Billeder på siden

Oxford. This is now the Dining hall of the Weslminster scholars : the Abbot's Kitchen is likewise appropriated to their use.


The Vintner's Company was originally composed of the two bodies denominated Vintinarij ana Tabernarij, the former being the importers and wholesale dealers in wine, and the latter the retailers, who kept taverns and cellars in different parts of the city for selling it in small quantities. “ These vintners," says Stow, “ as well Englishmen as strangers borne, were of old time great Bourdeaux merchants of Gascoyne and French wines ;" and they were hence denominated the “ Merchant Wine-tunners of Gascoyne." We learn from the same authority, that in the reign of Edward III., Gascoigne wines were sold in London, o not above inj pence, and Rhenish wine not above sixe

the gallon." The above sovereign empowered the “Merchant Vintners" to carry on an exclusive importation trade for Wine, from Gascony, in the year 1365; yet it was not till the fifteenth of Henry VI., anno 1437, that “ the successors of those Vintners and Winedrawers, that retailed by the gallons, pottell, quart, and pynte,' were incorporated by the appellation of “the Master, Wardens, Freemen, and Commonalty of the Mystery of Vintners of the City of London." All the freemen of the Company have the privilege of retailing wine without a license. The further privilege was granted to them in the time of Charles I., anno 1637, “ to sell a penny in a quart above the


[subsumed][merged small][merged small][graphic]

rates set, to dress meat, and to sell beer and sugar;" but for this they agreed “to pay his Majesty forty shillings upon every tun of wine retailed or vended.”

VINTNERS' HALL is a respectable brick building. situated on the south side of Upper Thames Street, immediately contiguous to the new road leading to the Southwark Bridge. Upon this spot stood a large mansiun, called Stody Place, or the “manor of the Vintry,” which was given to the Company “with the tenements round about,” by Sir John Stody, or Stodie, who was Lord Mayor in 1357. Here, says Stow, " the Vintners builded for themselves a faire Hall, and also thirteen alms-houses for thirteen poor people.” These were destroyed by the great fire in 1666, after which the present fabric was raised: it forms three sides of a quadrangle and has a dwarf wall, with iron gates and a palisade in front: the gates have stone piers, which are sculptured with grapes and vine leaves. The Hall, occupying the south side, is a spacious and lofty apartment, paved with marble, and neațly wainscotted. Here are many shields of arms of Masters of the Company, and, in different windows, are the Company's arms,* and also those of Charles II. In the same window with the latter, (which is over a recess, on the north side,) is a sun-dial, with a fly upon it, “painted curiously.” In the Court Room

* The Vintners' arms are, sable, a chevron between three tuns argent. These arms were granted by Roger Legh, Clarencieux, in 1447, and confirmed by Thos. Benoilt, Clarencieux, in the 22d of Henry VIII.


are full-length portraits of Charles II., James II., Mary d'Este, Prince George of Denmark, and others, and an excellent head of Benjamin Kenton, Vintner, who was Master of this Company, in 1776, and who died in May, 1800, at the age of eighty-two, having bequeathed nearly £65,000 to different charitable establishments and uses : of this, he left £2,000 to the general fund of the Vintner's Company and £2,500 for the rebuilding, &c. of their alms-houses at Mile end. *

This Company enumerates among its founders, seven kings and queens, and among its members, many Lord Mayors and Sheriffs, commencing with the reign of Henry III. It is governed by a Master, three Wardens, and a Court of twenty-eight Assistants.

After a splendid entertainment given by this Company some years ago, the following jeu d'esprit appeared in a publication of the day :The Court of Aldermen at Vintners' Hall.


Port let me absorp,
Said Alderman Thorp ;
This claret's quite sour,
Said Alderman Flower ;
Port against claret,
Said Alderman Garrett;

* Mr. Kenton was born at the corner of Field Gate in Whitechapel Road, where his mother kept a green-stall. By his industry, and perseverance as pot-boy, waiter, and publican, though with no other education than what be received at a charity-shool, be realised a fortune of more than £100,000

« ForrigeFortsæt »