History of 42 Crutched Friars
Crutched Friars were officially known as The Canons Regular of the Order of the Holy Cross, referred to as Friars of England, which is a reflection of the name they consistently gave themselves: Fratres Sanctae Crucis.
The Brethren of the Holy Cross
There were never more than 40 members at any one time, and indeed in over 300 years of their existence the number was less than 750 men of which only 150 have been identified. Historians have treated them as one of the “dim little Orders” and to speak of them as an exiguous and undistinguished body.
In 1246 the Order of Crutched Friars was given 6⅟2 acres of land in order to build a monastery near Lincoln. It was not until 1247 that the Order of St. Mary of Bethlehem founded a hospital in London, which became the famous asylum known as Bedlam.
On 18th May 1269 King Henry III gave permission for the Order to build an oratory in London. This was conditional upon the Friars getting money from the Bailiffs of London whom the King had ordered to produce it “some time ago”.
In 1270 the King gave Six Oaks “suitable for building” and the building of the monastery near the Tower of London just south of Lloyds Club, was completed.
The monastery remained until the Great Fire of London in 1666 when it was destroyed.
Prior to that time in 1616 the Ambassador of France built his official residence there. At that time Ambassadors were at the Court of King James at the Tower of London (they later moved to St. James’ Palace). Members will notice that French Ordinary Court is a small street underneath Lloyds Club. This is called French Ordinary Court because the Huguenots were allowed by the French Ambassador to sell coffee and pastries. They were very successful insofar as a “French Ordinary” was as well known then as a bistro is today. In the 18th century the house ceased to be the Ambassador’s residence and ever since has been used as a club, small apartment block or offices. In 2009 the property was refurbished for use by Lloyds Club.