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Pre(sise)ly the place for Royalty

On a roll with this terrible punning (if that's the proper term for it?)

In the last post I possibly hinted at my dislike of a horrendous late 1980s redevelopment in the area of Poultry and Queen Victoria Street, but let's not get sidetracked or we'll be here all day.

Rather negatively I've never looked at the area in as much depth as I should, a Cardinal sin as I found out recently. The location in question and the vehicle for the terrible title is known as Sise Lane.

Google Map's assertion that the corner of the lane is the site of St. Clement Danes Church made me chuckle, (it's about a mile and a half away at the end of the Strand) especially as they've located it slap bang in the middle of HSBC bank, something about money being the new religion possibly?

Today Sise lane is an ugly stub of an alley that you wouldn't give a second glance to, but that's not a modern thing. When Queen Victoria Street was opened in 1871 it truncated Sise Lane leaving it a desolate backwater. In an 1881 trade directory the only mention of it is as "Here is Sise Lane" and there are no listings for it. However looking back to a time before the redevelopment you see that the lane linked Pancras Lane and Budge Row, two important streets at the time. Early trade directories show that the lane was indeed a hive of activity.

It also gave access to St Antholin's church which I wrote about in An In(k)spiring Story. The Lane is much older that the map on the left of 1746 and shows up on the AGAS map of around 1540 below, where it is known as St Sythes Lane. How it became to be called so is not readily explainable. Referring to the fount of knowledge on all things medieval, the chronicler John Strype, he makes a link between the name Sythe or Sithes and the church of St. Benet Sherehog. Apparently when first in use around 1111 it was dedicated to St Osyth an eight century saint, also known as St Sythe.

The proceeding church was then known as St Bennet Sheerhog which was destroyed in the Great Fire and never rebuilt. You can see the position of the church noted in the first map towards the top of the page. The name is strange one and I spent some time hunting for a saint of the same name, whereon I turned up another piece of Strype legend that said that the name was possibly a play on words. A shere hog is a medieval term for a castrated ram after it has had it's first shearing. The Bennet part comes from the name of a benefactor to the church in the early 1300s, Bennet Shorne. Shorne/shorn (as in to sheer a sheep. Do you see what they did there?) or more mundanely the Shorne was corrupted to shrog, which in turn was corrupted to Sherehog.

The earliest mention of the Lane connected to St Osyth is around 1400 as "Seint Sythes lane", but travel back further and a new name is revealed from around 1270 as "Paternosterstrete".

But who, what, where are the royals mentioned in the title, let's start with the where.

There's a very unlik clue to be found in the early trade directory as it shows that the bottom part of the lane in the early 1800s was known as Skinners Place. The worshipful Company of Skinners have had their headquarters just off of Budge Row (now the Bloomburg Arcade) since 1295, only a couple of minutes walk from Sise Lane.

It is known from records that many wealthy Skinners or Pellipars as they were known had large houses built in both Budge Row and Sise Lane. This interpretation of the street layout in the mid 1400s shows three large houses. The one highlighted is on the alignment of the 19th century Skinners Place and is thought have been owned in the mid 1400s by a wealthy fur trader called John Pasmer. The house and its gardens became known as Pasmer place and it is assumed that Pasmer had other properties in the City and rented this one out to those who could afford it. One of these was John de Welles, who died in the house in 1499 of pleurisy. John was also known as 1st Viscount Welles, a Knight of the Order of St George, but his claim to fame was that he had a famous mother. His father, Lionel had been first married to a Jane Waterton, however, after her death he remarried, this time to Lady Margaret Beauchamp a descendent of King Edward III, John being their only Child. Through one of Margaret Beauchamp's earlier marriages she had a daughter, Lady Margaret Beaufort the mother of Henry VII. John being Margaret's half brother found himself related to the King. To add to this John went on to marry Cecily, daughter of Edward IV, establishing his credentials as a proper royal and member of the household.

Lady Margaret Beauchamp Henry VII Lady Margaret Beaufort

He and Cecily lived at Pasmer Place with their two daughters Elizabeth and Ann. Cecily survived all three of them, father and daughters dying within a year of each other.

So next time I'm sneering at a Thatcherite planners dream, I'll focus on the street that I'm standing on, and be it short and ugly I'll give it the same respect as the grandest in the capital.

Princess Cecily of York

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