The London Greyfriars

L.W. Cowie describe show the Franciscans came to London in the thirteenth century and founded a highly patronised friary.

The first Franciscans or Greyfriars to come to England, according to the account of Thomas of Eccleston, were nine friars who landed at Dover in September 1224. Five of them stayed in Canterbury, and the other four went on to London, where they were lodged for a fortnight by the Dominicans until they were granted a house in Cornhill by John Travers, Sheriff of London, in which they constructed cells like sheep-cotes of wattles with straw between them.

By the next summer, when their numbers were growing rapidly, John Twyn, a mercer of London, purchased for their use some land in the parish of St. Nicholas Shambles within Newgate. This, like most later gifts, was vested in the Commonalty of the City of London for their use, since their Rule forbade Franciscans to hold money.

Further gifts between then and 1353 increased the extent of their land on this site, though it never amounted to more than four acres. The area occupied by their buildings extended to the city wall on the north, to Stinking Lane (now King Edward Street) on the east, to Blow Bladder Street (now Newgate Street) on the south and almost to the city wall on the west.

To continue reading this article you will need to purchase access to the online archive.

Buy Online Access  Buy Print & Archive Subscription

If you have already purchased access, or are a print & archive subscriber, please ensure you are logged in.

Please email if you have any problems.