LVIII.—CROSBY HALL (re-erected).
Ground landlord, leaseholders, etc
The ground landlord is the London County Council, in whom the
fabric of the Hall is vested. The present leaseholders are The University
and City Association of London, Limited.
General description and historical notes.
In 1908 the Chartered Bank of India, Australia and China
bought, for the purpose of building new offices, the site in Bishopsgate
on which stood the Great Hall of Crosby Place, the mansion built by Sir
John Crosby in 1466. Great efforts were made to preserve the building
on its City site, but in spite of a wide response from many quarters, these
efforts were unavailing. As the result of various negotiations with the object
of preserving the fabric of the Hall, the Bank of India, at considerable
expense, caused the architectural features to be taken down, numbered and
stored, and later handed over the stones, timber, etc., of the building to
the London County Council. The Council in its turn entered into an
agreement with the University and City Association of London, Limited,
by which the Association agreed to re-erect the Hall on a site in Danvers
Street, on ground to be leased to them by the Council. The various parts
of the fabric had been carefully numbered and stored after their removal
from Bishopsgate, and the whole was re-erected and incorporated in an
otherwise new building, as far as possible in facsimile of the original Hall,
in 1909–10. The work was completed in the summer of 1910.
To appreciate the precise amount of original work which the present
building contains, it is necessary to state the condition of the Hall in
Bishopsgate. The 15th-century oak roof was practically intact, and was
divided into eight bays by the principal arched trusses, which rested on the
old carved stone corbels. A further compartment to the south, over the
original gallery and screen which had disappeared, had been modernised.
The main roof had never extended so far, and whatever the ancient treatment of this southern roof had been, it was at the time of demolition quite
obscured. The south wall, too, was modern, and an archway into Crosby
Square had been formed under the timbers of the old gallery, some of which
were found in situ, but very much perished. There was a double two-light
window on the west side of the gallery, which was, however, much restored.
The east wall of the gallery was modern.
The north wall of the building also dated from recent times, so that
beside the roof itself, the original structure was confined to the lateral walls
(west and east) and to the brick vaulted undercroft below. The east wall
possessed a pair of two-light windows to each by of the roof, but these
were only complete on the inside, having been altogether defaced, and in
some cases hacked away where it adjoined new buildings, on the exterior.
None of the original ashlar facing was in a condition to be re-used. In this
wall there existed the 15th-century fireplace.
The west wall possessed four pairs of two-light windows in its
southern bays, also the great oriel or bay window with its stone vault,
which occupied two more bays; and two pairs of blind windows on that
part of the wall which abutted on the north-west wing. Below these was
the original door into this wing, and outside the double "postern" door,
from which the wing was entered from the courtyard. The mullions and
transoms of the oriel had been to a certain extent restored, but otherwise
the old work was in the main complete, excepting the ashlar facing, which
had all been replaced by Bath or Caen stone.
In re-building, brickwork was used to replace the rubble core of the
old walls, and this was faced with Portland stone to replace the modern
ashlar, which was much decayed. The original stone windows, doors and
fireplace, and corbels for roof were carefully re-set in their proper positions
and the external faces of the windows in the east wall, which, as noted above,
had been obliterated, were re-instated. Wherever repairs were required
these were carried out with portions of the original Reigate stone, which
were found here and there in the building. The oriel window was put
together, and the stone vault, with its central boss bearing the helm and
crest of Sir John Crosby, was re-fitted with the original pieces. The walls
were plastered inside as before, the south wall being left temporarily covered
above the gallery, to communicate with the proposed additional buildings,
as it did no doubt of old with the southern wing of Crosby Place. A new
double window on the east side of the gallery, and a new door beneath it
on the west, were inserted to replace these missing features, for the original
existence of which there is good evidence.
The whole of the internal part of the oak roof, which is a unique
piece of 15th-century design, was re-fitted after it had been cleansed of the
many coats of modern paint. It was fixed to new constructional timbers,
concealed above, which carry the new tiled roof. This has necessitated
a slight accentuation of the pitch of the roof. The only departure
from the original Hall internally is the use of an oak floor; it was formerly
of Purbeck stone, but this had long ago disappeared.
The old louvre or opening in the roof is in its proper place, but
the lantern was missing and has been replaced by the present design in
oak. The dormer windows, too, are merely a conjectural restoration of
the lights to the little room over the gallery. The gallery itself is, of course,
new, but it is in the proper position and the ceiling over it has been carried
out in the old manner. It now awaits a restoration of the original screens.
The substructure below the floor line does not pretend to copy the
old vault, which, being of brick, could not be removed. The height of the
floor above the ground is not very different from that which must have
obtained at first in Bishopsgate, but as the ground had risen considerably
in modern times, a stone terrace has been put against the Hall in Chelsea
to restore the proportions with which we were familiarised in the City.
It is intended to complete the quadrangle with buildings of which the reerected Hall will form the eastern range, as it did originally in Crosby Place.
A full account of the buildings in Bishopsgate, together with a Bibliography of
works on Crosby Hall, will be found in the Survey Committee's Monograph on
Crosby Place, 1908.
In the Council's ms. collection are:—
General view of Hall (photograph).
Oriel window (exterior) (photograph).
(fn. 1) Roof (photograph).
(fn. 1) Detail of roof (photograph).
(fn. 1) Fireplace (photograph).
Postern door (photograph).
Two small details of roof (photograph).