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Bermondsey Leystall

[Newspaper cutting , 19th - early 20th C.]

To the Editor of the "Southwark and Bermondsey Recorder and South London Gazette."

Sir,—In the seventh report of the Deputy Keeper of the Public Records, Appendix II., No.10, is the following:- "1549. in the second and thyrd yere of the Kynges grace that now ys ther was cherche wardens of the paryshe of Mary Mawdelyns of Barmondsey, John Denton Edmund Wayte and Jemys Dyxson —Payments payd by them —Item bought by them of Sir Thomas Pope a pese of ground to make a leystall for the soyle of the hole paryshe."

Seeing a record like this, I always like, as the good book instructs us, to ''Prove all things"; now looking at the names of the churchwardens I find from the supplement to the "Genealogist,'' 1894, where is printed the Registers of Bermondsey: —

''Dec. 1551, 16 —Burryed. John Denton.'' ''April 1553 —Marryed JamesDixson.''

Having now disposed of two of the churchwardens by marrying one and burying the other, I will attempt to explain the meaning of Leystall, I find Ley to mean a field, as Bromley, etc.; stall, to fatten.

For many corpses like a great stall of murdered men which therein strewed lay.

Ben Jonson exclaims: "If he will live abroad with his companions in dung and leystalls it is worth a fear.'' But dismissing these quotations I am inclined to think that the meaning of Leystall meant in the Record, is a place where milch cows are kept, in other words a common where the Bermondsey inhabitants could find pasture, the price paid then in those times would amount to a good sum in these days; was this common or leystall Bermondsey Square alluded to in your recent issue? If it was other ground where is it gone to? Let some Bermondsey Hampden discover it and let your readers think of those familiar lines:

"The crime is small in man or woman,
Should they a goose steal from a common;
But what can plead that man's excuse,
Who steals a common from a goose."