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graced the halls of Crosby Place. This was the lady whose name was so affectionately attached by Sir Philip Sidney to his famous romance : The Countess of Pembroke's Arcadia’ is its title, in compliment to his beloved sister. We need scarcely add that this also was the lady whom Ben Jonson has celebrated in one of the prettiest epitaphs in our language. The Countess of Pembroke lived so many years in Crosby Place that her history is a part of its own.
“Underneath this sable hearse
Lies the subject of all verse :
Time shall throw a dart at thee !" Spencer, Earl of Northampton, the son of the last-mentioned proprietor, resided here in 1638. This nobleman was one of the most strenuous supporters of Charles I., and almost the first of his order who shed his blood in his service. He was killed by the King's side at Hopton Heath, in Staffordshire, in 1642. Two years before Crosby Place had been leased to Sir John Langham, who was sheriff in 1642, during whose occupation it is said to have been used as a prison for royalists. His son, Sir Stephen Langham, succeeded him, and it is supposed that it was during his tenancy that the fire occurred by which Crosby Place was so greatly injured, that from that period it ceased to be used as a dwelling. In 1672 the hall was converted into a Presbyterian meeting-house, and so remained for nearly a century (a son of the eminent divine, Calamy, was one of the assistant preachers here about 1726), and in 1677 the present houses in Crosby Square were built on the ruins of the parts of the old mansion that had been destroyed. Its history is now nearly brought to a conclusion. After the disuse of the hall as a meeting-house it was degraded into a packer's warehouse, and whilst thus occupied, received the most serious injury from the alterations which were made in it. In 1831 the lease upon which the hall had been held expired; and from that time the most unremitting exertions have been made by a committee of gentlemen, who had taste to appreciate the historical and architectural value of Crosby Place, to restore the remaining parts of the structure to their pristine state: and the subscriptions received have in a great measure enabled them to accomplish this object. Extensive reparations have taken place, and much of the original mansion has been rebuilt. The first stone of the new works was laid on the 27th of June, 1836, by the Right Honourable W. T. Copeland, Lord Mayor, when a plan of them, with other documents of the subject, were deposited in a bottle, and the latter placed in a cavity of the stone formed to receive it. After that portion of the ceremony was over the Lord Mayor led the way into the hall, which was fitted up in a characteristic manner for the occasion. Banners floated along the walls, the floor was strewed with rushes, and a genuine old Elizabeth breakfast, including a noble baron of beef, was spread upon the tables.
Our description of Crosby Place will necessarily be but brief, when compared with the space we have devoted to its history. For although, as a work of art, Crosby Place presents some unrivalled features, the roof of its hall for instance, yet its historical recollections constitute its greatest charm. If we take as our guide the plan of the vaults still existing beneath the site of
Crosby Place and the neighbourhood, it will be evident that the original edifice must have been as magnificent for its extent as for the general beauty of its decorations. Large as is the space occupied by the hall and the council-chamber, with the throne-room above, (the only remaining portions of Crosby Place,) yet it scarcely occupies half the extent denoted by the remains below the soil. Among these remains there is one particularly interesting feature, a crypt with a finely groined roof, now occupied as a wine cellar. From its situation it appears highly probable that this stood beneath a chapel belonging to Crosby Place; although we must also state that it is the opinion of persons well qualified to judge that it belonged to a chapel of the old Priory of St. Helen's. The entrance to Crosby Place is through a small gateway; as we pass through this, the view shown at the commencement of our paper meets the eye. This is the exterior of the hall, consisting of one story only, with its lofty and elegant windows, and its exquisitely beautiful oriel window, reaching from the ground to the top of the building, and the exterior of the council-chamber, with the throne-room above. It may be noticed that the two windows to the extreme right of the hall differ from the remainder, in being closer together. These give light to a part of the building which formed the gallery of the hall, extending over the gateway seen in the drawing, which leads into Crosby Square, formerly the inner court of the great mansion. Beneath this gateway, it is supposed, was the original entrance to the hall; at present, however, we reach the interior of Crosby Place through a low postern doorway, situated in the angle between the wall of the council-chamber and the great oriel window. We first enter upon the council-chamber, or, as it is sometimes called, the dining-rocm. This is lighted by two windows which look into the small quadrangle we have just quitted, and by one situated in the left-hand corner of the opposite wall. This window is large, lofty, and of a very unique character—a restoration of a former work. There was formerly also a beautiful bay window looking into the quadrangle, and the blank arch of which still remains. The only other peculiar features of this room are the flat, massy-ribbed ceiling, which is modern, (and although in accordance with the character of the room, forms still but a poor substitute for the elaborately elegant work of stucco and gold, with dropping pendants, which formerly met the eye in the same place ;) and the chimney-piece, which consists of a low, pointed, and very broad arch, set within square deep mouldings. We next ascend to the throne-room : why so called it is impossible to say. This is a very beautiful room, with a rounded ceiling, divided into small compartments by slender ribs of oak, and lighted in a very similar manner to the room beneath. One of the windows, however, looking into the quadrangle has the additional ornament of a richly-painted border, and the window in the corner is still more unique, as well as infinitely more beautiful, than that of the council-chamber directly below. It extends from floor to ceiling, is situated within a small recess panelled at the sides and beautifully ornamented at the top, and is divided into two compartments by a slender stem in the centre, which at the top has a small knot of ornament falling, like a bunch of fruit, a little on each side, and giving to the stem, when seen from the opposite wall, one of the most graceful forms that it is possible to conceive. Descending to the
council-chamber, we find, besides the low postern door through which we entered, a larger one, which admits us into the innermost sanctuary of the place,—the Great Hall. The noble proportions of this place, and the surpassing beauty of its roof, built not less than three hundred and sixty years ago, will be more evident to our readers from an attentive examination of sthe engraving of the hall than from any writte description that we could give them. We pass on, therefore, to notice such cther of its chief features as the engraving does not or cannot convey.
And first as to its dimensions. It is 54 feet long, 274 broad, and 40 feet high. The breadth of the oriel window is 10 feet 10 inches, and its height the height of the hall. This window is richly decorated with a series of armorial bearings, the tasteful and munificent present of Thomas Willement, Esq., and which, though of so recent an origin, have all the appearance of ancient works of art. We see among them the arms of St. Helen's Priory, the earliest proprietor of the place, of Sir John Crosby the builder, of the City of London, so many of whose eminent citizens have made the hall ring again with the sound of festive hospitality, of Richard the “crook-backed tyrant," whose few days' residence here will preserve the name of Crosby Place when the last vestige of its architectural glories shall have disappeared, and of Henry's murdered Chancellor, Sir Thomas More, the wise, learned, amiable, and witty author of the Utopia.' The remainder comprise the arms and badges of Richard's Queen, and of the House of York, Sir Thomas D'Arcy, William Bond and his company, and the “Rich Spencer” and his company. The other windows of the hall are similarly decorated, those on the same side containing the arms of various subscribers to the expenses of the restoration, and those on the opposite, among others, of Sir John Rest, the Duke of Sully, Lord Compton, and the present owner, W. P. Williams Freeman, Esq. In the very beautiful roof of the oriel window we perceive, among the knots of foliage that still bloom for us as they bloomed for our ancestors hundreds of years ago, a boss of superior size, on which is carved in relief a ram trippant,—the crest of Sir John Crosby, and which is looked upon, and in all probability correctly, as having been placed there by Sir John himself to commemorate his name as the founder of the magnificence around. The louvre, or opening in the centre of the roof, has caused much discussion. In ancient halls the smoke had frequently no other mode of escape than by the louvre; but here there is a regular chimney, with a front like that of the council-chamber :-perhaps the chimney was of later construction. The aperture of the louvre is now closed by the same piece of woodwork that was formerly elevated above it. The pavement of the hall remains to a certain extent in its original state, when it was paved with stone in small square slabs arranged diagonally, the whole being divided by five lines formed in a similar manner, running from one end of the hall to the other. “It is singular," says Mr. Blackburne,* “that Crosby Hall shows no indication of a raised dais; and the only instance I recollect of a similar departure from the general custom is to be met with at Sawston Hall, Cambridgeshire.” The walls of the part thus distinguished were usually hung with arras, and this was no doubt the case in Crosby Hall. The dais here must have occupied a very large space, as the oriel window, which was always included in it, stands at some considerable distance
* Architectural and Historical Account of Crosby Place.
from the northern wall. In this wall there was most probably a communication with a little room still existing behind it, from which a handsome doorway, with three lights above (lately restored), led into the part which was then, it is supposed, the small private garden or “pleasaunce” of the mansion, but which now forms an open space in front of St. Helen's Church. Lastly, we may notice the gallery of the hall, which still remains, though stripped of all; ts decoration, and hidden by the canvass which covers that end of the room. We have taken the liberty to restore it in our engraving to what we may conceive to be something like its original aspect. Galleries of this kind were generally denominated the Minstrels' Gallery, and the name bespeaks its use. At the first commemoration of Sir Thomas Gresham, celebrated on the 12th of July, 1832, the gallery of Crosby Hall was occupied by the choir engaged in the musical performance of that interesting festival after the conclusion of the service in the church. This, if we may adopt the opinion of the eloquent Gresham professor of music, given in a lecture delivered in Crosby Hall in 1838, was but a type of the rich musical memories of the place. Referring to one of the many madrigals, and other vocal pieces, composed in honour of the "fair vestal throned by the west,” under the poetical appellation of Oriana, and which it has been supposed Elizabeth herself could not resist from encouraging, Mr. Taylor says, and with his remarks we conclude:
“ In this spacious and beautiful hall we may not only be sure that these compositions have often been sung, but this is the only remaining edifice in London in which we may feel equally assured that some of our greatest vocal writers have assembled to give and to receive pleasure in the social performance of their own compositions. Near to this spot was born and lived the celebrated William Byrde, whose writings remain to this day monuments of splendid genius and profound erudition; from whom his scholar, Morley, gratefully confessed to have ‘received the will and the power to enter into the contemplation and searching out of the hidden mysteries and divine enjoyments of his art, and derived the wish and the means to live in after times. Near to this spot was also born the pupil whose affectionate gratitude is recorded in these words, and whose works abundantly prove that he had indulged in no vain and visionary anticipations in predicting their prolonged existence. Near to this spot also lived the sweetest of all that illustrious choir, who enriched our art with never-dying strains, John Wilbye. Near this spot were produced those compositions which are still the study and delight of his successors, and which are destined to charm generations yet to come. Near this spot, too, stood the princely mansion of Gresham, bequeathed by him to the use and benefit of his fellow-citizens, where he designed instruction in religion, in science, and in art, to be freely and liberally dispensed to all; founding a temple of learning, whose doors should be open, and whose advantages should be accessible, to every inquirer after knowledge, however humble in station or mean in acquirements; and, lastly, near this spot repose
the honoured remains of its founder (in the same church that contains the ashes of Sir John Crosby, the founder of the splendid * Place'). Here, then, a thousand interesting associations crowd upon the mind, and connect themselves with the lives and labours of these illustrious men; for here the musician, as well as the
architect and the historian, feels that he is treading classic ground. Imagination calls up the time when this hall was thronged with the noble, the learned, the graceful of past ages; when the hospitable board was here spread, and among the guests, Gresham, the princely merchant, the friend, and the neighbour ; Byrde, Wilbye, Morley, the most accomplished musicians of their time, all living under the shadow of this building, when this spacious roof echoed to the sound of their harmonies, and when • The health of the Queen' was followed by some madrigal in praise of fair Oriana.”