People Property and Charity

The Clothworkers' Company 1500-1688

Basing Lane

The Company received three tenements and a bowling alley in Basing Lane from John Watson in 1555. One tenement was on the north side of the Lane and equated to the modern 20, Basing Lane. The other two tenements were numbers 9-10, Basing Lane. Under the terms of his will, Watson (who also gave the Company properties in Bow Lane and St. Thomas Apostle) directed that The Clothworkers’ Company should pay an annual stipend of 20s. to the parish of St. Mary AlderLease of a property at Basing Lane, granted to Richard Castell, Book of Deeds and Wills, 1555mary, which was to be distributed to the poor of the parish. Watson stated that any residue of the monies should be given to the poorest freemen of the Company.[1] The first reference to the properties in the Company records came in 1560, when the Company appointed surveyors to survey a tenement in Basing Lane, then in the tenure of Mr. Hayes. The surveyors were to take order for the rebuilding of ‘a little tenement’ on the site.[2]

By the 1560s and 1570s, the three tenements in Basing Lane had been leased to Mr. Burnam, Mr. Keblewhite and Mr. Crane. Many of the records relating to Basing Lane in the 1560s and 1570s relate to Burnam and Keblewhite. In 1566, Burnam made suit to the Court for a new lease of his tenement at Basing Lane, offering to give up his old lease in return. The Company granted him a new lease in March 1566 for the term of thirty-one years, paying a fine of £10 and taking responsibility for all reparations.[3] In April 1570, the Company surveyed the properties at Basing Lane, as part of their annual viewing. They reported that a shed on Keblewhite’s property was in need of repair.[4]  Keblewhite made suit to the Company for a new lease in December 1571, as his lease was due to expire within the following four years. The Company acknowledged his suit, but informed him that they would prefer to survey the property before offering any new lease.[5]

By 1572, Keblewhite and Crane were in dispute with each other regarding a chimney that had been built by Burnam on Keblewhite’s property.[6] Keblewhite had pulled the chimney down. The Company considered the problem at Court, but would give no direction to either tenant until they had viewed the controversial chimney and chimney site.[7] Following their view of the property, the Company ordered that by Halloween, Burnam should build a wall level with the wall already standing on the other side of the chimney room, which had been pulled down.[8] In return, Keblewhite was to pay Burnam 25s. for his charge in rebuilding and also as compensation for breaking the mantle and brickwork previously.[9]

In 1573, the Company reported on the state of two of the tenements in their annual survey. They described Keblewhite’s property as lacking tiling next to Burnam’s house, while Crane’s property was noted as also lacking tiling.[10] By 1582, two of the properties in Basing Lane had new tenants. Both Mr. Iveson and Mr. Herdson had taken up residence in the lane, alongside the long-term resident Mr. Crane. Both appeared to have received their tenancy by assignment of leases during the late 1570s. The 1582 survey of the properties suggested that they needed some major repairs.[11] They established that Crane’s house needed to be weather boarded on the north side and the walls, in general, plastered.[12] At Iveson’s house, a privy lacked joists and planking had been damaged by the fall of water from Herdon’s property. The shop there also needed new boarding.[13] The surveyors also commented that all three tenements lacked tiling.[14] By 1585, new problems had emerged. A stone wall on the back of Hodgkin’s tenement, for example, was described as ‘reeling’.[15] The tenants did make some attempt to rectify these faults in the coming years, but they were not always successful. While making suit for a lease in reversion in 1592,  Burnam, for example, alleged that there were faults in the reparations that had been made already. The Company undertook to view these before any lease would be made. Following their survey the Company granted Burnam a lease for twenty-one years at the old rent and for a £40 fine. [16]

By 1605, the Company had issued warnings for repairs of all of their properties in the City.[17] At Basing Lane, the Company raised particular concerns about properties in the tenancy of Henry Parson and Widow Westwood. They requested that Parson fix the tiling and plastering in his house, while also setting up eaves between him and his neighbour. Widow Westwood was warned to amend the tiling and plastering on the backside of her tenement.[18] In 1607, the Company leased a tenement in Basing Lane to Alan Fuller for twenty-one years at a £3 annual rent, and a fine of £33 6s. 8d. The Company included the clause that Fuller take responsibility for all repairs at the property, and he was given two years at the outset of his lease to make immediate repairs to the property.[19] In April 1607, Mr. Fludd made suit to the Court for an extension of years to his lease of one of the Basing Lane tenements, which he had been granted in 1597.[20]

In 1612, Treswell provided a detailed description of the three tenements at Basing Lane. One property was situated on north side of the lane, and five storeysBasing Lane, Treswell Survey, 1612 in height with a garret, cellar and shop. The other two tenements lay side-by-side on the south side of the lane. Both consisted of five storeys, with a garret, cellar and shop.[21] By 1620, some of the property features displayed on the Treswell Survey had fallen into disrepair. The Company called Widow Parsons to Court to be warned about the wall on the east side of her property, which they described as being ‘undermined and in danger of ruin’.[22] In 1628 and 1629, the Company seemed to be instituting several repairs to the properties at Basing Lane. In October 1628, Company surveyors viewed a tenement in Basing Lane to examine the wainscot and other fittings in the house.[23] By April 1629, the Company had begun to expand their buildings in Basing Lane into the bowling lane. Mr. Fuller, their tenant in one of the tenements on the south side of the lane, had built a warehouse in the bowling alley.[24]

Much of the later history of the tenements at Basing Lane was dominated by lease agreements. At each lease, the Company viewed the properties, but no reports have survived. The Company property at Basing Lane was completely destroyed by the Great Fire in 1666. In the aftermath of the Fire, the Company became involved in a dispute with a neighbouring property owner, who had encroached on their lands during the rebuilding of his own property.[25] They undertook a survey of their Basing Lane lands in order to plot out their entire landholdings there. In 1668, the Company granted a lease of a plot of land at Basing Lane to their pre-Fire tenant, Alan Fuller.[26] Other tenants at Basing Lane, including Mr. Hatton and Mr. Davys, were noted as petitioning the Court for some abatement of their rents due to the high costs of rebuilding the properties, which they were shouldering.[27]

At the height of the rebuilding phase, Mr. Fuller assigned his lease to Mr. Davys, who came to the court to petition for a longer term of years in the lease.[28] He offered to rebuild both his own house and Fuller’s to make them both of equal dimensions. In return, he petitioned the Company for a lease of fifty-five years. The Court refused to grant him the additional years, but did state that if he did rebuild the properties to a good standard, they would consider granting him the lease following the expiration of the original lease to Fuller.[29] In 1670, the Court received the report regarding the encroachment on their lands, which acknowledged that part of the ground towards the south of the lands, which Mr. Fuller and Mr. Carleton held from the Company, had been encroached upon by their neighbours. [30]Furthermore, lights and a water supply had been erected by the building to the west of the property, which interfered with their lands. The Company decided to refer it to the Court for further consideration. Such cases of encroachment were frequently recorded in the Court Orders in the years following the Fire, as the Company jostled with other City institutions to regain their lands in the devastation it caused. The Company sold 9-10, Basing Lane in 1855. They exchanged 29, Basing Lane for 48, Friday Street in 1867. The Friday Street property was sold in 1924.[31]                                                                                                                                                                   


[1] ‘Report on the Charities of the Clothworkers' Company: Part II', City of London Livery Companies Commission. Report; Volume 4 (1884), pp. 599-614. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=69738&strquery=report on the charities of the Date accessed: 10 March 2011.

[2] The Clothworkers’ Company Archive (hereafter CCA), Court Orders, CL/B/1/2, f. 11r, Survey at Basing Lane, 24 January 1560.

[3] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/1/2, f. 87v, Lease to Burnam, 23 March 1566.

[4] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/1/2, f. 140v, Survey at Basing Lane, 20 April 1570.

[5] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/1/2, f. 156v, Suit for a lease by Keblewhite, 11 December 1571.

[6] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/1/2, f. 164v, Dispute between Keblewhite and Burnam, 17 October 1572.

[7] Ibid.

[8] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/1/2, f. 167r, Company’s resolution to dispute, 16 December 1572.

[9] Ibid.

[10] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/1/2, f. 169v, Survey at Basing Lane, 9 March 1573.

[11] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/1/3, f. 11r, Survey at Basing Lane, 13 March 1582.

[12] Ibid.

[13] Ibid.

[14] Ibid.

[15] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/1/3, ff 45v-47r, Surevy at Basing Lane, f. 45v-47r.

[16] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/1/8, f. 125r, Lease to Burnam, 20 September 1592.

[17] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/1/3, ff 246r-246v, Survey at Basing Lane, 27 May 1605.

[18] Ibid.

[19] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/1/5, f. 2v, Lease to Alan Fuller, 18 March 1607.

[20] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/1/5, f. 3v, Suit for an extension of years to his lease by Mr. Fludd, 18 March 1607; original lease granted in 1597 (CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/1/3, f. 172v, Lease to Mr. Fludd, 18 March 1607).

[21] CCA, Treswell Survey.

[22] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/1/5, f. 290v, Dispute between the Company and Widow Parsons, 18 January 1620.

[23] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/1/6, f.77v, Survey at Basing Lane, 6 October 1628.

[24] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/1/6, f. 84v, Rebuilding at Basing Lane, 14 April 1629.

[25] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/1/10, p. 106, Dispute regarding an encroachment on the Company lands at Basing Lane, 26 June 1668.

[26] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/1/10, p. 90, Lease to Fuller, 4 March 1668.

[27] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/1/10, p. 91, Petitions by tenants for an abatement of rent, 4 March 1668.

[28] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/1/10, p. 95, Petition by Mr. Davy’s, 1 May 1668.

[29] Ibid.

[30] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/1/10, p. 221, Report of an encroachment on the lands, 25 January 1670.

[31] A. Buchanan, ‘The Sources of the Wealth of The Clothworkers’ Company’, unpublished paper.