The House of the Greyfriars in Canterbury - 5
|The House of the Greyfriars in Canterbury|
A few months later Grey Friars was let to Thomas Spylman, the local receiver of the Court of Augmentation, for forty shillings a year. Later, this man bought the whole site, including the church and the bell-tower, for £100.
In 1565 Thomas Rolf granted the property to William Lovelace, a member of the famous old Kentish family of that name. By his will, dated July, 1576, William Lovelace left "one house and site of the Grey Friars in the City of Canterbury " to his son and heir, another William, who was grandfather of the famous Cavalier-Poet, Colonel Lovelace, and he was the last of his family to live in Canterbury. Later, the property passed into various hands until, in 1898, it was bought by a Mr. D. W. Hodgkinson, who died in 1916. His nephew, Mr. W. Hodgkinson, conveyed the house and its present surrounding land in 1919 to Major H. G. James.
At one time the house was certainly used as a gaol, and there are still marks on the walls purporting to have been the work of various prisoners, while a heavy iron door, studded and barred, still testifies to this gloomy use. Later, the Huguenots, after the great massacre of St. Bartholomew's Day, swarmed out of the continent, many of them fleeing to England, bringing their weaving industry with them. In Canterbury the first home of the Huguenot Refugees was at Grey Friars, where for a time they did their weaving over the beams in the ancient dormitory.
Harbour of refuge and hospitality that the little house has ever been, its friendly doors were still offering a welcome to the distressed, even in those momentous days of the first Great War, when some of the Belgian Refugees found safety and peace within its walls.
Discerning the true value of Grey Friars, Major James restored it as nearly as possible to its original form, thus providing a fitting memorial to those Little Brothers of the Poor who for more than 300 years lived and worked among us.
The property suffered considerable damage by enemy action in the recent war. Fortunately, however, the house itself suffered little. The gardens were dug up, under Ministerial direction, and much war damage still remains, though in course of time it is hoped to restore the grounds of the Grey Friars to their former peaceful beauty.
The plan for the reconstruction of Canterbury and the easing of its traffic problems contains provision for a relief traffic road to cross the centre of the garden. Should this ever be carried into effect, there will be countless friends in all parts of the world who will regret this spoliation of one of the ancient City's most beautiful links with the past.
|< Prev||Next >|