Rivers and other Waters serving this City. 23

Rivers and other Waters serving this City.

Oldborn, which had its Fall into the River of Wells.

Then were there three prinincipal Fountains, or Wells in the other Suburbs; to wit, Holy Well, Clement's Well, and Clark's Well. Near unto this last named Fountain, were divers other Wells, viz. Skinner's Well, Fag's Well, Tode Well, Loder's Well, and Rad Well. All which having the Fall of their overflowing into the aforesaid River, much encreased the Stream, and in that Place gave it the Name of Wells.


Divers other Wells.

In West Smithfield there was a Pool, in Records called Horsepoole; and one other near unto the Parish Church of St. Giles without Creplegate. Besides all which, they had in every Street and Lane of the City, divers Wells and fresh Springs: And after this manner was this City then served with sweet and fresh Water. Which being since decayed, other Means have been sought to supply the Want; as shall be shewed. But, First, of the aforenamed Rivers and other Waters, is to be said as followeth,




THAMES, the most famous River of this Island, beginneth a little above a Village called Winchcomb in Oxfordshire; and still encreasing, passeth first by the University of Oxford, and so with a marvelous quiet Course to London, and thence breaketh into the French Ocean by main Tides: Which twice in Four and twenty Hours Space doth ebb and flow more than Sixty Miles in length, to the great Commodity of Travellers. By the which all kind of Merchandize be easily conveyed to London, the principal Storehouse and Staple of all Commodities within this Realm. So that omitting to speak of great Ships and other Vessels of Burthen, there pertaineth to the Cities of London and Westminster, and Borough of Southwark, above the Number (as is supposed) of Two thousand Wherries, and other small Boats; whereby Three thousand Poor Men at the least be set on work and maintained.



That at the River of the Wells in the West Part of the City, was of old Time so called, it may be proved thus. William the Conqueror, in his Charter to the College of St. Martin Le Grand in London, hath these Words. I do give and grant to the same Church all the Land and the Moore without the Postern which is called Creplegate, on either Part of the Postern; that is to say, from the North Corner of the Wall (as the River of the Wells, there near running, departeth the same Moore from the Wall) unto the running Water which entreth the City. This Water hath been since that Time called Turnemil Brook; yet then called the River of the Wells; which Name of River continued; and it was so called in the Reign of Edward I. as shall be shewed, with the Decay also of the said River.

River of the Wells.

The Conqueror's Charter to S. Martins.

Turnmill Brook.

In a fair Book of Parliament Records, now lately restored to the Tower, it appeareth, that a Parliament being holden at Carlisle in the Year 1307. the 35th of Edward I. Henry Lacy, Earl of Lincoln, complained, that whereas (in Times past) the Course of Water, running at London under * Oldborne - bridge, and Fleet-bridge into the Thames, had been of such Breadth and Depth, that Ten or Twelve Ships, Navies at once with Merchandises, were wont to come to the foresaid Bridge of Fleet, and some of them unto Oldborne-bridge; Now the same Course (by Filth of the Tanners, and such others) was sore decayed; also by raising of Wharfs, but especially by a Diversion of the Water made by them of the New Temple, for their Mills standing without Baynards Castle, in the First Year of King John, and by divers other Impediments: so as the said Ships could not enter as they were wont, and as they ought. Wherefore he desired, that the Maior of London, with the Sheriffs, and other discreet Aldermen, might be appointed to view the Course of the said Water; and that by the Oaths of good Men, all the foresaid Hindrances might be removed, and it to be made as it was wont of old. Whereupon Roger le Brabazon, the Constable of the Tower, with the Maior and Sheriffs, were assigned to take with them honest and discreet Men, and to make diligent Search and Enquiry, how the said River was in old Time, and that they leave nothing that may hurt or stop it, but keep it in the same Estate that it was wont to be. So far the Record.

Decay of the River of the Wells.

Parliament Record.

* Now Holborne.

River of Wells bare with Ships.

Patent Record.

Mills by Baynards Castle, made in the first of K. John.

Roger le Brabazon.

Whereupon it followed, that the said River was at that Time cleansed, these Mills removed, and other things done for the Preservation of the Course thereof; notwithstanding never brought to the old Depth and Breadth: Whereupon the Name of River ceased, and it was since called a Brook; namely, Turnemill or Tremill Brook, for that divers Mills were erected upon it, as appeareth by a fair Register Book, containing the Foundation of the Priory at Clerkenwell, and Donation of the Lands thereunto belonging; as also by divers other Records.

The River of the Wells cleansed.

Since called a Brook.

Turnemill Brook.

Register Book of Clerkenwel.

This Brook hath been divers Times since cleansed, namely, and last of all, to any Effect, in the Year One thousand five hundred and two, the Seventeenth of Henry VII. the whole Course of Fleet-Dike, then so called, was scowered (I say) down unto the Thames. So that Boats with Fish and Fewel were rowed to Fleet-bride and Oldborne- bridge, as they of old Time had been accustomed, which was a great Commodity to all the Inhabitants in that Part of the City.

Cleansed again 1502.

After called Fleet Dyke.

In the Year 1589. was granted a Fifteen by a Common Council of the City, for the cleansing of this Brooke or Dike; and the Money, amounting to a thousand Marks, was collected; and it was undertaken, that by drawing divers Springs about Hampstead- Heath into one Head and Course, both the City should be served of fresh Water in all Places of Want; and also, that by such a Follower, (as Men call it) the Channel of this Brook should be scowered into the River of Thames. But much Money being therein spent, the Effect failed; so that the Brook, by means of continual Encroachments upon the Banks, getting over the Water, and casting of Soilage into the Stream, is now become worse cloyed [and choaken] than ever it was before.

Fleet-Dike promised to be cleansed, the Money-collected, and the Citizens deceived.

The Running Water, so called by William the Conqueror in his said Charter, which entreth the City, &c. (before there was any Ditch) between Bishopsgate and the late- made Postern called Mooregate, entred the Wall, and was truly of the Wall called Walbrook, not of Gualo, as some have far fetched. It ran through the City, with divers Windings from the North towards the South, into the River of Thames; and had (over the same) divers Bridges along the Streets and Lanes through which it passed. I have read in an old Written Book, intituled, The Customs of London, That the Prior of the holy Trinity within Aldgate, ought to make over Walbrook in the Ward of Breadstreet, against the Stone Wall of the City, viz. the same Bridge that is next the Church of All Saints at the Wall. Also, that the Prior of the New Hospital, St. Mary Spittle, without Bishopsgate, ought to make the middle Part of one other Bridge, next to the said Bridge towards the North; and that in the 28th Year of Edward I. it was by Inquisition found before the Maior of London, that the Parish of St. Stephen upon Walbrook, ought of right to scower + the Course of the said Brook; and therefore the Sheriffs were commanded to distrain the said Parishioners so to do. In the Year 1300. the Keepers of those Bridges at that Time, were William Jordan, and John de Bever.


Bridges over Walbrook.

† cover, in the first Edition.

This Water-Course having divers Bridges, was afterwards vaulted over with Brick, and paved