The Garden Guide

Book: London and Its Environs, 1927
Chapter: 19 From Charing Cross To St Paul's Cathedral


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To the right, beyond Adam St., rises the Hotel Cecil. Opposite is Southampton St., leading to Covent Garden Market and containing a house (No, 27), in which David Garrick lived in 1750-72 (tablet). On the other side, just a little farther on, is Savoy Court, entered by an archway leading to the Savoy Hotel and the Savoy Theatre. On the left side of the court are tablets recording its history, and there are similar tablets on pilasters to the right and left of Savoy Buildings, the next opening to the right, William Blake (1757-1827) lived at No. 3 Fountain Court (the old name of Savoy Buildings) during the last six years of his life, and there engraved his �Inventions to the Book of Job.� On the left is the Strand Palace Hotel, occupying the site of Exeter Hall, famous for its �May Meetings� (religious and charitable). The names of Exeter St. and Burleigh St. (left) recall the fact that the house of Lord Burleigh, Queen Elizabeth's Chief Secretary, stood here (Cecil House; rebuilt and named Exeter House by Burleigh's son, Earl of Exeter). John Locke lived as secretary to Lord Ashley in Exeter House from 1667 to 1676, and here wrote the �Essay on the Human Understanding.� Dr. Johnson's first lodging in London (1737) was in Exeter St. Savoy Street, to the right, nearly opposite Burleigh St.. leads south to the Thames Embankment, passing the Chapel of the Savoy, erected in the late-Perpendicular style in 1505 et seq., on part of the site of the old Savoy Palace. Sunday services at 11.15 and 6. This palace, built circa 1245, was given by Henry III. to his wife's uncle. Peter, Earl of Savoy and Richmond (died 1268), and afterwards passed into the possession of John of Gaunt. King John of France, taken prisoner at the battle of Poitiers (1356), died here in 1364. It is generally believed that Chaucer was married in the palace (circa 1370). The palace was burned down by Wat Tyler in 1381, but was rebuilt as a hospital by Henry VII. in 1505. The famous Savoy Conference for the revision of the Prayer Book took place here in 1661, attended by 12 Bishops and 12 Nonconformists (including Richard Baxter). What remained of the palace was swept away on the construction of the approach to Waterloo Bridge. The chapel, dedicated to St. John the Baptist, though wrongly called St. Mary's, when it gave temporary refuge to the congregation of St. Mary le Strand, was originally the chapel of the hospital. No official record has been found to confirm the common belief that it was made a �chapel royal� by George II. It was restored by Queen Victoria after a destructive fire in 1864. The altar is at its north end. The interior is very dark. Behind the font is a memorial to the painter, Peter de Wint (1784-1849), who is buried in the south-east corner of the graveyard. A brass in the channel floor commemorates the fact that Gavin Douglas (died 1522), Bishop of Dunkeld and translator of the Aeneid, was buried in the chapel. George Wither (died 1667), poet and satirist, was likewise interred here. The stained-glass window on the right of the entrance commemorates Richard D'Oyly Carte (died 1901), who produced most of the Gilbert and Sullivan operettas at the Savoy Theatre (1881 et seq.). The adjoining window (by Burne Jones) commemorates Archibald Cameron (brother of Cameron of Lochiel), who was executed at Tyburn in 1753 and buried here. Other objects of interest are the piscina (north east corner of chancel), the two statuettes from old monuments (on the chancel walls), a small painting of the Madonna (Italian; 14th century), and the old hour-glass over the pulpit. The lectern is a memorial to Laurence and Mabel Irving, lost in the �Empress of Ireland� in May,1914.