The Fowler family were lords of the Manor of Barnsbury who had a mansion house at what is now 40 – 42 Cross Street. This street is named after Thomas Fowler (1505 – 1556) who was a wine merchant of the staple of Calais, then still an English possession, and MP for Calais. He had connections in Antwerp and Bruges but it was as the King’s surveyor in the French port that he made his name. When he took up the position in 1556, there was little interest in this Continental relic of the Middle Ages. Fowler, however, set about repairing its crumbling fortifications and his efforts did not go unrewarded, a reappraisal of the town’s strategic significance saw him promoted to paymaster of the works and garrison. This offered him considerable access to the big beasts of court politics and during the 1530s he was in regular contact with Thomas Cromwell. Shortly before his death he wrote his will dated March 20, 1556. In it he provided for his wife, Alice Heron or Heme of Islington, and his son and daughter. He also paid for his own burial, and for the payment of an honest priest at Calais, Islington, or St Sepulchre’s, and at the Black Friars, Smithfield, to sing and pray for his and his kin’s souls. His family continued to live at the property following his death. At the end of the garden a small brick building, probably a summerhouse or porter’s lodge known later as Queen Elizabeth’s Lodge, bore the arms of Fowler, esquire, on one side and those of Sir Thomas Fowler, Bt., with the date 1655 on another.
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