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Rivers and other Waters serving this City. 24

Rivers and other Waters serving this City.

Level with the Streets and Lane, where through it passed; and since that also, Houses have been Builded thereon, so that the Course of Walbrooke is now hid under Ground, and thereby hardly known.

Walbrooke Vaulted and Paved over.

Langborne Water, so called of the Length thereof, was a great Stream of Water, breaking out of the Ground in Fen Churchstreet, which ran down with a swift Course, West, through that Street, thwart Grasstreet, and down Lumbardstreet, to the West End of St. Mary Wolnoths Church, and turning the Course South, down Shareborn Lane (so termed of Sharing or Dividing) it brake into divers Rilles or Rillets to the River of Thames. Of this Borne that Ward took the Name, and is till this Day called Langborne Ward. This Borne is also long since stopped up at the Head, and the rest of the Course filled up, and Paved over, so that no Sign thereof remaineth more than the Names aforesaid.


Sherborne Lane.

Langborne Ward.

Oldborne or Holborne was the like Water, breaking out about the Place where now the Bars do stand, and it ran down the whole Street to Oldborne Bridge, and into the River of the Wells, or Turnmill Brook. This Bourne was likewise (long since) stopped up at the Head, and in other Places, where the same hath broken out; but yet till this Day, the said Street is there called High Olborne Hill, and both the Sides thereof, (together with all the Grounds adjoining, that lye betwixt it and the River of Thames) remain full of Springs. So that Water is there found at Hand, and hard to be stopped in every House.


There are (saith Fitzstephen) neere London, on the Northside, special Wells in the Suburbs, Sweet, Wholsome and Cleere, among which, Holy Well, Clarkes Well, and Clements Well, are most famous, and frequented by Schollers and Youths of the City in the Summer Evenings, when they walk forth to take the Air.

Fitzstephen concerning Wells in the Suburbs.

The first, to wit, Holywell, is much decayed and spoiled, with Filthiness purposely laid there, for the heightning of the Ground for Garden Plots.

Holy Well.

The Fountain called Saint Clements Well, North from the Parish Church of Saint Clements, and near unto an Inn of Chancerie, called Clements Inne, is yet fair and curbed Square with hard Stone, and is always kept clean for common Use. It is always full, and never wanteth Water.

Clements Well.

The Third is called Clarkes-Well or Clarken-Well, and is curbed about Square with hard Stone; not far from the West-end of this Clarkenwell Church, without the Wall that incloseth the Church. The said Church took the Name of the Well; and the Well took Name of the Parish Clarks in London, who (of old time) were accustomed there Yearly to assemble, and to play some large History of Holy Scripture. For Example of later Time, to wit in the Year 1390, the 14th of Richard the Second, I read, that the Parish Clarks of London, on the 18th Of July, plaid Interludes at Skinners-well, near unto Clarks-well, which Play continued three Days together, the King, Queen, and Nobles being present. Also in the Year 1409, the Tenth of Henry the Fourth they played a Play at the Skinners-well, which lasted Eight Days, and was of Matter from the Creation of the World; there were to see the same the most part of the Nobles and Gentiles in England, &c.

Clarks Well.

Clarkenwell Church.

Plays by the Parish Clarks at Clarks Well.

Plays at the Skinners Well.

Other smaller Wells were many near unto Clarks-well, namely Skinners-well, so called, for that the Skinners of London held there certain Plays, Yearly plaid of Holy Scripture, &c. In Place whereof, the Wrestlings have of latter Years been kept, and is in Part continued at Bartholomew-tide.

Skinners Well.

Wrestling Place.

Then was there Fags-well, near unto Smithfield, by the Charter-house, now lately damned up. Tod-well, Loders-well, and Radwell are all decayed, and so so filled up, that their Places are hardly now discerned.

Fags Well.

Somewhat North from Holy-well is one other Well, curbed Square with Stone, and is called Dame Annis the Clear; and not far from it, but somewhat West, is also another clear Water, called Perilous Pond, because divers Youths (by swimming therein) have been drowned. And thus much be said for Fountains and Wells.

Dame Annis the Clear.

Horsepoole in Westsmithfield, was sometime a great Water; and because the Inhabitants in that Part of the City did there water their Horses, the same was in old Records called Horsepoole. It is now much decayed, the Springs being stopped up; and the Land- water falling into the small Bottom, remaining inclosed with Brick, is but foul, and is called Smithfield-Pond. This since the Fire of London is filled up.


The Pool by S. Giles Church-yard was a large Water. For that it is read in the Year 1244, that Anne of Lodbury was drowned therein. This Pool is now (for the most Part) stopped up, bur the Spring is preserved, and was cooped about with Stone, by the Executors of Richard Whittington.

Pool without Creplegate.

The said River of the Wells, the running Water of Walbrooke, the Bourns aforenamed, and other the fresh Waters that were in and about this City, being in process of Time, by Encroachment for Buildings, and otherwise Heightnings of Grounds, utterly decayed, and the Number of Citizens mightily increased; they were forced to seek sweet Waters abroad; whereof some, at the Request of King Henry the Third, in the 21st Year of his Reign, were (for the Profit of the City, and good of the whole Realm thither repairing; to wit, for the Poor to Drink, and the Rich to dress their Meat) granted to the Citizens, and their Successors, by one Gilbert Sanford, with Liberty to convey Water from the Town of Tyburn, by Pipes of Lead into the City.

Later Supplies of Water.

Patent. 1236.

Water conveyed from Tyborne.

And the first Cistern of Lead, castellated with Stone in the City of London, was called the Great Conduit in West-Cheap, which was begun to be Builded in the Year 1285. Henry Wales being then Maior; the Water-Course from Padington to James Hed, hath 510 Rods, from James-Hed on the Hill to the Mewsgate 102 Rods; from the Mewsgate to the Cross in Cheap 484 Rods.

Andr. Horn.

Great Conduit in West Cheape.

Water conveyed from Tyborne to London.

John Pope, Citizen and Barber, gave by his Will, Dat. May 11. 1437. to the Maior, Chamberlain, and Commonalty of London, for ever, for the Use and Reparation of the great Conduit, and the other Conduits in the City, his Tenement with the Appurtenances, which by Right descended to him.]

The Conduits Regist. Ep. Lon.

J. S.

The Tonne upon Cornhill was Cisterned in the Year 1401, John Chadworth than being Maior.

Tun upon Cornhill.

Bosses of Water at Belingsgate, by Paul's Wharf, and by S. Giles's Church without Creplegate, made about the Year 1423.

Bosse of Belingsgate, and other Bosses.

Water conveyed to the Goals of Newgate and Ludgate, 1432.

Water procured to the Standard in West Cheap, about the Year 1431. which Standard was again new builded by the Executors of John Wells, as shall be shewed in another Place.

Standard in West Cheape.

King Henry the Sixth, in the Year 1442, granted to John Hatherley Maior, License to take up 200 Fodder of Lead, for the Building of Conduits, of a common Granary, and of a new Cross in West Cheap for the Honour of the City.


The Conduit in West Cheap, by Pauls Gate, (commonly called, The little Conduit) was Builded about the Year 1442. One Thousand Marks was granted by Common Council for the Building thereof, and repairing of the other Conduits. This Repaired since the Fire of London, but not finished.


© hriOnline, 2007
The Stuart London Project, Humanities Research Institute, The University of Sheffield,
34 Gell Street, Sheffield, S3 7QY