From St. Helen's, Bishopsgate, that very charming little ancient church, come certain effigies of historical interest which must be greatly surprised to find themselves in this West End mansion. One is that from the sumptuous tomb of Sir William Pickering ( 1516- 1575), the courtier and diplomatist under Henry VIII, Edward VI and Mary, who, after some questionable intrigues abroad, was spoken of as a possible and even probable consort of Good Queen Bess herself. Another effigy is of a gallant citizen and haberdasher who, becoming a captain, trained men to resist the Armada in 1588; and a third is from the tomb of Sir John Spencer, Lord Mayor of London, who gave great feasts at Crosby Hall, that fine Elizabethan palace removed in 1909-10 from Bishopsgate Street to Cheyne Row, Chelsea. Spencer was a man of great commercial shrewdness and strength of will, who had he lived to-day would be a financial magnate and own thirty cars and very likely a newspaper. As it was, he left a fortune of nearly a million. Early in his career he narrowly escaped capture in the Thames by a Dunkirk pirate whose plan was to hold him for ransom for £50,000. Later he was thrown into prison, on the ground of illtreating his daughter, at the instance of Lord Compton (afterwards Earl of Northampton), who wished to marry that lady but could not get her father's consent. This ruse failing, the ardent peer contrived to smuggle the object of his desire from her father's house in a bread basket, and marry her; but the marriage portion was withheld. The result was that when Sir John at length died and his daughter became his heiress, Lord Compton, in excess of joy under realisation, went out of his mind.
In Cromwellian relics the Museum is rich. Here are his gun; his death mask, revealing a vast face with the famous wart over the right eye; a bronze bust of him with the wart carefully eliminated; a marble bust with the wart in situ; his Bible and his watch. Close by is a shirt worn by Richard Brandon, who beheaded Charles I.
That this Brandon, who had succeeded his father as public executioner, really performed the office is now accepted, but for a while one Hewlett was thought guilty, and in 1660, when the pendulum had swung back, he was even condemned to death for the offence. Brandon executed not only the King, but earlier Laud and Strafford. He received for beheading Charles thirty pounds, all paid in halfcrowns within half an hour of the deed. He also was given an orange stick full of cloves and a handkerchief from His Majesty's pocket.
In justice to Brandon, it must be said that he came to the task very unwillingly: in fact, he had to be fetched by force; and he was so much the victim of remorse that he died in the same year, not, however, until he had dispatched the Earl of Holland (the first owner of Holland House), the Duke of Hamilton, and Lord Capel, with the same axe.