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fur trade got into fresh channels, as commercial rights were extended, and became better understood. These results lowered the influence of the Company, as a trading society, though in all other respects it is still one of the most respectable and affluent belonging to the City.
The original Skinners' Hall, which Stowe describes as very fayre house, sometime called Copped Hall,” was purchased by the Company, together with several small tenements adjacent, as early as the reign of Henry the Third, and the Skinners afterwards held it under a licence of mortmain granted by that King. It was afterwards alienated, though by what means is uncertain; and in the nineteenth of Edward the Second, was possessed by Ralph de Cobham, the brav Kentish warrior, who having made Edward the Third his heir, was thus the cause of the Skinners being reinstated in their ancient purchase, which the Monarch restored about the time of the legal incorporation of the Company.
The present SKINNERS' Hall, is a very handsome and convenient structure, standing on Dowgate Hill, on the site of the ancient building. The front, which includes the dwelling of the Clerk, &c, has been new built within these twenty years, from designs by the late Mr. Jupp, architect, who also made considerable alterations in the other parts. It is a regular building of the Ionic order, the basement part, to the level of the first story, is of stone, and rusticated; from this rise six pilasters, sustaining an entablature and pediment, all of the same material, and in the tympanum are the Company's arms,* the supporters being represented as couchant, in order to adopt them the better to the spaces they occupy: the frieze is ornamented with festoods, and lion's heads. A small paved court separates this front from the more
• The Skinners' arms are ermines, on a chief, gules, three crowns, or, with caps, of the first; crest, a leopard couchant; supported on the dexter side by a leopard, and on the sinister by a fox ; motto “ To God only be all Glory.” The arms are ancient; the crest and supporters were granted by William Harvey, Clarencieux, in 1561.
ancient part of the fabric, which is of brick and neatly wrought. The Hall, is a light and elegant apartment, having an Ionic screen, and other adornments proper to that order; it is also handsomely fitted up in the modern style. In the Court Room, which was formerly wainscotted with the red, or 'odoriferous,' cedar, but is now altered, and neatly modernized, is a good head of Sir Andrew Judde, .Knt. Lord Mayor in 1550, who was a native of Tunbridge, in Kent, and founded the free Grammar School there, of which the very able and learned Dr. Vicesimus Knox is now master. For the support of that establishment, Sir Andrew, on his death in 1558, directed by his will, that certain lands, of the annual value of 561. Os. 4d. and situated in the parishes of St. Pancras, All-Hallows, Gracechurch Street, St. J.aw. rence Pountney, St. Peter, and St. Helen, should be perpetually vested in the Company of Skinners; and in consequence of this bequest the members visit the School every year, in May, at a great expense, attended as the statutes direct, by some eminent Clergyman, whose business is to examine into the progress made by the different classes; after the examination, which is conducted with much ceremony, honorary rewards are distributed to the best scholars. The rental of the lands bequeathed by the founder, as well as of other estates given by his son-in-law, Sir Thomas Smith, Knt. to augment the endowments, and establish six exhibitions to the University, has been vastly increased, and is yet in a course of progressive augmentation; the land in St. Paneras parish, having been recently covered with houses to a considerable extent, under the direction, and principally at the charge of Mr. Burton, the architect, who, a few years ago, obtained a lease of the ground from the Company, for the purpose.*
The staircase displays some of the massy carving, and rich ornaments, in vogue at the time of the rebuilding of the Hall after the Great Fire, the expense of which is said to have been
See before, p. 102. Some further particulars of the School at Tunbridge, may be seen under the description of Tunbridge, in Beanties of England, Vol. VIII.
18,0001. Before the erection of the Mansion-House, several Lord-Mayors resided here, during the year in which they held their office; and the general Courts of the New East India Company were also held in this structure, previously to the union of the two Companies in 1720.
The Skinners' Company is governed by a Master, four Wardens, and a Court of about sixty Assistants, whose disbursements for the support of Schools, Alms-houses, Exhibitions, Lectures, &c. amount to between one and two thousand pounds anBually.
The COMPANY OF MERCHANT-TAYLORS, arose from an ancient Guild or Fraternity, dedicated to St. John Baptist, and called “ time out of mind,” says Stow, “ of Taylors and Linen Armourers of London.” This Guild received a confirmation from Edward the First, in his 28th year, with power to
hold a feast, at Midsummer, to choose a master,' &c. At that period, and during a long succession of years, the master was denominated the Pilgrim,-as one that travelled for the whole Companie, and the foure Wardens were then called Purveyors of Alms.'* In the year 1466, a more regular incorporation of this Company took place, under the authority of the Letters Patent of Edward the Fourth, who was himself a freeman, as all his predecessors in the sovereignty had also been, from the time of Edward the Third. Henry the Seventh, who was likewise a member, re-incorporated the Company in the year 1503, by the new description of “ The Master and Wardens of the Merchant Taylors, of the Fraternity of St. John Baptist," &c. This was done, according to the above Historian, “ for that divers of that Fraternitie had beene great Marchants, and had frequented all sorts of marchandises into most partes of the world, to the honor of the King's realme, and to the great profit of his subjectes, and of his progenitors; and the men of the said mistirie, had, during the time aforesaid, exercised the buying and selling of all wares and marchandises, especially of woolen clothe, as well in
grosse, Stow's Sur. p. 142.