This is a digitised copy of the book “London – South of the Thames” by Sir Walter Besant
Published in London by Adam & Charles Black (1912)
This is in its raw form. Sections will be improved manually on this blog as time goes on.
The parish of Lambeth is one of the largest in England, being i8 miles in circumference;
in length, about 6.j miles; in breadth, about 2 miles. It contained, in the
seventeenth century, 1261 acres of arable land, 1026 of pasture, 13 of osier, 37 of
garden ground, and 150 of wood. There were nine commons in this extensive
and thinly-populated parish. Of these commons the only one which survives
is Kennington Common, now Kennington Park ; the rest are all built over and
The northern part of the parish, that on the Marsh, was formerly full of wild birds and game. Thus in the year 1563 a licence was granted to Dr. Perne, Dean of Ely, who had a residence at Stockwell, to appoint one of his servants to shoot ” with crossbow, hand gun, hacquebut, or demy hack, all manner of crows, cormorants, kites, puttocks, bastards, wild swans, barnacles, sea fowls, fen fowls, wild doves, small birds, teals, wots, ducks, and all manner of deare, red, fallow, and roo.”
There were five manors in the parish, viz. Lambeth, Kennington, Vauxhall, Stockwell, and Levehurst.
The manor of Vauxhall has passed through many hands. It was given to Baldwin, son of William de Redvers, sixth Earl of Devon. The estate passed into
the hands of his successors, including Adeline, daughter of Isabel, sister of Baldwin,
eighth Earl. She married Edmund Plantagenet, but had no children. Isabel left her estates to the Crown. It came to Edward the Black Prince, who granted it to
the monks of Canterbury. On the Dissolution, Henry VIII. gave it to the Dean
and Chapter of Canterbury. The manor-house was afterwards called Copped Hall.
Here Arabella Stuart was confined for a time. Ambrose Philips, the poet, died in his lodgings at Vauxhall on June 18, 1749.
The history of the manor of Stockwell overlaps in part that of Vauxhall.
Among the owners of the name were the canons of Waltham Abbey ; Robert, Earl
of Moreton ; Richard de Redvers, Earl of Devon ; Margaret, heiress of Warren
Fitzgerald ; Isabel, wife of William de Fortibus, Earl of Albemarle ; Juliana, wife of
Thomas Romayne ; Roesia, wife of John Burford ; Catharine, wife of Sir Thomas
Swynford ; John Wynter ; Ralph Leigh ; Henry VIII.; Sir John Thorncroft ; Lord
Montagu ; the Lamberts and the Barretts.
In 1775 one John Angell bequeathed a large sum of money for the purpose of
founding a college for decayed gentlemen. There were to be seven of them who would be called upon to prove gentility by three descents ; they would be provided
with a chapel, two clergymen, an organist, six singing men, twelve choristers, a chapel clerk, a butler, baker, and groom. The college was to be built on a field
called Burden Bush. Unfortunately the will was disputed, and the college, which
would have been as interesting as that of Morden on Blackheath, was never built.
There were other manors in the parish, as that of Bodley and of Lambeth
Wyke. Lambeth has been variously written at different times. The earHest record
extant in which it is mentioned is a charter of King Edward the Confessor, dated
1062, confirming the several grants of the founder and others to the Abbey of
Waltham, Essex; and amongst others, ” Lambe-hithe, with all fields, pastures,
meadows, woods and waters thereto belonging.” In Domesday Book it is written
Lanchier—a probable error in transcribing—and old historians and documents spell
the name in many different ways. The etymology of the word is maybe from lavib,
a lamb ; and hyike, a haven ; but it is commonly accepted as Lam-Hythe, i.e. ” Place of Mud.” The explanation is unsatisfactory, because so small a part of the
parish can be properly so described ; only, in fact, the northern portion, which lies
in the South London marsh. The marsh land was reclaimed from the river by
embanking, the principal dykes being the Narrow Wall, now the Belvedere Road,
the Broad Wall on the east, and the causeway along the line of the present Lower
Marsh. Since then this ” village chiefly inhabited by glass-blowers, potters, fishermen
and watermen ” has steadily grown till now the whole is closely covered with
dwellings and factories. The glass-blowers, fishermen, and most of the watermen
have disappeared, but pottery has made great strides. The poorer houses are giving way everywhere to larger ones, and in many cases to blocks of fine industrial
dwellings ; the streets are better paved and kept, and the class of dwellers is improving.
Looking at the crowded streets of Lambeth and Vauxhall, it is hardly credible
that less than a hundred years ago the whole district west of Blackfriars Bridge
Road was covered with pleasure gardens, orchards, nurseries, tenter-grounds, ponds,
and ditches. The old embankment ran along the river-bank ; it was shown as
” Narrow Wall,” but on the river side a certain breadth of free shore had been
reclaimed. St. George’s Fields were laid out as a kind of park and crossed by roads.
Lambeth contained the Palace, the church, and two or three rows of houses. The
place itself has an ancient history, and associations with many persons notorious or
illustrious. The manor of Lambeth was granted by Goda, sister of Edward the
Confessor, and wife of Eustace, Count of Boulogne, to the Bishopric of Rochester.
In 1197 the Bishop of Rochester gave Lambeth to the Archbishop of Canterbury in
exchange for the manor of Dartford in Kent, reserving a piece of ground on which
to erect a house. The Archbishop proposed to found on this spot a college of
secular canons, but in consequence of opposition from the monks of Christchurch,
he desisted and converted the buildings into a palace for himself and his successors. The Bishop of Rochester’s house stood on the east side of Lambeth Gardens, on the
site of Carlisle Street and Hercules W^alk. The Bishops of Rochester lived in this
house till 1540, when they gave it to the king in exchange for the house beside
Winchester House in Bankside. Henry gave it to the Bishop of Carlisle in exchange for a house in the Strand, and until it was pulled down in 1827 it was
known as Carlisle House. The Dukes of Norfolk had a house in Lambeth.
Among the names connected with the place are those of Forman the astrologer, and
Francis Moore, famous for his Abiumac. In South Lambeth the Tradescants had
their museum and their equally famous garden. The following is their epitaph in Lambeth Churchyard :
Know, stranger, ere thou pass ; beneath this stone, Lye John Tradescant, grandsire, father, son ; The last dy’d in his spring ; the other two
Lived till they had travelled Art and Nature through.
As by their choice collections may appear, Of what is rare, in land, in sea, in air ; Whilst they (as Homer’s Iliad in a nut)
A World of wonders in one closet shut. These famous antiquarians that had been Both Gardeners to the Rose and Lily Queen,
Transplanted now themselves, sleep here ; and when
Angels shall with their trumpets waken men. And fire shall purge the world, these hence shall rise And change this garden for a paradise.^
The first of the name was a Fleming ; he was gardener to Charles the First.
He was a great traveller and introducer of new plants and trees. He was also a collector of rarities, in which pursuit he was followed by his son. The first Tradescant died in 1657; the second in 1672, after the death of his son. The
collection was bequeathed to Ashmole, and forms the nucleus of the Ashmolean
Museum. Their house stood in the Lambeth Road.
A house on the river-side was called Guy Fawkes’ House; it is said to have
been leased to Kayes, one of the conspirators. A certain association of Lambeth
with notorious criminals was in Rochester House itself, where a cook, named Robert
Roose, or Rose, attempted to poison the Bishop, who escaped, but two of his
servants died, and many others were poisoned, but recovered. The man was found
guilty and sentenced to be boiled to death—the only instance, I think, of this terrible
punishment in England. But no mercy was ever shown to the prisoner. The end
of Rochester or Carlisle House was as a tavern, a disorderly house, a dancingmaster’s
house, and a school. It was pulled down in 1827, and its site covered
with Allen and Homer Streets and parts of Carlisle Lane and Hercules Buildings.
Lambeth was the last place of residence for the Thames fishermen. They were formerly a considerable colony ; they lived along the Strand and on Bankside ; they were driven from the Strand by the erection of the nobles’ houses ; they took refuge at Charing Cross ; they were again driven from this place by the erection of more
great houses ; they then crossed the river to Lambeth, where they remained until their extinction about the year 1830.
The river-side from the Broad Wall next to Westminster Bridge is at the
present date lined with large wharves, mostly of great depth, some of which include
basins in which the barges are worked, whilst the majority only have the river frontage
clear, the grounds being chiefly covered with buildings or merchandise. Commercial
Road is a wide thoroughfare containing many large timber-yards. Constant
lines of heavy wagons unload their contents of refuse through shoots into barges
which take their cargoes down the Thames, where it is made use of for filling in low-lying
lands adjacent to the river. Opposite Cornwall Road—so named from the
land belonging to the Duchy of Cornwall, and formerly known as Morris’s Causeway—is
an immense storage warehouse for frozen meat from abroad, and elsewhere
are iron wharves, with those for cement, brick, ballast, tile, and a general wharfinger’s
business all along the front. Many of these buildings are new, but some are old
and in a ramshackle state. Facing these wharves are dwellings tenanted by workers
in this district, and from here to Stamford Street the streets are small, dirty, and
disreputable. Near Waterloo Bridge is a shot tower, now used by a distiller,
which figures in many old prints of Lambeth from the river. Here Bond Street
takes a sharp turn to the north, passing large timber-yards, the Waterloo Flour
Mills, and under the arch of Waterloo Bridge enters Belvedere Road. At this
large timber-yard the old narrow wall formerly skirted the river-bank to the east,
but it was closed up about 1746 and absorbed into the wharves, and the sharp
bend at Bond Street made into the newer Commercial Road, which cut across a large bowling-green. Where the flour-mills now stand was Cuper’s Bridge, a
landing-place and stairs for Cuper’s Gardens. A tree-lined wall led from the
river to this well-known resort, which stretched from Rowley Place on the west side of the bridge to Bond Street on the east and south, almost to St. John’s
Church. Known by the nickname of Cupid’s Gardens, they were in 1636 the
gardens of Thomas Howard, Earl of Arundel, and were leased by Lord Arundel
to Boydell Cuper, his gardener. They were ornamented with statues, the refuse
of the collection brought by Lord Arundel from Italy. At the end of the seventeenth
and beginning of the eighteenth centuries, the Gardens were famous for their
fireworks and music. A handbill of Ephraim Evans, at one time proprietor, reads : ” JV.B. There is a back way leading from St. George’s Fields, where proper
attendance will be given and due care taken for watchmen to guard those who go
over the fields late at night.” The Gardens were finally suppressed in 1753, and
Beaufoy’s vinegar factory was built on most of the site, but gave way later when the ground was needed to make an approach to Waterloo Bridge. When the
foundations of St. Paul’s Cathedral were being excavated great quantities of the
rubbish were dumped here to fill up the low ground.
Near Cuper’s Bridge, or Stairs, formerly lay at anchor—except during the
winter – The Royal Diversion, commonly called The Folly (probably from the
foolish things enacted on board). It was a timber building erected on a strong
barge in which were musical entertainments and dancing. It took its name from
Queen Mary, who is said to have honoured it with her presence. From being a
fashionable resort, it gradually deteriorated, and the ship was ultimately broken up
Waterloo Bridge was originally named the Strand Bridge. It was begun by
a public company in 1811, and opened on the anniversary of Waterloo in 181 7 by
the Prince Regent, the engineer being John Rennie. Built of stone, with nine
arches, its entire length is 2456 feet. Of this the bridge and abutments cover 1380
feet, the Strand approach 310, and the Surrey side, which is supported on arches,
766 feet. The entire cost was ^1,050,000. In 1877 the Metropolitan Board of
Works purchased it, and on October 8, 1878, it was opened free of toll. From the
Bridge the wharves of Commercial Road can be seen projecting far into the river ;
craft of every description lie alongside, and great mud flats stretch at low tide 100
yards from the bank. At the Bridge Stairs is a float with a few boats to let, a
relic of the vanished watermen’s craft and plying-place. The contrast of the north
and south sides of the river seen from this point is nowhere more remarkable. On
the left is spread out in all its magnificence the great range of buildings from
Somerset House to St. Paul’s Cathedral, while facing it are the low, dirty, and halfderelict
wharves looking on to a welter of black mud except at high tide. From the bridge to Stamford Street the roadway is built on arches, which are
let for purposes of storage or as workshops. On the east side is the Royal
Hospital for Children, founded in 1816, and enlarged in 1875. Stamford Street
is one of the ugliest and most sordid streets in London. It is full of dirty so-called
hotels and disreputable apartment houses, and is the head-quarters of theatrical and
music-hall agents. This neighbourhood, offering cheap accommodation and being
near the theatres, has attracted many poverty-stricken actors waiting for engagements,
so it has been called ” Misery Junction.” Waterloo Bridge Road from here
towards the Obelisk is a broad road flanked by bad architecture, and noisy with
omnibuses, trams, cabs, and heavy vans. The shops, owing to the poor and
transient custom, are of a cheap kind.
Opposite Waterloo Station stands the Church of St. John, built in 1823, at a cost of about £18,000, on a foundation of piles of brick and stone. The vaults are used by a neighbouring firm of printers as storerooms. The churchyard, with fine
plane trees, is open ; there are many seats, and it contains a gymnasium in one corner for the children. To the east in Princes Street is the Church of St. Andrew, with
schools and a mission hall. Many large factories are in these smaller streets, with
some timber-yards, a constant source of danger in such crowded places. All the
district is composed of small narrow streets, some very clean, others just the opposite.
Many tenement houses have been erected round in place of the old houses, but
several of the streets are urgently in need of rebuilding.
Cornwall Road is a wide busy street, containing a large varnish factory, and
many small businesses, but the houses, many of which stand lower than the street, are poor, and the alleys dark and unhealthy. Windmill Street, named from the
windmills formerly standing here, is fairly kept, but Eaton Street is very bad. The
New Cut is to the south, a noisy, broad street, lined with gaudy, cheap shops, with
flaring, resplendent public-houses, a loud-tongued market at the pavement’s edge,
and crowds of loafers, male and female, at every corner and lamp-post. Provisions
of every kind predominate in the street stalls, fish and eel shops abound, while a
large crowd constantly surrounds the cook-shop windows. On the barrows in the
road every sort of second-hand bargain is to be found, with quantities of cheap
knick-knacks and jewellery for sale by Russian and Polish Jews. On the south side
of the Cut, facing Marlborough Street, is the large workhouse of St. Saviour’s
Union ; most of the adjacent streets are narrow, with small houses and a very poor population. At the junction of Webber Street—a fairly respectable street—and the
New Cut is the large Victoria Hall. Originally the Royal Coburg Theatre, opened
in 1818, and named after Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg, the husband of Princess
Charlotte ; it was built upon foundations composed largely of the stones of the old
Savoy Palace in the Strand, removed when that building was cleared away to form
Lancaster Place. Many notable actors have appeared in this house, amongst others
Edmund Kean, Booth, and Buckstone. Grimaldi also played here. In 1833 the
name was changed to the Victoria Theatre. In 1834 Paganini made his last public
appearance in this country on this stage. The house gradually deteriorated, and
after being sold was taken for a time by the Salvation Army, and now, as the
Victoria Hall, is used for penny science lectures, cheap opera, and concerts, and
the large vestibule is turned into a Coffee Palace. Adjoining in the Waterloo Road
is the fine building of the Samuel Morley Memorial College for working men and
women. This main road south consists of a poor class of shops, small, and chiefly
standing well back from the pavement, with a few private houses still among them.
The side streets off Oakley Street, and the alleys of this road are poor and dirty, and
contain a large casual and transient population who are responsible for the condition
of the streets at night with their drunkenness and vice. All through Lambeth the
authorities have been busy changing the names of streets, so that fully one-third
of the old names have been altered in some way. Many of the names used are those of former inhabitants, well known in connection with the borough, and those
of previous Archbishops of Canterbury. West of the New Cut is Lambeth Lower
Marsh, the mere name of which conveys the idea of its condition a very few years
back. Lambeth is only some 12 to 15 feet above the river, and is occasionally
inundated when the Thames rises. Although wide at the eastern end, this street narrows considerably towards the west, and is lined with almost the same style of
shops as the New Cut. The public-houses here are of the most flamboyant type,
appealing to the eye with great show. On the north side is a Free Public Library,
with lending department, magazine room, and a fine spacious hall for newspapers. In Lancelot Street are the large excavations and approaches to the Waterloo terminus
of the underground electric City and Waterloo Railway. On the north side of the
street rows of small cottages have been razed, where hoisting works and great gangs
of navvies are at work. The tunnels and cuttings have been made through the
finest kind of gravel, great quantities of which are used by the Company itself,
the remainder bringing in a good price from outsiders.
Northward is a poor array of narrow streets and many miserable collections of
dilapidated houses to Aubyn Street. From there to the York Road, Waterloo
Station covers the entire area. When the South-Western Railway was first brought
from its then terminus at Nine Elms in 1848, all this region was covered with small
streets which have been gradually obliterated by the spreading station with its main and branch lines and approaches from the Waterloo and York Roads. The cost of
bringing the line from Vauxhall, two miles distant, was ;^8oo,ooo, and it is carried on arches all the way. The station is one of the most important in the Metropolis,
and has a constantly increasing traffic. It is the only London terminus which is
free to all cabmen on payment of one penny.
Nearer the river is York Road, a wide thoroughfare of poor houses and shops,
with many small hotels and eating-houses. At Vine Street formerly stood a turnpike
gate, and at Griffin Street is the cab entrance to Waterloo Station. On the
south side are the Albany Baths, the General Lying-in Hospital, established in 1765,
at the Marsh Gate, and the York Road Chapel. The streets toward the river are
small, but filled with a respectable class of working people, and many small factories
and workshops. Parallel to the river from Westminster Bridge Road to Waterloo
Road is Belvedere Road—formerly the Narrow Wall. The name is evidently taken
from Belvedere House, which stood in spacious grounds near the present site of the
Lion Brewery and Belvedere Wharf. It was a well-known house of entertainment
in Queen Anne’s time, which, like all the old suburban gardens, was gradually
hemmed in and then built over. An old newspaper notice of this place says that
Charles Bascom was newly settled in the house called Belvidere, upon the river over
against York Buildings, where there are pleasant gardens, with a variety of fish-ponds.
The good things of his house are set forth, and also the fact that fresh river fish were to be had which the guests might have the diversion to see taken. The site
is overshadowed by the lattice-girder bridge of the South-Eastern Railway from
Charing Cross Station. This is also a foot bridge—now free of toll —and occupies
the same position as the old Hungerford suspension bridge, built in 1845, sold
in 1 86 1, and removed to Clifton, near Bristol, soon afterwards. Belvedere Road
is lined with large wharves, many of them covered with new buildings, such as Government Military Stores for India. There are also timber, pottery, brick and
stone yards, engineers’ workshops, refuse shoots, and a shot tower.
Belvedere Crescent at Vine Street is on the former line of the Narrow Wall,
before it was straightened and widened, and opposite, at the foot of College Street,
are the old King’s Arms Stairs. The Westminster end of this road is what was
formerly known as Pedlar’s Acre, the name of which is still carried in Acre Wharf.
It appears from the church registers that in 1504 a person unknown gave to Lambeth parish an acre of land in the marsh, then known as the Church Hoppys or Hope, which seems to signify an enclosed piece of marsh land. This was afterwards
known as the Church Oziers or Ozier Hope, and later as the Pedlar’s Acre,
from the popular local tradition that it was the gift of a pedlar whose picture, with
that of his dog, was, in memory of the gift, to remain in a window of the Parish
Church for ever. Such a picture in stained glass was, until 1884, in one of the
windows of St. Mary’s. Part of the marsh land between Lambeth Palace and Christchurch, Blackfriars, was enclosed in parcels of about one acre each, as mention is made of the Maiden Acre and Archbishop’s Acre. Belvedere Road joins Westminster
Bridge Road close to the Bridge. Constant traffic to the south of London, a stream
of cabs to Waterloo, omnibuses, and tramway terminals, all add to the bustle of the
crowds of pedestrians streaming to and from the bridge. At the south-east corner
there are still a landino^-stacre and stairs with a few boats for hire. Here the foreshore
has not such mudbanks as at Waterloo, and there seems to be no definite
wharf line along the Belvedere Road water-point, as many of the wharves are pushed
farther out than their neighbours into the stream.
Southwards from Westminster Bridge the main road is lined with shops, many
of them old, but the newer ones very large. Close to the bridge foot the trade is very transient, but farther south business on a heavy scale is done in good premises.
The new buildings on the west side mark the site of Astley’s Amphitheatre, which
covered most of the land between the Lambeth Palace Road and Stangate. Founded
by Philip Astley, a horse-soldier, about 1768 as a riding-school, he gradually turned
it into a show place. After passing through many hands, including those of his son and of Ducrow, and being burnt down several times, it was at last swept away
and the land is being built over. A famous house and a home of the circus, it was at one time well patronised. Amongst its performers were Grimaldi, who lived hard by.
A few doors to the south there resided, at the beginning of the nineteenth century,
the Chevalier d’Eon, a French diplomatist who was a secret agent of Louis XV.
He was famous for his success in assuming a female disguise. The road under the
railway bridge, after passing a music hall and the private station of the Woking
Necropolis, leads to the Lower Marsh. Here, spanning the main road, was a
turnpike—the Marsh Gate—with the Upper Marsh to the west. In Lambeth
Marsh stood, till 1823, the remains of an old house known as “Bonner’s House”;
there is not, however, any evidence to connect it with Bishop Bonner. This
western end of the Lower Marsh is very busy, with enormous public-houses, always
crowded. In York Street is All Saints’ Church with an unfinished square brick tower.
Lambeth Square opposite is quiet and dingy with big timber-yards rearing their great
stacks of wood high above the houses. At the junction of Kennington Road stands
Christchurch, which was built in perpetuation of Surrey Chapel, and opened on July
4, 1876. It is a fair specimen of Gothic architecture, and has a lofty spire. The
site was formerly occupied by the Asylum for Female Orphans, and the junction of
the roads here is still known as Asylum Cross. A toll gate stood here, barring the
New Road (Westminster Bridge Road), well into the nineteenth century, one of a
series south of the Thames, which gave tickets serving for admittance at all other
gates of the same Trust. On this site stood the Hercules Inn and Gardens, which
were opened in 1758; and across the road to the east, where St. Thomas’s Church
now stands, were formerly the Apollo Gardens, opened in 1 788, but suppressed a couple of years later. This was part of St. George’s Fields, which, besides being the scene of revelry and risings, was also the place of the martyrdom of three men
William Morant, Stephen Gratwicke, and one King, who were burnt here in 1557. The
streets eastward to Waterloo Road are all narrow, and more or less dirty. Lanfranc
Street adjoining St. Thomas’s is very poor, but in the neighbourhood a great many
blocks of tenements are taking the place of the small houses. Oakley Street passes
through a similar neighbourhood.
Southwards from Christchurch the wide Kennington Road (old Walcot Place)
is well built, and in it are Hawkstone Hall, a large police station, and rows of good
houses. Still going to the south, there are residences standing well back in gardens
containing large smoke-begrimed trees. The dates on some of the houses range
from 1786 to 1826, but others are far more recent. In Reednorth Street is the
Church of St. Philip with schools adjoining, in a new clean neighbourhood. Chester
Street is poor, but from thence eastwards to the Lambeth Workhouse the streets are
clean and the houses good. In Renfrew Road is the Lambeth Police Court, a
large new Fire Station, and behind them the enormous Poorhouse, which stretches
to Brook Street northwards. Brook Street is a clean thoroughfare ; Monkton
Street is comparatively poor with a few bad places, but west to the Kennington
Road in the vicinity of Walcot Square is comfortable and clean. From the western
side of Kennington Road the whole district to the river is a poor one. Some of
the streets are worse off than others, whilst Lambeth Walk and Road are comparatively
comfortable. As a rule the inhabitants are respectable, hard-working, and
steady, many keeping small shops and businesses, but some of the side turnings off
Lambeth Walk and Union Street contain a very rough class, who are constantly
migrating. A Board School in Newport Street, and another off Walnut Tree Walk,
are well filled. The angrle north of Saville Place and Walnut Tree Walk does not
contain many of the very poor, but a few are congregated in St. Alban’s Buildings
and Walnut Terrace. Off China W^alk there is also some poverty and dirt. At
the south-west corner of the Lambeth Road, next to the W^esleyan Chapel, a row
of old houses have been pulled down and fine Baths and Wash-houses are being
built on the site. Lambeth Walk, originally named Three Coney Walk, stretches from Lambeth
Road to Broad Street and furnishes a lively market-place for this populous vicinity.
In former times a favourite place of amusement known as Lambeth Wells was here.
In addition to the mineral waters, music and dancing were made the attractions,
but the place was closed about 1740.
Towards the river is another poor district with the fine building of the Beaufoy Charities in Newport Street. These schools were built in 1851 at a cost of £10,000, to be used as a ragged school for girls and boys in memory of the founder’s wife – Mrs. Beaufoy. Along Broad Street (the old Lambeth Butts of the archers, and also once the royal road from the White Hart Stairs to Kennington Palace, but now a dirty, dark street) one of Doulton’s Lambeth Potteries is passed. This vast building stands on the site of the old starch factory of Stonard and Watson, and with its annexed buildings and store-yards, covers most of the ground on the north side of High Street to Lambeth Road. High Street, the Back Lane, a narrow twisting thoroughfare full of quaint houses and formerly a main thoroughfare, is now almost deserted.
The north side, once a network of alleys running through to Fore Street, is now merged into the Embankment. One of these alleys opposite the Tenison School, named after a resident named Calcot, was the home of Francis Moore, better known as “Old Moore,” the astrologer of the Almanac who kept a school here.
William Street is very poor and badly kept, but some better tenements are being erected there. Adjoining is the old disused Lambeth Cemetery, now made into a
children’s playground, with the Coroner’s Court in one corner, and in another Archbishop Tenison’s School for Girls, founded in 1696 and rebuilt in 1863. At the gate of this churchyard, which was given to the parish by Archbishop Tenison in 1705, stands the Watchhouse, built in 1825. In this graveyard was buried the Countess de la Motte, who fled to England after her escape from imprisonment which she suffered for her participation in a mysterious plot about a diamond necklace; she died in 1791. Some of the old houses still stand in the neighbouring streets, a strong contrast to the adjoining modern buildings. East of the old churchyard, Paradise Street and the alleys are full of poor people. Where are now Norfolk Row with other buildings in Paradise Row, stood Norfolk House, where Leland taught Latin to the Earl of Surrey. Among other owners was Margaret wife of Archbishop Parker. East of the distillery is Pratt Street ; a trifle better than the surrounding streets, it stands on the old Potters’ Fields.
Towards the river, Ferry Street recalls the Lambeth end of the horse ferry across the Thames. The Lambeth ferry stairs were situated where the bridge now crosses the river, and this was the only horse ferry allowed on the Thames at, or near,
London. The tolls and rights of passage belonged to the Archbishops of Canterbury,
and were considerable when London had but one bridge over the Thames.
Westminster Bridge, however, superseded the ferry, and the see of Canterbury and
the surviving patentee were in November 1750 paid ;^2 205 for the loss of the tolls. James II. in his flight from England crossed the river here, and during the passage
threw overboard the Great Seal, which was accidentally dredged up in a fishing-net
some months afterwards. Mary of Modena, his consort, likewise crossed here on a stormy night in December 1688 with her infant son, and sheltered from the storm
under the church tower till her attendants found a conveyance for her.
Lambeth steamboat pier and several floating boat-houses are on the eastern side of the bridge. Lambeth Palace faces the Embankment Gardens and the river ; with the Parish Church of St. Mary and the red-brick Gateway all helping to form
the only picturesque group of buildings on the south side of the river. The site of the
Palace was part of the manor held, as stated already, by Goda, the sister of Edward
the Confessor. Goda had presented it to the Bishops of Rochester, and though
seized by William I. it was restored to the see by his son William Rufus.
Glanville, a bishop of Rochester at the close of the twelfth century, erected a residence
called Carlisle House or La Place for himself and his successors, for use whenever
they came to London, but the property was afterwards exchanged for other lands
with Hubert W^alter, and became the Episcopal residence of the Archbishops of
Canterbury. The last Bishop of Rochester who enjoyed this house was John
Fisher, who was beheaded in 1535 near the Tower for denying the King’s
supremacy. As the house had fallen into disrepair, Archbishop Boniface obtained a bull from Pope Urban IV^ which gave him permission to rebuild it, and he laid
the foundations of the present Palace, which was gradually enlarged and improved by
his successors. The Gate was built by Cardinal Morton about 1490 ; the Great
Hall, pulled down during the Commonwealth, was rebuilt by Archbishop Juxon about
1662; the Lollards’ Tower by Chicheley, who spent large sums in additions ; and
the other buildings were gradually added by other prelates. The Palace grounds
stretch from Lambeth Road to Paris or North Streets, and from Lambeth Palace
Road—once Bishop’s W^alk—almost to Carlisle Street.
St. ]\Iary’s, which is the Parish Church of Lambeth, stands on the site of a very
ancient church mentioned in Domesday. The second, or perhaps the third, church on this site, which belonged to the fourteenth century, was taken down in 1851, with
the exception of the tower, and the present church built. The family vault of John
Tradescant the botanist is here, with that of Elias Ashmole, to whom Tradescant
left all his property and which afterwards formed the nucleus of the Ashmolean
Museum at Oxford. The church contains also the graves of Archbishops Bancroft,
Tenison, Seeker ; those of Bishops Tunstall and Thirleby ; of Forman the astrologer ; of Thomas Cooke, translator of Hesiod ; of Edward Moore, author of The Gamester
; of Elias Ashmole, and Patrick Nasmyth. It was in one of the windows of this
church that the picture of the pedlar and his dog was formerly to be seen (see p. 86).
In the long list of Rectors of St. Mary’s, Lambeth,—it extends over nearly 800
years—we find fewer persons of note than might have been expected. Among these
are a Bishop of Rochester ; the first Master of St. Benet’s, Cambridge ; a bishop in
partibus, viz. of Joppa ; the Chaplain of Archbishop Cranmer ; a Canon of Westminster ; George Hooper, Bishop of Bath and Wells ; Edmund Gibson, Antiquary and Bishop
of London ; Beilby Porteus, Bishop of London ; Christopher Wordsworth, Master
of Trinity ; and George D’Oyley, one of the Founders of King’s College, London.
Going eastwards along Lambeth Road, formerly Church Street, which is very narrow here, we pass the Infant School of St. Mary’s, erected in 1880, then comes
the building of the National School of Cookery, and beyond the large square
Rectory House, and a distillery across the way. The road is wider here, paved with
wood, and lined with good houses. Hercules Road, named from the old Garden
Tavern, winds through a fairly good district. Many of the old houses on the south
side bear the Southwark parish mark, and most are built with old-fashioned bay
windows and have small gardens in front. On the north side, No. 48 is a somewhat
unusual building. It is locally said to be haunted, and is of a curious style of architecture
with a tiled roof. Busts of English kings adorn the garden wall, with other
small figures in niches alongside the windows. Behind these houses and those of
Allen and Homer Streets, the South-Western Railway Company has acquired all the
land, and having pulled down the houses has built arches to carry what will probably
be a large new station. This improvement, extending to behind the shops in Westminster Bridge Road, and from Newnham Terrace to Carlisle Street, gradually
tapers off towards the west, till the main line is reached at Park Place. The new
railway depot covers the site of Carlisle House, from which the adjoining Carlisle
Street is named. Westminster Bridge Road from Hercules Road to the railway
bridge contains respectable shops, and behind them is a series of very small but clean
courts, named Mount Gardens, Cottage Place, North Terrace, and Philadelphia Place,
and will be probably soon swept away by the railway. . Carlisle Street, dark and
narrow, runs under the arches of the South-Western Railway to Hercules Road at
St. Mary’s High School and contains a large, poor population.
In Royal Street is Trinity Church, and behind are the vicarage, schools, and
playground. In the block east of Royal Street are the large candle factory of Messrs.
Field and the Canterbury Music Hall. This was the first music hall in the
Metropolis, having been opened in 1849 ; it was named after the archiepiscopal
palace and started in a public-house close by. It was originally the Canterbury
Hall and Fine Arts Gallery, or, as Ftmch called it, ” The Royal Academy over the
Water.” The UjDper Marsh contains many alleys on the north side, some clean, but
mainly poor and dirty. Stangate Street, the residence of the Grimaldis, Crozier Street, Paris Street—the ancient Love Lane—are better off and cleaner, with good,
Lambeth Palace Road, the old Stangate, is now a wide, open thoroughfare with good houses as far as the Palace wall. Opposite is St. Thomas’s Hospital, covering an area of some nine acres and consisting of eight separate buildings or pavilions. The building at the bridge contains the offices, the six succeeding ones are for patients, and the last is a museum, lecture room, and school of medicine, with a small mortuary in the angle adjoining.
The early history of St. Thomas’s Hospital is somewhat obscure. It is generally stated that it was at first the Almonry of St. Saviour’s, Bermondsey. That, however,
is not a sufficient explanation of its origin. Every Religious House was bound to bestow a certain portion of its income in charitable works ; either in feeding the penniless or in maintaining the old, or in healing the sick. The religious thus always received the poor and distributed doles. They might also keep an almshouse, or might maintain a hospital. Thus in the year 1212 the Priory of St. Mary Overies maintained an almshouse for certain brethren and sisters who were under the guardianship of one Amicius, Archdeacon of Surrey. In July of that year a fire broke out in Southwark which spread over the bridge into the City. The fire destroyed, among other buildings, the almshouse. The canons, however, erected a temporary shelter for their poor. The ” Almery ” of Bermondsey Abbey, built outside the walls of the house, was intended for converts and poor children. The Bishop of Winchester, Peter de Rupibus, finding the Hospital of St. Mary too much confined for want of space, and the Foundation of Bermondsey too limited in its operations, because in the rural meadows among which it stood there were few possible converts and fewer children, merged the two Houses into one, built a new Hospital on ground belonging to Amicius, and dedicated it to St. Thomas the Martyr.
The House, which was commonly called Beckett’s Hospital, was for canons regular,
as a hospital for them. At this time the staff consisted of a master, brethren, and
three lay sisters, and they made up forty beds for sick people. Two or three years
before the Dissolution, James Nycolson, a ” glasier ” or maker of painted glass, printed
Coverdale’s Bible in the precinct of St. Thomas’s Hospital.
One may very easily exaggerate the effect of the Dissolution and the closing of
the Hospitals on the London poor. St. Thomas’s made up forty beds ; that was not a great number in the now crowded part of Southwark round the foot of the bridge.
One knows nothing about the working of St. Thomas’s—whether it was really a
refuge for the poor and the sick, or whether it had gone the way of the other
Religious Houses and lost its ancient zeal. However that may be, the old Hospital
began to fall into decay ; oddly enough, the name was changed ; it was called the
Hospital of the Holy Trinity ; after its restoration, the King’s Hospital ; and then it went back again to its old name. In 1552 the king—it was his last act—restored the
Hospitals of Bartholomew, Bridewell, St. Thomas, and Bethlehem. The City gave
;^iooo for the reparation of St. Thomas’s, and in November they received ” wounded
soldiers, blind, maimed, sick and helpless ” folk to the number of 760.
In 1694 it was complained that the Hospital buildings were low and falling into
decay. A subscription was raised in the City and the new buildings were erected in 1701. The new Hospital was in appearance like the present Hospital of Guy’s. In
1862 the Hospital and its site were purchased for the sum of _^290,ooo. The new
Hospital at L-ambeth, opposite Westminster, was then built and opened in 1871.
The authorities purchased the land in front of the Hospital, which was then a muddy
bank and foreshore known as Stangate Bank, and made of it a fine broad footway
along the Albert Embankment, which was begun in 1866 and opened some two years
later. Ample seating accommodation is provided for foot-passengers. It has been
suggested that Stangate may be a survival of the Roman Road, and that the Stane
Street, which came to London from Arundel in Sussex through Dorking, reached the
river here. The old Stangate Bridge and Stairs were almost opposite Crozier Street,
and prior to the building of the bridge were important, as some of the southern
coaches started from Lambeth. In 1357 John de Shepey built a landing-place here
for the convenience of himself and retinue to cross to Westminster. The angle made
by Lambeth Palace Road and Stangate is now being covered with the St. Thomas’s
Mansions—four-story red-brick flats—a great improvement on the usual style of the
vicinity. This is a busy corner, as the Wandsworth trams start from here and very
heavy traffic towards Vauxhall is constantly passing, but the wide well-paved roads
and ample approaches from the bridge are sufficient for it.