Survey of London: Waters

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Of the Auncient and Present Riuers, Brooks, Boorns, Pooles, wels, and Conduites of fresh water, seruing the Citie, as also of the ditch, compassing the wall of the same.
AUnciently vntill the Conquerors time,1 and 200.
yeres after, the Citie of London was watered be-
sides the famous Riuer of Thames, on the South
part, with the riuer of the wels, as it was then cal-
led on the west, with a water called walbrooke,
runing through the middest of the Citie into the riuer of Thames
seruing the hart thereof. And with a fourth water or Boorne,
which ran within the Citie, through Langboorne warde, wate-
ring that parte in the East. In the west Suburbes was also an o-
ther greate water, called Oldborne, which had his fall into the
Riuer of wels: then was there 3. principall Fountaines, or wels
in the other Suburbes, to wit Holly well, Clements well, and
Clarkes wel. Neare vnto this last named fountaine, were diuers
other wels, to wit Skinners well, Fags well, Tede well, Leders
, and Radwell. In west Smithfield there was a Poole, in
recordes called Horsepoole, And one other Poole neare vnto the
parish Church of S. Giles without Criplegate. Besides all
which they had in euery streete and lane of the City diuers fayre
wels, and fresh springes: and after this manner was this Citie
then serued, with sweete & fresh waters, which being since decayed,
other meanes haue beene sought to supply the want, as shall bee
shewed, but first of the aforenamed Riuers and other waters, is to
be said, as followeth.
Riuer of
the most famous Riuer of this Iland, beginneth a little
aboue a village called winchcombe in Oxfordshire, and still in-
creasing passeth first by the vniuersitie of Oxford, and so with a
maruelous quiet course to London, and thence breaketh into
the French Ocean by maine tides, which twise in 24. howers
space doeth eb and flow, more then 60. miles in length, to the great

Rivers and other waters seruing this Citie
commodity of Trauellers, by the which all kinde of Marchandise
be easily conueyed to London, the principall store house, and sta-
ple of all Commodities within this Realme: so that omitting to
speake of greate ships, and other vessels of burden, there perteyneth
to the Cities of London, westminster and Burrough of South-
aboue the number as is supposed of 2000. Wherryes and
other small boates, whereby 3000. poore men at the least bee set
on worke and maintained.
That the Riuer of the wels
whirries on the
Riuer of wels
in the west parte of the Citie, was
of old time so called: it may be prooued thus, william the Conquer-
or in his Charter, to the Colledg of S. Martin, le Grand in Lon-
, hath these wordes: I do geue and grant to the same church
all the land and the Moore, without the Posterne, which is called
Criplegate, on eyther parte of the Posterne, that is to say, from
the North corner of the wal, as the ryuer of the wels, there neare
running departeth the same More from the wal, vnto the runing
water which entreth the Cittie, this water hath beene since that
time called Turnemill Brooke: yet then called the riuer of the
, which name of Ryuer continued: and it was so called in the
raign of Edwarde the firſt: as shalbe shewed, with also the decay
of the saide riuer,
Decay of the
Riuer of the
in a fayre booke of Parliament recordes,
parliament re-
lately restored to the Tower, it appeareth that a parThis text has been supplied. Reason: Omitted from the original text due to a printing or typesetting error. Evidence: The text has been supplied based on evidence internal to this text (context, etc.). (SM)l2iament being
holden at Carlile in the yere 1307, the 35. of Edwarde the firſt,
Henry Lacy Earle of Lincolne, complayned that whereas in
times past the course of water, running at London, vnder Olde-
, and Fleete bridge into the Thames, had. beene of
such bredth and depth, that 10. or 12. Shippes, Nauies, at once
with Marchandizes, were wont to come to the foresaide bridge of
, and some of them to Oldborne bridge:
Riuer of wels
bare shipes.
now the same
course by filth of the Tanners and such others, was sore decayed:
also by raising of wharses, but specially by a diuersion of the wa-
ter made by them of the new Temple, for their milles standing
without Baynardes Castle, in the firſt yeare of King Iohn
patent recorde
Mils by Bay-
nardes castle

made in the
firſt of King
diuers other impedimentes, so as the saide ships could not enter as
they were wont, and as they ought, wherefore he desired that the
Mayor of London with the Sheriffes, and other discrete Alder-
, might be appointed to view the course of the saide water, and

Riuers and other waters seruing this Citie
that by the othes of good men, all the aforesaide hinderances might
be remoued, and it to be made as it was wont of olde: whereupon
Roger le Brabason, the Constable of the Tower, with the May-
and Sheriffes were assigned to take with them honest and dis-
crete men, and to make diligent search & inquiry, how the said ry-
uer was in olde time, and that they leaue nothing that may hurt
or stop it, but keepe it in the same estate, that it was wont to bee:
so farre the recorde. Whereupon it followed that the saide riuer,
Riuer socalled
in the yeare
was at that time clensed, these mils remoued, and other thinges
done for the preseruation of the course thereof, notwithstanding
neuer brought to the old depth, and breadth, whereupon the name
of riuer ceased, and it was since called a Brooke, namely Turn-
or Tremill Brooke, for that diuers mils were erected vpon
it, as appeareth by a fayre Register booke, conteyning the foun-
dation of the Priorie at Clarken wel, and donation of the landes,
thereunto belonging, as also by diuers other recordes.
This brooke hath beene diuers times since clensed, namely
and last of all to any effect. In the yeare 1502. the 17. of Henry
the 7
. the whole course of Fleete dike, then so called was scow-
red (I say) down to the Thames, so that boates with fish and few-
ell were rowed to Fleete bridge and to Oldborne bridge, as
they of olde time had beene accustomed, which was a great com-
modity to all the inhabitantes in that part of the City.
In the yeare 1589. was granted a fifteene, by a common
Councell of the Cittie, for the clensing of this Brooke or dike and
the money amounting to a thousand markes was collected,
Fleete dike
promised to> be clensed: the
money collect
ed, but the
Citizens de-
ceThis text has been supplied. Reason: Omitted from the original text due to a printing or typesetting error. Evidence: The text has been supplied based on guesswork. (SM)i3ued.
and it
was vndertaken that by drawing diuers springes about Hamp-
stid hea
This text has been supplied. Reason: Omitted from the original text due to a printing or typesetting error. Evidence: The text has been supplied based on evidence internal to this text (context, etc.). (SM)t4h, into one head and course, both the Citie should be ser-
ued of fresh water, in all places of want, and also that by such a
follower, as men call it the channell of this brooke shoulde bee
scowred into the Ryuer of Thames, but much money being ther-
in spent, she effect fayled, so that the brookes by meanes of conti-
nuall incrochments vpon the banks gyttying ouer the water,
and casting of soilage into the streame, is now become worse cloy-
ed and choken then euer it was before.
The running water so called
A running
water called
by William the Conqueror in
his saide Charter, which entreth the Citie &c. before there was

Riuers and other waters.
any ditch betwéene Bishopsgate and the late made Posterne cal-
led Moregate, entred the wal and was truely of the wall called
Walbrooke not of Gualo as some haue farre fetched: it ranne
through the Citie with diuers windinges from the North to-
wardes the South into the riuer of Thames, and had ouer the
same diuers Bridges, along the Streetes and Lanes, through
which it passed. I haue read in an olde writing booke intituled the
liber customThis text has been supplied. Reason: The text is not clear for some reason not covered by other values of @reason. Evidence: The text has been supplied based on guesswork. (SM)s5
of London, that the Prior of the Holy Trinity within
Aldgate ought to make ouer VValbrooke in the ward of BThis text has been supplied. Reason: Omitted from the original text due to a printing or typesetting error. Evidence: The text has been supplied based on guesswork. (SM)r6ed-
, against the stone wall of the Citie, vz. the same Bridge
that is next the Church of Al Saintes, at the wall. Also that the
Prior of the new Hospitall, S. Marie Spittle, without Bishops-
ought to make the middle parte of one other Bridge next to
the saide Bridge towardes the North: And that in the 28. yeare
of Edwarde the firſt
, it was by inquisition found before the Ma-
of London
that the parish of S. Stephen vppon walbrooke,
ought of right to couer the course of the saide Brooke, and there-
fore the Shieriffes were commanded to distrayne the saide Pari-
shioners so to doe in the yeare 1300. the keepers of those Bridges
at that time were VVilliam Iordan, and Iohn de Bauer. This
watercourse hauing diuers Bridges, was afterwardes vaulted o-
uer with Bricke, and paued leuill with the streetes and lanes,
where through it passed, and since that also houses haue beene
builded thereon, so that the course of VValbrooke
vaulted and
paued ouer.
is now hidden
vnder ground, and thereby hardly knowen. Langborne water
so called of the length thereof, was a greate streame of water brea-
king out of the ground, in Fan Church streete, which ran downe
with a swift course, west, through that streete, thwart Grastreet
and downe Lombardestreete, to the west ende of S. Mary
, and then turning the course South downe
Shareborne lane, so termed of sharing or deuiding, it brake into
diuers rilles or rillets to the Riuer of Thamès, of this Bourne
that warde tooke the name, and is till this day called Langborne
, this Bourne also is long since stopped vp at the heade and
the rest of the course filled vp and paued ouer, so that no signe
thereof remaineth more then the names aforesaide, Oldeborne
or Hilborne was the like water, breaking out aboute the place

Riuers and other waters.
where now the bars do stand, and it ran downe the whole streete
till Oldebourne bridge, and into the Riuer of the VVels, or
Turnemil Brook: this Bourn was likewise long since stoped vp
at the head, & in other places where the same hath broken out, but
yet till this day, the saide streete is there still called high Oulde-
, and both the sides thereof together with al the grounds
adioyning that lye betwixt it, and the riuer of Thames remayne
full of springes, so that water is there found at hand, and harde to
be stopped in euery house.
There are (saith Fitzstephen
) neare London, on the North
side speciall wels, in the Suburbes: sweete, wholesome, and cleare,
amongst which Holywel, Clarkes wel, & Clementes wel, are
most famous and frequented by Schollers, and youths of the City
in sommer euenings, when they walke foorth to take the aire. The
first, to wit, Holywel is much decayed and marred with filthinesse,
purposely layd there, for the heighthening of the ground, for garden
plots: the fountaine called S. Clements wel, North from the
Parish church of S. Clements, and neare vnto an Inne of Chan-
, called Clements Inne, is thereof yet fayre curbed square
with harde stone, and is alwaies kepte cleane for common vse: it
is alwaies ful, and neuer wanteth water, the third is called Clarks
, or Clarken well, and is also curbed aboute square with
stone. Not far from the west ende of this Clarkes well Church
without the stone wall that incloseth the Church, the other smal-
ler wels that stood neare vnto Clarkes wel, to wit Skinners wel,
Fagges well, Todwell, Loders well, and Redwell, are all de-
cayed and so filled vp. that their places are now hardly discerned:
somewhat North from Holywell is one other well curbed square
with stone, and is called Dame Annis the cleare, and not farre
frō it but somewhat west, is also one other cleare water called Pe-
, because diuers youthes by swimming therein haue
béene drouned, and thus much be saide for fountaines and wels.
Horsepoole in West Smithfielde was sometime a greate
water, and because the inhabitantes in that parte of the Citie did
there water their Horses, the same was in olde recordes called
Horsepoole, it is now much decayed, the springs being stoped vp
and the land water falling into the small bottome, remayning

Riuers and other waters.
inclosed with Bricke, is but fowle : and is called Smithfielde
The Poole
poole without
by S. Giles Churchyarde was a large water in
the yeare 1244. for it is read that Anne of Lodbury was drou-
ned therein, this Poole is now for the most parte stopped vp, but
the spring is preserued, and it was coopped about with stone by
the Executors of Richarde VVhittington.
The said riuer of the Wels, the running water of Walbrooke,
the Bournes aforenamed, and other the fresh waters that were
in and aboute this Citie, being in processe of time by incrochment
for buildinges and otherwise vtterlie decayed, and the number of
Citizens mightely increased, they were forced to séeke swéete
waters abroade, whereof some at the request of king Henry the
, in the 21. yeare of his raigne
, were for the profite of the
Citie, and good of the whole Realme thether repayring, gran-
ted to the Citizens and their Successors by one Gilbert Sanford,
Patent 1236.
with liberty to conuey water from the towne of Teiborne, by
Pypes of leade into their Citie, & the first Cesterne of leade ca-
stellated with stone in the Citie of London was called the greate
in west Cheape, and was begunne to bee builded in
the yeare 1285. Henry Wales being then Maior: the water
course from Padington to Iames hed hath 510. roddes, from
Iames hed on the hill to the Mewsgate, 102. roddes, from the
Mewsgate to the crosse in Cheape 484. roddes.
The Tonne vpon Cornhil was Cisterned in the yere 1401.
Iohn Chadworth then being Maior.
Bosses of water, at Belinsgate, by Powles wharfe, and by S.
Giles Church without Cripplegate
made aboute the yere 1423.
Water conueyed to the Gaoles of Newgate and Ludgate,
Water procured to the Standarde in west Cheape aboute
the yeare 1431. king Henry the sixt in the yeare 1442. graun-
ted to Iohn Hatharley, Maior licence to take vp 200. fodar
of Leade for the building of Conduites of a common Garnery and of
a new Crosse in west Cheape, for honor of the Citie.
The Conduit in Aldermanbury and the Standarde in Fleete
were made and finished by the executors of Sir William

Riuers, and other waters
Eastfielde in the yeare 1471. a Sesterne was added to the stan-
derd in Fletestreete, and a Sesterne was made at Fleete bridge,
and one other without Criplegate in the yeare 1478.
Conduite in Grastreete in the yeare. 1491.
Conduite of Oldbourne Crosse aboute 1498. againe new
made by William Lambe, 1577.
Little Conduite by the Stockes market aboute. 1500.
Conduite at Bishopsgate aboute 1513.
Conduite at London wall aboute 1528.
Conduite at Aldgate without, aboute, 1535.
Conduite in Lothbury, and in Colemanstreete. 1546.
Conduite of Thames water, at Dowgate. 1568,
Thames water conueyed into mens houses
Thames wa-
ter conueyed
into mens
houses, in the
east parte of
the City.
by pypes of lead
from a most artificiall forcier standing neare vnto London bridge
and made by Peter Moris Dutch man in the yeare 1582. for
seruice of the Citie, on the East part thereof.
Conduites in
old fishstreet.
of Thames water by the parish churches of S. Ma-
rie Magdalen
, and S. Nicholas Colde Abby neare vnto olde
, in the yeare 1583.
One other new Forcier was made neare to Broken wharfe,
to conuey Thames water
Thames wa-
ter conueyed
into the west
part of the
into mens houses of west Cheape, a-
bout Powles, Fleetestreete &c. by an English Gentleman, na-
med Beuis Bulman, in the yeare 1594. Thus much for waters,
seruing this Citie, first by Riuers, Brookes, Boornes, Foun-
taines, Pooles, &c. And since by Conduites partly made by good
and charitable Citizens, and otherwise by chardges of the com-
mThis text has been supplied. Reason: The text is not clear for some reason not covered by other values of @reason. Evidence: The text has been supplied based on guesswork. (SM)i7naltie, as shalbe shewed in description of Wards wherein they
be placed.
And now some Benefactors to these Conduites shalbee re-
In the yeare 1236. certaine Marchants strangers,
towardes the
water condu-
This text has been supplied. Reason: The text is not clear for some reason not covered by other values of @reason. Evidence: The text has been supplied based on guesswork. (SM)it8es.
of cities
beyonde the Seas, to wit Amiens, Corby, and Nele for priui-
ledges which they enioyed in this Citie, gaue 100. £. towardes
the charges of conueying water from the towne of Teyborne.
Robert Large then Maior 1439. gaue to the new water Condu-
ites then in hand, forty Markes, and towarde the vaulting ouer
of Walbrooke 200 markes.

Riuers and other waters.
Sir Wiliam Eastfielde conueyed water from Teyborne and
from Highbery.
  • x.£.
  • xx £>.
  • x.£.
  • xx.£.
  • gaue 100. markes towardes repayring of Conduites.
  • xx.markes.
  • x £.
  • C.£.
  • xx.£.
  • C.£.
  • 700.£
Thus much for the Conduits of fresh water to this Citie.
The ditch which partly now remaineth,
Liber Dunsta-
blThis text has been supplied. Reason: The text is not clear for some reason not covered by other values of @reason. Evidence: The text has been supplied based on guesswork. (SM)a9.
and compassed the
wal of the Citie, was begun to be made by the Londoners in the
yere 1211. & was finished in the yere 1213. the 15. of king Iohn ,
this ditch being then made of 200. foote brode,
Ditch about
London 200.
foote brode.
Liber Trinitate
caused no smal hind-
rance to the Canons of the holy Trinity, whose church stoode
neare vnto Aldgate: for that the saide ditch passed through their
grounde, from the Tower of London, vnto Bishopsgate. This
ditch being originally made for the defence of the cittie was
long together carefully clensed and mainteyned as neede required,
but now of late neglected and forced eyther to a very narrow and
the same a filthy channel, or altogether stopped vp for gardens
planted, and houses builded thereon euen to the very wall, and in
many places vpon both ditch and wall, to what danger of the ci-
tie, I leaue to wiser consideration: and can but wish, that reforma-

Riuers and other waters seruing this Citie.
tion might be had.
In the yeare of Christ, 1354. the 28. of Edwarde the third,
the ditch of this citie flowing ouer the banke into the Tower ditch
the king commanded the saide ditch of the citie to be clensed, and
so ordered, that the ouerflowing thereof, should not force any filth
into the Tower ditch. Anno 1379. Iohn Filpot Maior of Lon-
caused this ditch to be clensed and euery household to pay v.ď.
which was for a daies worke towardes the charges thereof. Ri-
the 2
. in the tenth of his raigne
, granted a Tole to bee ta-
ken of wares solde by water, or by lande for 10. yeares towardes
repayring of the wall and clensing of the ditch.
Thomas Fawconer Mayor 1414. caused the ditch to be clensed.
Ralf Ioceline, Maior 1477. caused the whole ditch to be cast and
clensed, and so from time to time it was clensed and otherwise re-
In my remembrance also the same was clensed, namely the
Moore ditch, when Sir Wiliam Hollies was Maior in the yeare
1540. And not long before or after, from the Tower of London,
to Aldgate. It was againe clensed in the yere 1549. Henry
being Mayor,
Plentie of fish
in the towne
at the charges of the companies at
which time the saide ditch lay open without eyther wall or pale,
hauing therein great store of very good fish of diuers sortes, as
many men yet liuing who haue taken and tasted them, can well
witnes: but now no such matter the charge of clensing that ditch
issaued & great profit made by letting out the banks with the spoile
of the whole ditch. I am not ignorant of two fifeteenes granted by
a common counsell in the yeare 1595. for the reformation of this
ditch, and that a smal portion thereof, to wit, betwixt Bishopsgate,
and the Posterne called Moregate, was clensed and made some-
what broder: but filling againe very fast, by reason of ouer raising
the ground neare adioyning, therefore neuer the better : and I
will so leaue it.



  1. I.e. the reign of William the Conqueror. (SM)
  2. Letter missing; context obvious. (SM)
  3. Letter missing. (SM)
  4. Letter missing; context obvious. (SM)
  5. Unclear. (SM)
  6. Letter missing. (SM)
  7. Underinking. (SM)
  8. Underinking. (SM)
  9. Unclear. (SM)


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MLA citation

Stow, John, and William fitz-Stephen. Survey of London: Waters. 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: Waters. 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: Waters. In J. Jenstad (Ed), The Map of Early Modern London. Victoria: University of Victoria. Retrieved from

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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: Waters
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: Waters
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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