People Property and Charity

The Clothworkers' Company 1500-1688

Billiter Lane

Roger Gardiner's Will, Book of Deeds and WillsRoger Gardiner (d.c.1520), Citizen and Fuller, bequeathed property in Billiter Lane, in the parish of All Hallows Staining to the Fullers’ Company.[1] The property comprised a ‘capital messuage’ and lands, tenements, houses, curtilages and gardens adjoining the said property.[2]  The monies generated by the property were granted entirely to the Fullers’ Company to ensure its continued prosperity. Gardiner instructed the Wardens of The Fullers’ Company to distribute 23s. 4d. annually at the obit to the parson, priest, Clerk, sexton and helpers at the obit.[3] He directed the Company to make annual payments to the Master, Wardens, Beadle and Clerk of the Company for their attendance at the obit. He stipulated that 4s. 4d. should also be given to thirteen of the most poor of the parish of St. Martin Outwich on the day of the obit.[4] The final section of his will gave specific instructions that any residue of profits should be used to repair the six tenements. If the Company failed to do so, he ordered that they must pay 40s. as a forfeit to the parson and churchwardens of the parish church.[5] These properties equated to 1-11 Billiter Square and 10-13 Billiter Street.[6] The Company received a second bequest of property at Billiter Lane from Stephen Lound (d.c.1520), Citizen and Clothworker. His will does not survive, so his precise instructions with regards to the monies generated from the properties do not survive. These properties equated to 12-14 Billiter Lane.[7]

The first reference to the Billiter Lane properties in the Company Court Orders related to the sealing of covenants for the rebuilding of houses in April 1538.[8] By September 1538, the properties seem to have been built with reference made to the payment of Mr. Delyke, a carpenter, for his work on ‘two newly built houses’ in the Lane.[9] During the early years of the Company’s management of the properties, the tenements were continuously leased at relatively low rents to Company pensioners, widows and to those who had played a role within the Company Court or administration. In January 1552, for example, Margaret Colman, a Company pensioner and widow, received a lease for the term of her widowhood at an annual rent of 5s.[10] She was already in receipt of 20s. a year from the Company for her pension.[11] In 1557, John Clerke, received a lease of two tenements in Billiter Lane for the term ‘of his life’ at a rent of 26s. 8d.[12] In March 1569, another widow, Anne Parke, received a lease of a tenement at Billiter Lane for the term of her life.[13] Under the terms of the lease she agreed to pay the accustomed rent and to keep the property ‘watertight and windtight’.[14] She also offered £5 towards house benevolence.[15]

The upkeep and repair of the properties at Billiter Lane continued to be a central concern of the Company during the sixteenth century. While rebuilding had occurred in the 1530s, more extensive surveys and repairs were undertaken again in the 1550s and 1560s. In May 1557, the Company contracted Mr. Revell, a carpenter ‘to view the old house and make a new frame’.[16] By 1561, the Billiter Lane properties were included in the annual Company survey. These surveys acknowledged much needed repairs at the property. In 1561 viewers noted that houses in Billiter Lane ‘[lacked] tylyng’.[17] In 1569, the Company viewers noted further problems at the properties, particularly in relation to the privies which were ‘purged for that they Ran over and must of necessitie be made clene’.[18]

By January 1571, the Company were planning further developments at the Billiter Lane properties. A lease to Edward Herdeson, Skinner, of a tenement, was to enable him ‘to make a gatehouse’ to a larger property on the lane.[19] The continual repair and upkeep of the properties continued to be embedded in leases of properties throughout the 1570s. In May 1573, a lease to Mr. Armer, allowed for his assignee Mr. Lucker to remain in the property, as long as he ensured the property remained ‘windtight and watertight’ and that he undertook all repairs.[20] By 1584, the Billiter Lane properties were causing concern during the annual Company survey with all the tenements described ‘as lacking tiling generally’.[21] Repairs and rebuilding at the properties in Billiter Lane continued in the 1590s and in the early seventeenth century. In 1595, Thomas Gall, a tenant at Billiter Lane requested permission ‘to pull down the chimneys and rest them’ and to ‘seal the rooms’ in his property.[22] Similarly, Arthur Harrison, Vintner, was noted as ‘digging and making the cellars and vaults under the tenements of the Company in Billiter Lane and adjoining houses’.[23]

In the seventeenth century, leases of the properties at Billiter Lane continued to be issued to either pensioners or members of the Company. As early as 1608, Joan Payne, a granddaughter of Oliver Claymond, former Master and benefactor of the Company received a grant of a tenement in Billiter Lane.[24] The grant was particularly favourable offering her ‘any tenement where fit for a poor aged woman without paying any rent during her life’.[25] In February 1612, Thomas Holte, the Beadle of the livery, was granted a lease of a tenement in Billiter Lane at an annual rent of 30s.[26] Further leases continued to be granted throughout the 1610s, to long-term tenants and their family members. In 1616, Arthur Harrison, who as listed was a Company tenant twenty years previously, made suit for a new lease of a corner tenement called ‘The Shipwreck’ on the Lane.[27]

The properties were recorded in the Treswell Survey in 1612. The survey described the properties as ranging in height from three to five storeys. The mostBilliter Lane, Treswell Survey significant property was that in the tenure of Arthur Harrison, who was described as a ‘tenant to Sir Edw: Darcy knight’.[28] His tenement comprised five storeys. The second storey held a chamber and a kitchen which measured ‘15 foote ½ and in breth 12 foot’; a third storey contaning a chamber with a chimney which was about ‘in Length 16 foote ½ & in bredth 12 foote with a Chimney’; a fourth storey with a chamber described as ‘in Length 18 foote, and in bredth 12 foote with a Chimney’ and a fifth storey comprising a ‘Garrett ouer all conteyning in length 18 foote, and in bredth 12 foote’.[29] Other Company tenements at Billiter Lane also contained significant cellars. Treswell described Widow Hallywell’s tenement, for example, as including ‘a Seller vnder the same howse conteyning in length 16 foote, and in bredth 14 foote.’ while John Dickman’s tenement comprised ‘a Seller vnder the same building cont: in length 14 foote, and in bredth 9 foote’.[30] All of the properties contained a shop to the front, and the differing heights ensured the street retained a fairly haphazard structure in 1612.[31]

There are relatively few references to the Billiter Lane properties in the Court Orders during the 1620s, 1630s and 1640s. The properties continued to be surveyed at regular intervals during these decades due to their relatively poor state. In 1630, for example, one tenant, Mr. Yardley complained to the Court ‘of an annoyance there done to him by meanes of a sink made in a tenement belonging to the company which his house adjoins’.[32] The Company responded by undertaking a survey of the property to comprehend the extent of the problem.[33] The Company’s Billiter Lane properties survived the Great Fire in 1666 and, in its aftermath, the Company attempted to redevelop many of the tenements. As early as April 1670, Edward Kinge, a bricklayer, was requesting payment for rebuilding and repair work he had completed at Billiter Lane.[34] In 1675, Mr. Chase, a Company tenant at Billiter Lane, petitioned the Court for permission to ‘allow him the charges of repairing the said house, it being very defective in many particulars’.[35] The Company acknowledged his petition and offered him a reduced rent of £1 6s. 8d. to lease the property for life should he repair the property. Another tenant, Mr. Hammond requested permission in 1683 to rebuild his property.[36]

The Company retained the Billiter Lane properties as part of their portfolio until the twentieth century. Of Lound’s portfolio, 14, Billiter Lane was sold in 1923, while the remaining properties were integrated into the Company’s wider Fenchurch Street property holdings.[37] Gardiner’s properties at Billiter Lane have been partly retained in the Company’s portfolio. After 1954, 1-7 Billiter Square and 10-11 Billiter Street exchanged or sold for other city properties.[38] 9-11 Billiter Square and 11-13 Billiter Street are now part of 14 Fenchurch Avenue.[39]

The Billiter Lane properties were noted extensively in the Company accounts. Taken at twenty year intervals the monies accrued from the property can be noted. In 1600, the Company received a rental income of £15 4s.[40] In the same year, no money was spent on repairs to the property.[41] In 1620, the annual rental income from Billiter Lane was £16 17s. 4d., while no expenditure is recorded.[42] By 1640, the annual income from Billiter Lane had risen to c.£20 7s.[43] By 1660, the annual income was £10 19s. 4d. with expenditure reaching 9s. 5d.[44] By 1680, the Company was receiving c. £16 annually from the Billiter Lane properties.[45] No expenditure was recorded in this year.


[1] The Clothworkers’ Company Archive (hereafter CCA), Clerk's Records, CL/7/1/3/1/18 and CCA, Clerk's Records, CL//F/1/3/1/19, Will of Roger Gardiner

[2] CCA, Clerk's Records, CL/7/1/3/1/18, Will of Roger Gardiner

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid.

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

[7] Ibid.

[8] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/1/1, f. 28r, Rebuilding of houses at Billiter Lane, 16 April 1538.

[9] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/1/1, f. 37r, Payment to Mr. Delyke, 18 September 1538.

[10] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/1/1, f. 176r, Lease to Mrs. Colman, 27 January 1552,

[11] Ibid.

[12] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/1/1, f. 224v, Lease to John Clerke, 17 November 1557.

[13] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/1/2, f. 129v, Lease to Anne Parke, 15 March 1569.

[14] Ibid.

[15] Ibid.

[16] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/1/1, f. 220v, Mr. Revell contracted to make a new frame at Billiter Lane, 4 May 1557.

[17] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/1/2, ff 18r-18v, Company survey of Billiter Lane, 28 April 1561.

[18] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/1/2, f. 102v, Company survey of Billiter Lane, 8 March 1567.

[19] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/1/2, f. 147v, Lease to Edward Herdeson, 17 January 1571.

[20] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/1/2, f. 171r, Lease to Mr. Armer, 5 May 1573.

[21] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/1/3, f. 36r, Survey at Billiter Lane, 23 March 1584.

[22] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/1/3, f. 145v, Repairs to property by Thomas Gall, 13 July 1595.

[23] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/1/3, f. 211r, Arthur Harrison repairing the cellars and vaults at Billiter lane, 10 January 1602.

[24] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/1/5, f. 21r, Grant to Joan Payne, 5 April 1608.

[25] Ibid.

[26] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/1/5, f. 104r, Lease to Thomas Holte, 18 February 1612. 

[27] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/1/5, ff 231v-232r, Suit for a lease by Arthur Harrison, 16 December 1616.

[28] CCA, Treswell Survey, 1612.

[29] Ibid.

[30] Ibid.

[31] The Billiter Lane properties have recently been discussed as part of the ‘Map of early modern London’ resource, available at

[32] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/1/6, f. 102r, Survey at Billiter Lane, 4 August 1630.

[33] Ibid.

[34] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/1/10, p. 231, Request for payment by Edward King, 20 April 1670.

[35] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/1/10, p. 389, Petition by Mr. Chase, 11 August 1675.

[36] CCA, Court Orders, CL/B/1/10, p. 630, Petition by Mr. Hammond, 4 April 1683.

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

[38] Ibid.

[39] Ibid.

[40] CCA, Renter Warden Accounts, CL/D/5/4, Section 6, The Renter Warden accounts of Anthony Fawlkes, 1600, f. 1v.

[41] CCA, Renter Warden Accounts, CL/D/5/4, Section 6, The Renter Warden accounts of Anthony Fawlkes, 1600, f. 7r.

[42] CCA, Renter Warden Accounts, CL/D/5/5, Section 16, The Renter Warden accounts of Daniel Hall, 1620, f. 3r.

[43] CCA, Renter Warden Accounts, CL/D/5/8, Section 4, The Renter Warden accounts of William Harris, 1640, f. 2r. The  income figures cannot be accurately calculated due to damage to the originals.

[44] CCA, Renter Warden Accounts, CL/D/5/10, The Renter Warden accounts of Dennis Gawden, 1660, f. 2 and f. 26.

[45] CCA, Renter Warden Accounts, CL/D/5/12, The Renter Warden accounts of Robert Stevenson, 1680, f. 2.