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Edward I, purchased the property, and bestowed it on her second son, Edmund, afterwards Earl of Lancaster. In the reign of the second Edward, Henry, brother of the Earl of Lancaster (Thomas),' on whom the estate had devolved, rebuilt the palace at a cost of 52,000 marks. After his death it became the property of his son Henry, first Duke of Lancaster, in the reign of Edward III. His daughters and coheiresses, Matilda and Blanche, entered into possession on his death, and the latter marrying John of Gaunt, Earl of Richmond, the whole estate became his in right of his wife, her sister having died childless.
We have not any records of this early building, where John, King of France was, according to Froissart, confined, after having been taken prisoner by Edward, the Black Prince, at Cressy, and where later on he died, in the year 1363, when in England on a visit.
It appears that John of Gaunt had offended the citizens of London by favouring the reforming opinions of Wickliffe, and in 1377 they attacked the palace, which was only saved by the interference of the Bishop of London, who ordered the insurgents to desist.
A few years later, in 1381, in the rebellion led by Wat
1 Earl of Lancaster, beheaded for treason March 2nd, 1322, but so popular among the people for his munificence and piety, and resistance to tyranny, that he was worshipped as a saint, and his tomb resorted to for the reputed miracles performed there. His estates were forfeited to the Crown, but in 1324, two years later, were restored to his brother, Earl Henry. In the interim the Savoy had been granted to Edward, Earl of Chester, as the King's eldest son was then called. In this grant the place is described as “that messuage with its appurtenances quod vocatur la Sauveye, near the stone outside the bar of the new Temple”; but an inquisition concerning the property of Thomas, Earl of Lancaster, having been allowed, the jury employed found Henry of Lancaster to be the next heir, and the estate was restored to him.
2 After which it was accounted as the head-quarters of the great Duchy Palatine of Lancaster, and became the resort of kings and princes, poets and prelates, noblemen and knights, and all the crowd of celebrated persons who lived and illuminated the reign of Edward III. Wickliffe, Chaucer and Froissart, are names to awaken memories of this celebrated palace, but the great reformer was one whose friendship was dangerous, and the destruction of the famous home of John of Gaunt was principally due to the favour he had shown to the opinions of Wickliffe.
Tyler, the palace was destroyed by fire, with all its valuable contents, the Duke and his family escaping to Holland. An old couplet from Hardynge's Chronicle states that
“The Comons brent the Savoye a Palace faire,
For the evil wyll they had unto Duke John."
Stowe's Chronicle describes the scene at the destruction of the palace in graphic terms.
He says > “ The Comons of Surrey shortly got the poore citizens to conspire with them, and the same day, after the sunne was got on some heighth that it waxed warme, and that they had tasted at their pleasure divers wines, whereby they were become as madde as drunken (for the rich citizens had set open their sellers to enter at their pleasure), they begun to talke of many things; amongst others they exhorted each other, that going to the Savoye the Duke of Lancaster's house, to the which there was none in the realme to be coinpared in beauty and stateliness, they mought set fire on it, and burne it. This talke pleasing the comons of the city, they straight ran thither, and setting fire on it round about applied their travaile to destroy that place; and that it mought appeare to the communality of the realme that they did not anything for covetise they caused a proclamation to be made that none on paine to lose his head should presume to convert to his own use, anything that there was or mought be found, but that they should breake such plate and vessell of gold, silver, as were in that house in great plenty into small pieces and throw the same into the Thames. Clothe of gold and silver, silke and velvet, they should teare, rings and jewels set with precious stones they should bruise in mortars, that the same might be of no use, etc.—and so it was done. Henry Knighton writeth that when the rebelles burnte the Savoy, one of them (contrary to the Proclamation) tooke a goodly piece of silver and hid it in his bosom, but another that espied him told his fellowes who forth with huried him and the piece of plate into the fire, saying,' we be zealous of truth and justice and not theeuves or robbers. Two and thirtie of these rebels entered a sellar of the Savoy, where they dranke so much of sweet wines, that they were not able to come out in time, but were shut in with wood and stones that mured up the doore, where they were heard crying and calling seven days after, but none came to help them out till they were dead.”—Stowe's Chronicle, edit. 1600, p. 436.
In his Survey of London this writer also says :
“That the insurgents found there certaine barrels of gunpowder which they thought had been gold or silver, and throwing them into the fire, more suddenly than thought the Hall was blowne up, the houses destroyed and themselves very hardly escaped away.
" The palace was reduced to a heap of ruins, and so remained until more than a century later, when new buildings began to rise on the ashes of the destroyed palace, and the King, Henry VII, laid the foundations of a Hospital for the Poor. In his will, dated Canterbury, April 10th, 1509, he provides for the building and establishing of a common hospital ' in our place called the Savoy beside Charing Cross nigh to our City of London and the same we intend by God's grace to finish after the manner form and fashion of a plat which is devised for the same and signed with our hand, and endowed with lands and tenements to the yearly value of 500 marks, above all reprises to bear maintain and sustain therewith as well one hundred beds garnished to receive and lodge nightly one hundred poor folks, as also a certain number of priests and other ministers and servitors men and women as such a matter shall require.”
Henry also delivered " before the hand” 10,000? marks for the building, providing beds and furnishing the chapel of the hospital; this money to be given over to the Dean and Chapter of St. Paul's for that purpose. Henry VIII, who shortly after succeeded to the throne, by letter patent under the Great Seal of the Duchy of Lancaster, in the second year of his reign, caused the Bishop of Winchester and London, and other executors of his father's will, to proceed with the work and finish the buildings, which were at length completed in the fifteenth year of his reign, when the king signed the statutes for the government of the foundation.
There is something vague in the documents defining the objects of the new foundation. William Holgill, priest, was appointed first master; there were five chaplains of the hospital, who were to fulfil the duties of praying for the souls of the late king and his family, performing divine service, giving of alms, and the other works of mercy. There were to be a limited number of brothers of the community, whose occupation seems to have been chiefly continual prayer for the souls of the founder and his descendants. The buildings were very magnificent ; the last remnants of the hospital, with the 1 Equal to about £333.
2 Equal to £6,660. 3 They were considered among the sights of London. Henry Courtenay, Earl of Devon, visited the church in 1519. “ He arrived
exception of the chapel, were on the south-west of the church, extending to the water's edge, and were used as a storehouse until the Embankment was made.
The building was strongly built, chiefly of stone; the outer walls faced the Thames with steps leading down to the river, but the main entrances were on the Strand front. Over the gate was sculptured these words :
"Hospitium hoc inopi turba
The chapel was dedicated to St. John the Baptist.
Of the exact date of the consecration of the new church at the building of the hospital, we have no record ; it probably took place at or before the time of the ratification of the powers of the trustees to the will of Henry VII.
The church was built in the Tudor style, more substantial than decorative, of stone, without aisles, with six broad pointed windows on each side, and a larger one at the north end. The ceiling was more ornate, being coved at the sides, the centre horizontal and panelled all over with quatrefoils, the larger ones containing shields enclosed by sculptured emblems of scriptural subjects.
The ceiling resembles the nearly contemporary one of the chapel at St. James's Palace. The reredos has been attributed to Sir Reginald Bray, architect of St. George's Chapel, Windsor, but was probably of a later date.
The church possessed the privilege of sanctuary, which, though abolished in 1996, remained practically in force for many years after. )
There was some fine panelling in the church, the walls being wainscoted up to 8 ft. above the ground ; much perished before the fire in 1864, which consumed all that remained. On the front of the gallery at the
by bote from Greenwich, was confessed there, and went from there to my Lord Chamberlaine's to dinner.” The builder of the hospital was one Humphrey Cooke, master-carpenter to King Henry VIII, who was interred in the chapel March 3rd, 1530.
1 There was also a prison within the precincts.
southern end were twelve panels painted with figures of the Apostles.
It is a rectangular chamber 89 ft. 2 ins. in length, the chancel being to the north ; the width throughout is 23 ft. 9 ins. ; the altar is raised by a gradual ascent of five steps, the first being 30 ft. from the reredos, which is restored from the fragments of the old one described above.
To return to the history of the hospital, which indeed had a most chequered existence. At first vested in the Crown, the master and four chaplains surrendered it to Edward VI, who made over part of its revenues and beds to his new hospitals, Bridewell and Christchurch ; and from that time, according to Stowe's Chronicle, the Savoy hospital degenerated into a sort of common lodging-house, “rather”, as he remarks, “for the maintenance of thieves and beggary than any relief to the poore".
However, Queen Mary the Catholic interested herself in the restoration of the good estate, and issued a warrant, June 15th, 1556, reciting the original purpose of the foundation : “ To pray for the states and soules of sundry our progenytours, kings and queenes of this Realme;" and granted the site as before for estates to the hospital, besides endowing it with new property in lieu of that of which it had been deprived; indeed, it appears that small holdings to the number of thirtyfour in various parts of England were assigned to it; and it is related by some chroniclers that the beds having all been removed to Bridewell, the ladies of the Court, “ to the better attaining of the Queen's good grace", provided the necessary articles and other furniture required. But the prosperity thus restored to the hospital was short-lived, for in Elizabeth's reign we find the then master, Thomas Thurland, deprived by Commission under the Great Seal of his office, having been convicted of corruption and embezzlement of the hospital estates. Notwithstanding this lesson, the masters and chaplains managed to appropriate revenue, and the purposes of the foundation were discarded. The buildings were let in tenements for their pecuniary