The Weigh House, Eastcheap


The Weigh House, Eastcheap
   On the south side of Little Eastcheap, between Botolph Lane and Love Lane (O. and M. 1677-O.S. 1880).
   The King's Weigh House, as it was called, was the place where the King's weights, known as the Great Beam, etc., were kept, "where merchandize brought from beyond the Seas are to be weighed at the king's beame" (S. 193).
   In early days the weights were carried about from place to place, but by the "Statutum de Nova Custuma," 31 Ed. I., it was ordained that the weights should be kept in a fixed place (Lib. Cust. I. 208), and should be under the care of a Warden appointed,by the King (Cal. L. Bk. A. p.225).
   The Small Beam, on the other hand, belonged to the City, and the appointment to the office of weigher of that Beam was in the hands of the Mayor and Sheriffs, etc. (Cal. L Bk. A. 191, L. Bk. C. 31, 56, 155, 239, and Riley's Memorials, p.26). In 1312 they seem also to have presented to the office of Weigher of the Great Beam (Cal. L. Bk. D. p.297).
   The earliest mention of a Weigh House occurs in 1357, when the Weyhouse for weighing corn situate in Aldgate was alleged to belong to the Chamber of the Guildhall and not to the Mayor (Cal. L. Bk. G. p.104).
   In 6 Ric. II. John Churchman built a house at Wool Wharf in Tower Ward for the ttronage or weighing of wool, and the King gave permission for the tronage to be kept in this House during Churchman's life, the king to pay him 40s. a year for the purpose (S. 137). Heath, in his history of the Grocers' Company, p.203, says that Churchman handed over the management of the Weigh House to the Grocers' Company, and in 1453 they made a tariff of charges for tronage, they having at that time the charge and management of the King's Beam (ib. 421).
   Subsequently to this Sir Thos. Lovell built the Weigh House in Cornhill, which was held in trust and was bequeathed by John Billesden by his Will dated 1532 to the Wardens of the Grocers Company together with £300 for repairs on behalf of Sir Thos. Lovell (Ct. H. Wills, II. 635).
   It appears that at this time the right of weighing at the Great Beam was in dispute and was claimed both by the Municipal authorities and by the Wardens of the Grocers Company.
   The Weigh House in Cornhill was burnt down in the Great Fire 1666 and was rebuilt on the south side of Eastcheap, between Botolph Lane and Love Lane, on part of the site of the church of St. Andrew Hubbard.
   By this time, however, it had ceased to be of much importance, as the Merchants did not care for the trouble and expence of having their goods weighed and no one had sufficient authority in the City to compel them to do so (Strype, ed. 1720, I. ii. 173).
   The subsequent history of the building is, however, of some interest, for over the Weigh House was founded, about 1697, a Meeting House or Chapel for Dissenters from the Church of England, members of the congregation of the Rev. S. Slater, who had been compelled in 1662 by the Act of Uniformity to resign the living of the Church of St. Katherine by the Tower.
   In Rocque's map, 1746, it is described as a Presbyterian Meeting House.
   It continued to be used for religious worship for a long period, being known as the King's Weigh House Chapel, and in 1834 the congregation had become so numerous that the old bnilding no longer provided sufficient accommodation, and it was found necessary to erect a new chapel in Fish Street Hill.
   In 1883 the site of this King's Weigh House Chapel was acquired by the Metropolitan and District Railway Company for the extension and completion of their lines, the original building in Eastcheap being also removed about the same time for the widening of that thoroughfare.
   Eventually in 1888 a new site was secured for the chapel in Duke Street, Grosvenor Square, at the junction of Duke Street and Robert Street, and it was completed and opened for divine worship in 1891. Its origin is still commemorated in its name, " the King's Weigh House Chapel."

A Dictionary of London. . 1918.

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