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London possesses two churches at least of surpassing beauty. One of them, in the North, is the Church of St. Bartholomew the Great; the other, in the south, is the church of St. Mary Overy or Overies, now called St. Saviour's. This church, for some unknown reason, does not attract many English visitors. Americans go there in great numbers. It is so beautiful: it has so many historical associations: that I hope to interest more of our own people, and, if it may be, to increase the attractions of the place to the Americans, by a few pages on its history. These pages are but a sketch, and that a slight sketch, of this history. I have already in another volume ('London,' p. 47) given the legend of the foundation of St. Mary Overies. Two Norman knights, Pont de l'Arche and d'Aunsey, early in the twelfth century, found here a small Religious House, called the House of Our Lady of the Canons, which had been created by Mary the daughter of one Awdry, ferryman. Mary herself was buried in the chapel of her own House, where is now the Lady Chapel of St. Saviour's. The name, St. Mary Overies, which ought to be restored to the Church, seems to mean, not St. Mary of the Ferry, or St. Mary over the River, but St. Mary 'Ofers,' or St. Mary of the Bank or Shore. These two knights founded a new and larger House on the site of Mary Awdry's modest foundation. For reasons now difficult to discover, if they matter to anybody, the monks of the Norman House fell into poverty. In the year 1212, again, they had the additional misfortune to lose these buildings and their Church, which were in great part, if not altogether, destroyed{192} by the great fire of that year. A hundred years later the monks submitted to Edward I. a pitiful statement that the whole of their possessions was insufficient so much as to provide the bare necessities of life without the gifts of the faithful: that their Church was lying in ruins, and had been in that condition for thirty years; that they had been unable to rebuild any of it except the campanile; and that they lived in constant terror of being inundated by the Thames. This shows that they had suffered the Embankment to fall into a neglected state. At the beginning of the fifteenth century, Cardinal Beaufort—Shakespeare's Cardinal Beaufort—contributed largely to the rebuilding of the Church. Another benefactor was Gower the poet, who spent in the Priory the last years of his life, died here, and was buried in the Church. The monument of John Gower stands in the north aisle of the newly built nave. The Religious of the House showed their gratitude to him by promising a Pardon of 1,500 days to anyone who would say a prayer for the soul of the poet.

The position of the Priory, close to the Palace of the Bishop of Winchester, led to the Church becoming the scene of many important historical events. Just as Blackfriars was used for political Functions; just as Wyclyf was tried in St. Paul's Cathedral, so St. Mary Overies was used on occasions when the Bishop of Winchester had to do with the matter in hand. Thus, two great marriages were solemnised in this Church. One was that of Edmund Holland, Earl of Kent, in 1406, with Lucia, daughter of the Lord of Milan. The bride{193} was given away by Henry IV., and her dowry was 100,000 ducats. At her death she left the canons 6,000 crowns for the good of her soul and that of her husband. The other marriage was one of far greater importance. It was that of James the First, King of Scotland, the most pleasing figure in Scottish history, a poet and a scholar, of whom Drummond of Hawthornden wrote that 'of former Kings it might be said that the nation made the Kings, but of this King, that he made the people a nation.' He married in 1424, being then thirty{194} years of age, after a captivity of nineteen years, Joan, or Johanna, daughter of the Earl of Somerset, and niece of Cardinal Beaufort. She was a cousin, therefore, of King Henry IV. The royal pair rode forth to Scotland laden with such gifts of plate and cloth of gold as Scotland had never before seen. They were accompanied by the Cardinal and his brother, the Duke of Exeter. Twelve years later, the King was murdered in the presence of his wife, who was wounded in trying to save him, a sad ending to a marriage of love, and a tragic widowhood to the woman whom her poet had called
The fairest and the freshest younge flower That e'er I saw, methought, before that hour.

In 1539 the House was suppressed, the canons were put{195} out, and the place was given to Sir Anthony Brown, whose son became Viscount Montague and gave his new name to the ancient close of the Monastery. In the following year the Church was made a Parish Church, including the church of Mary Magdalene, which stood beside the Priory Church, as St. Peter-le-Poor stood beside St. Austin, St. Gregory beside St. Paul's, and St. Margaret beside Westminster Abbey Church together with the Parish Church of St. Margaret in the High Street. The nave gradually became ruinous and was taken down in 1838,{196} when a new nave, the memory of which makes the whole Borough shudder when it is mentioned, was put up. Its floor was raised above that of the transepts, and it was treated as a separate building, divided from the transepts by a brick wall. This terrible building has now been taken down and a nave rebuilt after the pattern of the original structure of the fourteenth century. Thus reconstructed, the church will soon, it is hoped, become the Cathedral Church of the Diocese of Southwark. At present it has not the Cathedral organisation, being without a Dean, or Canons, or a Chapter. The Church can boast of more monuments and of a more distinguished company of the dead than can be found in most London churches. Here are buried, probably, Mary herself, the original founder, if she is not a legendary person: Pont de l'Arche and d'Auncey, the founders: a long line of unknown and forgotten Priors and Canons of the Augustinian House: John Gower, on whose monument can still be read the prayers he wrote for his own soul:
En toy qui es Filz de Dieu le Père Sauvé soit qui gist sous cest pierre.

The monument was repaired and painted in 1832 by the first Duke of Sutherland. Lancelot Andrewes, Bishop of Winchester, is buried in the Lady Chapel, where his monument can be seen in black and white marble; Dyer the poet, who died 1607; Edmund Shakespeare, 'player,' poet and writer, buried somewhere in the Church, 1607; Laurence Fletcher, one of the shareholders in the Globe, also buried in the Church, 1608; Philip Henslow, the manager, buried in the chancel, 1616; John Fletcher, buried in the Church, 1625; Philip Massinger, a 'stranger,' i.e. belonging to some other parish, buried in the Church, 1639. There are three stones in the chancel, inscribed with the names of John Fletcher, Edmund Shakespeare, and Philip Massinger, but merely to record that they are buried somewhere in the Church.{197}
(From a Drawing by Whichelo)

Other monuments and tombs there are: one a figure, commonly found in medi?val churches, of a body wasted by death: a wooden effigy of a knight: a monument to a quack of Charles the Second's time, and monuments to certain persons now forgotten; on one some lines in imitation of Herrick:
Like to the damask rose you see Or like the blossom on the tree, Or like the dainty flower of May, Or like the morning of the day, Or like the sun, or like the shade, Or like the gourd which Jonas had, Even so is Man; Man's thread is spun, Drawn out, and cut, and so is done.{198} The rose withers, the blossom blasteth, The flower fades, the morning hasteth, The sun sets, the shadow flies, The gourd consumes, and Man he dies.

The Ladye Chapel, one of the few beautiful things surviving of medi?val London, was very nearly destroyed by the ignorant Vandalism of about the year 1835. It was necessary in rebuilding London Bridge a few feet west of the old Bridge to prepare new approaches on the south as well as on the north. What follows is told by Knight:

'The Committee agreed to grant a space of sixty feet for the better display of St. Mary Overies, on the condition that the Lady Chapel was swept away. The matter appeared in a fair way for being thus settled, when Mr. Taylor sounded the alarm in one of the daily papers. Thomas Saunders, Esq., and Messrs. Cottinggam and Savage, the architects, actively interfered. A large majority of the parishioners, however, decided to accept the proposals of the Committee. In the meantime, the gentlemen we have named were indefatigable in their exertions; and they were effectively seconded by the press. At a subsequent meeting there was a majority of three only for pulling down the chapel; and on a poll being demanded and obtained, there ultimately appeared the large majority of 240 for its preservation. The excitement of the hour was prudently used to obtain funds to restore it, which has been most successfully accomplished.'

I have mentioned Winchester House, the Palace of the Bishop, as being close to the Priory. On any map may be traced the extent of the Palace. On the north is Clink Street, the Clink Prison being at the west end of the street; on the west is now Park Street, formerly Deadman's Place; on the south is a continuation of Park Street; and on the east is a street running south from St. Mary Overies Church. Winchester House, which thus covered a large piece of ground, was, with its grounds, enclosed by a wall. Many of{199} the buildings, especially the great gate, remained standing almost within the memory of man. The state and ceremony of a Bishop demanded a large retinue, and the Bishop's house must therefore be provided with a sufficient number of rooms for their accommodation. The map must not be accepted as laying down the exact site, the distances or the scale, or the arrangement of the courts and buildings.

We have now to speak, but briefly, of the Marian Persecutions and of the Martyrs. With these the Church of St. Mary and Winchester House had a good deal to do.

On Monday, January 28, 1555, was seen the first of many melancholy sights. On that day Gardiner, Bishop of Winchester, presided at a Court held in St. Mary Overies Church for the trial of heretics. The court was actually held in the Ladye Chapel. Hither were brought Bishop Hooper and John Rogers: they were heard: they argued their case: they were found obstinate: they were committed to the Clink Prison hard by: on the next day, with Bradford, Dr. Crome, Dr. Saunders, Dr. Ferrar, Dr. Taylor, and several others, they were sentenced to be burned. Bradford wrote to{200} Cranmer after the trial: 'This day, I think, or to-morrow at the uttermost, hearty Hooper, sincere Saunders, and trusty Taylor, end their course and receive their crowne. The next am I, which hourly looke for the Porter to open me the gates after them, to enter into the desired rest.'

So began those fires from which the cause of Roman Catholicism long suffered, and is even now still suffering. For the popular judgment does not discern and separate. The burnings under Henry and Edward are lumped together in the mind of the people, and all set down to Mary. The names, places, and times of the martyrs and their martyrdoms as given by Machyn, not by Fox, show that if the Queen's advisers had deliberately done their best to make their form of Faith odious and hateful, they could not have devised a better plan than the burning of the people for religion's sake. It is generally thought and believed that the indignation of the people was aroused by seeing the Bishops and preachers burned. That I do not believe. The executions of great men do not affect the populace; they witness the passage of a Thomas More on his way to the block: or of a Cromwell: with equal indifference: these statesmen do not belong to the life of the people. In the Marian persecution they heard that Archbishop Cranmer had been burned at Oxford, but they offered little outward show of emotion: they heard that Ridley and Latimer had been burned: their constancy, no doubt, touched the crowd: but still, these martyrs were not of themselves. When, however, they found that not only Bishops and great people, but also their own brothers, cousins, fathers, were taken out from their workshops and tied three or four together to the stake, where they suffered the agonies of the fire and still continued to pray aloud with firmness: then the lesson went straight home to them; and for many a generation to come the people learned to loathe the very name of the religion which could thus burn innocent people by the hundred for believing, as they were told, what the Bible taught.{201}

It is a mistake, again, to suppose that the lessons of persecution were taught at Smithfield alone. They were industriously taught from many centres. There were burnings at Stratford-le-Bow: at Stepney: at Westminster: beyond St. George's, Southwark, at Newington; while the vast crowds which attended a burning and imbibed these lessons of fear and hatred are shown by two entries alone in Machyn's Diary, 1556. 'The xxvij day of June rod from Newgate unto Stratford-a-bow, in iii cares xiij, xj men and ij women, and there bornyd (burned) to iiij postes, and there where a xx M pepull.'

And again, 1556. 'The xxij day of January whent in to Smythfield to berne between vii and viij in the morning v men and ij women: on of the men was a gentyllman of the endor tempull, ys nam Master Grén; and they were all bornyd by ix at iij postes. And ther wher a commonment throughe{202} London over nyght that no young folke shuld come ther, for ther the grettest number was as has byne sene at swyche a tyme.'

Therefore it is evident, first, that enormous crowds gathered together to witness the sufferings of the victims, and to note their constancy in the hour of agony; secondly, that the authorities were becoming alarmed at the effect which these examples might have upon the young. No young people were permitted to be present. We may be sure that the prohibition was openly defied.

As for Gardiner, he died soon after the martyr fires began, stricken, said his enemies, by the hand of God in punishment for his cruelties. His physicians, I believe, called it gout in the stomach, a reading which one prefers, because Gardiner was no worse than the rest of them, and after his death there was no abatement, but rather an increase, in the burnings. He had, however, a very fine funeral, which began at the church of St. Mary Overies, and was continued all the way to Winchester, where the place of his burial and his Chantry Chapel may still be seen.

Of this function, Machyn gives a short account, but it shall suffice. It must be remembered that Gardiner was not only a very great person, but that he was also believed to be the natural son of Bishop Woodville, and, if the belief was well founded, he was therefore a cousin of the Queen. But this may be scandal. Machyn, the chronicler of funerals, thus describes Gardiner's funeral.

'The xxiiij day of Feybruary was the obsequies of the most reverentt father in God, Sthevyn Gardener, docthur and bysshope of Wynchastur, prelett of the gartter, and latte chansseler of England, and on of the preve consell unto Kyng Henry the viij and unto quen Mare, tyll he ded; and so the after-none be-gane the knyll at sant Mare Overes with ryngyng, and after be-gane the durge; with a palle of cloth of gold, and with ij whytt branchys, and ij dosen of stayffe-torchys{203} bornyng, and iiij grett tapurs; and my lord Montyguw the cheyffe mornar, and my lord bysshope of Lynkolne and ser Robart Rochaster, comtroller, and with dyvers odur in blake, and mony blake gownes and cotes; and the morow masse of requeem and offeryng done, be-gane the sarmon; and so masse done, and so to dener to my lord Montyguw ('s); and at ys gatt the corse was putt in-to a wagon with iiij welles all covered with blake, and ower the corsse ys pyctur mad with ys myter on ys hed, with ys armes, and v gentyll men bayryng ys v banars in gownes{204} and hods, then ij harolds in ther cote armur, master Garter and Ruge-crosse; then cam the men rydyng, carehyng of torchys a lx bornyng, at bowt the corsse all the way; and then cam the mornars in gownes and cotes, to the nombur unto ij C. a-for and be-hynd, and so at sant Gorges cam prestes and clarkes with crosse and sensyng, and ther thay had a grett torche gyffyn them, and so to ever parryche tyll they cam to Wynchaster, and had money as many as cam to mett them, and durge and masse at evere logyng.'

The Church, when the Priory was dissolved, stood on the south side of the monastic buildings: the Cloister occupied that part of the ground on the north of the nave: the refectory, chapter house and dormitories, and other buildings stood about the Cloister: an embankment kept off the Thames at high tide: on the west side was St. Mary{205} Overies Dock, which was also the south end of the ferry. The dock is there still, but where the wall of the Monastery stood, round the Garden, and one could see the orchards beyond, are now huge warehouses. Some remains of the Cloister stood until recently, and one gateway of the precinct—there was certainly another on the side of the High Street—stood close to the west front of the Church. The Cloister received the name of Montagu Close, after the son of Sir Thomas Brown who became Viscount Montagu. If you pass round to the north of the Church you will now find a few fragments piled up, the indication of an ancient door in the wall of the Church; but all traces of the monastic buildings are entirely swept away.

The ground in front of the Church is also changed. In post-Reformation times there was a school here—St. Saviour's school; there were also almshouses; there was a peaceful quiet kind of close, in which was heard the buzz of the boys in school; one saw the bedesmen creeping along in the sun; one watched the crumbling ruins falling fast into decay: one wondered where in the narrow churchyard or in the Church lay the bones of Massinger and Fletcher: one seemed to see Bishop Hooper and John Rogers stepping forth into the sunlight, their trial over, their sentence passed: their cheeks, perhaps, somewhat flushed, their eyes somewhat brightened, because, even with such a faith as theirs, all a man's courage must be wanted to face the agony of the flames, through which for half an hour they would have to wade, as Christian waded through the river, before they reached the shore beyond.


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