Strype, Survey of London(1720), [online] (hriOnline, Sheffield). Available from:
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The Stuart London Project, Humanities Research Institute, The University of Sheffield,
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London Bridge. The Antiquity of it . When first built of Stone . Accidents on the Bridge . The Buildings on it . The modern State of it . Fleet Bridge . Oldborn Bridge . Cow Bridge .

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AND now leaving the Thames, let us next take a View of the famous and wonderful Bridge built over it. And after several Things observed concerning the Antiquity and Building of it, we shall pass to some other Bridges laid over other Waters belonging to the City.]

The Bridges of London.

J. S.

And first concerning the Bridge over the Thames, commonly called London Bridge. The original Foundation whereof, by Report of Bartholomew Linsted, alias Fowle, last Prior of S. Mary Overies Church in Southwark, was this. A Ferry being kept in Place where now the Bridge is built, at length the Ferryman and his Wife deceasing, left the same Ferry to their only Daughter, a Maiden named Mary. Which, with the Goods left by her Parents, as also with the Profits rising of the said Ferry, builded a House of Sisters, in Place where now standeth the East Part of S. Mary Overies Church above the Quire, where she was buried. Unto the which House she gave the Oversight and Profits of the Ferry. But afterwards the said House of Sisters being converted into a College of Priests, the Priests builded the Bridge of Timber, (as all other the great Bridges of this Land were) and from time to time kept the same in good Reparations. Till at length, considering the great Charges of repairing the same, there was, by Aid of the Citizens of London, and others, a Bridge builded with Arches of Stone, as shall be shewed.

The Antiquity of London Bridge.

* A Ferry over the Thames between London and Southwark.

* The first Arched Bridge at Stratford Bow; made by Matild, Wife to Henry I.

But, First, Of the Timber Bridge: The Antiquity thereof being uncertain; yet thus much I remember to have read [that will shew it ancient] That in the Year of Christ 994. Sweyn King of Denmark, besieging the City of London both by Water and by Land, the Citizens manfully defended themselves, and their King Etheldred. So as part of their Enemies were slain in Battel, and part of them were drowned in the River of Thames; because in their hasty Rage, they took no heed of the Bridge.

The Timber Bridge.

W. Malmesbury.

Moreover in the Year 1016. Canute the Dane, with a great Navy came up to London, and on the South of the Thames caused a Trench to be cast; through the which his Ships were towed into the West side of the Bridge; and then with a deep Trench and streight Siege he compassed the City round about.

Canute comes to the Bridge.

Also in the Year 1052. Earl Godwin, with the like Navy, taking his Course up the River of Thames, and finding none that offered to resist on the Bridge, he sailed up by the South side of the said River.

None resists Earl Godwin at the Bridge.

Furthermore, about the Year 1067. William the Conqueror, in his Charter to the Church of St. Peter at Westminster, confirmed to the Monks serving God there, a Gate in London, then called Buttolphs Gate, with a Wharf, which was at the Head of London Bridge.

We likewise read, that in the Year 1114. the 14th of Henry I. the River of Thames was so dried up, and such want of Water there, that between the Tower of London and the Bridge, and under the Bridge, not only with Horse, but also a great Number of Men, Women and Children, did wade over on Foot.

Men went dry shod under London Bridge.

In the Year 1122. the 22d of Henry I. Thomas Arden gave to the Monks of Bermondsey, and the Church of S. George in Southwark, five Shillings Rent by the Year, out of the Land pertaining to London Bridge.

Lib. Bermond.

I have also seen a Charter under Seal, to the Effect following.

" Henry King of England, to Ralph Bishop of Chichester, and all the Ministers of Sussex, sendeth Greeting. Know ye, &c. I command by my Kingly Authority, that the Mannor called Alceston, which my Father gave, with other Lands, to the Abbey of Battle, be free and quiet from Shires and Hundreds, and all other Customs of Earthly Servitude, as my Father held the same, most freely and quietly; and namely, from the Work of London Bridge, and the Work of the Castle at Pevensey: And this I command upon my Forfeiture. Witness, William de Pontlearche at Berry."

Henry I his Charter to Battle Abbey.

To be free from the Work of London Bridge.

The which Charter, with the Seal very fair, remaineth in the Custody of Joseph Holland, Gent.

In the Year 1136. the First of King Stephen, a Fire began in the House of one Ailewarde, near unto London Stone, which consumed East to Aldgate, and West to S. Erkenwalds Shrine in Paul's Church. The Bridge of Timber over the River of Thames was also burnt, &c. but afterwards again repaired. For Fitz Stephen writeth, that in the Reigns of King Stephen, and of Henry II. when Pastimes were shewed on the River of Thames, Men stood in great Number on the Bridge, Wharfs, and Houses to behold.

Lib. Bermond.

Lib. Trin.

Anno 1136. London Bridge burnt, being then of Timber.

Now in the Year 1163. the same Bridge was not only repaired, but new made of Timber, as before, by Peter of Colechurch, Priest and Chaplain.

London Bridge of Timber new built.

Thus much for the old Timber-bridge, maintained partly by the proper Lands thereof, partly by the Liberality of divers Persons, and partly by Taxations in divers Shires, (as I have proved) for the Space of 215 Years, before the Bridge of Stone was builded.

Now touching the Foundation of the Stone Bridge, it followeth thus: About the Year 1176, the Stone Bridge over the River of Thames at London, was begun to be founded by the foresaid Peter of Cole- Church, near unto the Bridge of Timber, but somewhat more towards the West: For I read, that Botolph Wharf was, in the Conqueror's Time, at the Head of London Bridge. The King assisted this Work; A Cardinal then being Legate here: And Richard Archbishop of Canterbury gave One Thousand Marks towards the Foundation. The Course of the River (for the Time) was turned another way about, by a Trench cast for that Purpose; beginning (as is supposed) East about Rotherhith, and ending in the West about Patricksey, now termed Battersea. This Work, to wit, the Arches, Chapel, and Stone Bridge over the Thames at London, having been Thirty three Years in building, was in the Year 1209 finished by the worthy Merchants of London, Serle Mercer, William Almaine, and Benedict Botewrite, principal Masters of that Work: For Peter of Cole-Church deceased Four Years before the Work was finished; and was buried in the Chapel builded on the same Bridge, in the Year 1205.

London Bridge of Stone founded.

Lib. Waverley

London Bridge 33 Years in building with Stone.


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