From: Walter Thornbury, ‘Holborn : To Chancery Lane’, in Old and New London: Volume 2 (London, 1878):
“Returning to Holborn and proceeding westward, we come to Southampton Buildings, built on the site of Southampton House. They lie on the south side of Holborn, a little above Holborn Bars. Speaking of the old mansion-house, Peter Cunningham, in 1849, remarked that fragments still remained in his day. He was shown, in 1847, what was still called “the chapel” of the house, a building with rubble walls and a flat timbered roof. The occupant also told him that his father remembered a pulpit in the chapel, and that he himself, when forming the foundation of a workshop adjoining, had seen portions of a circular building which he supposed to be part of the old temple mentioned in a passage from Stow, which we shall make the subject of the following paragraphs:—
“Beyond the Bars [Holborn Bars],” says Stow, “had ye in old time a temple built by the Templars, whose order first began in 1118, in the nineteenth of Henry I. This temple was left and fell to ruin since the year 1184, when the Templars had builded them a new Temple in Fleet Street, near to the river of Thames. A great part of this old temple was pulled down but of late, in the year 1595.
“Adjoining to this old temple was some time the Bishop of Lincoln’s inn, wherein he lodged when he repaired to this city. Robert de Curars, Bishop of Lincoln, built it about the year 1147. John Russell, Bishop of Lincoln, Chancellor of England in the reign of Richard III., was lodged there. It hath of late years belonged to the Earl of Southampton, and therefore called Southampton House. Master Roper hath of late much built there, by means whereof part of the ruins of the old temple are seen to remain, built of Caen stone, round in form as the new Temple by Temple Bar, and other temples in England.”
We must not forget that in Southampton House, Thomas, the last Earl of Southampton, the faithful and virtuous servant of Charles I., and Lord Treasurer in the beginning of the reign of Charles II., ended his days. Pennant, the historian, when he comes to this point in his “Account of London,” writes with all the pathos of an honest and feeling heart. “He died,” he says, “in 1667, barely in possession of the white rod, which his profligate enemies were with difficulty dissuaded from wresting out of his dying hands. He had the happiness of marrying his daughter and heiress to a nobleman of congenial merit, the ill-fated Lord Russell. Her virtues underwent a fiery trial, and came out of the test if possible more pure. I cannot read of her last interviews with her devoted lord without the strongest emotions. Her greatness of mind appears to uncommon advantage. The last scene is beyond the power of either pen or pencil. In this house they lived many years. When his lordship passed by it, on the way to execution, he felt a momentary bitterness of death in recollecting the happy moments of the place. He looked towards Southampton House, the tear started into his eye, but he instantly wiped it away.”
Southampton House was taken down and private tenements erected on the site in the middle of the seventeenth century. Howel, writing in 1657, mentioning this fact, breaks out in his quaint way: “If any one should ask what the Almighty doth now in London, he might (as the pulse of the times beats) give the same answer that was given by the pagan philosopher, who, being demanded what Jupiter did in heaven, he said, ‘Jupiter breaks great vessels, and makes small ones of their pieces.'”
In Southampton Buildings, in the house of a relative, *Ludlow, the Parliamentary general, lay concealed from the Restoration till the period of his escape. And a very narrow escape it was. When the proclamation was issued by Charles II., requiring all the late king’s judges to surrender themselves in fourteen days, on pain of being left out of the act of indemnity, he determined to fly the country. He bade farewell to his friends, and went over London Bridge in a coach to St. George’s Church in the borough of Southwark, where he took horse, and travelling all night, arrived at Lewes, in Sussex, by break of day next morning. Soon after, he went on board a small open vessel prepared for him; but the weather being very bad, he quitted that, and took shelter in a larger which had been got ready, but it stuck in the sands going down the river. He had hardly got on board this, when some persons came to search that which he had just left. After waiting a night and a day for the storm to abate (during which time the master of the vessel asked him whether he had heard that Lieutenant-General Ludlow was confined among the rest of the king’s judges), he put to sea, and landed at Dieppe in the evening, before the gates were shut. Having thus got him out of the reach of danger, we shall leave him, only waiting to tell the reader that he died at Vevay, in Switzerland, in 1693, his last wishes being for the prosperity, peace, and glory of his country.
One of the early coffee-houses of London was established in Southampton Buildings. In the autobiography of Anthony à Wood (ii. 65) we come upon the following passage in connection with the year 1650:—”This year Jacob, a Jew, opened a coffey-house at the Angel in the parish of St. Peter, in the East Oxon, and there it was by some, who delighted in noveltie, drank. When he left Oxon, he sold it in old Southampton Buildings, in Holborne, near London, and was living there in 1671.”
*(Wikipedia): “Edmund Ludlow (c. 1617–1692) was an English parliamentarian, best known for his involvement in the execution of Charles I. Ludlow was a Baptist and Calvinist predestinarian, and his political views were inextricably interlinked with providentialist and apocalyptic religious views. He landed in Ireland in January 1651 and was involved in the Siege of Limerick (1650–51). Ludlow is remembered for what he said of the Burren in County Clare during counter-guerilla operations there in 1651–52; “It is a country where there is not enough water to drown a man, wood enough to hang one, nor earth enough to bury him.” “