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founded by John Hatfield and others." In Henry the Sixth's reign there were four chaplains serving in it, and the oblations and other profits, as appears from Newcourt's “Repertorium," appear to have been sufficiently valuable to occasion a controversy between the bridge-master and the rector of St. Magnus' Church; this was settled by an agreement, covenanting that the rector should be paid xxd. annually, at Michaelmas, for ever, and that all other profits should be for the use of the chapel and the bridge. It is most probable that all regular service in this Chapel was suspended about the era of the Reformation ; yet we are informed in Smith's “ Ancient Topography of London,” that “ long within legal memory the service was performed every Sabbath and Saint's Day." For upwards of a century, however, it is known to have been occupied as a shop and warehouse, and almost every external feature of its sacred appropriation had been obliterated.
It should be remarked, that this Chapel was principally built upon the great central pier, or sterling, which projected about fifty feet eastward, further into the stream than any of the others. The west front, which alone stood upon the bridge, was forty feet in height, and thirty in width. It was supported by four buttresses, crowned with crocketted pinnacles, and finished by a low gable, surmounted by a cross. In the middle compartment, which was about twice the width of the others, was a pointed window, separated by a mullion into two lights, and having a quatrefoil in the apex; in each side compartment was a pointed
The interior was divided into two 'stories, viz. an upper chapel and a crypt; these were each about sixty feet in length, terminating at the east end in a semi-hexagon. There were thirteen windows in each story, viz. five on each side, and one in each division eastward; all these, which were handsomely pointed, were similar in form and arrangement, every window consisting of two ranges of arched divisions, surmounted by a lozenge. In the chapel, in front of each intervening pier, was a lofty shaft, carried up to the roof, which was strongly framed of timber, but had probably been originally vaulted like the crypt. In the latter, which was about twenty feet high, was a groined roof, supported by stone ribs, which sprung from a continued series of clustered columns in front of each pier. From each cluster seven ribs branched, and at every intersection was a sculptured boss, of a varied design'; among them were cherubs, a group of four episcopal heads, and a crowned head, probably Richard Cour de Lion, grouped with four masks; near the entrance was a bason, or piscina, for holy water. *
* The above description has been drawn up from Vertue's prints, whose sketches and measurements were taken in the year 1744. At that time, bowever, many dilapidations had been made, and his delineations must be regarded as shewing the Chapel as it originally was, rather than the state of it in bis own time. In the perspective view of the Crypt, he has introduced the figures of those well known antiquaries, Dr. Ducarel, and Samuel Gale, Esq.; the latter of whom was one of the revivers of the Society of Antiquaries in 1717, and their first treasurer.
Vertuo's engravings were devised under Mr. Gale's
This Chapel was pulled down in the autumn of 1760, but the workmen had much difficulty in demolishing it, the cement being of extreme tenacity, and the stones strongly clamped together with iron. " An antique marble font, curiously engraved, and several ancient coins," &c. were found in it at that period.* The upper chapel was converted into apartments; but, the crypt had been used as a paper warehouse many years: and though the floor was always from eight to ten feet under the surface at high-water mark, yet the masonry was so good that no water ever penetrated. From the crypt was a winding staircase, descending to the river; and "in front of the bridge pier was a square fish-pond, formed in the sterling, into which the fish were carried by the tide, and there detained by a wire grating placed over it."+
patronage, and both himself and Dr. Ducarel assisted him in his measurements: the former is standing on the left, holding a plan of the Chapel, and the latter is stooping on one knee, with a rule. Vide Nichols's "Literary Anecdotes," vol. iv, p. 552; and vol. vi. p. 402.
When Vertue made his sketches, the Chapel-house was tenanted by a haberdasher, named Baldwin, who was born there; and when, at the age of seventy-one, he had been ordered to go to Chiselhurst for a change of air, he found that he could not sleep in the country for want of the noise he had been always accustomed to when living on the bridge! Ibid. vol. vi. p. 402, note.
• Vide "London Chronicle," of Aug. 14th, 1760.
+ Thomson's "Chronicles," p. 516. The author adds, " An ancient servant of London Bridge, now verging upon his hundredth summer, well remembers to have gone down through the chapel to fish in this pond."
Independently of this structure, the most remarkable building upon London Bridge was the famous Nonsuch House, which, from the arms over the arch-way, appears to have been of the Elizabethan age, and, from other circumstances, to have been erected here a short time prior to the year 1585. This singular and very curious building was constructed in Holland, entirely of wood, and being brought over, was put together with wooden pegs only, not a single nail being used in the whole fabric. It stood to the north of the drawbridge, over the seventh arch from the Southwark end of the Bridge, overhanging the river on each side. At each of its corners was a square tower, crowned with a Kremlin spire, and in the centre a rich, elaborately-carved gable. It was four stories in height; the whole was richly ornamented with carved panels, and gilded and jasper-coloured columns. In the front was a profusion of transom casement windows, with carved. wooden galleries before them. Over the arch-way, which was the width of the drawbridge, were placed the arms of St. George, the city of London, and those of Elizabeth, viz. France, and England, quarterly, supported by the Lion and Dragon.*
Since the alterations in the early part of the late reign, the history of this fabric presents but little interest, it being chiefly confined to the frequent necessity of repairs, and other measures adapted to its preservation. The passage or water-way beneath the
Vide Thomson's “ Chronicles,” pp. 344-347, in which the description is interestingly illustrated by wood-cuts.
arches, or locks, as they were technically called (and with much propriety, as the free course of the tides was always obstructed by the sterlings), was progressively deteriorated by those reparations; and the stabibility of the Bridge itself, for any extended term of years, became, in the opinion of several experienced engineers, extremely questionable. The subject, at length, engaged the attention of the House of Cominons ;
and “ the Select Committee upon the improvement of the Port of London," in their third Report, strenuously recommended the erection of a new Bridge, for which several plans and designs were given, in an attached volume of engravings. Nothing, however, in furtherance of that recommendation was done for nearly twenty years,—the city, in which the conservancy of the Bridge, and the management of the Bridge House Estates, had for centuries been vested, being disinclined to engage in such an undertaking. At length, in 1820, in consequence of several petitions from craft and barge-owners, lightermen, &c. representing the dangerous state of the navigation, and the insufficiency of the water-way for the increased traffic on the Thames, a special committee of the House of Commons was appointed on the subject; and, after the examination of many witnesses, and a vast mass of evidence, it was again, in a Report, dated May 25th, 1821, strongly recommended to erect a new Bridge.*
* From the examination of R. F. Newman, Esq. Comptroller, of the Bridge · House Estates, it appeared, that London Bridge produced an income of £30,503, 75. 8d., of which the rental of,