The History and Antiquities of London, Westminster, Southwark, and Parts Adjacent, vol. 4

Allen, Thomas


St. George's Fields.


This tract was anciently a broad portion of marsh land, till the


embankment of the river Thames rendered it tenable. That it was known by the Romans is sufficiently authenticated by the remains of tesselated pavements, coins, bones, &c. and it might have been used as an , or summer camp; for it could not have been any other, the situation having been too damp for a residentiary station; for, even till the century, Lambeth-marsh was overflowed. The idea entertained by dean Gale and Dr. Salmon of the ancient Londinium being placed on this side of the Thames, has been sufficiently examined to admit of any further investigation.

These fields, however, have borne their share of celebrity in the annals of this country; they were very often the scenes of grandeur and cavalcade, and sometimes the rendezvous of rebellion and discord. It was to this place that Wat Tyler's and Jack Cade's rebels resorted to oppose the royal authority; and it was here that the former retired after the arrest of their leader in , and were compelled to yield to the allegiance they had violated. Here also the infatuated mob commenced the riots of , which threatened the existence of the metropolis, had they not been speedily quelled.

These fields now form different roads; and from circus open communications with all the south and south-east counties, and the continent.

In the centre is an obelisk. This was erected in the year , during the mayoralty, and in honour of Brass Crosby, esq. who had been confined in the Tower for the conscientious discharge of his magisterial duty. It is a plain but neat structure, and forms a centre at the meeting of the great south road from London, the road from , from Waterloo-bridge, from , from , and from . side is inscribed with the cause of its erection; the other sides mark the distances from , London-bridge, and , as follows:

North side.





South side.






East side.





West aide.







As this is of the most considerable improvements that took place in the last reign, it will be very proper in this place to notice that on the , the lord mayor, aldermen, and commons of the city of London in common-council assembled, presented, by the sheriffs, a petition to the house of commons, which set forth:

That by an act passed in the year of


king George II. the petitioners were empowered

to build a bridge across the river Thames, from Blackfriars, in the city of London, to the opposite side, in the county of Surrey, and to make several ways and passages to and from the same, on each side of the said river: and by another act passed in the


year of his present majesty's reign, were empowered and enabled to complete the said bridge, and the avenues thereto on the London side; and that the works of the said bridge being now nearly finished, it is become necessary forthwith to make a road or avenue thereto on the Surrey side; and therefore the petitioners, if they might be furnished with sufficient means for that purpose, are willing to undertake the making of a straight road from the said bridge, southwards, to the present road across St. George's-fields, between Symond's-corner, and the Stone's-end in


; and from thence branching into


parts, the


leading to some place at or near the Dog and Duck, and the other to

Newington Butts

; the expense whereof, as well as of the several purchases necessary for that purpose, the petitioners are willing and desirous should be defrayed by a continuation of the tolls now payable for the passage over

London bridge

, and the said bridge at Blackfriars, and which, by the said act of the


year of his present majesty, are to cease and determine immediately after the payment of certain sums therein mentioned; and that the said intended road might be lighted, watched, and kept in repair, at the expense of a small toll thereon; and therefore praying, that leave may be given to bring in a bill for enabling the petitioners to make the said intended road, and to light, watch, and repair the same when made.

The bill, ordered in consequence of this petition, passed into an act, of which the following are the heads:

The preamble

recites the acts of 29 Geo. II. and 7 Geo. III. relating to the building, &c. of Blackfriars-bridge; and the act sets forth, that the mayor, aldermen, and commons of the city of London, are by it impowered to make a road fifty feet wide from the south side of the Upper Ground-street, at the foot of the said bridge, in a straight line with the middle line thereof, to a circle, area, or place, to be by them made at or upon the present road cross St. George's-fields, between Symond-corner and the south end of Blackman-street, in the borough of Southwark; this said circle, area, or place, is not to exceed two hundred and fifty feet in diameter; and they are also hereby impowered to make another road sixty feet wide from the said circle, area, or place, to some place at or near the house commonly called the Dog and Duck; such last-mentioned road to be in a straight or curved direction, so that the greater part thereof be in a straight line with the present road leading to Lambeth; and they are moreover hereby impowered to make another road sixty feet wide from the said circle, area, or place, in a straight line, to some place at or near Newington Butts.

It is likewise hereby lawful for them to raise such roads to any height, making satisfaction; and to arch over, or fill up ditches, water-courses, sewers, pools, and ponds, but so as not to obstruct the course of Pudding-mill stream: they may also erect drains and sewers in and through such ditches, &c. and purchase houses, lands, &c. for the purposes aforesaid; and the said power of purchasing is limited to ten years.

Bodies politic, corporate, &c. trustees, and other persons, are impowered to sell and convey; and in case of refusal or inability to treat, the justices of Surrey are to issue a precept to the sheriff of Surrey to summon a jury; which jury is to be drawn according to the act of 3 Geo. 11. and the jurors may be challenged: and the said justices are hereby impowered to summon and examine witnesses, and direct views. The jury is to assess the value, and the justices to give final judgment. Previous notice is to be given to the parties interested; and, on payment of the value assessed, the premises are to be conveyed to the city.

Where a good title cannot be made, or legal conveyance executed, or parties found, the justices are to order the purchase money to be paid into the Bank; subject to the order of the court of Chancery, on motion or petition. Verdicts and judgments are to be entered among the records of the quarter sessions of Surrey. Copies are good evidence. On payment into the Bank, the premises are to vest in the city. Justices, on petition, may invest the money in the public funds. If the money is not tendered, verdicts and judgments are not binding. Purchase-monies of trust estate are to be re-invested in other purchases, to the same uses. Conveyance by femmes covert inrolled are to be effectual; and so all other bargains and sales. Persons not entering their claims within a limited time are to be barred, but at liberty to recover the purchase-money from persons receiving the same. After purchase, tenants are to deliver possession within six months; and, on refusal, justices are to issue a precept to the sheriff to deliver possession. Mortgagees, on tender of principal and interest, are to convey; but on refusal interest is to cease, on payment of principal and interest into the Bank; and upon such payment the premises are to vest in the city. The monies are to be paid or tendered, before any use is made of the premises. The justices are impowered to fine the sheriff, jurors, and witnesses, not doing their duty. The crown is also impowered to alienate its lands, and stocks are to be purchased for answering any stipends.

The tolls on London and Blackfriars bridge continued by act 7 Geo. III. are by this act further continued till payment of the monies advanced for any of the foregoing purposes, with interest. No buildings are to be erected within ten feet of the said roads. The common council may delegate their power to a committee; but no persons concerned or dealing in building are eligible on such committees.

The act 24 Geo. II. and 4 Geo. III. impowering the trustees of the Surrey roads to erect turnpikes, extends to this; and the trustees for erecting turnpikes on, and repairing, lighting, and watching the new roads intended to be made by this act, are impowered to demand and take one penny, before any horse, mule, or ass, drawing or not drawing, shall pass through such turnpikes or toll gates. The tolls are to be paid but once a day at any turnpike erected by virtue of this or the former acts. Sheep, hogs, neat cattle, are exempted from tolls. The drains and sewers are under the management of the commissioners of sewers for Surrey and Kent.

This act, so far as the same relates to the trustees, takes place from and immediately after the passing of it; and the intend roads to be under the care of the mayor, &c. of the city of London, if they shall think fit, when the tolls upon the bridge shall have ceased. The penalty, on misapplication of any of the monies raised by virtue.of this act, is forfeiture of treble the sum so misapplied. The writings may be without stamp, and proceedings are not to be quashed for want of form. Actions are limited to within six calendar months, and the defendants may plead the general issue, and recover treble costs.

This act shall be allowed in all courts whatsoever as a public act; and all judges, justices, or other persons, are hereby required to take notice thereof as such, without especially pleading the same.

In , another act was passed for the further improvement of St. George's-fields, enabling the city to sell some detached pieces of their lands, mentioned in a schedule annexed to the act, and to invest the purchase money, and a further sum of in the purchase of other land there, so as to make their premises more compact.

Of the benevolent institutions with which the metropolis and its neighbourhood abounds, many are placed in St. George's-fields, a situation chosen not only for the facility it affords to the visits of the medical gentlemen and the governors, but from the circumstance of ground being obtained on reasonable terms, and not too much encumbered with buildings at the time when most of them were established.

On the south side of circus are the extensive range of buildings, called


[] Vide ante, vol. i. p. 3 and 4.

This object is in collection Subject Temporal Permanent URL
Component ID:
To Cite:
TARC Citation Guide    EndNote
Detailed Rights
View all images in this book
 Title Page
CHAPTER I: Site, local divisions, and government of the City of Westminster; history of the Abbey; Coronation Ceremonies; and lists of the Abbots and Deans
CHAPTER II: Westminster Abbey, and Description of the Tombs and Monuments
CHAPTER III: History and Topography of St. Margaret's Parish
CHAPTER IV: History and Topography of St. John's Parish, Westminster
CHAPTER V: History and Topography of the parish of St. Martin's in the Fields, Westminster
CHAPTER VI: History and Topogrpahy of the parish of St. James, Westminster
CHAPTER VII: History and Topography of the Parish of St. Anne, Westminster
CHAPTER VIII: History and Topography of the parish of St. Paul, Covent Garden
CHAPTER IX: History and Topography of the Parish of St. Mary-le-strand
CHAPTER X: History and Topogrpahy of the parish of St. Clement Danes
CHAPTER XI: History and Topography of the parish of st. George, Hanover Square
CHAPTER XII: History and Topography of the Precinct of the Savoy
CHAPTER XIII: History and Topography of the Inns of Court
CHAPTER XIV: History and Topography of the Precincts of the Charter-house and Ely Place, and the Liberty of the Rolls
 CHAPTER XV: Historical Notices of the Borough of Southwark
CHAPTER XVI: History and Topography of the Parish of St. Olave, Southwark
CHAPTER XVII: History and Topography of the parish of St. John, Southwark
CHAPTER XVIII: History and Topography of the parish of St. Thomas, Southwark
CHAPTER XIX: History and Topogrpahy of the parish of St. George's, Southwark
CHAPTER XX: History and Topography of St. Saviour's Parish
CHAPTER XXI: History and Topography of the parist of Christ-church in the County of Surrey
 CHAPTER XXII: A List of the Principal Books, &c that have been published in Illustration of the Antiquities, History, Topography, and other subjects treated of in this Work
 Addenda et Corrigienda