Old and New London, A Narrative of its History, its People and its Places.Illustrated with Numerous Engravings from the Most Authentic Sources. vol 6

Walford, Edward

1872-78

Rotherhithe.

Rotherhithe.

 

Farewell to Kent-street garrison, Farewell to Horsly-down, And all the smirking wenches That dwell in Redriff town. Roxburgh Ballads--The Merry Man's Resolutions.

>

 

[extra_illustrations.6.134.2] , or, as it is occasionally called,

Redriff,

is worthy of note as the place where docks were constructed for the convenience of London. The parish adjoins on the east, and extends along the southern shore of the Thames as far as Deptford. The compiler of the

New View of London,

published in , considers as

equivalent to

Red Rose Haven,

probably from some such sign being there, as

Rother

Lane (now called

Pudding Lane

) had that name from the sign of a red rose there.

Northouck, too, supports this view, telling us that the name of the place was formerly Red Rose Hithe,

from the sign of the Red Rose.

Maitland, however, with greater reason, supposes the name to be of Saxon origin, and that it was derived from the words, , a mariner, and a haven. , or , as is well known, is a common name for the lower port or haven of maritime towns, such as Colchester, Southampton, &c. , we may remark, was chiefly inhabited a years ago, as now, by seafaring persons and tradesmen whose business depended on seamen and shipping. The place is summarily dispatched in the

Ambulator

for , in the following terms :--

Rotherhith (

sic

), vulgarly called Rederiff, was anciently a village on the south-east of London, though it is now joined on to

Southwark

, and as it is situated along the south bank of the Thames, is chiefly inhabited by masters of ships and other seafaring people.

It will be remembered that Gay, in the makes mention of the place in the following lines:--

Filch.These seven handkerchiefs, madam.

Mrs. Peachum.Coloured ones, I see. They are of sure sale, from our warehouse at Redriff among the seamen.

The place appears to have gone by the name of Redriff as long ago as the reign of Edward I. It is frequently mentioned by Pepys in his

Diary,

and always by the appellation of Redriff.

It was at that King Knut is said to have begun his famous trench to , for the purpose of laying siege to London, as stated in a previous chapter. The channel through which the tide of the Thames was turned in the year when was built of stone, is supposed by Stow and by several antiquaries tc have followed the same course, though many writers have dissented from this view.

In a grant of the time of Edward III., by which Constance, then Prior of , assigned certain messuages to the king, the name is spelt

Rethereth.

At the time of the Domesday survey the place was included in the royal manor of ; but Henry I. granted part of it to his natural son Robert, Earl of Gloucester. In the reign of Edward III. of the manors into which was divided belonged to the Abbey of St. Mary of Grace, on ; but in the following year it was devised to the convent of , at , whose sisterhood already possessed that portion of the other manor which had not been given to the Earl of Gloucester. About the middle of the century the manor appears to have come into possession of the Lovel family. It was at this time a place of some note. In the reign of Edward III. a fleet had been fitted out there by order of the Black Prince and John of Gaunt. Afterwards Henry IV. resided there in an old stone house, when afflicted with leprosy; he is said to have dated charters thence. The Lovel family highly distinguished themselves during the wars of the Roses, on the Lancastrian side. When Richard of Gloucester ascended the throne, Francis Lord Lovel was made Lord Chamberlain, and so great was hi influence with his royal master that he was joined with Catesby and Ratcliffe in the familiar couplet-

The Cat, the Rat, and Lovel the dog

Rule all England under a Hog;

135

Richard's emblem, the boar, being of course intended by the last-named animal. Lovel fought well at Bosworth, and was fortunate enough to escape to Burgundy after the defeat. He returned in the following year, and, in conjunction with Lord Stafford, raised forces in Worcestershire, which the king's troops, commanded by the Duke of Bedford, soon dispersed. Lovel re-appeared on the scene in , with the Germans, under command of the Earl of Lincoln and Martin Swartz, who came over to support the claims of Lambert Simnel. They were defeated at Stokeupon-Trent, and the Earl of Lincoln, with of his men, was killed. Lovel escaped, but his fate is uncertain. Holinshed says he was slain, but many years afterwards a skeleton was discovered hidden away in the old manor-house of Minster Lovel, which, from the remains of the dress and other circumstances, was supposed to be that of the great Lord Lovel, who had hidden from pursuit, and was starved to death.

In , Lovel being dead and gone, the monks claimed the manor of , and gained it; but they did not long enjoy their possession, for in the year it was surrendered to the king, and remained royal property till Charles I. granted it to Sir Allen Apsley.

We hear and read but little of during the next century or so. It is true that there is a dim and misty tradition of Charles II. on occasion having made a frolicsome excursion to this neighbourhood; but probably that was a very exceptional case, his Majesty's frolics being mostly restricted to the Court quarter of the town; or, if he crossed the river, it was mostly in the direction of and . Evelyn records in his

Diary,

under date , a dreadful fire near the Thames side here, which destroyed nearly houses, and burnt also

divers ships.

On the ist of , another terrible fire, caused by a pitch-kettle boiling over, broke out in , , and before it could be extinguished more than houses, besides warehouses and other buildings, were entirely consumed, reducing at least families to the most terrible distress. This conflagration was doubtless of some service in clearing the close mass of ill-built houses, and causing the erection of a better class of edifices.

At the beginning of the present century consisted of a few streets, with good gardens to the houses, extending from the (the boundary between and ) to , beyond which were marshes intersected by sluggish, dirty streams. The southern limit of the houses followed the line of and , leading from to the end of the . (the river end of which was called ) ran southwards, skirting the dirty streams and stagnant pools of Milford, to the end of Rogue's Lane, which ran through marshy fields to the

Halfway House,

past the

St. Helena

tavern and teagardens. Near the

Halfway House

--which, by the way, was a neighbourhood noted as a resort of footpads-at the top of Trundley's Lane stood a few houses, still existing, and named Mildmay Houses. There were a few plots of market-garden ground here and there to be seen, near the spot now occupied by the Docks, and adjoining Alley, in the ; but the greater portion of the entire district between and the consisted of marshy fields. Mill Pond was the name given to a number of tidal ditchesnot unlike those of Jacob's Island--which intersected the space between and the . A larger stream discharged itself into the Thames at King's Mill; but that disappeared when the Docks were constructed. Within the last half century the inhabitants of the streets around Mill Pond were dependent upon these dirty tidal ditches for their supply of water, which was fetched in pails. Of late years, however, Mill Pond has been drained away, and rows of houses, some known as Jamaica Level, occupy the site.

Few Londoners, at sight, would suspect of having a soil or situation well suited to the growth of vines; but such would appear to have been once the case, if we may believe Hughson, who tells us, in his

History and Survey of London and its Suburbs,

that an attempt was made in , in , within this parish, to restore the cultivation of the vine, which, whether from the inauspicious climate of our island, or from want of skill in the cultivation, was at that time nearly lost, though there are authentic documents to prove that vineyards did flourish in this country in ancient times. It appears that about the time indicated a gentleman named Warner, observing that the Burgundy grapes ripened early, and conceiving that they might be grown in England, obtained some cuttings, which he planted here as standards; and Hughson records the fact that though the soil was not particularly suited, yet, by care and skill, he was rewarded by success, and

136

that his crop was so ample that it afforded him upwards of gallons annually, and that he was enabled to supply cuttings of his vines for cultivation in many other parts of this island.

At about the middle of that part of the which is now called Jamaica Level, are the gates and lodge-house of Park, which stretches away eastward to , and northward to the and , in each of which thoroughfares there are entrances. The park, which covers about acres of ground, was laid out and opened in , under the auspices of the Metropolitan Board of Works. It comprises a good open level piece of turf available for cricket-not, perhaps, to be compared with

Lord's

--and also several plots of ground laid out as ornamental flower-gardens, interspersed with shrubs and trees. In part of the grounds, near the entrance from Jamaica Level, are mounds formed by the earth which was excavated from under the bed of the river during the construction of the Thames Tunnel.

Before the formation of this park all the land hereabout consisted of fields and market-gardens, some considerable portion of which still exist in the neighbourhood of and Deptford, in all their freshness. We may remark here that the market-gardening--not only in these parts, but also in the districts near Battersea, Fulham, Hammersmith, and more remote parts--has attained a perfection which renders it a beautiful as well as interesting sight to examine the regularity and richness of the crops, the rapid system of clearing and fresh-cropping, and the mode of preparing and packing the produce for market. Perhaps in no department has English gardening arrived at more excellence, or is managed with more method and skill, than is to be witnessed in the marketgardens which supply the metropolis.

In former times a narrow pathway, called the

Halfpenny Hatch,

extended through the meadows and market-gardens from to the , where it emerged close by an old and much-frequented public-house called the

China Hall

.

The ancient tavern, which was a picturesque building partly surrounded by an external gallery, was pulled down within the last few years, and in its place has been erected a more modern-looking tavern, bearing the same sign. Our old friend Pepys mentions going to , but gives us no further particulars.

It is not unlikely,

says Mr. Larwood in his

History of Sign-boards,

that this was the same place which, in the summer of

1777

, was opened as a theatre. Whatever its use in former times, it was at that time the warehouse of a paper manufacturer. In those days the West End often visited the entertainments of the East, and the new theatre was sufficiently patronised to enable the proprietors to venture upon some embellishments. The prices were-boxes,

3s.

; pit,

2s.

; gallery Is.; and the time of commencing varied from half-past

six

to

seven

o'clock, according to the season.

The Wonder, Love in a Village

, the

Comical Courtship

, and the

Lying Valet

were among the plays performed. The famous Cooke was

one

of the actors in the season of

1778

. In that same year the building suffered the usual fate of all theatres, and was utterly destroyed by fire.

The Halfpenny Hatch was continued beyond the

China Hall

,

across the fields in the rear, to the

Dog and Duck

tavern, near the entrance to the . Any patronising the

China Hall

,

and partaking of refreshment, had the privilege of passing through the

Halfpenny Hatch

without payment of the halfpenny toll.

With respect to the sign of the

Dog and Duck,

we need hardly remark that it refers to a barbarous pastime of our ancestors, when ducks were hunted in a pond by spaniels. The pleasure consisted in seeing the duck make her escape from the dog's mouth by diving. It was much practised in the neighbourhood of London, and particularly in these southern suburbs, till the beginning of this century, when it went out of fashion, as most of the ponds were gradually built over.

The parish church of is dedicated to [extra_illustrations.6.136.1] , and stands not far from the river-side. It is built of brick, with stone quoins, and consists of a nave, chancel, and aisles, supported with pillars of the Ionic order. At the west end is a square tower, upon which is a stone spire, supported by Corinthian columns. The church was built in the early part of the last century, on the site of an older edifice, which had stood for years, but which had at length become so ruinous that Parliament was applied to for permission to pull it down. The present church has lately been thoroughly

restored,

and the old unsightly pews of our grandfathers' time have been superseded by open benches. In the churchyard lies buried an individual with whose name and affecting history the youth of this country must still be familiar-we refer to [extra_illustrations.6.136.2] , Prince of the [extra_illustrations.6.137.1] , who died in London from the

137

effects of the small-pox in , when only twent) years of age, after he had learned the manners and studied the civilisation of Europe, with the view of introducing them into his native country. He was the son of Abba Thulle, rupack or king of the island of Coo-roo-raa, of the Pelew group in the Indian Ocean. In , the frigate was wrecked off the island, and so great was the kindness of the king to Captain Wilson and the crew, that the captain offered to take his son to England to be educated. Young Lee Boo, an amiable young man, accordingly visited this country, but died in the following year, as stated above. The epitaph on his tomb concludes with the following couplet:--

Stop, reader, stop! Let Nature claim a tear,

A Prince of mine, Lee Boo, lies buried here.

There are no monuments of any interest within the walls of the church, but in the vestry is preserved a portrait of Charles I. in his robes, kneeling at a table and holding a crown of thorns. This portrait, if we may trust Aubrey's

Antiquities of Surrey,

formerly hung in the south aisle of the church. How it came into the possession of the parish is not stated.

The church of is in the diocese of Rochester, having been transferred to it from that of Winchester. The advowson formerly belonged to the priory of , but after the suppression of that monastery it passed through various hands. In it was sold to James, Duke of Chandos, of whom it was purchased a few years later by the master and fellows of Clare Hall, Cambridge. There is in the Tower a record of sundry grants to the rector of . It was

presented

to the commissioners appointed to inquire into the state of ecclesiastical benefices, in , that the rectory of

Redereth

was worth about per annum.

The increase of population, partly owing to the opening of the extensive docks, was accompanied by an addition to the number of churches. In the year the Commissioners for Building New Churches gave towards the erection of churches, and the trustees of Hyndman's Bounty, a local charity, offered to build a .

, in , opposite the gates on the north side of Park, is a plain and unpretending structure, of

debased Gothic

architecture, and dates its erection from about the year . Here was buried in of the most distinguished of our veteran generals, Field Marshal Sir William Gomm, Constable of the Tower.

All Saints', in , a Gothic edifice with a tower, surmounted by a lofty spire, was built from the designs of Mr. Kempthorne about the same time as the above, and at a cost of upwards of . Holy , in the eastern part of the parish, is a spacious edifice, in the Pointed style, capable of accommodating persons. This church was consecrated in .

St. Barnabas' Church, a Gothic brick-built edifice, in , near the , was erected mainly through the instrumentality of Sir William Gomm. It was built in , from the designs of Mr. Butterfield.

In the , -, , we read:

Last week, near the new church at

Rotherhithe

, a stone coffin of a prodigious size was taken out of the ground, and in it the skeleton of a man

ten

feet long;

but this we do not expect our readers to accept as literally true.

A free school was founded in the parish of about the beginning of the last century, by Peter Hills and Robert Bell, and endowed with a small annual income

for the education of

eight

sons of seamen, with a salary of

three pounds

per annum for the master.

The school-house, which is situated near , was rebuilt by subscription in . Various benefactions have since been made to the school, so that the number of scholars has been considerably increased.

A notice of and would scarcely be complete without some reference to the educational movement which has of late years sprung up in these parishes, as, indeed, is the case with most other parishes in the metropolis. In the Manor Road, Jamaica Level, , and other parts, School-Board schools have been erected, which are altogether architectural adornments of the neighbourhood. Before the opening of the

board-schools,

it appears that there were in the district upwards of children for whom provision ought to have been made in elementary schools, but that the existing accommodation was wholly inadequate, only about children having so much as their names inscribed on the rolls of the inspected schools. But since the erection of the schools above-mentioned large numbers of children have been added to the rolls, and attempts have been made to secure uniformity of fee within each of the schools. The policy of the regulation seems doubtful, since every neighbourhood contains a variety of classes among those depending upon the elementary schools for education, and the schools lie at considerable distances from another.

138

In fixing the uniform fee,

as we learn from the report of Her Majesty's Inspector of Schools for this district,

if regard is paid to the best class of the neighbourhood, wrong is done to all with lower incomes who require schooling; but if to the worst, the equitable interests of ratepayers are overlooked. In

one

of the large School-Board schools the weekly fee is

4d.

; in

four

it is

3d.

(including

one

temporary school); in

six

it is

2d.

(likewise including

one

temporary school); and in

two

of the new permanent schools, besides several temporary schools, it is

1d.

Between the years and the manor of was held by Admiral Sir Charles Wager. Another renowned admiral, Sir John Leake, was born in this parish in , and was buried here years afterwards.

Redriff

also long laid claim to brave old Admiral Benbow as a son of the soil. Allen, in his

History of Surrey,

says he

was born in Wintershull Street, now called

Hanover Street

;

curious biographers, however, have discovered that the stout old sailor saw the light at Shrewsbury. Another wellknown hero, but in a different line of life, Lemuel Gulliver, according to his veracious biographer,
Jonathan Swift, was born at , or, as he styles it,

Redriff

--a fact of which Gulliver doubtless boasted to his courtly friends at Lilliput and Brobdingnag. George Lillo, the dramatist, whose play of was for many years the stock piece performed at our theatres before the pantomime on Boxing-night, is said to have kept a jeweller's shop at .

The St. Helena Tea-gardens, in , were opened in , and, after undergoing sundry vicissitudes, have more than completed their centenary of existence. A newspaper advertisement in , announces that there are

tea, coffee, and rolls every day, with music and dancing in the evening.

The place still exists, and is chiefly supported by the lower classes of the neighbourhood, the families of men who work in the docks. In the summer there are brass bands and dancing platforms, singing, tumbling, and fireworks, for the delectation of the merry souls of

Redriff;

but the place has never attained more than a local celebrity, or affected to be a rival of Ranelagh or .

A notice of would be incomplete without at least some reference to that grand

139

triumph of engineering skill, the Thames Tunnel, connecting and , We have already spoken at some length of this great work ; but, nevertheless, a few more words concerning it may not be out of place here. In a company was incorporated as the Thames Archway Company. A shaft was sunk at , and a driftway pushed to within feet of the shore. Then the water broke in, and the project was given up. More than engineers of eminence declared it to be impracticable to construct a tunnel of any useful size beneath the bed of the Thames. But as much was said afterwards against carrying a railroad across Chat Moss, and
yet George Stephenson achieved that feat; and another great engineering genius, Isambard Brunel, happening, about the year , to observe in the dockyard at Chatham the little passages bored through timber by a marine insect, took from it a hint as to the construction of tunnels. In course of time he matured the idea. In a company was formed, and Brunel set to work, and with his celebrated

shield,

an adaptation and imitation of the

teredo,

or marine worm, began the great tunnel. There were many mishaps. Twice the water broke in. Then came want of funds, and the work was suspended for years. Public subscriptions raised , and once more Brunel set to work. On the , the tunnel was opened as a public

140

thoroughfare, and the successful engineer was knighted by Queen Victoria. Of the diving-bell used in the construction of the Thames Tunnel we give an illustration on page . During the suspension of the work, great doubt was often expressed as to whether the tunnel would ever be completed. Tom Hood wrote an

Ode to M. Brunel,

in which occur these lines:

Other great speculations have been nursed, Till want of proceeds laid them on the shelf: But thy concern, Brunel, was at the worst, When it began to liquidate itself.

And again-

Well! Monsieur Brunel, How prospers now thy mighty undertaking, To join by a hollow way the Bankside friends Of Rotherhithe and Wapping? Never be stopping; But poking, groping, in the dark keep making An archway, underneath the dabs and gudgeons, For colliermen and pitchy old curmudgeons, To cross the water in inverse proportion, Walk under steam-boats, under the keel's ridge, To keep down all extortion, And with sculls to diddle London Bridge! In a fresh hunt a new great bore to worry, Thou didst to earth thy human terriers follow, Hopeful at last, from Middlesex to Surrey, To give us the view hollow.

We need scarce add that for many years the geat work was numbered with the splendid failures connected with the name of Brunel; and the tunnel, which had cost nearly half a million of money, became converted into little more than a penny show. The roadway, which would have made it available for vehicular traffic, it is stated, would have required nearly more, and the money was not forthcoming. As this kind of approach has now been formed, the tunnel may be said to have realised its original purpose, though not in the way designed by Sir M. I. Brunel. In the tunnel was closed for pedestrians, and converted into a railway in connection with the East London line. This railway passes, by a gradual incline from the station of the Brighton and South-Coast line at New Cross, through the market gardens on the south side of . Near the there is a station for the convenience of this rapidlyincreasing district. Thence, passing under the roadway, the line skirts the south-west side of the , and then shortly afterwards finds its level at the mouth of the tunnel, where there is another station, between and feet below the surface of the ground.

has been for a considerable period celebrated for its docks. The great dry dock here hasexisted for nearly centuries, having been opened in ; the great wet dock was finished in the year . After the bursting of the South Sea Bubble in , the directors took a lease of this dock, where their ships, then engaged in the whale-fisheries of Greenland, landed their cargoes of unfragrant blubber. The docks, known as the Commercial, are still used for the same purposes. Adjoining to them are the Great East Country Dock, and several smaller ones. From the situation of these very extensive docks, which include within their boundaries nearly a acres, of which about are water, they might doubtless be made, now that the trade of the port of London has so wonderfully increased, to rank among the most prosperous establishments of the metropolitan harbour.

The and Timber Ponds, and also the East Country Dock, are now incorporated with the Canal Dock, the opening of which into the Thames is about miles below . In the Timber Ponds and East Country Docks, timber, corn, hemp, flax, tallow, and other articles, which pay a small duty, and are of a bulky nature, remain in bond, and the surrounding warehouses are chiefly used as granaries, the timber remaining afloat in the dock until it is conveyed to the yards of the wholesale dealer and the builder. The Surrey Dock is merely an entrance basin to a canal, and can accommodate vessels; whilst the warehouses, chiefly granaries, will contain about tons of goods. The , a little lower down the river, occupy an area of about acres, of which -fifths are water, and there is accommodation for ships, and in the warehouses for tons of merchandise. They were used originally, as stated above, for the shipping employed in the Greenland fishery, and provided with the necessary apparatus for boiling down the blubber of whales; but the whale fishery being given up, the docks were, about the year , appropriated to vessels engaged in the European timber and corn trade, and ranges of granaries were built. The East Country Dock, which adjoins the on the south, is capable of receiving twentyeight timber ships, and was constructed about the same period for like purposes. It has an area of about acres and a half, and warehouse-room for nearly tons.

The various docks and basins embraced in the elaborate system belonging to the Surrey Commercial Dock Company are no less than in number, and are named respectively the Main Dock, the Stave Dock, the Russia Dock, Quebec Pond, Canada Pond, Albion Pond, Centre Pond,

141

Lady Dock, Acorn Pond, Island Dock, Norway Dock, Greenland Dock, and South Dock.

In all that concerns the bustle of trade and industry, no capital in the world can compare with London. Foreign travellers, like the Viscount D'Arlingcourt, own that the Neva is in this respect as far below the Thames as it is above it in splendid buildings and scenery.

What can be more wonderful,

he asks,

than its docks? Those vast basins, in the midst of which are barracked whole legions of vessels, which the sovereign of maritime cities receives daily? These vessels enter thither from the Thames by a small canal, which opens for their admittance and closes after them. The docks are surrounded by immense warehouses, where all the products of the universe are collected together, and where each ship unloads its wealth. It would be impossible, without seeing it, to fancy the picture presented by these little separate harbours in the midst of an enormous city, where an innumerable population of sailors, shopkeepers, and artisans are incessantly and tumultuously hurrying to and fro.

In

1558

,

writes Mr. Charles Knight in his

London,

certain wharfs, afterwards. known as the

Legal Quays,

were appointed to be the sole landing-places for goods in the port of London. They were situated between

Billingsgate

and the Tower, and had a frontage of

1,464

feet by

40

wide, and of this space

300

feet were taken up by landing-stairs and by the coasting-trade, leaving, in the year

1796

, only

1,164

for the use of the foreign trade. Other wharfs had, it is true, been added from time to time,

five

of these

sufferance wharfs,

as they were called, being on the northern side of the river, and

sixteen

on the opposite side, comprising altogether a frontage of

3,676

feet. The warehouses belonging to the

sufferance wharfs

were capable of containing

125,000

tons of merchandise, and

78,800

tons could be stowed in the yards. The want of warehouse room was so great that sugars were deposited in warehouses on

Snow Hill

, and even in

Oxford Street

. Wine, spirits, and the great majority of articles of foreign produce, especially those on which the higher rates of duties were charged, could be landed only at the Legal Quays. In

1793

sugars were allowed to be landed at the sufferance wharfs, but the charges were higher than at the Legal Quays; extra fees had to be paid to the revenue officers for attendance at them, though at the same time they were inconveniently situated, and at too great a distance from the centre of business. The above concession to the sufferance wharfs was demanded by common sense and necessity, for the ships entered with sugar increased from

203

in

1756

, to

433

, of larger dimensions, in

1794

. Generally speaking, the sufferance wharfs were used chiefly by vessels in the coasting trade, and for such departments of the foreign trade as could not by any possibility be accommodated at the Legal Quays. Even in

1765

commissions appointed by the Court of Exchequer had reported that the latter were

not of sufficient extent, from which delays and many extraordinary expenses occur, and obstructions to the due collection of the revenue.

But the commerce of London had wonderfully increased since that time, its progress in the

twenty-five

years, from

1770

to

1795

having been as great as in the

first

seventy

years of the century.

Among the various plans for docks, quays, and warehouses, which were drawn up at the end of the last century, with the view of remedying the evils spoken of above, was which displayed considerable ingenuity, and consisted, in fact, of distinct projects: -. To form a new channel for the river in a straight line from to ; the Long Reach round the thus constituting a dock with flood-gates at each entrance. . To continue the new channel below towards Woolwich Reach, so as to convert another bend of the old channel into a dock. . To make a new channel from , and to form docks out of the bends, to be called Ratcliffe Dock, Dock, and Greenwich Dock. The Trinity House objected that the King's Dock at Deptford would be injured by the latter plan, on which it was proposed-. To make a new channel from to the old channel between Greenland Dock (now the ) and Deptford, thence inclining to the northward until it opened into Woolwich Reach, thus forming spacious docks out of the bends of the river (above and below) at .

The have an entrance from the Thames, between and Dogand-Duck Stairs, nearly opposite the in the . They are the property of the Surrey Commercial Dock Company. A considerable extension of their area has been made within the last few years, with a view to meeting the increased requirements of the timber trade in the port of London, by the addition of a new dock which has been named the Canada Dock. It is feet in length, feet in width, and has a water area of acres and a half. It communicates with the Albion Dock by an entrance feet in width, and the quay space around is upwards of acres in extent.

142

 

On the river-side of the , just below , at the bend in the river forming the commencement of , is

Cuckold's Point

,

which was formerly distinguished by a tall pole with a pair of horns on the top, and concerning which a singular story is told. From this point of the river, lying away to the right above Greenwich, is seen the village of Charlton, with which the tradition is connected. The manor-house there, of which we shall have more to say presently, although built only in the reign of James I., was long called by the country people, who doubtless confounded it with the old palace at Eltham in the vicinity, which, however, was not itself in existence in King John's day.

The Charlton people, however,

writes Dr. Mackay in his

Thames and its Tributaries,

cling to King John, and insist that their celebrated Horn Fair, held annually on the

18th of October

, was established by that monarch. Lysons, in his

Environs of London,

mentions it as a vague and idle tradition; and such, perhaps, it is; but, as we are of opinion that the traditions of the people are always worth preserving, we will repeat the legend, and let the reader value it at its proper worth. King John, says the old story, being wearied with hunting on Shooter's Hill and Blackheath, entered the house of a miller at Charlton to repose himself. He found no

one

at home but the mistress, who was young and beautiful; and being himself a strapping fellow, handsome withal, and with a glosing tongue, he, in a very short time-or as we would say in the present day, in no time-made an impression upon her too susceptible heart. He had just ventured to give the

first

kiss upon her lips when the miller opportunely came home and caught them. Being a violent man, and feeling himself wounded in the sorest part, he drew his dagger, and rushing at the king, swore he would kill them both. The poet of all time hath said,

that a divinity doth hedge a king;

but the miller of Charlton thought such proceedings anything but divine, and would no doubt have sent him unannealed into the other world if John had not disclosed his rank. His divinity then became apparent, and the miller, putting up his weapon, begged that at least he would make him some amends for the wrong he had done him. The king consented, upon condition also that he would forgive his wife, and bestowed upon him all the land visible from Charlton to that bend of the river beyond

Rotherhithe

where the pair of horns are now (

1840

) fixed upon the pole. He also gave him, as lord of the manor, the privilege of an annual fair on the

18th of October

, the day when this occurrence took place. His envious compeers, unwilling that the fame of this event should die, gave the awkward name of

Cuckold's Point

to the river boundary of his property, and called the fair

Horn Fair,

which it has borne ever since.

Peter Cunningham, in his

Handbook of London,

thus gives his version of the story :--

King John, wearied with hunting on Shooter's Hill and Blackheath, entered the house of a miller at Charlton to refresh and rest himself. He found no

one

at home but the miller's wife, young, it is said, and beautiful. The miller, it so happened, was earlier in coming home than was usual when he went to Greenwich with his meal; and red and raging at what he saw on his return, he drew his knife. The king being unarmed, thought it prudent to make himself known, and the miller, only too happy to think it was no baser individual, asked a boon of the king. The king consented, and the miller was told to clear his eyes, and claim the long strip of land he could see before him on the Charlton side of the river Thames. The miller cleared his eyes, and saw as far as the point near

Rotherhithe

. The king then admitted the distance, and the miller was put into possession of the property on

one

condition--that he should walk annually on that day, the

18th of October

, to the farthest bounds of the estate with a pair of buck's horns upon his head.

Of this tradition our readers may believe as much, or as little, as they please.

Horn Fair,

adds Mr. Cunningham,

is still kept every

18th of October

, at the pretty little village of Charlton, in Kent; and the watermen on the Thames at

Cuckold's Point

still tell the story (with many variations and additions) of the jolly miller and his light and lovely wife.

The horns, we need scarcely add, have long disappeared from , and the disreputable fair formerly held at Charlton has, fortunately, now become a thing of the past.

Taylor, the

water-poet,

makes mention of the above tradition in the following lines :

And passing further, I at first observed

That Cuckold's Haven was but badly served:

For there old Time hath such confusion wrought,

That of that ancient place remained nought.

No monumental memorable Horn,

Or tree, or post, which hath those trophies borne,

Was left, whereby posterity may know

Where their forefathers' crests did grow, or show.

Why, then, for shame this worthy port maintain?

Let's have our Tree and Horns set up again,

That passengers may show obedience to it,

In putting off their hats, and homage do it.

But holla, Muse, no longer be offended;

'Tis worthily repaired and bravely mended.

143

 
 
 
Footnotes:

[extra_illustrations.6.134.2] Rotherhithe

[] See ante, pp. 4 and 130.

[] See Vol. IV., p. 4.

[] See Vol. IV., p. 352.

[extra_illustrations.6.136.1] St. Mary

[extra_illustrations.6.136.2] Lee Boo

[extra_illustrations.6.137.1] Pelew Islands

[] See Vol. II., p. 128, et seq.

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 Title Page
 Preface
 Chapter I: Introductory -- Southwark
 Chapter II: Southwark (continued) -- Old London Bridge
 Chapter III: Southwark (continued) -- St. Saviour's Church, &c.
 Chapter IV: Southwark (continued) -- Winchester house, Barclay's Brewery, &c.
 Chapter V: Southwark (continued) -- Bankside in the Olden Time
 Chapter VI: Southwark (continued) -- High Street, &c.
 Chapter VII: Southwark (continued) -- Famous Inns of Olden Times
 Chapter VIII: Southwark (continued) -- Old St. Thomas's Hospital, Guy's Hospital, &c.
 Chapter IX: Bermondsey -- Tooley Street, &c.
 Chapter X: Bermondsey (continued) -- The Abbey, &c.
 Chapter XI: Rotherhithe
 Chapter XII: Deptford
 Chapter XIII: Greenwich
 Chapter XIV: Greenwich (continued) -- The Hospital for Seamen, &c.
 Chapter XV: Greenwich (continued) -- The Parish Church, &c.
 Chapter XVI: Greenwich (continued) -- The Park, The Royal Observatory, &c.
 Chapter XVII: Blackheath, Charlton, and its Neighbourhood
 Chapter XVIII: Eltham, Lee, and Lewisham
 Chapter XIX: The Old Kent Road, &c.
 Chapter XX: Newington and Walworth
 Chapter XXI: Camberwell
 Chapter XXII: Peckham and Dulwich
 Chapter XXIII: Sydenham, Norwood, and Streatham
 Chapter XXIV: Brixton and Clapham
 Chapter XXV: Stockwell and Kennington
 Chapter XXVI: St. George's Fields
 Chapter XXVII: St. George's Fields (continued) -- Bethlehem Hospital, &c.
 Chapter XXVIII: Blackfriars Road -- The Surrey Theatre, Surrey Chapel, &c.
 Chapter XXIX: Lambeth
 Chapter XXX: Lambeth (continued) -- The Transpontine Theatres
 Chapter XXXI: Lambeth (continued) -- Waterloo Road, &c.
 Chapter XXXII: Lambeth Palace
 Chapter XXXIII: Vauxhall
 Chapter XXXIV: Vauxhall (continued) and Battersea
 Chapter XXXV: Wandsworth
 Chapter XXXVI: Putney
 Chapter XXXVII: Fulham
 Chapter XXXVIII: Fulham (continued) -- Walham Green and North End
 Chapter XXXIX: Hammersmith
 Chapter XL: Chiswick
 Chapter XLI: General Remarks and Conclusion