The story of the Crutched Friars in London….

The Priory of the Holy Cross, also known as the Crossed or Crutched Friars, near Tower Hill, was one of about forty-five religious houses and over one hundred parish churches in medieval London. Oh, how many of these wonderful buildings were lost forever in the Great Fire, never to be replaced?

My recent contact with this particular piece of the past has come through writing about the start of social unrest, which led to the Peasants’ Revolt of 1381, during which John of Gaunt’s great palace of the Savoy was attacked and destroyed. But it had been attacked and raided before then too, in February 1377. There had been trouble and the London mob’s blood was up. It was seeking Gaunt himself, but luckily for him he happened to be out dining in the city, at Ypres Inn in the oddly named Wringwren Lane, He escaped by fleeing to Joan of Kent, Princess of Wales, at Kennington.

The reason I mention Gaunt’s dinner engagement is that on that same night one of the men with whom he dined was Henry Percy, the loathed Earl Marshal, who was Gaunt’s close ally and whose house was also attacked. The mob had attacked the Marshalsea, angry with the Earl Marshal. When he wasn’t there they went to his house, which I found referred to as being at the Crutched Friars.

Crutched Friars, from the Agas map (c.1540-1621) showing Tower Hill bottom right.

But all that is irrelevant really, because the article I’m recommending is about Crutched Friars itself, and the varied historic figures who were buried at the friary, or were associated with it. This is a link to the whole article.

I did notice one reference that was of particular interest to me:

“ . . . The burials of ‘gentlemen’ and ‘esquires’ within the Crutched Friars are difficult to identify since it is not recorded whether they were Londoners or visitors. William Brosked and Nicholas Kyrell were both described as ‘esquire’ by Stow, but nothing further is known about them . . . .”

Well, I don’t know William Brosked, or how many Nicholas Kyrells (Kirriel, Kyriell, Criol, etc) there were, but if it’s the same Nicholas I’ve been investigating, he was Sir Nicholas, the second son and heir of Sir John Kyrell, who’d held property in Kent and Leicestershire, including Westenhanger, close to the south Kent coast, near Hythe. Sir John and Westenhanger both feature in my research.

Nicholas made his will on the Friday before St. Michael’s Day, 1379 (23rd September). He made no request for his burial, but now it would seem possible he was lain to rest at the Crutched Friars in London. Although whether he would have been referred to as an esquire, I’m not entirely sure. I’m prepared to wonder if I have the wrong Nicholas Kyrell, although intuition tells me it’s the one connected to Westenhanger.

Apart from the portion of the Agas map, the other illustrations are from the article indicated.

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