Crosby Hall, London
|Location||Cheyne Walk, Chelsea, London|
|Built||1466 (Great Hall and Parlour)|
1910, 1925–6 (Remainder)
|Official name: Crosby Hall|
|Designated||24 June 1954|
Crosby Hall is an historic building in London. The Great Hall was built in 1466 and originally stood in Bishopsgate, in the City of London, but was moved in 1910 to its present site in Cheyne Walk, Chelsea. It now forms part of a private residence.
The Great Hall, and additional work of 1910 and 1925–1926, are listed Grade II*. Although fragmentary and not on its original site, this is the only example of a medieval City merchant house surviving in London.
The Great Hall is the only surviving part of the medieval mansion of Crosby Hall, Bishopsgate, in the City of London, which was built in 1466 by the wool merchant Sir John Crosby. By 1483, the Duke of Gloucester, later Richard III, had acquired the Bishopsgate property from the original owner's widow. The Hall was used as one of his London homes. It was used as the setting for a scene in William Shakespeare's Richard III. In the reign of Henry VIII it belonged to Antonio Bonvisi. Notable residents include, Sir Thomas More, Lord Chancellor of England to King Henry VIII, More's son-in-law, William Roper, and Sir Walter Raleigh.
East India Company
From 1621 to 1638 it was the home of the East India Company. Following a fire in 1672 only the Great Hall and Parlour wing of the mansion survived; it then became a Presbyterian meeting house, and then a warehouse with an inserted floor.
In 1910, the medieval structure was reprieved from threatened demolition and moved stone by stone from Crosby Place to its present site, provided by the former London County Council, largely at public expense. The salvage, catalogue and storage were paid for by the Bank of India, who had purchased the Bishopsgate site to build offices. In 1916, the building housed Belgian refugees, as noted in an essay by Henry James. The architect responsible for the building's relocation and restoration was Walter Godfrey. Neo-Tudor brick additions designed by Walter Godfrey were constructed around it.
British Federation of University Women
The British Federation of University Women (BFUW) took a long lease on Crosby Hall and employed Godfrey to build a tall Arts and Crafts residential block at right angles to the great hall in 1925–1927. The federation raised money for the work through a major campaign reaching out to individual women, industrialists, philanthropists, and Chelsea residents. Two years into the campaign, £17,000 of their initial £25,000 target had been raised. Work began in 1926, and Queen Mary opened the new building on July 1, 1927.
The expanded Crosby Hall included offices for both the British and International Federation of University Women. The residential block was used as a hall of residence for visiting university women, some of whom received IFUW scholarships to travel and study.
Many of the foreign women were spending just the one year in England, and ... as a result felt this year to be one of the greatest experiences of their lives. For this reason the majority of the Crosby Hall residents lived at an enormous pitch of intensity, lifted out of their everyday habits, and this, above all, was what shaped the intellectual life of Crosby Hall.
With the rise of National Socialism (Nazism) in Germany and the passage of the anti-Jewish Law for the Restoration of the Professional Civil Service on 7 April 1933, Crosby Hall provided an important source of support for women academics who were being forced out of Germany. The BFUW undertook an additional fund-raising appeal on their behalf, which met with an enthusiastic response. As a result, the BFUW was able to provide 3 new 12-month residential fellowships (in addition to 7 existing ones) as well as smaller awards. In 1934 the new fellowship recipients were Emmy Klieneberger-Nobel, Betty Heimann, and Helen Rosenau. Among many other women who received funding and support were Adelheid Heimann (no relation to Betty), Gertrud Kornfeld, Dora Ilse, and Erna Hollitscher.
I cannot describe what it meant to me and other refugees when we were allowed to stay there, after the persecution and hatred that we had undergone in "Greater Germany". In Crosby Hall we were not only tolerated but welcomed, and we found an atmosphere of kindness and understanding which assured us that there was another world outside Nazi Germany in which we might be allowed to live freely, and perhaps happily. I feel sure that everyone who stayed in Crosby Hall felt that atmosphere, from whichever part of the world she came.
Crosby Hall was requisitioned by the war effort, but reopened in 1946.
Greater London Council
The site passed to the Greater London Council (GLC), who maintained it until 1986, when the GLC was abolished. The London Residuary Body, charged with disposing of the GLC's assets, put Crosby Hall up for sale.
Crosby Hall was bought in 1989 by Christopher Moran, a businessman and philanthropist who is the Chairman of Co-operation Ireland. Until then the site's frontage had been open to Cheyne Walk and the River Thames and its central garden was open to the public. Moran commissioned a scheme to close the frontage with a new building and convert the complex to a luxury mansion. The scheme caused considerable controversy, but was given eventually permission after a Public Inquiry in December 1996, following two previous refusals by Kensington and Chelsea Council. Moran paid for the building's restoration, including initial stabilization of the great hall's 15th-century Reigate stone.
Notable residents at the original site
- Richard Duke of Gloucester 1483.
- Bartholomew Reade, Lord Mayor of London, 1501 - 1505
- Sir Thomas More 1523–4.
- William Roper (son-in-law of Thomas More), 1547.
- Sir Walter Raleigh 1601.
- Owned by the Earl of Northampton between 1609 and 1671, and the residence of poet Mary Sidney from 1609 to 1615.
- Headquarters of the East India Company 1621–38.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Crosby Hall.|
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