Bridges of this Citie
London bridge first of timber.; A Ferrie ouer the Thames between London & South warke.; First arched bridges, Stratford bow, made by Matiled, wife to Hen. the first.
The originall foundation of London bridge, by report of
Bartholomew Linsted, alias Fowle, last Prior of S. Marie
OueriesChurch in Southwarke was this: a Ferrie being kept
in place where now the Bridge is builded, at length the Ferriman & his wife deceasing, left the same Ferrie to their onely
daughter, a maiden named Marie, which with the goodes 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 Oueries Church aboue the Queere,
where she was buried, vnto the which house she gaue the ouersight & profites of the Ferrie, but afterwards the said house
of sisters being conuerted into a colledge 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 repayring the same, there was by ayd of the Citizens of
London, and others, a Bridge builded with Arches of stone, as
shall be shewed.
William of Malmesbury.
But first of the Timber Bridge, the antiquitie thereof being
great, but vncertaine, I remember to haue read, that in the
yeare of Christ, 994. Sweyn king of Denmarke besieging the
Citie of London, both by water and by land, the Citizens
manfully defended themselues, and their king Ethelred, so as
part of their enemies were slaine in battaile, and part of them
were drowned in the Riuer of Thames, because in their hastic
rage they tooke no heede of the Bridge.
Moreouer in the yeare 1016. Canutethe Dane, with a great
nauie came vp 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 deepe
Trench and straight siege he compassed the Citie round
Also in the yeare 1052. Earle Goodwin with the like nauie,
taking his course vp the riuer of Thames, and finding none
that offered to resist on the Bridge, he sayled vp by the southside of the said riuer. Furthermore about the yere 1067.
William the Conquerour in his Charter to the Church of S.Peter
at Westminster, confirmed to the Monks seruing God there,
a gate in London, then called Buttolphs gate, with a wharfe
which was at the head of London bridge.
Men went dryshod vnder Londonbridg. Lib. Bermondsey.
We read likewise, that in the yeare 1114. the 14. of Henrie
the first, the riuer of Thames was so dried vp, and such want
of water there, that betweene the Tower of London, and the
bridge, and vnder the bridge, not onely with horse, but also
a great number of men, women and children, did wade ouer
In the yeare 1122. the 22. of Henrie the first, Thomas Arden
gaue to the Monkes of Bermondsey, the Church of S. George
in Southwarke: and fiue shillings rent by the yeare, out of the
land pertayning to London bridge.
Henrie the 1:
I also haue seene a Charter vnder seale to the effect following. Henrie king of England, to Ralfe B. of Chichester, and
all the Ministers of Sussex sendeth greeting, know ye, &c. I commaund by my kingly authoritie that the Mannor called Alcestone, which my father gaue, with other lands, to the Abbey of
Battle, be free and quiet from shieres and hundredes, and all
other Customes of earthly seruitude, as my father helde the
same, most freely and quietly, and namely from the worke
of London bridge, and the worke of the Castle at Peuensey:
and this I command uppon my forfeyture, witnesse William
de Pontlearche at Byrry, the which Charter with the Seale
very faire, remaineth in the custodie of Ioseph Holland
Lib. Bermondsey.; Lib. Trinitate.; London bridge brent.
In the yeare 1136. the first of king Stephen, a fire began in
the house of one Ailewarde, neare vnto London stone, which
consumed east to Aldgate, and west to S. Erkenwalds shrine,
in Powles Church: the bridge of timber ouer the riuer of
Thames was also burnt, &c. but afterwardes again repayred.
For Fitzstephenwriteth 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 number on the bridge,
wharfes, and houses, to behold.
London bridge of timber new builded.
Now in the yeare 1163. the same bridge was not onely
repayred, but new made of Timber as afore, by Peter of ColeChurch, Priest and Chaplaine.
Thus much for the olde timber bridge, maintainde partly
by the proper lands thereof, partly by the liberality of diuers
persons, and partly by taxations in diuers Shires, haue I
proued for the space of 215. yeares before the Bridge of stone
London bridge of stone founded.; Lib. Wauerley.; London bridge 33 yeares in building.
Now touching the foundation of the Stone Bridge, it
followeth: About the yeare 1176. the Stone Bridge ouer the
riuer of Thames at London, was begunne to be founded by the
foresaide Peter of Cole Church, neare vnto the Bridge of timber,
but some what more towardes the west, for I read that Buttolfe
wharfe was in the Conquerors time, at the head of London
bridge. The king assisted this worke: A Cardinall then being
Legate here, and Richard Archbishop of Canterbury, gaue
one thousand markes towardes the foundation, the course of
the riuer for the time was turned an other way about by
a Trench cast for that purpose beginning as is supposed East
about Radriffe, and ending in the West about Patricksey,
now tearmed Batersey, this worke to wit, the Arches, Chaple &
stone bridge ouer the riuer of Thames at London, hauing beene
33. yeares in building was in the yeare 1209. finished by the
worthy Marchants of London, Serle Mercer, William Almaine,
and Benedict Botewrite, principall Maisters of that worke, for
Peter of Colechurch deceased foure years before, and was
buried in the Chappell on the Bridge, in the yeare 1205.
Chapple on London bridg.; Chappel on the Bridge on the East side.; Gifts giuen to maintenance of London Bridge in a table noted for posterity.
King Iohn gaue certaine voide places in London to build
vppon, the profites thereof to remaine towardes the charges of
building and repayring of the same bridge: a Mason being
Maister Workeman of the Bridge, builded from the foundation
the large Chapple on that Bridge, of his owne charges, which
Chapple was then endowed for two Priestes, foure Clearks, &c.
besides Chanteries since founded for Iohn Hatfieldand other.
After the finishing of this Chapple, which was the first building
vppon those Arches, sundry houses at times were erected, and
many charitable men gaue lands, tenements, or summes of
money towards maintenance thereof, all which was sometimes
noted, and in a table fayre written for posterity, remayning in
the Chapple, til the same Chapple was turned to a dwelling
house, and then remoued to the Bridge house: the effect of
which Table I was willing to haue published in this booke, if
I could haue obtained the sight thereof: but making the
shorter worke, I find by the accompt of William Mariner
and Christopher Eliot Wardens of London Bridge from
Michaelmas in the 22. of H. the 7. vnto Michaelmas next
ensuing by one whole yeare, that all the paymentes and
allowances came to viii. C. xv. li. xvii.s. ii.d. ob. as there is
shewed by particulars, by which accompt then made, may be
partly gessed the great charges and discharges of that Bridge
at this day, when thinges be stretched to so great a prise.
And now to actions on this Bridge.
Actions on London bridge to bee noted.; Lib. Dunmow.; Walter of Couentry.; William Packenton.; London bridge perished with fire.
The first action to be noted was lamentable, for within foure
yeares after the finishing thereof, to witte in the yeare, 1212.
on the tenth of July at night, the Borough of Southwarke
vpon the South side the riuer of Thames, as also the Church
of our Lady of the Canons there beeing on fire, and an
exceeding great multitude of people passing the Bridge,
eyther to extinguish and quench it, or else to gaze at and
behold it, suddenly the north part, by blowing of the Southwind was also set on fire, and the people which were euen
now passing the Bridge, perceyuing the same, would haue
returned, but were stopped by fire, and it came to passe, that
as they stayed or protracted time, the other end of the Bridge
also, namely the South end was fired, so that the people
thronging themselues betweene 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 vnaduisedly
rushed, that the ships being drowned, they all perished: it
was saide that through the fire and ship wracke there were
destroyed about three thousand persons whose bodies were
found in part, or halfe burned, besides those that were wholy
burnt to ashes, and could not be found.
Fine arches of London bridge borne downe.
About the yeare 1282. through a great frost and deepe
snow, fiue Arches of London bridge were borne downe and
Pattent the 14. of Edward the second.
In the yeare 1289. the Bridge was so sore decayed for want
of reparations, that men were afraid to passe thereon, and
a subsidie was graunted towards the amendment thereof, Sir
Iohn Britaine being Custos of London. 1381. a great collection or gathering was made, of all Archbishops, Bishops, and
other Ecclesiasticall persons, for the reparations of London
bridge. 1381. Wat Tiler, and other rebels of Kent, by
this bridge entered the Citie, as ye may reade in my Summarieand Annales.
Nine persons crowded to death on London bridge.
In the yeare 1395. on S. Georges day, was a great iusting
on London bridge, betwixt Dauid Earle of Craford of Scotland, and the Lord Wels of England. In the which the
Lord Wels was at the third course borne out of the saddle,
which hystorie proueth, that at that time the Bridge being
coaped on either side was not replenished with houses
builded thereupon, as since it hath beene, and now is. The
next yeare on the 13. of Nouember, the young Queene
Isabell, commonly called the little, for she was but eight
yeares olde, was conueyed from Kenington besides Lamhith,
through Southwark to the Tower of London, and such a
multitude of people went out to see her, that on London
bridge nine persons were crowded to death, of whom the
prior of Tiptre a place in Essex, was one, & a Matron on
Cornehil, was an other.
Tower on London bridge builded.
The Tower on London Bridge at the north end of the
drawbridge, (for that bridge was then readily to be drawn
up, aswell to giue passage for ships to Queenehith, as for the
resistance of any forraigne force) was begun to be builded in
the yeare 1426. Iohn Rainwell being Maior.
An other tower there is on the sayd bridge ouer the gate
at the South end towards Southwarke, whereof in an other
place shall be spoken.
Iacke Cade entered the Citie by the bridge.
In the yeare 1450. Iacke Cade, and other Rebels of Kent,
by this bridge entered the Citie, he strake his sword on
London stone, and said himselfe then to be Lord of the
Citie, but they were by the Citizens ouercome on the same
Bridge, and put to flight, as in my Annales.
Bastard Fawconbridge besieged the bridge.
In the yeare 1471. Thomas the bastard Fawconbridge besieged this Bridge, burned the gate, and all the houses to the
draw bridge, that time 13. in number.
An house of the bridge fell downe.
In the year 1481. an house called the common siege on
London bridge fell downe into the Thames: through the fall
whereof fiue men were drowned.
Sir Tho. Wiat lay in Southwarke at the bridge foote.; The drawebridge cut downe.
In the year 1553. the third of February, sir Thomas Wiat
and the Kentish men marched from Depeford towards London,
after knowledge whereof, forthwith the drawe bridge was cut
downe, and the Bridge gates shut, Wiat and his people
entered Southwarke, where they lay till the sixt of Februarie,
but coulde get no entrie of the Citie by the bridge, the same
was then so well defended by the Citizens, the Lord William
Howard assisting, wherefore he remoued towards Kingstone,
&c. as in my Annales.
The bridge described.
To conclude of this bridge ouer the said riuer of Thames,
I affirme, as in other my descriptions, that it is a worke verie
rare, hauing with the draw bridge 20. Arches made of
squared stone, of height 60. foote, and in bredth 30. foote
distant one from another 20. foote, compact and ioyned
togither with vaults and cellers, vpon both sides be houses
builded, so that it seemeth rather a continuall streete then
a Bridge: for the fortifying whereof against the incessant
assaults of the riuer, it hath ouerseers and officers, vz. wardens, as aforesaid, and others.
Fleete bridge in the west without Ludgate, a Bridge of
stone faire coaped, on either side with iron pikes, on the
which towards the south be also certaine Lanthornes of stone,
for lights to be placed in the winter euenings, for commoditie
of trauellers. Under this bridge runneth a water, sometimes
called (as I haue said) the river of the Wels, since Turnemill
brooke, now Fleet dike, because it runneth by the Fleete, and
sometime about the Fleete, so under Fleete bridge into the
riuer of Thames. This bridge hath beene farre greater in
times past, but lessened, as the water course hath beene
narrowed. It seemeth this last bridge to be made, or repayred at the charges of Iohn Wels Maior, in the yeare 1431.
for on the coping is engrauen Wels imbraced by Angels, like
as on the Standard in Cheape, which he also builded: thus
much of the Bridge: for of the water course and decay thereof
I haue spoken in another place.
Oldbourne bridge ouer the said riuer of the Wels more towards the North was so called, of a Bourne that sometimes
ranne downe Oldborne hill into the sayd Riuer, this Bridge
of stone like as Fleet bridge from Ludgate west, serueth for
passengers with carriage or otherwise from Newgate toward
the west and by North.
Cowbridge more North ouer the same water by Cowbridge
streete or Cowlane: this bridge being lately decayed, an other
of timber is made somewhat more north, by Chicklane, &c.
Bridge ouer the town ditch.
Bridges ouer the Towne ditch, there are diuerse: to witte,
without Aldgate, without Bishopsgate, the Posterne called
Mooregate, the Posterne of Creplegate without Aldersgate, the
Posterne of Christes Hospitall, Newgate, and Ludgate, all
these bee ouer paued likewise with stone leuell with the
streetes. But one other there is of Tymber ouer the riuer of
wels, or Fleet dike, betweene the precinct of the Blacke Friers,
and the house of Bridewell.
Bridges ouer the course of Walbrooke.; Horshewe bridge.; Walbrooke vaulted ouer and paued with stone.
There haue beene of olde time also, diuerse Bridges in
There haue beene of olde time also, diuerse Bridges in
partly noted, besides Horshew bridge, by the Church of saint
Iohn Baptist, now called S. Iohns vpon Walbrooke. I reade
that of olde time euery person hauing lands on either side of
the sayd brooke, should clense the same, and repayre the
Bridges so farre as their landes extended. More, in the II.
of Edward the third, the inhabitants vpon the course of this
brooke, were forced to pile and wal the sides thereof. Also
that in the third of Henrie the fift, this water course had many
Bridges, since vaulted ouer with Bricke, and the streetes
where through it passed, so paued, that the same watercourse
is now hardly discerned. For order was taken in the second
of Edward the fourth, that such as had ground on either side
of Walbrooke, should vault and paue it ouer, so farre as his
ground extended. And thus much for Bridges in this Citie,