The Parish Clerk (1907) eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 290 pages of information about The Parish Clerk (1907).
A.D. 1800.  William Bound, Joseph Bird, Churchwardens.  For the better accommodation of the neighbourhood, this pump was removed to the spot where it now stands.  The spring by which it is supplied is situated four feet eastward, and round it, as history informs us, the Parish Clerks of London in remote ages commonly performed sacred plays.  That custom caused it to be denominated Clerks’-Well, and from which this parish derived its name.  The water was greatly esteemed by the Prior and Brethren of the Order of St. John of Jerusalem and the Benedictine Nuns in the neighbourhood.

Hone, in his Ancient Mysteries, describes this pump, which in his day, A.D. 1832, stood between an earthenware shop and the abode of a bird-seller, and states that the monument denoting the histrionic fame of the place, and alluding to the miraculous powers of the water for healing incurable diseases, remains unobserved beneath its living attractions.  “The present simplicity of the scene powerfully contrasts with the recollection of its former splendour.  The choral chant of the Benedictine Nuns, accompanying the peal of the deep-toned organ through their cloisters, and the frankincense curling its perfume from priestly censers at the altar, are succeeded by the stunning sounds of numerous quickly plied hammers, and the smith’s bellows flashing the fires of Mr. Bound’s ironfoundry, erected upon the unrecognised site of the convent.  The religious house stood about half-way down the declivity of the hill, which commencing near the church on Clerkenwell Green, terminates at the River Fleet.  The prospect then was uninterrupted by houses, and the people upon the rising ground could have had an uninterrupted view of the performances at the well.”

In the parish there is a vineyard walk, which marks the site of the old vineyard attached to the priory of St. John.  The cultivation of the vine was carried on in many monasteries.  In 1859, in front of the old Vineyard Inn, a signboard was set up which stated that “This house is celebrated from old associations connected with the City of London.  After the City clerks partook of the water of Clerks’ Well, from which the parish derives its name, they repaired hither to partake of the fruit of the finest English grapes.”  This was an ingenious contrivance on the part of the landlord to solicit custom.  It need hardly be stated that the information given on this signboard was incorrect.  Before the Reformation there were few inns, and the old Vineyard Inn can scarcely claim such a remote ancestry.

When miracle plays ceased to be performed the clerks did not desert their old quarters.  It is, indeed, stated that the ancient society of parish clerks became divided; some turned their attention to wrestling and mimicry at Bartholomew Fair, whilst others, for their better administration, formed themselves into the Society of the Mayor, Aldermen, and Recorder of Stroud Green, assembling in the Old Crown at Islington;

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The Parish Clerk (1907) from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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