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to twelve feet under the surface, yet, such was the excellence of the materials and the masonry, that not the least damp or leak ever happened, and the paper was kept as safe and dry as it would have been in a garret."* In the sterling of the long pier upon which the chapel principally stood a fish-pond had been made, with an iron grating over it, by which the fish were detained after they had been carried in by the tide; and Mr. Thomson mentions that, in 1827, when he wrote, there still survived an ancient servant of London Bridge, then verging upon his hundredth year, who well remembered having gone down through the chapel to fish in this pond. The original external form and appearance of the eastern extremity of the chapel had been obliterated long before its destruction : the upper part of it was covered with brickwork or boarding, and to the paper warehouse below was attached a crane for taking in goods from the river.
Few of the old inhabitants of the street on the bridge have left names that are now remembered; but it is remarkable that the memories of two or three individuals are, traditionally at least, associated with it, whose peculiar talents the influences of so peculiar a local habitation seem to have had some share in awakening or fostering. The eminent painter of marine subjects, Peter Monamy, who died about the middle of the last century, is stated by Walpole to have “received his first rudiments of drawing from a sign and house-painter on London Bridge;" and it is added, "the shallow waves that rolled under his window taught young Monamy what his master could not teach him, and fitted him to paint the turbulence of the ocean.” Another marine painter, Dominic Serres, of later date, is also said to have once kept a shop upon the bridge. But the greatest artist that is reported to have ever fixed his studio in one of the breezy attics of the river street was old Hans Holbein. “The father of the Lord Treasurer Oxford," Walpole relates, “passing over London Bridge, was caught in a shower; and, stepping into a goldsmith's shop for shelter, he found there a picture of Holbeinwho had lived in that house—and his family. He offered the goldsmith 1001. for it, who consented to let him have it, but desired first to show it to some persons. Immediately after happened the fire of London, and the picture was destroyed." Holbein's house, therefore, must have been in the division of the street nearest to the London end.
The most illustrious memories associated with the old bridge are not of persons who ever lived there, but of some of those whose ghastly heads, stuck upon poles or spikes, were set up to pinnacle its towers after the executioner had made them trunkless. The first of the London Bridge traitors of whom there is any
record was the Scottish patriot and hero, William Wallace, whose resistance to a foreign yoke Edward I. could never subdue till he had made his true heart be plucked from his bosom, and his head fixed up aloft here, to be gazed at in comparative tranquillity by many who would have stood short space to scan his living visage, wherever they might have encountered it. This was in August, 1305. Here, in 1408, after his overthrow at Horselwood, was similarly exposed the grey-haired head of the Earl of Northumberland, the father of the gallant Hotspur, by the crafty master whom he had served too well ever to be repaid otherwise than by being destroyed. But the two most extraordinary heads, if we may believe all that
* Ancient Topography of London, by J. T. Smith, Esq. 4to. London, 1791.
is related of them, that were ever thus elevated were those of Fisher, Bishop of Rochester, and his friend Sir Thomas More, both executed in 1535 for their refusal to acknowledge the king's spiritual supremacy. Fisher was executed on the morning of the 22nd of June, and, according to his biographer Hall, his head would have been set up on Traitors' Tower that same night, but that it was kept to be first shown to the Queen, Anne Boleyn. The next day, however, continues Hall, “the head, being parboiled, was prickt upon a pole, and set on high upon London Bridge, among the rest of the holy Carthusians' heads that suffered death lately before him. And here I cannot omit to declare unto you the miraculous sight of this head, which, after it had stood up the space of fourteen days upon the bridge, could not be perceived to waste nor consume, neither for the weather, which was then very hot, neither for the parboiling in hot water, but grew daily fresher and fresher, so that in his lifetime he never looked so well; for, his cheeks being beautified with a comely red, the face looked as though it had beholden the people passing by, and would have spoken to them. Wherefore, the people coming daily to see this strange sight, the passage over the bridge was so stopped with their going and coming, that almost neither cart nor horse could pass; and therefore, at the end of fourteen days, the executioner was commanded to throw down the head in the night-time into the river of Thames, and in the place thereof was set the head of the most blessed and constant martyr, Sir Thomas More, his companion and fellow in all his troubles, who suffered his passion the 6th of July next following.” But the miracle was not put down by this substitution : More's head proved as indestructible as the bishop's, according to the account of his great-grandson and biographer, who tells us that, after it had remained exposed for some months, being about to be cast into the Thames, “because room should be made for divers others, who, in plentiful sort, suffered martyrdom for the same supremacy,” it was bought by his daughter Margaret, when not only was his “lively favour" found to be “not all this while in anything almost diminished,” but, “ the hairs of his head being almost grey before his martyrdom, they seemed now as it were reddish or yellow.” In general about this time, and throughout the sixteenth century, the collection of traitors' heads at London Bridge would have made a respectable craniological museum : the German traveller Hentzner, when he was here in 1597, by which time they had been removed to the Southwark gate, counted above thirty of them; and in some of the old prints the structure looks as if its roof were covered with quite a crop of spiked skulls. And heads continued to be exposed here, principally those of seminary priests, executed for violation of the statute prohibiting their entry into the kingdom, throughout the reigns of Elizabeth and James, and down even to the breaking out of the civil war in that of Charles I. After the Restoration, too, the heads of some of the regicides were set up on London Bridge.
And many another strange sight, as well as this long succession of ghastly traitors' heads, had the old bridge beheld during its existence of above six centuries. From its parapets, in the year 1263, Eleanor of Provence, the hated queen of Henry III., when, leaving the Tower, in which Henry and she had taken refuge from De Montfort and the associated barons, “she would have gone by
water unto Windsor," was assailed by the Londoners assembled in great numbers on the bridge, not only with “many vile and reproachful words,” but also with “ dirt and stones,” so that she was constrained to return again to the Tower; on which, continues Stow, “the citizens fortified the city with iron chains drawn overthwart their streets, munited the city, and did marvellous things.” By this entrance in the next century-on the 13th of June, 1381—Wat Tyler forced his way into the city at the head of his commons of Kent, notwithstanding all the activity of the mayor, Sir William Walworth, whose loyalty had been sharpened by the insurgents having that same morning broken down the stews on the south bank of the river, which, it seems, were his property, and farmed from him by “the frows of Flanders,"-and who before the arrival of the Kentish-men had fortified the bridge, caused the drawbridge to be drawn up, “and fastened a great chain of iron across to restrain their entry.” But " then the commons of Surrey, who were risen with other, cried to the wardens of the bridge to let it down and give them entry, whereby they mought pass, or else they would destroy them all, whereby they were constrained by fear to let it down and give them entry-at which time the religious present were earnest in procession and prayer for peace.” A few years after-in 1390-the bridge was the scene of a rencontre of another kind—the famous passage of arms waged on St. George's day, amid all the pomp of heraldry, between the Scottish knight Sir David Lindsay, Earl of Crawford, and the English Lord Wells, who, being King Richard's ambassador in Scotland, and attending at a solemn banquet there, where “Scottishmen and Englishmen were communing of deeds of arms,” proposed to settle the controversy as to the comparative valour of the two nations by a single combat between Lindsay and himself. “ As soon as the day of battle was come,” says Stow, following the animated narrative of Hector Boecius, “ both the parties were conveyed to the bridge, and soon after, by sound of trumpet, the two parties ran hastily together, on their barbed horses, with square grounden spears, to the death. Earl David, notwithstanding the valiant dint of spears broken on his helmet and visage, sate so strongly, that the people, moved with vain suspicion, cried, Earl David, contrary to the law of arms, is bound to the saddle: Earl David, hearing this murmur, dismounted off his horse, and without any support or help ascended again into the saddle. Incontinent they rushed together with the new spears the second time, with burning ire to conquer honour; but in the third course the Lord Wells was sent out of his saddle with such a violence that he fell to the ground. Earl David, seeing his fall, dismounted hastily from his horse, and tenderly embraced him, that the people might understand he fought with no hatred, but only for the glory of victory; and, in the sign of more humanity, he visited him every day while he recovered his health, and then returned into Scotland ;"—an incident combining all the finest points in the brilliant morality of chivalry. Over London Bridge, on the 29th of August, 1392, King Richard, having come from Windsor by the way of Richmond and Wandsworth, passed in joyous procession, along with his consort, the good Queen Anne, after having been reconciled, chiefly through her mediation, with the citizens of London, who, meeting him at the Southwark Gate, “men, women, and children in order," presented him with “ two fair white steeds, trapped in cloth of
gold, parted of red and white, hanged full of silver bells, the which present he thankfully received ; and after he held on his way through the city toward Westminster."* On the 13th of November, four years after, Richard and his new queen, the infant Isabel of France, made their entry "through Southwark, with great pomp, into the Tower of London, at which time there went such a multitude of people to see her, that upon London Bridge nine persons were crowded to death, of whom the Prior of Tiptree, in Essex, was one, and a worshipful matron that dwelt in Cornhill was another.” Here Henry V. was received in triumph, on Saturday, the 23rd of November, 1415, on his return from Agincourt; and along this same great civic highway, about the same day seven years after, passed on from conquered France the mournful splendour of his funeral procession—the body laid in a chariot drawn by four great horses, and above it “a figure made of boiled hides or leather representing his person, as nigh to the semblance of him as could be devised, painted curiously to the similitude of a living creature, upon whose head was set an imperial diadem of gold and precious stones, on his body a purple robe furred with ermine, and in his right hand he held a sceptre royal, and in his left hand a ball of gold with a cross fixed thereon; and in this manner adorned was this figure laid in a bed in the said chariot, with his visage uncovered towards the heavens ; and the coverture of his bed was of red silk beaten with gold.” By this bridge again, on the 21st of February, 1432, the young Henry VI. made his magnificent entry into the capital of his native dominions after his coronation at Paris—as sung by the poet Lydgate in many substantial stanzas, and more briefly related in prose by Fabian and Stow, the latter of whom tells us that, “when the King was come to the bridge, there was devised a mighty giant, standing with a sword drawn in his hand, having written certain speeches in metre of great rejoicing and welcoming of the King to the city, on the midst of the bridge.” And nearly as sumptuous were the pageants exhibited at the bridge on Friday, the 28th of May, 1445, at the reception of Henry's bride, Margaret of Anjou—the “she-wolf” of France—as she was conducted from Blackheath by the king's uncle, the Duke of Gloucester, and attended by “the mayor, aldermen, and sheriffs of the city in scarlet, and the crafts of the same, all riding on horseback, in blue gowns with broidered sleeves and red hoods,”—being met at the bridge-foot toward Southwark by "a pageant of peace and plenty," while upon the bridge stood “Noah's ship,”—both figures plentifully adorned with Latin texts from the Vulgate, as well as with scrolls of English verse. Only a few years before this-on Wednesday the 15th of November, 1441-Gloucester's own wife, the unfortunate Eleanor Cobham, had passed along part of the same street, and through the midst of probably as thronging and eager a multitude of spectators, but in a guise and fashion as different as was that wintry season from “jolly
• Under the date of the preceding year, 1391, Stow, in his Annals, has the following story :-" The same Christmas-day a dolphin came forth of the sea, and played himself in the Thames at London, to the bridge, foreshowing haply the tempests that were to follow within a week after; the which dolphin, being seen of the citizens and followed, was with much difficulty intercepted and brought again to London, showing a spectacle to many of the height of his body, for he was ten feet in length. These dolphins are fishes of the sea, that follow the voices of men, and rejoice in playing of instruments, and are wont to gather themselves at music. These, when they play in rivers, with hasty springings, or leapings, do signify tempest to follow. The seas contain nothing more swift nor nimble ; for oftentimes with their skips they mount over the sails of ships.”
May”—performing her penance for the abhorred crime of sorcery, “with a taper of wax of two pound in her hand,” and “ hoodless, save a kerchief,”—though she too was accompanied throughout her weary three days' perambulation by the mayor, sheriffs, and crafts. But it was not long before the royal Margaret also had her days of humiliation and misery enough, in the chances and changes of that tumultuous time. Her forces had been scattered at Tewkesbury, her son, Prince Edward, had been murdered almost before her eyes, and she lay herself a prisoner in the Tower along with her husband, also on the eve of having his life reft from him by an act of darker violence, when, on Tuesday the 14th of May, 1471, the Bastard of Faulconbridge, making a last attempt for Henry's deliverance, “with a riotous company of shipmen and other of Essex and Kent," assaulted London Bridge, and was not driven back till he had burned the Southwark Gate, “and all the houses to the drawbridge, being,” says Stow, “at that time thirteen in number.” Other accounts say that sixty houses on the bridge were burned down on this occasion. Before this, in 1430, on the evening of Thursday the 2nd of July, the bridge-gates were opened by the London commonalty to Jack Cade, who, as he entered at the head of his men, cut the ropes of the drawbridge asunder with his sword; but on the night of the following Sunday, when the rebels and their leader were retired to the south end of the river, the mayor and aldermen, having collected a force of the better disposed among the citizens, repossessed themselves of the bridge, and kept the passage, driving back any of the Kentishmen who attempted to cross it; and this led to the bloodiest and most obstinate conflict ever waged for this key to the city. Cade, as soon as he saw the bickering, to quote the account which Stow has collected in his Annals from preceding chroniclers, “went to harness, and assembled his people, and set so fiercely upon the citizens, that he drove them back from the stoups (or posts) in Southwark or Bridge-foot, unto the drawbridge, in defending whereof many a man was drowned and slain. ..... This skirmish continued all night, till nine of the clock on the morrow, so that sometime the citizens had the better, and sometimes the other; but ever they kept them
kept them upon the bridge, so that the citizens passed never much the bulwark at the bridge-foot, nor the Kentishmen no farther than the drawbridge—thus continuing the cruel fight to the destruction of much people on both sides.” Hall asserts, however, that the Londoners were several times beaten back“ as far as to the stoups at St. Magnus’ Corner”—that is, quite to the northern extremity of the bridge. He and other authorities also state that the rebels set fire to some of the houses on the bridge. Alas !” he exclaims, “what sorrow it was to behold that miserable chance! for some, desiring to eschew the fire, leapt on his enemy's weapon and so died; fearful women, with children in their arms, amazed and appalled, leapt into the river; other, doubting how to save themself, between fire, water, and sword, were in their houses suffocate and smothered.” At last both parties, faint, weary, and fatigued, agreed to rest them all the next day; and during this pause the king's pardon was proclaimed, on which the rebels broke up and dispersed. In a more peaceful hour, again, by this ancient approach entered London, on Friday the 12th of November, 1501, the Lady Katherine of Arragon to her first nuptials with the young Prince Arthur: “About two of the clock at afternoon,” says the