie, were raysed since them in the raignes of Henry the 3. Edward the 1. 2. and 3. &c. All which houses had their schooles, though not so famous as these first named.

priories aliens suppressed.; Henry the sixt appoynted Grammar schooles.; Grammar schools appointed by parliament.; Pauls schoole new builded.; Free schools in Christs Hospital.; Free Schoole founded by the Marchant Taylors.; Schollers disputed in S. Bartilmews churchyard.

But touching Schooles more lately aduanced in this Citie, I reade that king Henrie the fift hauing suppressed the Priories aliens whereof some were about London, namely one Hospitall, called Our Ladie of Rounciuall by Charing Crosse: one other Hospitall in Oldborne: one other without Cripplegate: and the fourth without Aldersgate, besides other that are now worne out of memorie, and whereof there is no monument remaining more then Rounciuall conuerted to a brotherhoode, which continued till the raigne of Henrie the 8. or Edward the 6. this I say, and other their schools being broken vp and ceased: king Henrie the sixt in the 24. of his raigne, by patent appointed, that there should bee in London, Grammar schooles, besides S. Paules, at S. Martins Le Grand, S. Marie Le Bow in Cheap, S. Dunstons in the west and S. Anthonies. And in the next yeare, to wit, 1394, (fn. 1) the said king ordained by Parliament that foure other Grammer schooles should be erected, to wit, in the parishes of Saint Andrew in Oldborne, Alhallowes the great in Thames streete, S. Peters vpon Cornehill, and in the Hospitall of S. Thomas of Acons in west Cheape, since the which time as diuers schooles by supressing of religious houses, whereof they were members, in the raigne of Henrie the 8. haue beene decayed, so againe haue some others beene newly erected, and founded for them: as namely Paules schoole, in place of an old ruined house, was builded in most ample maner, and largely indowed in the yeare 1512. by Iohn Collet Doctor of Diuinitie Deane of Paules, for 153. poore mens children: for which there was ordayned a Maister, Surmaister, or Usher, and a Chaplaine. Againe in the yeare 1553. after the erection of Christs Hospitall in the late dissolued house of the Gray Friers, a great number of poore children being taken in, a Schoole was also ordayned there, at the Citizens charges. Also in the yere 1561 the Marchant Taylors of London founded one notable free Grammar Schoole, in the Parish of S. Laurence Poultney by Candleweeke street, Richard Hils late maister of that companie, hauing giuen 500. I. towarde the purchase of an house, called the Mannor of the Rose, sometime the Duke of Buckinghams, wherein the Schoole is kept. As for the meeting of the Schoolemaisters, on festiuall dayes, at festiuall Churches, and the disputing of their Schollers Logically, &c., whereof I have before spoken, the same was long since discontinued: But the arguing of the Schoole boyes about the principles of Grammer, hath beene continued euen till our time: for I my selfe in my youth haue yearely seene on the Eve of S. Bartholomew the Apostle, the schollers of diuers Grammer schooles repayre vnto the Churchyard of S. Bartholomew, the Priorie in Smithfield, where vpon a banke boorded about vnder a tree, some one Scholler hath stepped vp, and there hath apposed and answered, till he were by some better scholler ouercome and put downe: and then the ouercommer taking the place, did like as the first: and in the end the best apposers and answerers had rewards, which I obserued not but it made both good Schoolemaisters, and also good Schollers, diligently against such times to prepare themselues for the obtayning of this Garland. I remember there repayred to these exercises amongst others the Maisters and Schollers of the free Schooles of S. Paules in London: of Saint Peters at Westminster: of Saint Thomas Acons Hospitall: and of Saint Anthonies Hospitall: whereof the last named commonly presented the best schollers, and had the prize in those dayes.

Disputation of Schollers in Christs Hospitall.; Pigeons of paules.; Anthonie pigges.

This Priorie of S. Bartholomew, being surrendered to Henrie the 8. those disputations of schollers in that place surceased. And was againe, onely for a year or twaine, in the raigne of Edward the 6. reuiued in the Cloyster of Christs Hospitall, where the best Schollers, then still of Saint Anthonies schoole, were rewarded with bowes and arrowes of siluer, giuen to them by sir Martin Bowes, Goldsmith. Neuerthelesse, howsoeuer the encouragement fayled, the schollers of Paules, meeting with them of S. Anthonies, would call them Anthonie pigs, and they againe would call the other pigeons of Paules, because many pigions were bred in Paules Church, and Saint Anthonie was alwayes figured with a pigge following him: and mindfull of the former vsage, did for a long season disorderly in the open streete prouoke one another with Salue tu quoque, placet tibi mecum disputare, placet? and so proceeding from this to questions in Grammar they vsually fall from wordes, to blowes, with their Satchels full of bookes, many times in great heaps that they troubled the streets, and passengers: so that finally they were restrained with the decay of Saint Anthonies schoole. Out of this schoole haue sprong diuerse famous persons, whereof although time hath buried the names of many, yet in mine owne remembrance may be numbered these following. Sir Thomas Moore knight Lord Chancelor of England, Doctor Nicholas Heath sometime Bishop of Rochester, after of Worcester and lastly Archbishop of Yorke, and Lord Chancelor of England, Doctor Iohn Whitgift, Bishop of Worcester, and after Archbishop of Canterburie, &c.

Lecture in Chirurgerie.

Of later time, in the yeare of Christ 1582. there was founded a publike lecture in Chirurgerie to be read in the Colledge of Phisitions in Knightriders streete, to begin in the yeare 1584. on the sixt of May and so to be continued for euer twice euery weeke, on Wednesday, and Fryday, by the honourable Baron, Iohn lord Lombley, and the learned Richard Caldwell, Doctor in Phisicke: the Reader whereof to be Richard Forster Doctor of Phisicke, during his life.

Mathematical lecture read.

Furthermore about the same time there was also begunne a Mathematicall Lecture, to bee read in a faire olde Chappell, builded by Simon Eayre, within the Leaden Hall: whereof a learned Citizen borne, named Thomas Hood was the first Reader. But this Chappell and other partes of that Hall being imployed for stowage of goodes taken out of a great Spanish Caracke, the said Lecture ceased any more to be read, and was then in the yeare 1588. read in the house of Maister Thomas Smith in Grasse streete, &c.

Sir Thomas Gresham. lectures to bee read in London.; Names of the 7-first lecturers.

Last of al, sir Thomas Gresham knight, Agent to the Queens Highnesse, by his last will and testament made in the yeare 1579. gaue the Royall Exchaunge, and all the buildings thereunto appertayning, that is to say, the one moytie to the Maior and communaltie of London and their successors, vpon trust that they performe as shall be declared: and the other moitie to the Mercers in like confidence. The Maior and Communaltie are to find foure to reade Lectures, of Diuinitie, Astronomie, Musicke, and Geometric, within his dwelling house in Bishopsgate streete, and to bestow the summe of 200. pound, to wit, 50. pound the peece, &c. The Mercers likewise are to find three Readers, that is in Ciuill law, Phisicke, and Rethorick, within the same dwelling house, the summe of 150.l. to euerie Reader 50.l. &c. Which gift hath beene since that time confirmed by Parliament, to take effect, and begin after the decease of the Ladie Anne Gresham, which happened in the yeare 1596. and so to continue for euer. Whereupon the Lecturers were accordingly chosen and appointed to haue begun their readings in the Moneth of June, 1597. whose names were Anthonie Wootton for Diuinite, Doctor Mathew Guin for Phisicke, Doctor Henrie Mountlow for the Ciuill law, Doctor Iohn Bull for Musicke, Brerewood (fn. 2) for Astronomie, Henrie Brigges for Geometrie, and Caleb Willis for Rethoricke. These Lectures are read dayly, Sundayes excepted, in the terme times, by euery one vpon his day, in the morning betwixt nine and ten, in Latine: in the after noone betwixt two and three, in English, saue that D. Bull is dispensed with to reade the Musicke lecture in English onely vpon two seuerall dayes, Thursday and Saterday in the after noones, betwixt 3. and 4. of the clocke.


1 For 1394 <Stow>, read 1447
2 Brerewood] Beerewood, 1603