Survey of London: Bridges

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Of the Bridges of this Citie.
THe originall foundation of London bridge,
Londō bridge
first of timber
report of Bartholomew Linsled, alias Fowle,
last Prior of S. Marie Oueries, Church in
Southwarke was this : a Ferrie being kept in
place where now the Bridge is builded, at
length the Ferrimar and his wife deceasing,
A fire1 ouer the
Thames be-
tween Lon-
left the same Ferrie to their onely daughter, a
maiden named Marie, which with the goods left by her Parents,
as also with the profites rising of the said Ferrie, builded a house of
Sisters in place where now standeth the east part of S. Marie O-
aboue the Quier, where she was buried, vnto the
which house she gaue the ouersight and profites of the Ferrie, but
afterwardes the saide house of Sisters being conuerted into a
colledge of Priestes, the Priestes builded the Bridge (of Tymber)
Londō bridge
builded of
as all other the greate bridges of this Land were, and from time to
time kept the same in good reparations, till at length considering
the greate charges of repayring the same there was by aide of the
Citizens of London and others a bridge builded of stone as shal
be shewed.
But first of the timber bridge, the antiquity thereof being vncer-
taine, but I remember to haue red, that in the yeare of Christ,
994. Sweyn king of Denmark besieging the city of London, both
by water and by land, the Citizens manfully defended themselues,
and their king Ethelred, so as part of their ennemies were slaine
in battaile, and parte of them were drouned in the Riuer of
Thames, because in their hastie rage, they tooke no heede of the
Moreouer in the yeare 1016. Canute the Dane with a greate
nauie came vp to London, and on the south of the Thames, cau-
sed a Trench to bee cast, through the which his ships were towed
into the west side of the bridge, and then with a deepe Trench
and streight siege he compassed the citie round aboute.
Also in the yeare 1052. Earle Godwin with the like nauie,
taking his course vp the Riuer of Thames, and finding none that

Of London bridge and other in this Citie.
offered to resist on the bridge, he sayled vp by the southside of the
said riuer. Furthermore aboute the yeare 1067. Wiliam the Con-
in his Charter, to the church of S. Peter at westmin-
, confirmed to the Monkes seruing God there, a gate in Lon-
, then called Buttolphes gate, with a wharfe which was at
the heade of London bridge.
Man went
This text has been supplied. Reason: The facsimile photograph does not include the whole surface. Evidence: The text has been supplied based on guesswork. (SM)d2ryshod vnder
Londō bridge
Liber barmond.
We read likewise that in the yeare
1114. the 14. of Henry the firſt, the riuer of Thames was so
dried vp, and such want of water there was that betwéene the
Tower of London, and the bridge, and vnder the bridge, not one-
ly with horse, but also a greate number of men, woemen and
children, did wade ouer on foote. In the yeare 1122. the 22. of
Henry the firſt
. Thomas Arden gaue to the Monkes of Bar-
, the church of S. George in Southwarke, and v.SMALL LATIN LETTER S WITH TILDE ABOVE; ABBREVIATION FOR
by the yere, out of the land perteyning to London bridge, I also
haue seene a Charter vnder seale to the effect following. Hen-
ry king of England
to Ralfe B. of Chichester. and all the Mi-
nisters of Sussex sendeth greeting, know ye &c. I commande
by my kingly authority that the Mannor called Alcestone,
which my Father gaue with other Landes, to the Abbey of
Battle, be free and quiete from shieres and hundredes, and all
other Customes of earthly seruitude, as my father helde the same,
most freely and quietely, and namely from the worke
of London bridge, and the worke of the Castle at Penansey:
and this I command vpon my forfeyture, witnesse VVilliam
de Pontlearche
at Byrry
, the which Charter with the Scale
very fayre remaineth in the custody of Ioseph Holland Gentle-
In the yeare 1136. the firſt of king Stephen,
Liber barmond.
Liber trinitate.
a fire began,
in the house of one Ailewarde, neare vnto Londonstone which
consumed east to Aldgate and west to S. Erkenwals shrine, in
Powles Church: the bridge of timber ouer the riuer of Thames,
was also burnt, &c but afterwards againe repayred. For Fitzste-
writeth that in the raigne of king Stephen and of Henry
the ſecond
, when pastimes were shewed on the riuer of Thames,
men stoode in greate numbers on the bridge, wharfes, and hou-
ses to beholde.
Now in the yeare 1163. the same bridge was not onely re-

London Bridge and other.
payred, but new made of Timber as afore by Peter of Cole-
, Priest and Chaplaine.
Thus much for the olde timber bridge maintainde partly by
the proper landes thereof, and partly by the liberality of diuers
persons 215. yeares before the bridge of stone was finished.
Now touching the foundation of the stone bridge,
Londō bridge
of stone foun-
it followeth
thus. Aboute the yeare 1176. the stone bridge ouer the riuer of
Thames, at London, was begunne to be founded by the foresaide
Peter of ColeChurch, neare vnto the bridge of timber, but some
what more towardes the west, for I reade that Buttolfe wharfe
was in the Conquerors time, at the head of London bridge. The
king assisted this worke: A Cardinal then being Legate here,
Liber wauerley.
Richard Archbishop of Canterbury, gaue one thousand markes,
towardes the foundation, the course of the riuer for the time was
turned an other way aboute by a Trench cast for that purpose be-
ginning as is supposed East, aboute Rodriffe, and ending in the
West about Patricksey now tearmed Batersey, this worke, to
wit, the Arches and stone bridge ouer the riuer of Thames, at
London, hauing beene 33. yeares in building
Londō bridge
33. yeares in
was in the yeare,
1209. finished by the worthy Marchants of London, Serle Mer-
, Wiliam Almaine, and Benedict Botewrite, principall
maisters of that worke, for Peter of Cole Church deceased foure
yeares before this worke was finished, and was buried in the
Chappell builded on the same bridge in the yeare 1205.
King Iohn gaue certaine voide places in London to builde vp-
pon, the profites thereof to remaine towardes the charges of buil-
ding and repayring of the same bridge: a Mason being maister
workemam of the bridge, builded from the foundation, the Chaple
on London bridge
, of his owne proper expences, it was indowed
for two Priestes, foure Clarkes and other. There was also a
Chantrie for Iohn Hatfielde &c. So that in the yeare 23. of
Henry the 6.
there was 4. Chaplens in the saide chappell, after
that example sundry houses were thereupon shortly after erected,
the first action on this bridge was lamentable, for within 3. yeres
after the finishing thereof, to wit, in the yeare 1212. on the 10. of
at night, a maruelous terrible chance happened, for the citie
of London vpon the south side of the riuer of Thames as also the

London bridge and other.
church of our Ladie of the Canons in Southwarke being on fire,
Liber dunmew.
Gualter Co-
and an exceeding greate multitude of people passing the bridge,
VV. packenton,
London bridg
perished with
eyther to extinguish and quench it, or els to gaze at and behold it,
suddenly the north part, by blowing of the south winde was also set
on fire, and the people which were euen now passing the bridge,
perceiuing the same, woulde haue returned, but were stopped by
fire, and it came to passe, that as they stayed, or protracted time, the
other ende of the bridge also, namely the South ende, was fired, so
that the people thronging themselues betwéene the two fires, did
nothing else but expect present death: then came there to aide them
many ships and vessels, into the which the multitude so vnadui-
sedly rushed that the ships being drowned, they al perished: it was
said that through the fire and shipwracke there were destroyed a-
bout thrée thousand persons whose bodies were found in parte, or
halfe burned, besides those that were wholy burnt to ashes, and
could not be found. Aboute the yeare 1282. through a greate
frost and deepe snow, 5. Arches of London bridge, were borne
5. Arches of
borne downe
and carried away. In the yeare 1289. the bridge was
so sore decayed, for want of reparations, that men were a-
fraid to passe thereon, and a Subsidy was graunted towardes the
amendement thereof, Sir Iohn Britaine being Custos of Lon-
. In the yeare 1395. on S. Georges day , was a greate
iusting on London bridge, betwixt Dauid Earle Craforde of
Scotland, and the Lorde VVels of England: in the which, the
Lord VVels was at the third course borne out of the saddle, which
historie prooueth, that at that time the bridge being coaped on ey-
ther side was not replenished with houses builded thereupon, as
since it hath beene and now is. The next yeare on the 13. of
, the young Queene Isabell, commonly called the
little, for she was but 8. yeares olde, was conueyed from Kening-
besides Lamhith, through Southwarke to the Tower of
, and such a multitude of people went out to see her, that
on London bridge. 9. persons were crowded to death,
9. persons
crowded to
death on Lon
don bridge

Tower on
of whome
the Prior of Tiptre a place in Essex was one, and a Matron on
Cornhil was an other. The Tower on London bridge, at the
north ende of the draw bridge, for that bridge was then readily to
be drawne vp, aswell to giue passage for ships to Queene hith, as

Of London bridge and other.
for the resistance of any forraigne force, was begunne to bee buil-
ded in the yeare 1426. Iohn Reinwell being Maior.
An other tower there is on the saide Bridge ouer the gate at
the South end towards Southwarke, whereof in an other place
shalbe spoken.
In the yeare 1481. an house called the common stage on
London bridge fell downe
An house on
Londō bridge
fel down.
into the Thames: through the fall
whereof 5. men were drouned: to conclude I affirme of this bridge
ouer the saide riuer of Thames, as in other my descriptions, that
it is a worke very rare, hauing with the drawe bridge, 20.
Arches made of squared stone, of height 60. foote, and in breadth
30. foote distant, one from an other, 20. foote, compact and ioy-
ned together with vaultes and sellers: vpon both sides bee houses
builded, so that it seemeth rather a continuall streete then a bridge
for the continuall fortifying, whereof against the incessant assaults
of the riuer, it hath ouerseers and Officers, vz.
Fleete bridge in the west without Ludgate, a bridge of stone
faire coaped, on eyther side with iron piked, on the which towards
the south be also certaine Lanthornes of stone, for lightes to bee
placed in the winter eueninges, for commodity of trauellers. Under
this bridge runneth a water sometimes called (as I haue said) the
riuer of the VVels, since Turnemill brooke, now Fleete dike,
because it runneth by the Fleete, and so vnder Fleete bridge, in-
to the riuer of Thames. This bridge hath beene far greater in
times past, but hath beene lessened, as the water course hath béene
narrowed. It seemeth, this last bridge to bee made at the char-
ges of Iohn VVels Mayor in the yeare, 1431. for on the coping
is engrauen Wels imbraced by Angels, like as on the Standarde
in Cheape
, which he also builded: thus much of the Bridge: for of
the water course and decay thereof I haue spoken in an other
Oldebourne bridge ouer the saide riuer of the VVels more
towardes the North was so called, of a Bourne that sometimes
ranne downe Oldborne hill into the saide Riuer, this bridge of
stone like as Fleet bridge, from Ludgate west, serueth for passen-
gers with carriage or otherwise from Newgate toward the west
and by North.

Bridges in London.
Cowbridge more north ouer the same water by Cowbridge
or Cowlane: this bridge being lately decayed, an other of
timber is made, somewhat more North, by Chicke lane, &c.
Bridges ouer the Towne ditch,
Bridge ouer
the town ditch
there are diuers: to weete
without Aldgate, without Bishopsgate, the Posterne called
Moregate, the Posterne of Cripplegate without Aldersgate,
the Posterne of Christes Hospitall, Newgate and Ludgate, all
these be ouer paued likewise with stone leauell with the streetes.
But one other there is of Timber ouer the riuer of wels, or Fleete
betweene the precinct of the Blacke Friers, and the house of
There haue been, of old time also diuers bridges in sondrie pla-
ces, ouer the course of Walbrooke.
Bridges ouer
the course of
I read that euery person ha-
uing landes on eyther side of the saide walbrooke, should vaulte,
or bridge, and clense the same so farre as his landes extended. The
11. of Edwarde the thirde, the inhabitantes vpon the course of
this Brooke were forced to pile and wall the sides thereof. In the
thirde of Henry the fift, this watercourse hauing had many brid-
ges, (as ye haue hearde) I haue reade of one by the name of Hor-
shew bridge
, by the Church of S. Iohn Baptist now called S.
Iohns vpon walbrooke
, which hath béene since vaulted ouer with
bricke, and the Streetes and Lanes where through it passed so pa
ued, that the same watercourse or brooke is now hardly discerned.
Order was taken the 2. of Edwaarde the fourth, that such as had
ground on eyther side of walbrooke, shoulde vaulte and paue
vaulted and
paued .
it ouer so farre as his grounde extended. And thus much for
Bridges may suffice.


  1. I.e. ferry. (SM)
  2. Scan cut off. (SM)


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MLA citation

Stow, John, and William fitz-Stephen. Survey of London: Bridges. The Map of Early Modern London, edited by Janelle Jenstad, U of Victoria, 26 Jun. 2020,

Chicago citation

Stow, John, and William fitz-Stephen. Survey of London: Bridges. The Map of Early Modern London. Ed. Janelle Jenstad. Victoria: University of Victoria. Accessed June 26, 2020.

APA citation

Stow, J., & fitz-Stephen, W. 2020. Survey of London: Bridges. In J. Jenstad (Ed), The Map of Early Modern London. Victoria: University of Victoria. Retrieved from

RIS file (for RefMan, EndNote etc.)

Provider: University of Victoria
Database: The Map of Early Modern London
Content: text/plain; charset="utf-8"

A1  - Stow, John
A1  - fitz-Stephen, William
ED  - Jenstad, Janelle
T1  - Survey of London: Bridges
T2  - The Map of Early Modern London
PY  - 2020
DA  - 2020/06/26
CY  - Victoria
PB  - University of Victoria
LA  - English
UR  -
UR  -
ER  - 


RT Web Page
SR Electronic(1)
A1 Stow, John
A1 fitz-Stephen, William
A6 Jenstad, Janelle
T1 Survey of London: Bridges
T2 The Map of Early Modern London
WP 2020
FD 2020/06/26
RD 2020/06/26
PP Victoria
PB University of Victoria
LA English
OL English

TEI citation

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