Picturesque Views
on the River Thames
by Samuel Ireland
Volume II





&c. &c. &c.


map of Thames from Maidenhead bridge to Nore

enlarged map




MAIDENHEAD-bridge, Cliefden Woods, &c. 1
Windsor Castle 8
Herne’s Oak 16
Eton College 35
Datchet-bridge 43
Staines-bridge 53
Chertsey-bridge, &c. 56
Walton-bridge 73
Hampton Court-bridge 81
Kingston 91
Strawberry-hill 94
Richmond-bridge 107
viii Kew-bridge 127
Putney-bridge and Church 140
Chelsea 147
Chelsea College, and Ranelagh House 155
Lambeth Palace, &c. 163
Westminster-bridge, Abbey, &c. 169
Somerset-place 185
Design for a Bridge near Somerset-place, by Thomas Sandby, Esq. R. A. 187
Blackfriars-bridge, &c. 199
London-bridge, &c. 221
Tower of London 232
Greenwich Hospital 239
Tilbury Fort 253

Notes and Corrections: Prints

In the first (1792) edition, the list of Prints begins with “Frontis­piece”, as did the equivalent list in the first volume. Thanks to the missing illustrations, there’s no telling whether the second volume of the second edition originally had a Frontispiece.

Maidenhead bridge, with Cliefden woods in background

Maidenhead-bridge, Cliefden-woods, &c.


Picturesque Views



HAVING passed a variety of scenes, rich in the beauties of natural landscape, and in which Art has occasionally lent her fostering aid; we are now approaching towards such a combination of magnificence, both natural and artificial, as is perhaps not to be equalled in this kingdom!

Castles and palaces proudly vieing with each other in displaying the munificence of 2 their Sovereign;—stately mansions of an ancient and splendid Nobility;—and rich and costly villas, principally raised and supported by that spirit of enterprise and industry in commerce, which is so happily characteristic of the genius of Britain.

The handsome bridge at Maidenhead was constructed from a design of the late Sir Robert Taylor, and is a work of much merit. It is of stone, and consists of seven large semi-circular arches, with three smaller ones of brick at each end. It has been finished about nine years, at an expence of nineteen thousand pounds, independent of the purchase of lands contiguous, to render the work compleat. Below the bridge, on a retrospective view, the hills of Taplow and Cliefden aid the landscape considerably, and render the scenery more picturesque and beautiful than any thing that has yet occurred. From this point the annexed view was taken.


The town of Maidenhead, which gives name to the hundred, lies partly in the parish of Bray, and partly in that of Cookham. The ancient name of this place was Southialington. Whence its present name was derived we know not; but it is conjectured by some visionary to have taken its origin from one of the eleven hundred virgins said to have suffered martyrdom with St. Ursula, their leader, near Cologne in Germany; but a shrewd Jesuit, one Simordus, judging like a priest of the improbability of so many virgins meeting together, has reduced their number to two, viz. Ursula, their leader, and one other, named Undecimilla. In the time of Edward the Third, it seems to have obtained a more rational name, that of the brothers and sisters of Maidenhithe, under which it was incorporated.

About a mile below the bridge is the village of Bray, rendered famous by its accommodating 4 Vicar, who, during the reign of Charles the Second, and the four succeeding Monarchs, never failed to conform to the prevailing principle of the times; and, as it is told, when reprobated for his apostacy, justified himself by saying, “He had always been governed by what he thought a very laudable maxim—never on any terms (if he could avoid it) to part with his vicarage;” or, as the song said of him,

“Old principles I did revoke,

“Set conscience at a distance;

“Passive obedience is a joke,

“A jest is non-resistance.”

Whether this Vicar of Bray, the object of so much raillery, ever existed at all, or whether it was levelled at Vicars in general, I know not; certain it is, that in the reign of Charles the Second, Dr. Caswell was Vicar of Bray, in Berkshire, near fifty years, and that he was not considered as particularly accommodating 5 in his principles to the changes of the times. His successor, whose name was Brown, also held his vicarage fifty years; and he too was deemed steady in his principles; he died about thirty years since. These facts may possibly do away the imputation of apostacy from the respectable names I here mention. The following story has been in circulation relative to a Vicar of Bray, for the truth of which I cannot vouch:

Charles the Second had been hunting in Windsor Forest, and in the chase was separated from his attendants. In returning, he lost his road, and came to Bray after it was dark, where, on enquiring for the Vicar’s house, and being introduced, he told him that he was a traveller who had lost his way, and having spent all his money, begged that he, would render him assistance to proceed on his journey, and that he would soon repay 6 him with the greatest honesty. The Vicar told him he was an imposter, and bade him go out of his house with great rudeness. But the Curate (who was with the Vicar) said that he pitied the traveller, and lent him a little money. The King then discovered who he was, and upbraiding the Vicar for his inhumanity, said, The Vicar of Bray shall be Vicar of Bray still, but the Curate shall be Canon of Windsor;—and it is said that the King made his word good.”

A little below Bray is a small island, on which two handsome buildings were erected by a former Duke of Marlborough, about fifty years since. It now bears the appellation of Monkey Island, and is a pleasant summer retreat, commanding a rich view of Windsor and the neighbouring country.

This part of England is conjectured 7 by Camden to have been inhabited by the Bibroci, who submitted themselves to Cæsar, and obtained his protection, and with it a security in the possession of one of the most beautiful spots in this kingdom.

Down Place, the seat of the late Duke of Argyle (now of Mr. Church), and the Willows, occupied by Mr. Ward, are charming situations, and enriched in the distance with the noble buildings of Windsor and Eton, in such a point of view, as are no where else to be equalled.

Windsor Castle overlooking the Thames

Windsor Castle.

Approaching nearer to Windsor, the Castle becomes a more distinct object for an artist; and were I to fix on a spot for a picture, it should be at turning the bend of the River at Clewer, when by the evening sun the parts are so beautifully discriminated, and so happily massed by the shadows, as to form a splendid object, in which 8 beauty and dignity are equally combined. Eton College would greatly enrich the scenery, as it stands unincumbered with buildings, and in such a situation as to bring it within the reach of the eye in the general disposition of objects. I regret that I cannot introduce an illustration of a scene so remarkably striking, as a combination of the works of nature and art: the parts, I fear, would be so reduced as to render them trifling and unintelligible.

From every point in which the noble Castle of Windsor is viewed, it affords beauties peculiar and interesting. The north view annexed has an ample share of those beauties, as it comprises the most extensive range of buildings, and those best massed and adapted, from the size of this undertaking, to give some idea of the magnitude of the whole.


The derivation of the name of this renowned place is from the Saxon, and means a winding shore. In the charter granted by Edward the Confessor to the monks of Westminster, it is stiled Windleshora. Struck with the beauties of the situation, William the Conqueror conceived it would be a fit retirement for the sovereigns of this country, and soon made the Abbot believe the same; accordingly he bartered with him certain lands, &c. in Essex, and thereby annexed it to the Crown. The mass of the present palace was erected nearly in the form in which it now stands, by Edward the Third, who was born here. The King appointed William of Wyckham, (afterwards Bishop of Winchester), the architect and principal conductor of this great undertaking. This good man was very near being disgraced by the ambiguity of a sentence which he caused to be cut in one of the towers, viz. “This made Wyckham,” which in fact implied no more 10 than that this undertaking made the fortune of Wyckham.

St. George’s Chapel was likewise begun by Edward the Third, and dedicated to the Virgin Mary, and St. George of Cappadocia, but finished nearly in its present state by Edward the Fourth, whose monument was discovered on the 13th of March, 1789, by the workmen employed in repairing the Chapel. The surveyor and two of the canons attended on opening the vault, when the body appeared reduced to a skeleton, and inclosed in a leaden and wooden coffin, measuring six feet three inches in length. The head was reclined to the left or north side, without any appearance of cerecloth or wrapper, rings, or other insignia. The bottom of the coffin was covered with a muddy liquor, about three inches deep, of a strong saline taste. This liquor was analized by Dr. James Lind, of Windsor. Near the body of 11 the King was found a wooden coffin, supposed to have contained the body of his Queen, Elizabeth Woodwille, in which no remains appeared. She died about three years after the King, in confinement, at Bermondsey Abbey, and is supposed to have been secretly interred. On the walls of this vault were written in chalk, much resembling the character of the times, “Edwardus IV.” with several names, probably those of the workmen employed at the funeral. This Prince is reported to have been of remarkable personal strength and beauty. If, like Sampson, his strength lay in his hair, he certainly had much to boast. It is somewhere mentioned, that the bits of the cross shown in the various parts of Italy would have erected a superb building; so of the hair of this Prince enough has been produced to have supplied Westminster Hall with full bottoms for ages to come.


It is to be wished that less black lead had been applied to the steel work of this King’s monument near the altar of the chapel, which we are told was the work of that great artist Quintin Matsys. In the opposite aile was interred the rival of Edward, the unhappy Henry the Sixth. The following elegant lines of Pope on this King are worthy repetition:

“Let softest strains ill-fated Henry mourn,

“And palms eternal flourish round his urn.

“Here o’er the Martyr-King, the marble weeps,

“And, fast beside him, once-fear’d Edward sleeps:

“Whom not th’ extended Albion could contain,

“From old Belirium to the northern main,

“The grave unites; where e’en the Great finds rest

“And blendid lie th’ oppressor and th’ opprest!”

The altar-piece of this Chapel, by Mr. West, has infinite merit; but it has been remarked of the figure of Judas, that if that was his resemblance, it would have done 13 away all confidence, and consequently have prevented his betraying his master.

Too much cannot be said in commendation of the recent attention shewn to this place, which is perhaps one of the noblest Gothic structures in the world; its late repairs and embellishments have cost twenty thousand pounds; and it is to be supposed that the wretched gateway leading to the North West front of this Chapel will not long remain a reproach to the taste of the present period of improvement. In the same ruinous and decayed state remains the tomb-house, which was originally intended by Henry the Seventh as a mausoleum for his family; but the Monarch soon after determining on the same design in Westminster Abbey, this building was not completed. It afterwards came into the hands of Cardinal Wolsey, who obtained a grant of it from Henry the Eighth, intending it as a burying-place for 14 himself; but his disgrace intervening, it was left unfinished. Nothing now remains but a kind of sarcophagus in the center of this building, with some few ornaments, as left by the Cardinal, at whose disgrace four thousand two hundred and fifty ducats had been paid to the statuary, and three hundred and eighty pounds sterling to the gilder. Lord Bacon says, in his life of Henry the Eighth, “That this monument was so glorious, that it far exceeded that of Henry the Seventh in Westminster Abbey.” Charles the Second intended to convert it into a banquetting house; and for that purpose employed Verrio to decorate its ceiling, parts of which yet remain.

James the Second wished to gratify the Pope, by making it the residence of his Nuncio, at whose public entry, under the direction of that bigotted Prince, a splendid banquet was given in the Castle in 1687. By this splendid and public reception, the minds of the 15 people became inflamed to such a degree, that they attacked the building with all the fury of religious zeal, and left it nearly in the state in which it now remains.

It has been rumoured by some, that it was the intention of his present Majesty to fit it up as a Chapter-room for the order of the Garter; by others, that it was to be used as a burial-place for the royal family: any state, but the present, would certainly be an alteration for the better.

The North terrace of this castle was greatly improved by Queen Elizabeth, who added to it many buildings, which are easily discernible by their style. She frequently graced this walk with her presence about the hour of noon, and is said to have directed the planting of that row of trees, near the Queen’s Lodge, which bears her name. Not far from this place are the remains 16 of that venerable tree, known by the name of Herne’s Oak, which has been immortalized by our divine bard, Shakspeare, in his Merry Wives of Windsor. He makes Master Page thus describe this tree and the keeper of the forest:

“There is an old tale goes, that Herne the hunter,

“Sometime a keeper here in Windsor Forest,

“Doth all the winter time, at still midnight,

“Walk round about an oak with great ragg’d horns;

“And there he blasts the tree, and takes the cattle;

“And makes milch-kine yield blood, and shakes a chain,

“In a most hideous and dreadful manner.”

Hernes Oak in Windsor Park

Hernes Oak, Windsor Park.

To this dread spot did those merry wives beguile Sir John, to

“All encircle him about,

“And, fairy like, to pinch the unclean knight.”

The story of this Herne, who was keeper of the forest in time of Elizabeth, runs thus:—That having committed some great offence, for which he feared to lose his situation, 17 and fall into disgrace, he was induced to hang himself on this tree. The credulity of the times easily worked on the minds of the ignorant to suppose that his ghost should haunt the spot. This rendered it a fit scene of action for the purpose of our bard to terrify and expose the cowardice of the fat knight, who, in the following speech, confirms the idea of Herne’s ghost being supposed to walk near this place, and is even desirous of imitating the keeper’s voice:

“Divide me like a bribe-buck, each a haunch;

“I will keep my sides to myself, my shoulders for the fellow of this walk,

“And my horns I bequeath your husbands.

“Am I a woodman? ha! speak I like Herne the hunter?”

Some idea has prevailed of an intention to cut down this celebrated tree, which it is much to be wished may not be true. The dell near it has in part been recently filled up.


As I do not know that any engraving has been made of this tree, the annexed view may possibly afford some pleasure to the curious reader.

We shall now refer to the internal decorations of this noble palace. The pictures, of which little can be said in their commendation, are few in number, and of those few a very small part can be selected as worthy the attention of the connoisseur. The cartoons of the divine Raphael, seven in number, so well known, and so deservedly admired, are here preserved with every degree of care; and it is to be regretted, that no apartment can be found of sufficient dimensions to contain the whole of this rare treasure, the inestimable value of which was first pointed out by the great Rubens at Brussels, whither these pictures were sent by Leo X. to be copied in tapestry under the direction of Van Orley and of Michael Coxis, two painters of great eminence 19 in their day. These tapestries, with a great number of others from Julio Romano, &c. are exhibited annually in the Colonade before St. Peter’s church at Rome on the day of Corpus Domini.

These invaluable works originally consisted of twelve pieces; but unfortunately four of the number have been totally destroyed by damps and neglect. The subjects of these four were the Adoration of the Magi, the Conversion of St. Paul, the Martyrdom of St. Etienne, and St. Paul preaching before Felix and Agrippa; the tapestries of which are in being; of the fifth a third part only remains, which is now in the possession of William Hoare, Esq. of Bath, R. A. The subject is the Murther of the Innocents. The pin-marks, which served as guides in the tracing it for the tapestry, appear evidently in the picture.


Upon the communication by Rubens to Charles I. that these excellent works were highly deserving a place in his noble collection, little persuasion was necessary to induce this accomplished Prince to become a purchaser of them. At the sale of this Monarch’s effects after his death, they were purchased by the order of Cromwell, who commissioned one of his officers to bid for them, and publicly to declare the bidding as for his Highness. Fifty pounds was the sum offered; and such was the respect or dread of the name of the bidder, that they were instantly knocked down to him, though at the same time it was known, unlimited commissions were then in the room from France, Spain, Italy, &c.

Much praise is certainly due to the Protector in this transaction, who, although no connoisseur, was well aware of the high value of these works, which he afterwards, in a state-exigency, 21 pawned to the Dutch for fifty thousand pounds. They remained in Holland till the Revolution, after which King William ordered them hither, when they were deposited in a gallery built expressly for their reception at Hampton-Court.

To enter into a discussion of their great excellence, which every sensible mind must feel, or to point out their glaring defects, which every eye must see, would only be censuring the finite abilities of human nature, and confirming what daily experience gives proof of, that the most exalted talents are ever liable to the extreme of absurdity, and errors the most palpable.

A large picture by Rubens of sleeping nymphs and prying satyrs, with animals by Snyders, is a work of great merit; the colouring of the females is in the best manner, but the contour of the figures is strongly 22 marked with grossness of idea and an affected swell of the muscles much out of nature.

A whole length of the Dutchess of Richmond, by Van Dyck; the portraits of Killigrew and Carew; and that of Henrietta Maria, in white satin drapery, are all works of infinite merit, particularly the latter, which is allowed to be the first production in portrait of that great master. The picture of the Misers, in Queen Elizabeth’s, or the Picture Gallery, by Quintin Matsys (called the Blacksmith) is an elaborate work of art; its merits, and the history of the painter, are so universally known, that it becomes needless to enlarge on the subject.

The allegorical picture of Lady Digby trampling on Envy, &c. said to be by Van Dyck, I do not conceive to be his; a small picture on that subject, in the possession of Mr. Hervey of Chigwell, being the only one 23 supposed to have been ever painted by Van Dyck.

A remarkable fine portrait, by Holbein, of the Duke of Norfolk, and one ascribed to Rembrandt, of the celebrated Countess of Desmond, who is said to have reached her hundred and fiftieth year within a few days; and in her youth to have danced at Court with Richard III. whom she declared to have been “as goodly a man as ever her eyes beheld, not crooked, but very properly shaped.” In the same room a head by Parmegiano has great taste in the design, but the colouring appears rather too red. There is extant an etching of this picture by his own hand.

Of two pictures painted by De Gennari in the King’s Drawing-Room, the one Jupiter and Danae, and the other a sleeping shepherd, the merit is by no means a sufficient 24 apology for the gross indelicacy with which the subjects have been treated. But it must be remembered, that they were painted in the licentious reign of Charles II. and by the express order of that amorous Monarch; and being left as part of the furniture of the Castle, though a veil might perhaps have been thrown over them, have not yet been withdrawn from the public eye.

In an apartment not publicly shewn, is a curious and finely preserved whole length portrait of that elegant and (for the age in which he lived) refined poet, the unfortunate Earl of Surrey. He is habited in scarlet drapery, hat and feather, and scarlet stockings and shoes. It is much in the style of Holbein, but certainly is not of his hand. An engraving of this picture would be a great acquisition to the admirers of portrait.

It is with regret we observe, that in this 25 stately residence of the first Prince in Europe, under whom the arts have made so rapid a progress, so few works of excellence can be pointed out to attract the notice of foreigners, or of the connoisseur in our own country. We are, however, in some degree, compensated for the want of specimens of ancient art by the modern decorations from the pencil of Mr. West, which give additional fame to the artist, and reflect honour on our munificent Sovereign; but we regret that the glorious period recorded in this work, the heroism and virtues of the renowned Edward III. one of the first Monarchs that has graced the throne of this realm, was not represented in St. George’s Hall: that spacious apartment would have afforded sufficient scope for the display of the artist’s superior talents, and is better adapted to the grandeur of this undertaking, the historical correctness of which demands a brief description.


The work is composed of seven pictures; in the first of which Edward is opposed by Gondomar Du Foy (Philip’s general) in crossing the river Somme, near Abbeville, which he did not accomplish till the next day, when he obtained the glorious victory on the plains of Cressy; the event of this battle is recorded in a picture of larger size, where the Monarch appears tenderly embracing his son, who looks with attention on the slain King of Bohemia lying at his feet. The conduct of this brave old Monarch (who was almost blind with age) and likewise that of his noble attendants, was truly heroic. Fearing that victory was going adverse to their wishes, they all agreed, lest by any circumstance they should be separated, to tie their horses bridles together, and conquer or die, in which situation they were all found the next day, near the body of their brave old King, from whom the Prince of Wales achieved his armorial bearings, the plume of feathers, 27 and motto, “Ich dien,” “I serve,” which is worn to this day.

In a smaller work is introduced the Surrender of Calais, where the Queen is interceding with the King to save the lives of the six burgesses, whose hands are tied behind them.

The companion to this picture is the Entertainment given by the King to his prisoners, in which the Lord Eustace de Ribbemont, the gallant French officer who engaged the King, unknown, in single combat, at the siege of Calais, is introduced. The King here makes himself known, and is in the act of nobly rewarding the valour of his enemy with a crown of pearls, and at the same instant granting him his liberty. This brave Frenchman was afterwards slain at the battle of Poictiers.

In the same small size is the battle of 28 Nevil’s Cross, near Durham, where Queen Philippa, in the absence of the King, takes the command of the troops, makes prisoner David King of Scotland, and is nobly victorious.

In a large picture, the same size with that of the Battle of Cressy, is the First Installation of the Garter. The scene St. George’s Chapel. The Bishops of Winchester and Salisbury are performing the service; and the King, Queen, and Knights are all kneeling round the altar. In the gallery above appear the King’s Children, the captive King of Scotland and Bishop of St. Andrew’s, French prisoners, and spectators. In the foreground are two alms or poor knights kneeling, and behind them two foreign Ambassadors, the one a Knight of Gascony, the other of Normandy. Behind is Mr. West’s portrait, &c.

The decorations of this charming picture are the trophies taken at the battles of Cressy 29 and Nevil’s Cross, the arms of the first Knights of the Order of the Garter, &c. It is remarked that this glorious Monarch was possessed of trophies obtained in victory from most of the Princes in Europe.

The seventh picture, which is of the same size with the former, is the battle of Poictiers, fought on the 19th of September, 1356, and gloriously won by the Prince of Wales. King John, and his younger son Philip, as captives, are presented to the Prince by Denis de Morbeque, a Knight of Artois, whose singular fortune in this adventure will apologize for the short anecdote that follows.

This Knight had in his youth committed a murder at St. Omer’s, and was in consequence forced to fly his native country. Taking refuge in England, he had entered the service of Edward, under whom he had served about five years, and being in this 30 engagement, near the King of France at the moment of the defeat, boldly rushed through the crowd, and addressing himself to the King in good French, said, “Sir, yield your person.” The King, looking on him, said, “To whom shall I yield? and where is my cousin the Prince of Wales? if I might see him, I would speak with him.” Sir Denis answered, “Sir, he is not hereabout; but if it please you to yield to me, I shall bring you to him.” “Why, who are you?” said the King. “Sir,” said he, “I am Denis of Morbeque, a knight of Artois; but I now serve the King of England, because I am banished the realm of France, and have forfeited all I had there.” Then the King gave him his right gauntlet, saying, “Unto you I yield myself.”

These pictures have all infinite merit in their respective subjects. The drawing 31 throughout is excellent, the colouring generally clear and animated, and the nice attention to the costume and manners of that time reflect the highest honour on the historical knowledge of the painter; yet I must still adhere to the remark already thrown out, that the subject would have had a better effect, and have more strongly impressed the mind with the achievements of our glorious Monarch, had they been on a greater scale, and the figures large as life.

Over the chimney is a picture by the same hand. The subject is the history of St. George, which history, though much talked of, is not generally known; I shall therefore quote the following ancient legend of that tutelar saint and patron of England, from the Legenda Aurea of William Caxton, who says,

Saynt George was knyghte born at 32 Capadose. On a tyme he came into the province of Libya, to a cyte whyche is say’d Sylene, and by this cyte was a stagne or ponde like a see, wherein was a dragon whych envenymed alle the contre, and the peple of the cyte gave to him every day two sheep for to fede hym, and when the sheep fayled, there was taken a man and a sheep. Thenne was an ordaniunce made in the toune, that there shuld be taken the chyldren and yung peple of them of the towne, by lotte, and that it so happed the lotte fyl upon the Kynge’s doughter, whereof the Kynge was sory, and sayde, for the love of Goddes, take golde and silver, and alle that I have, and let me have my doughter; and the peple sayd, how, Syr, ye have made and ordayned the lawe, and our children be now deed, and now ye wold do the contrarye; your doughter shall be gyven, or else we shall brenne you and you holdes. When the Kynge saw 33 he might no more doo, he began to weepe, and returned to the peple, and demanded eight dayes respyte, and when the eight dayes were passed, thenn dyd the Kynge araye his doughter lyke as she should be wedded, and ledde hyr to the place where the dragon was. When she was there, Saynt George passed by, and demaunded of the Ladye what she made there; and she sayde, go ye your wayes, fayre young man, that ye perish not also. The legend then relates, that the dragon appered, and Saynt George, upon his horse, bore himself against the dragon, and smote hym with his spere, and threw hym to the ground, and delivered the Ladye to her fader, who was baptized, and all his peple. It says farther, that St. George was afterwards beheaded by order of the Emperour Dacien, in the year of our Lord 287, and concludes, This blessed holy martyr, Saynt George, is patrone of this roiaume of 34 Englonde, and the crye of men of warre, in the worshyp of whome is founded the noble Ordre of the Garter, and also a noble college in the castle of Wyndsore by Kynges of Englonde, in which college is the harte of Saynte George, whyche Sygysmunde, the Emperor of Almayne, brought and gave for a great and precious relique to K. Harrye the Fyfthe; and also the say’d Sygysmunde was a broder of the say’d Garter, and also here is a peyce of hys hede; whyche college is nobly endowed to the honor and worshyp of Almighty God, and his blessed martyr Saynt George.”

Notes and Corrections: Section I

skip to next section

Pages 1-2, and pages 17-18, are supplied from the first (1792) edition.

The ancient name of this place was Southialington.
[The first edition has the same unlikely spelling. The closest I can find elsewhere is “South Ellington”.]

one of the eleven hundred virgins said to have suffered martyrdom with St. Ursula
text has martrydom

were I to fix on a spot for a picture
text has where I

The bottom of the coffin was covered with a muddy liquor, about three inches deep, of a strong saline taste.
[If anyone can suggest an alternative answer to the question “How do you know?” I would very much like to hear it.]

his Queen, Elizabeth Woodwille
[It doesn’t look right to me, but the first edition has the same spelling.]

but the Monarch soon after determining on the same design in Westminster Abbey, this building was not completed
[And, going by what we know about Henry VII, the workers were never paid for the part they had completed.]

a splendid banquet was given in the Castle
text has splended

Not far from this place are the remains of that venerable tree
text has /mains at page break
[Well, someone got mixed up. The catchword has the complete word “remains”; the first edition had “re-/mains” across the page break.]

“And, fairy like, to pinch the unclean knight.”
close quote missing

We shall now refer to the internal decorations of this noble palace.
text has decora-/rations at line break
[At least, it did in the first edition—and the second edition seems more partial to introducing than to correcting errors.]

now in the possession of William Hoare, Esq. of Bath, R. A.
[Portrait painter William Hoare (1707?-1792) was a founding member of the Academy, although he never exhibited after 1779. Since he died about five minutes after the first edition of Picturesque Views came out, the tapestry fragment in question was probably no longer in his possession by 1802.]

the gross indelicacy with which the subjects have been treated
[In each of the two paintings (Danae here, sleeping shepherd there), someone is pointing at the main subject’s crotch.]

the unfortunate Earl of Surrey
[Or, in modern attribution, “Unknown man, formerly known as Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey”.]

the short anecdote that follows
[The printed book combines two styles of quotation marks: marginal quotes for the entire paragraph, beginning-and-end quotes for the dialogue.]

page image


Eton College on the banks of the Thames

Eton College.


ETON College, that noble seminary of learning, has every advantage from situation which the luxuriant hand of nature could bestow. The valley in which it stands is healthy and fertile, and happily calculated for the residence of youth.

The College was founded by that unfortunate Monarch Henry VI. in the year 1440, for the support of a provost and seven fellows, and the education of seventy King’s scholars, an appellation given to those on the royal foundation.

The chapel of this college is a fine Gothic structure, and apparently by the same architect who designed that stately edifice King’s College, Cambridge, whose name, Mr. Walpole 36 says, he is informed by his friend Mr. Baker of Cambridge (a well known antiquary), was Cloos, father of Nicholas Cloos, one of the first fellows of that college, and afterwards Bishop of Litchfield; though Godwin says, “the Bishop himself was master of the King’s works here, as far as King Henry the Sixth’s share reacheth, and contriver and designer of the whole.” Whether father or son are entitled to that honour, little doubt remains, from the similarity of taste and disposition of the parts, but that this chapel, with that of King’s College, were both the works of the same architect. The modern introduction of the Doric order in the screen of this chapel is so dissimilar in style to the rest of the building, as in point of taste to be more than questionable, and will, no doubt, ere long be made to correspond with the rest of this justly esteemed edifice.


There is much to be admired in the whole length marble statue, by Bacon, of the founder of this college, at the west end of the chapel; but it wants muscular expression, and leaves the mind more impressed with the idea of a female than a male figure.

In the Provost’s apartments is a curious old portrait of Jane Shore, painted on pannel; it is ill drawn, and worse coloured, and gives but a poor idea of the taste for beauty of that day. The forehead is large, and the features small and uninteresting. A thin veil, which is her only covering, is loosely thrown over her figure. The hair is of a yellowish auburn, approaching the tint of the ancient golden locks so often celebrated by our poets. I have little doubt of its originality, and the idea is greatly strengthened by the probability of her confessor having been Provost of this college. Here is preserved another copy of this celebrated 38 favourite, from a picture at Cambridge, in which the hair is enriched with jewels, and the neck with gold, which appears, from many circumstances of similarity, upon comparison, to be a corroborating proof of the originality of the one before mentioned.

A curious portrait of Rouse, speaker of the Bare-bones Parliament, and of Sir Henry Wotton, are likewise preserved in the Provost’s apartments.

Of the old custom celebrated every third year at Eton, under the name of the Montem, various conjectures have been formed; but its origin has not been ascertained. It is said by some to have been an old monkish institution observed yearly for the purposes of raising money by the sale of salt, absolutions, or any other articles, to produce a fund that might enable the college to purchase 39 lands; and that the mount now called Salt Hill, with other land contiguous, is said to belong to the college; which idea, upon the authority of the late Provost, Dr. Roberts, I can assert has no foundation in truth.

The custom of having a procession of the scholars can be clearly proved as far back as the reign of Queen Elizabeth, who, when she visited this college, desired to see an account of all the ancient ceremonies observed there from its foundation to that period, in the number from which it appears, that an annual procession of the scholars was one, and that at such time verses were repeated, and sums of money were gathered from the public for a dinner, &c. to which fund was added the small pittances extorted from the boys who were recently admitted, by those of a longer standing.


Formerly the dresses used in this procession were obtained from the theaters, and salt was actually carried in the bags, the mischievous application of which may probably of late times have been the cause of discontinuing this custom; for when a countryman had given them money, if he asked for any thing in return, the bearer usually filled his mouth with salt, to the no small entertainment of the surrounding multitude.

The present mode of conducting the ceremony is of a more civilized nature: the fancy dresses of the salt-bearers, and what are called scouts, are of different coloured silk, and very expensive; and the sum gathered much more considerable.

This institution has for some years been patronized by their Majesties, who honour the ceremony with their presence, and testify 41 their approbation by the most convincing rhetoric, a purse of fifty pounds each.

The sum collected at the last Montem (on Whit-Tuesday 1790) amounted to full five hundred pounds. This sum was presented to the captain or senior of the collegers at the time of the ceremony, soon after which he was removed to King’s College, Cambridge, which college is supplied with its members from this seminary, in nearly the same manner as Christ Church and New-College Oxford, are supplied from Westminster and Winchester. The motto on their flags at this procession was “Pro more et Monte.”

From Eton the spire of Stoke, or Stoke Poges church, is discernible at a distance of about four miles. This place is not unworthy notice, from having been the residence of Gray the poet, where, in the mansion-house 42 of a Lady Cobham, it is well authenticated he wrote his beautiful Elegy in a Country Church-yard. But alas! poor Gray meets the fate that is often attendant on men of extraordinary talents; since though he lies buried here, not even the day of his exit is recorded on the grave-stone which covers the family-vault in this church-yard.

small drawing of church associated with Gray’s Elegy

It is with pleasure I add, that, about seven years after his death, a handsome mural monument was erected in Westminster 43 Abbey, by two friends (whose names are honourably concealed), to which Mr. Mason’s muse has added four elegant lines.

Quitting Eton, the view of Windsor Castle (from what is called the Play Ground of the college) is truly magnificent. The remarkable curve of the river from Eton to Datchet, thoroughly justifies the supposed derivation of the name of Winding Shore, given to the adjacent town of Windsor, below which the river has a fall of near four feet.

Datchet bridge seen from downstream

South East View of Datchet bridge.

On the approach to Datchet, the wooden bridge* has a light appearance from every point of view; but is decaying so fast as to become dangerous, though it has not been built above fifteen or sixteen years. I am informed it is soon to be taken down, and one of stone to be erected in its stead.

* This bridge has since fallen down.


Below the bridge, the banks of the river are enriched with several handsome villas, which command a noble view of Windsor castle, &c.

In Ditton Park is the seat of Lord Beaulieu. This ancient mansion was built by Sir Ralph Winwood, secretary of state to James I. on the site of that which was formerly occupied by Cardinal Wolsey. The old chimnies are yet standing, which mark the style of building of that period. From Sir Ralph Winwood it came into the family of Montague, and by marriage to the present possessor. This park is famed for its stately old oaks, which strongly indicate the antiquity of the place.

On the approach to Old Windsor, the Long Walk and Snow-hill in Windsor Park have a noble and picturesque appearance. The contemplative mind cannot fail to 45 sympathise with the elegant author of the Chase, and

“Tread with respectful awe

“Windsor’s green glades, where Denham, tuneful bard,

“Charm’d once th’ list’ning Dryads with his song,

“Sublimely sweet.

The excellence of this situation has called forth the superior talents of this justly admired bard, Sir John Denham, whose poem on Cooper’s Hill will never be neglected, while there exists taste to relish nervous poetry, so happily combined with the elegancies of versification and the truth of nature.

Of this universally admired work, some ill-natured doubts were thrown out in the last century, by Sir John Suckling, in his Session of the Poets. He there intimates, that this poem was only the adopted child of Sir John Denham, but was in truth the legitimate issue of a country vicar, 46 who received of the Knight forty pounds as a compensation. These insinuations have not, however, obtained any credit with posterity.

Of the house formerly our poet’s, no traces are now remaining; but in the vicinity several elegant houses have been erected, particularly Mr. Smith’s, at Kingswood Lodge, and Mrs. Harcourt’s, whose residence is not far from the spot on which he lived.

In the neighbourhood of Old Windsor, the scenery is romantic and beautiful, particularly the situation of Lady Onslow’s, formerly Mr. Bateman’s; and on the other side of the river, Ankerwycke, a seat lately occupied by Mr. Bouverie, which, though in a low situation, has its peculiar advantages in verdant prospects across the river.

The house was formerly a Benedictine 47 nunnery, built by Sir Gilbert de Mountfichet, in the time of Henry II.

Passing Ousely, towards Egham, the high road on the border of the river affords a delightful ride through Runney Mead, a spot where, however powerfully the imagination may be struck with the richness and beauty of the scenery, yet higher and much more important considerations must here impress themselves upon every generous and feeling mind. If a Tory by principle, and a pensioner from necessity, could say,* “Whatever withdraws us from the power of our senses; whatever makes the past, the distant, or the future, predominate over the present, advances us in the dignity of thinking beings. Far from me, and from my friends, be such frigid philosophy, as may conduct us indifferent and unmoved 48 over any ground which has been dignified by wisdom, bravery, or virtue. That man is little to be envied, whose patriotism would not gain force upon the plain of Marathon!” Surely in others an ardour, not less than enthusiastic, and a veneration, not less than religious, ought to follow the memory of those constitutional patriots, the Barons, who, at the risque of their lives and fortunes, here wrested an assumed power out of the hands of a tyrant, and contributed to restore an equal and reasonable influence in the state to those, from whom alone the title to govern can originate—THE PEOPLE.

* Johnson’s Journey to the Western Islands of Scotland, p. 346.

In Egham church are two ancient monuments erected to the family of Sir John Denham, father to the poet, who was a considerable benefactor to this parish.

The late Mr. Garrick has paid a handsome 49 tribute, in the following lines, to the memory of the Rev. Thomas Beighton, who was vicar of this place forty-five years, and died October 23d, 1771, at the age of seventy-one:

“Near half an age, with ev’ry good man’s praise,

“Among his flock, the shepherd pass’d his days;

“The friend, the comfort of the sick and poor,

“Want never knock’d unheeded at his door.

“Oft’ when his duty call’d, disease and pain

“Strove to confine him, but they strove in vain.

“All mourn his death, his virtues long they try’d;

“They knew not how they lov’d him, till he dy’d,

“Peculiar blessings did his life attend,

“He had no foe, and Camden was his friend.”

The river a little below Egham is very shallow, and at a place contiguous, called Old Hive, is rendered famous for barbel fishing, and sometimes fine carp are caught near this spot.

On the bank of the river, at Colne ditch, not far from the church of Staines, stands 50 what is called London-Mark-Stone, which is the ancient boundary to the city jurisdiction on the Thames.

On a moulding round the upper part of the stone (which is much decayed by age) is inscribed, “God preserve the city of London. A. D. 1280.”

This stone was, during the mayoralty of Sir Watkin Lewes, in 1781, placed on a new pedestal, on which is inscribed, that it was erected exactly over the spot where the old one formerly stood. From hence the jurisdiction of the city of London extends over the River Thames as low as Yendal, or Yenleet, to the east, including part of the rivers Medway and Lee; and it is the office of the Lord Mayor’s Deputy, the Water Bailiff, to search for, and punish all persons who infringe the laws made for the preservation of the river and its fish. And in order to maintain 51 the rights and privileges of this river, the Lord Mayor holds a Court of Conservancy eight times in the year, in the four counties of Middlesex, Surrey, Kent, and Essex, when a Jury for each is charged on oath to make inquisition after all offences committed on the river, in order to proceed to judgment against those who shall be found guilty.

Notes and Corrections: Section II

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King’s College, Cambridge, which college is supplied with its members from [Eton] seminary, in nearly the same manner as Christ Church and New-College Oxford, are supplied from Westminster and Winchester
[Given that Eton-to-Oxford is a conventional life course within a certain social class, there’s got to be more to it.]

[Footnote] This bridge has since fallen down.
[This footnote wasn’t present in the first edition, so I guess there was some editing.]

“Tread with respectful awe
[Somervile, The Chase, Book III, lines 346ff. The bit about “th’ list’ning Dryads” is obviously nonsense; Somervile wrote out “the” as demanded by the metre.]

some ill-natured doubts were thrown out in the last century
[By 1802 it was, of course, the second-to-last century. A Session of the Poets was written in 1637, though not published until 1646. I am inclined to think that not every word of it was meant to be taken literally.]

the Barons, who . . . contributed to restore an equal and reasonable influence in the state to those, from whom alone the title to govern can originate—THE PEOPLE
[For a given definition of “people”.]


Staines bridge seen from downstream

East view of Staines-bridge



FROM the Saxon word stana, or stone, the town of Staines most probably derived its appellation. To the notice of the curious, it has at present little to recommend it, except the tower of the church, which is reported to be a design of Inigo Jones, who resided some time in this town.

Its ancient decayed wooden bridge, I am happy to find, is shortly to be removed, and will receive an elegant substitute of stone, from a design of the ingenious Thomas Sandby, Esq. R. A. whose plan has been already approved by the Commissioners.

To that gentleman, whose known urbanity renders him ever willing to communicate that scientific information, with 54 which he is so amply stored, I am indebted for the annexed sketch.

small drawing of planned new Staines Bridge

The new bridge will stand nearly in the direction of the old one, and the building on the right, on the Surrey side, is intended (if approved of) as a spacious inn. The bridge consists of three eliptical arches, the center sixty feet in width, and the two side ones fifty-two each. The building of this bridge is contracted for at the sum of eight thousand four hundred pounds, and is intended to be begun early in the spring.


A little below Staines bridge one branch of the Colne from Uxbridge falls into the Thames, and another at Hampton Court, which supplies the reservoir of that palace with water.

Passing down the river from Staines, St. Ann’s Hill appears in a very conspicuous and elevated situation, and often at a happy distance breaks upon the eye with the various and sudden windings of the river, till we reach Laleham, famed for the entertainment it affords to the pensive lover of angling. The river at Laleham narrows considerably, and about the shallows or gulls, the water is beautifully transparent. Here the tranquillity of the scenery, the various objects perpetually gliding on the stream, and groupes of cattle from the adjacent meadows drinking and laving in the river, form a subject truly gratifying to the contemplative 56 mind. From hence to Chertsey, the water has a fall of near four feet.

Chertsey Bridge surrounded by trees and buildings

Chertsey-bridge, &c.

Chertsey bridge is a handsome plain structure, begun in 1780, and finished in 1785, under the direction of Mr. Payne, the architect, whose works make no inconsiderable figure on the river Thames. It consists of seven arches, each formed of the segment of a circle. It is built of Purbeck stone, at an expence of about thirteen thousand pounds, which falls equally upon the counties of Surrey and Middlesex. The original contract was for seven thousand five hundred pounds.

The town of Chertsey has formerly been a place of much consequence, from its abbey, of which little now remains.

I am favoured by Mr. Pembroke of Chertsey, with a curious drawing of the abbey, and map of the lands and river adjoining, which 57 were annexed to some old deeds belonging to the church, to which he had lately occasion to refer. They are in a book relating to the possessions of the monastery kept in the King’s Remembrancer’s office in the Exchequer, and were there deposited at the period of the Dissolution. It is presumed the drawing was made about the reign of Henry IV. The sketch annexed will give a good idea of the form of the abbey at that period.

small drawing of portion of abbey wall


In all probability this building received the remains of the ill-fated Henry VI. mentioned by Shakspeare in his play of Richard III. where Lady Ann, attending the funeral, says,

“Come now tow’rds Chertsey with your holy load,

“Taken from Paul’s to be interred there.”

From Chertsey the body was afterwards removed to Windsor by Henry VII. in a private manner.

Out of the ruins of this abbey Sir Henry Carew, Master of the Buck-hounds to King Charles II. built a stately mansion.

On St. Ann’s Hill is yet standing part of an old stone wall, the remains of a chapel dedicated to St. Ann; and not far from it is Monk’s Grove, near which has been discovered a well, to which medicinal qualities had formerly been ascribed. It had been lost for a considerable time; and since 59 its restoration, has been occasionally resorted to under an opinion of its efficacy in many cases.

Upon the subject of antiquity, it may not be out of place to mention a living antique who resides in this neighbourhood—a farmer of the name of Wapshote, whose ancestors have lived on the spot ever since the time of Alfred, by whom the farm was granted to Reginald de Wapshote, the ancestor of the present family. In spite of the antiquity of this family, and amidst the various changes and chances of human life, their fortunes have by no vicissitude been elevated or depressed; perhaps a surer test of their integrity than if they had been ennobled.

Cowley, the poet, resided in Chertsey some time, and died in what is called the Porch House, which is now standing, but has lost its appendage, the porch. This 60 house is the property of Mr. Alderman Clark of London, by whom I am favoured with the drawing, as it stood a few years since, and of which this sketch is a faithful copy.

small drawing of half-timbered house associated with Cowley

The retreat of Cowley to this place was in consequence of disgust; wearied out with the vexatious attendance upon a Court, and the fatigues of business. In this retreat he vainly flattered himself with meeting that solace and recreation which we are too apt to expect on withdrawing ourselves from the 61 world. Even the long experience and good sense of Cowley misled him in this pursuit; every thing seems to have taken a contrary turn, and nothing but disappointment and vexation followed. The nature of these disappointments will be best explained in his own words, from a letter preserved accidentally by Peck. It is addressed to Dr. Spratt, dated

“Chertsey, May 21, 1665.

The first night that I came hither I caught so great a cold, with a defluxion of rheum, as made me keep my chamber ten days. And, two after, had such a bruise on my ribs with a fall, that I am yet unable to move or turn myself in my bed. This is my personal fortune here to begin with. And, besides, I can get no money from my tenants, and have my meadows eaten up every night by cattle put in by my neighbours. What this signifies, or 62 may come to in time, God knows; if it be ominous, it can end in nothing less than hanging. Another misfortune has been, and stranger than all the rest, that you have broke your word with me, and failed to come, even though you told Mr. Bois that you would. This is what they call Monstri simili. I do hope to recover my late hurt so farre within five or six days (though it be uncertain yet whether I shall ever recover it) as to walk about again. And then, methinks, you and I and the Dean might be very merry upon S. Anne’s Hill. You might very conveniently come hither the way of Hampton Town, lying there one night. I write this in pain, and can say no more: Verbum sapienti.”

Dr. Johnson recommends this letter to the consideration of all who may pant for solitude.


The beautiful grounds of the Hon. Mr. Petre, adjoining to the town of Chertsey, stand on an elegant slope, inclining towards the bank of the river. The scenery is so happily chosen, as not only to afford infinite variety of prospect, but likewise to admit the various display of taste and refinement in modern gardening, of which Woburn Farm stands an early specimen.

The prospects of the adjacent country, rich in villages and fertile meadows, and diversified with the beautiful winding of the river Thames, afford a view equal to any thing of the kind that this noble river presents.

Adjoining these grounds is Ham Farm, the seat of the Earl of Portmore, at Weybridge. It received its early improvement from the Countess of Dorchester, in the reign of James II. but has of late years been much 64 neglected. The park comprises about five hundred acres. Its contiguity to the rivers Thames and Wey render it an eligible situation; the latter river runs through the grounds, in its course from Guildford, from whence it is navigable for vessels of considerable burthen. A stream from what is called the Virginia Water, in Windsor park, likewise runs through the grounds, in its course from Mr. Petre’s park. The rich and verdant terrace that terminates the grounds of Ham Farm towards the banks of the river, is much to be admired, at the extremity of which the swing bridge thrown across the Wey, at its junction with the Thames, makes a truly picturesque object.

Near this place, according to Camden, at Cowey Stakes, Cæsar passed the Thames (that being the only spot then fordable) and entered the territories of Cassivelan.


On the other side of the river the British troops had planted themselves, and had fenced the bank with sharp stakes, securely driven into the ground, which the venerable Bede says “are seen to this day; and it appears upon the view, that each of them is as thick as a man’s thigh; and that being sodder’d with lead, they stick in the bottom of the river immoveable.” These stakes, which are of oak, are still discernible, though from age they have lost their former colour. The late Speaker, Arthur Onslow, had a set of knife and fork handles made from them, which, when worked, were as black and as heavy as ebony.

By an easy bend of the river, we pass the pleasant village of Shepperton, the retreat of the contemplative angler, who patiently sits whole days bending over the placid stream, to watch

——“The fond credulity

“Of silly fish, which, worldling-like, still look

“Upon the bait, but never on the hook.”


The “Angler’s Wish,” an elegant composition of an amiable and ingenious character of the last age, is so apt to the present purpose, that I flatter myself a quotation from it will not be unacceptable to the admirer of this recreation.

“I in these flowery meads would be:

“These crystal streams should solace me;

“To whose harmonious bubbling noise,

“I with my angle would rejoice:

“Sit here and see the turtle dove

“Court his chaste mate to acts of love.

“Or, on that bank, feel the west wind

“Breathe health and plenty; please my mind,

“To see sweet dew-drops kiss these flow’rs,

“And then wash’d off by April show’rs:

“Here hear my Kenna sing a song:

“There see a black-bird feed her young,

“Or a laverock build her nest:

“Here give my weary spirits rest,

“And raise my low-pitch’d thoughts above

“Earth, or what poor mortals love:

“Thus free from law-suits, and the noise

“Of Princes Courts, I would rejoice.


“Or with my Bryan* and a book,

“Loiter long days near Shawford brook;

“There sit by him, and eat my meat,

“There see the sun both rise and set:

“There bid good morning to next day,

“There meditate my time away:

“And angle on, and beg to have

“A quiet passage to a welcome grave.”

* Said to be his favourite dog.

Isaac Walton, the author of the Complete Angler, from which this extract is made, and whose works lately passed through two editions, given by the late Sir John Hawkins, learnt his art upon the banks of our river.

Angling was his principal amusement: and from the choice of our pleasures (at least as he inculcates, and the history of his life is a strong confirmation of his doctrine) may not unreasonably be deduced the character of our morals. In any period, and particularly in that age, he must be considered 68 as an extraordinary man. Without birth or education, in the humble situation of a sempster or milliner, the purity of his morals, the simplicity of his manners, his various information and philanthropy, procured him access to the most learned men of his time, amongst whom his common appellation was that of “Honest Izaac.”

His lives of many of the most eminent characters of his time, Bishop Saunderson, Dr. Donne, Sir Henry Wotton, Herbert, &c. are represented as one of the most favourite books of the late Dr. Johnson, who says,* “That it was wonderful that he, who was in a very low situation of life, should have been familiarly received by so many great men, and that at a time when the ranks of society were kept more separate than they are now.”

* Boswell’s Life of Dr. Johnson, vol. i. p. 487.


He seems still to retain, amongst the highest characters of the present age for worth and learning, the same estimation which he formerly held; for there appears to have been a strong inclination in one of our present prelates,* the Bishop of Norwich, Dr. Horne, then President of Magdalen College, Oxford, if not also at the same time in one of the present Judges of Scotland, Sir David Dalrymple, Lord Hailes, to give an edition of his Lives; and it was the very earnest wish of Dr. Johnson, “that this pious work (as he terms it) of preserving and elucidating the writings of an author by whom he had been most pleasingly edified,” should be perfected by some worthy, respectable, and able hand. This digression from the subject, will, I flatter myself, 70 be palliated by the ardent wish I feel to be ranked amongst the admirers of this excellent character, and, as he is styled, “Common father of all anglers.”

* Boswell’s Life of Dr. Johnson, vol. i p. 437

Ditto, p. 439.

Ditto, p. 438.

The Thames here abounds with almost every different species of fish that is to be found in other British rivers, such as perch, eels, roach, dace, bleak, barbel, &c. of the latter it is to be observed, they never are seen below London bridge, the others are found as low as the water continues fresh. The flounders are seldom found above Fulham, whither they are conveyed by the tide. Of the lamprey I have remarked in a former Section.

The salmon appears in the river about the middle of February, and sells at a very advanced price: its capture is prohibited from the 10th day of September to the 25th of January.


The shad, like the salmon, is a fish of passage; it appears about the beginning of June, but is held in little estimation; the usual size is from four to five pounds, but it sometimes is found of nearly twice that weight.

The Terrace of Oatlands, on the opposite side the river, (now in the possession of the Duke of York) is a superb ornament to the banks of the Thames; but the house has nothing beyond situation to recommend it.

One object in these grounds should not be unnoticed, although a species of building not always gratifying to the well informed mind. It is the Grotto, which, in that style, exceeds in taste and elegance every thing I believe of the kind in the kingdom. It was constructed and finished by three persons, a father and his two sons, whose lives, in the opinions of some, might have been devoted to objects of more 72 utility, yet it certainly bespeaks them to have possessed great ingenuity, and unceasing application. This grotto is reported to have cost near twelve thousand pounds.

small drawing of Grotto at Oatlands

There was formerly a noble palace in this park, a good view of which is given in the back ground of a portrait of Ann of Denmark, Queen to James I. painted by Van Somers, in 1617. It is now in Kensington palace. Little remains of this palace, but a gate, erected from a design of Inigo Jones, and which has been removed a small distance from its original situation, and repaired, with 73 the addition of an inscription by the Duke of Newcastle, its former possessor.

On St. George’s Hill, in the neighbourhood of this park, are evident remains of a Roman encampment.

Walton bridge with trees and cows on the riverbank

Walton-bridge, Surry

Walton bridge, from Oatlands, has a beautiful appearance. A spacious body of water formed beneath the terrace, is so happily managed as to appear to be the main river, which, from its windings in the neighbourhood, is concealed from the view.

The celebrated old bridge at Walton was built by the late Mr. Decker, for which he obtained an Act of Parliament in 1747, and in 1750 that handsome structure was completed. The plan of this elegant bridge was by a Mr. White of Weybridge, though some other person has taken the merit of its design.


The happy construction of this bridge was such, that being composed of timbers tangent to a circle of a hundred feet in diameter, either of these falling into decay, might, with ease, be unscrewed; and, with equal facility, receive a new substitute, without disturbing the adjoining timbers.

Of this bridge, the sketch prefixed will give a faint idea.

small drawing of old Walton bridge

Such was its dangerous state, that about four years since, it was judged expedient to take down a great part of it, when the centre arches of the present bridge, which are of brick, were rebuilt at an expence of two thousand pounds, under the direction of the late Mr. Payne. This bridge is the property 75 of Mr. Sanders; and it must be confessed, that what it has gained in solidity and strength, it has lost in taste and elegance.

Walton is said formerly to have joined the county of Middlesex, till, about three hundred years since, the old current of the Thames was changed by an inundation, and a church was destroyed by the waves. Here are still some vestiges of a Roman camp.

From Walton, the scenery of this gentle river is continually increasing in beauty; and as we reach Sunbury, its banks are so highly enriched in villas, that the lines of an ancient poet may not unaptly apply to illustrate the scene;

“We saw so many woods and princely bow’rs,

“Sweet fields, brave palaces, and stately towr’s,

“So many gardens drest with curious care,

“That Thames with royal Tiber may compare.”

At Sunbury, the seat of the late Earl of 76 Pomfret makes no inconsiderable figure. It seems an epitome of part of the façade of Hampton Court, and has often borne the appellation of that palace in miniature.

In the neighbourhood of Hampton, the favourite retreat of our theatrical monarch, the late Mr. Garrick, is a handsome villa erected by him, which may not improperly be said to have been dedicated to

“The feast of reason, and the flow of soul.”

On the verdant lawn sloping towards the Thames, stands a handsome pavilion, in which is placed a whole length statue of our immortal Shakspeare,* sculptured in beautiful white marble, by the inimitable Roubilliac. The bard seems deep in contemplation, and,

“As imagination bodies forth

“The forms of things unknown,

“Turns them to shapes, and gives to airy nothing

“A local habitation and a name.”

* Reported to have cost three thousand pounds.


Part of the internal decorations of the house are from the pencil of that original and unrivalled genius, Hogarth, the scourge of vice and immorality, “Who held, as ’twere, the mirror up to Nature, to shew Virtue her own feature, Scorn her own image, and the very age and body of the Time, his form and pressure.”

The four election pictures by this master, the subjects of which are so well known, and their mischievous consequences so severely felt in this country, as to need no farther comment, here present themselves, in which, if nice discrimination of character, and just expression of the human passions are sought after, and allowed to be the first excellence in works of genuine satire, surely these from the pencil of our Hogarth must remain a lasting proof of his unrivalled excellence; nor is the mechanical part of these pictures less to be admired than the designs. The 78 colouring is rich, and the figures are boldly and characteristically drawn.

By the same hand is likewise another work; which has, for its subject, the Examination of the Recruits before Shallow and Silence; this, though inferior to the former in merit, will yet evince to the world that the genius of the artist was only obscured when copying the ideas of others, since even the brilliant imagination of Shakspeare could lend no aid to the natural talent of Hogarth, who, to be admired, must always think and act for himself.

I cannot quit this mansion, without adverting to the rare talents of its former possessor, Mr. Garrick, who, as a living commentator on our immortal bard, stands unrivalled; but in this view, so inadequate and imperfect are the traces of human memory, and so soon, even if it were 79 indelible, in the general wreck of mortality, does this evidence pass away, that even now there remain not very many witnesses, whose grateful remembrance can, with any lively impressions, pay the due tribute to his varied and unequalled excellence; or to use the elegant language of a modern bard, who, deploring the transitory fate of superior talents in the mimic art, says,

“The Actor only shrinks from Time’s award,

“Feeble Tradition is his mem’ry’s guard;

“By whose faint breath his merits must abide

“Unvouch’d by proof, to substance unally’d,

“Ev’n matchless Garrick’s art to heav’n resign’d,

“No fix’d effect, no model leaves behind.”

Notes and Corrections: Section III

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St. Ann’s Hill appears in a very conspicuous and elevated situation
[Yes, hills will do that.]

Its contiguity to the rivers Thames and Wey render it an eligible situation
text unchanged
[Call it 18th-century grammar, since the 1792 edition has the same form.]

roach, dace, bleak, barbel, &c. of the latter it is to be observed
text unchanged: expected Of the latter
[The second edition introduced new errors, but doesn’t seem to have corrected many old ones.]

Of the lamprey I have remarked in a former Section.
[Near the beginning of Section XX (page 96) of Volume I.]

now in the possession of the Duke of York
[George III’s second son, Frederick, formally the Duke of York and Albany. If Frederick had not died childless—“without legitimate issue” if you want to be stuffy about it—the British royal succession would have been entirely different after the death of George IV.
Footnote that our author didn’t see fit to include: Frederick may have lived in, or at least owned, Oatlands in 1792. But two years later, when he separated from his wife Frederica, she got Oatlands and lived there until her death in 1820. (Three Men and a Boat speaks admiringly of her multitudinous dogs, many of whom are buried on the property.) And it wasn’t the same Oatlands; by odd coincidence it burned in that same year, 1794, and was completely rebuilt.]

the lines of an ancient poet
[Tot campos, sylvas, tot regia tecta, tot hortos et cetera. The lines—both English and Latin—appear in The Compleat Angler, attributed only to “a German poet”. Walton’s immediate source, at least for the English translation, was Heylin’s Cosmography, dating from 1652, when “Cosmography” was just another synonym for Geography. Heylin cribbed the Latin from Camden’s Britannia, first published in 1586. And, thanks to the internet, we now know that Camden in turn cribbed the whole thing from German academic Nathan Chytraeus, writing in 1579.]

“The feast of reason, and the flow of soul.”
[Surprisingly, the phrase is not from something that I really ought to have recognized. It’s from Pope’s Imitations of Horace, I. ii. 127. (Some sources say Satires of Horace, making it sound as if Pope was translating. Since the immediately preceding line is “There St. John mingles with my friendly bowl” it would have had to be an awfully loose translation.)]


Hampton Court bridge, with buildings and trees in background

Hampton Court-bridge, &c.



FROM Hampton, the approach to the bridge presents a favourable association of objects for the pencil. The west end of the old building, formerly the banqueting house, breaks happily on the eye to complete the scene, and it is from that point of view only that this majestic pile can be introduced into the landscape to advantage.

Hampton Court bridge, which is of wood, has a light and pleasing effect, and was finished about twenty-five years since, under the direction of a Mr. White of Weybridge; the former bridge was so ill constructed as only to remain fit for use about thirteen or fourteen years.

Very near the bridge, at what is called 82 Molesey, the river Mole, from Dorking, falls into the Thames. The water is here very shallow in many places, being not more than twenty inches deep; but opposite the palace, in one spot, where the water-gallery formerly stood, it is near thirty feet.

The palace of Hampton Court, it is well known, was built by the princely Wolsey, whose munificence in the undertaking excited no small degree of jealousy and envy, in his Sovereign; the wary Prelate therefore thought it wise to make a peace-offering of his rising edifice; and in return, the King suffered him to reside in his palace of Richmond.

The plan of this magnificent building, when thus abandoned by the Cardinal, was so extensive, as to admit of two hundred and eighty beds, adorned with rich silk and gold hangings.


Of the original splendour of this edifice there are few remains: the principal object to be admired is the spacious hall, formerly the banqueting room; its noble vaulted roof is in the best taste of Gothic design, and fully impresses the mind with the general style of elegance in which it was originally finished.

In this hall, a grand banquet, it is said, was given by the Cardinal to his Sovereign, expressly for the purpose of introducing to his notice Ann Boleyn; but I conjecture that this report is without foundation, as the scene, with more probability, was at York-place, the then residence of the Cardinal, now Whitehall. Cavendish, who wrote the life of the Cardinal, in the time of Queen Mary, says, he was himself present at the banquet, and thus describes it:

Before the King, &c. began to dance, 84 they requested leave to accompany the ladies at mum-chance; leave being granted, then went the masquers and first saluted all the dames, and then returned to the most worthiest, and then opened the great cup of golde, filled with crownes and other pieces, to cast at. Thus perusing all the gentlewomen, of some they wonne, and to some they lost; and having viewed all the ladies, they returned to the Cardinal, with great reverence, pouring down all their golde, which was above two hundred crowns. At all, quoth the Cardinal, and casting the die, he wonne it, whereat was made great joy.”

In the last reign, the stately hall at Hampton Court, was converted into a theatre, where the Queen intended two plays should be performed weekly, while the court was held there; but Colly Cibber says, that only seven plays were performed in it after it was 85 altered; one of which was for the entertainment of the Duke of Lorraine, afterwards Emperor of Germany.

For an elaborate description of this magnificent palace, as it stood in the reign of Elizabeth, I refer the curious reader to the Itinerary of Hentzner, who, after enumerating the many elegancies it then contained, concludes with remarking, that “in short, all the walls of the palace shine with gold and silver.”

This scene of magnificence and pomp of former Kings became, at a later period, the prison of the ill-fated monarch, Charles I. whose fortunes, when considering him as a Prince accomplished in the fine arts, we cannot but deplore; however, the pernicious examples before him, and hereditary lessons, perhaps too readily imbibed, destined him to a rougher fate, than either in times less 86 agitated, or under other circumstances, his elegant mind and milder manners should seem to have merited.

Of the ancient splendour of Hampton Court, we have at present few remains: the apartments now standing having been originally used as offices merely for domestic purposes, consequently convey no idea of the magnificence of the times at which they were built. The old palace was taken down in 1690, to give place to the present elegant structure, which was raised under the auspices of King William, and under the skilful direction of Sir Christopher Wren.

Before this building was begun, the Monarch suggested an idea of erecting one in the neighbourhood of Hampton, at the west end of the town, on an elevation about half a mile distant from the river—a situation certainly preferable in point of scenery 87 to that of Hampton Court; but the length of time, which he was given to understand such an undertaking would require in its completion, induced him to relinquish the design.

The present palace was completed in about four years, and just before the death of Queen Mary, to whose taste and superior skill in the arts, it is but justice to say, from the authority of its architect, this building owes much of its elegance.

The grand façade towards the garden extends three hundred and thirty feet, and that towards the Thames three hundred and twenty-eight. The portico and colonade, of duplicated pillars of the Ionic order, at the grand entrance, and indeed the general design of these elevations, are in a superior style of magnificence.


The want of height in the cloysters under the apartments, is an error in taste of which Sir Christopher Wren stands exculpated, as they were executed in that manner, according to the King’s express desire. In this palace are said to be two thousand apartments, which constitute in point of extent and convenience, one of the noblest structures this country affords. On one side of the quadrangle, called the Fountain Court, is the apartment which was constructed for the reception of the cartoons of Raphael, and which, it must be confessed, was a preferable situation to that at present allotted to them at Windsor. The pictures, which are now placed in their stead, are so inferior in merit to those excellent works that once graced this apartment, that they seem a mockery of the arts.

The other pictures contained in this palace are in general of a superior class, but 89 are too numerous to be particularised in this work.

This palace is supplied with water for domestic uses by a pipe conveyed under the Thames, about half a mile above Kingston Bridge, from a place called Coomb, which is four miles distant from Kingston.

This water has the property of not furring any vessel it is boiled in; turns all vegetables black, and is said to possess many medicinal qualities.

Quitting Hampton Court several elegant villas, in the vicinity of Thames Ditton, present themselves to view, among which, Miss Boyle’s, formerly occupied by the Earl of Hertford, and that of Richard Joseph Sullivan, Esq. once in the possession of Lady Digby, particularly claim attention; they have every requisite, from their vicinity 90 to the river, Hampton Court Park, and a charming surrounding country, to render their situation truly enviable.


Kingston in Surrey, with bridge in the distance

Kingston Surry.


THE river scenery from Thames Ditton to Kingston, receives a pleasant addition from the contiguity of the road to its banks, parallel to which it runs a considerable length, affording a perpetual variety of objects highly gratifying.

The old wooden bridge of Kingston consists of twenty arches; it was originally supported by a toll, but in 1567 was endowed with lands amounting to forty pounds per annum, for the repairs, &c. from which time the toll has been taken off.

Kingston was formerly the residence of several Saxon Kings, from which circumstance it obtained its present name. The ancient 92 appellation of this place was Mereford, from a ford over the river.

In this ancient town the famous Earl of Warwick, styled the King-maker, is said to have had his residence, at a house called Hircomb’s Place. Kingston was incorporated by King John, and sent Members to Parliament as early as the reign of Edward the Second.

From this ancient burgh, which at present affords little gratification to the inquisitive mind, we approach Teddington, formerly called Tide-ending Town, from the tide, as it is said, having flowed so high, before the building of London Bridge; and at present its last gentle efforts are certainly felt here, though it is a distance of more than seventy miles from its mouth. I have reason to believe that few rivers in Europe carry their tide so high into the internal parts 93 of the country through which they pass. What causes concur to produce this effect, is more than I shall attempt to explain; but its advantages in point of trade and navigation to the country, as well as the capital, are as obvious as they are reciprocal; and the circumstance itself seems to have well justified the choice of the seat of empire, and fixing it in a place which had, of all others in the realm, the most ready and extensive communication with its provinces.

The village of Twickenham next presents itself to view, a spot long famed for the residence of taste and elegance, and where the muses have delighted to stray, on the banks of our gentle river.

At the entrance of this charming village the Honourable Mr. Walpole has given us a specimen of his taste, in a happy selection of Gothic parts and ornaments, in his villa at 94 Strawberry Hill. This cabinet, rich in the choicest works of the fine arts, is, from the politeness of its owner, well known to the amateurs in this country, who find easy access on proper application.

Strawberry Hill: stone building surrounded by trees

Strawberry hill.

Though the subject has not novelty to recommend it, yet I cannot refrain from mentioning this rich appendage to the banks of the Thames. The annexed view is taken from a drawing made about six years since by my late ingenious and much esteemed friend, Francis Grose Esq.

In the construction of the various apartments in this house, Mr. Walpole has judiciously availed himself of the best specimens of the ancient Gothic now remaining, particularly those from the gate of the choir at Rouen, the tomb of Archbishop Wareham at Canterbury, St. George’s Chapel, &c.


In the Holbein Chamber are some good copies of the works of that master by Vertue, from the originals in the late Queen Caroline’s closet at Kensington: likewise an excellent original drawing in pen and ink by Holbein, a design intended for a chimney-piece in an apartment in one of the palaces of Henry VIII.

In the grand gallery are many good portraits by Reubens, Van Dyck, Jansens, Lilly, &c. A fine specimen of the state of the art of painting in the fifteenth century, by Mabuse, the subject of which is the marriage of Henry VII. will be highly gratifying to the antiquary and admirer of the early productions of art in painting.

The celebrated eagle, from the Baths of Caracalla, brought over by Sir Horace Mann, and of which Mr. Walpole has caused an 96 engraving to be made, happily adorns the centre of this elegant gallery, and need only to be seen to be admired.

In this repository of elegance are some of the best specimens in miniature painting, by the Olivers, Cooper, &c. that are extant.

A valuable treasure, by the former master, is here preserved, which Mr. Walpole informs us, was discovered in an old house in Wales, belonging to a descendant of Sir Kenelm Digby; it was there so carefully enclosed in ebony and ivory cases, as to remain at present as perfect as if just painted.

Of this descendant Mr. Walpole made the purchase. The most beautiful part of which is the portrait of Sir Kenelm and his lady, and two sons, from Van Dyck, which must be certainly deemed the chef d’œuvre of this charming painter.


A small bell in silver, in the cabinet, from the hand of Benvenuto Celini, is so exquisitely sculptured, as to rival every production of the kind I remember to have seen.

The ebony furniture, cabinet, and curious relics of antiquity, particularly the Abbot of Glastonbury’s chair, are all well adapted to the Gothic of the house.

Cardinal Wolsey’s hat, here preserved, is said, by the inscription within the crown, to have been found in the great wardrobe by Bishop Burnet, and seems to carry with it genuine marks of originality; at present, however, the rage for Cardinal’s hats seems so much on the decline, that it may perhaps be difficult ere long to find heads to fit them, and those of the whole conclave may possibly share the fate of Wolsey’s, in being consigned to the wardrobes of the curious only.


The library is spacious and well-stored with the choicest productions of the graphic art, particularly in portraits, in which this collection is allowed to stand pre-eminent.

Amidst the many elegancies in this retreat, the modern decorations from the pencil of Lady Di. Beauclerc, particularly those from the subject of Mr. Walpole’s tragedy of the Mysterious Mother, are works that do honor to the age, and on which it is impossible to speak of the fair artist, without seeming to be lavish in adulation. The noble owner has built an apartment for their reception.

In the adjoining village of Twickenham, the once-famed residence of the immortal Pope is conspicuously marked towards the river, by two of the noblest drooping willows, perhaps, in the kingdom, which are reported to have been planted by his hand.


In the year 1715, this admired spot was purchased by Pope; and here, in the various improvements and additions he was perpetually making, he seems to have found a principal solace and amusement in his declining years.

Whatever may be the present opinion of this place, from the altered, and perhaps improved taste of the times, his own high opinion of the excellencies of his grotto and garden will be best understood from his letter written to Edward Blount, Esq. dated June 2, 1725.

Since the death of our poet, these grounds have been considerably enlarged, and the house has received the addition of two side wings, from its late possessor Sir William Stanhope, who purchased it at the death of Pope; notwithstanding these additions and alterations, the simplicity of the building 100 is still the same, and it may yet be called Pope’s.

“Grateful posterity, from age to age,

“With pious hand the ruin shall repair;—

“Some good old man, to each enquiring sage

“Pointing the place, shall cry—The Bard liv’d there.”

The house, &c. is now in the possession of the Right Honourable Welbore Ellis, Esq; since created Lord Mendip, who married the daughter of the late Sir William Stanhope.

The remains of this charming Ethic writer were deposited, agreeable to his own request, in the parish church of Twickenham, in the same vault with those of his parents, to whose memory he had erected a plain monument, with a Latin inscription written by himself.

A more elegant monument in marble was erected for our poet in the same gallery, by 101 his friend and editor Dr. Warburton, late Bishop of Gloucester, on which is affixed, in a medallion, a head of Pope, and a short memorial in Latin.

On the outside of this church, at the east end, is a small tablet, erected by the poet to the memory of Mary Beach, a faithful old servant, who nursed him in his infancy, and constantly attended him for thirty-eight years. She died November 5, 1725, at the age of seventy-eight.

The many beautiful seats in this selected spot, that are and have been occupied by persons of the most eminent talents in this country, give the best testimonies of the superior excellence of its situation, where every feature that is elegant and admirable in landscape is combined.

From hence the eye wandering to the opposite 102 banks of this beauteous “Vale of Thames” is gratified with the rich and shadowy walks of Ham and Petersham, formerly the retreat of the once lovely Queensbury and her favourite Gay. Here, in the midst of this rich and embowered scene, stands the villa built by the late Earl of Harrington, from a design of the great Lord Burlington, which by his warmest advocates, must be allowed to want that taste and architectural knowledge for which he is so justly admired.

This house was erected on the site of one formerly built by the Earl of Rochester, Lord High Treasurer to King James II. which was destroyed by fire, and with it were consumed the library and valuable manuscripts of the first Earl of Clarendon, author of the History of the Rebellion.

The noble ascent of Richmond Hill clustered 103 with elegant villas, and contrasted by the rich and verdant meadows of Twickenham, are happily combined by the elegant bridge of Richmond, and form a scene highly luxuriant and gratifying to the eye.

Amongst many other persons of rare and extraordinary talents, who have selected this charming scenery as a retreat from the bustle of the world, the name of Thomson, author of the Seasons, &c. who resided here a considerable time, surely demands the “tribute of a passing sigh.” He lies buried in the parish church, under a plain grave-stone without any inscription.

His death was occasioned by a cold caught in a boat on the river Thames, after being heated with a walk, in the summer of 1748.

On the death of this good man and excellent poet, few indeed were the exertions of 104 the poetic muse; amongst those few his friend Collins has deplored his death with such sincerity, and unaffected elegance, as to need no apology for the introduction of the following stanzas,

“In yonder grave a Druid lies

“Where slowly winds the stealing wave!

“The year’s best sweets shall duteous rise,

“To deck its poet’s sylvan grave!

“In yon deep bed of whisp’ring reeds,

“His airy harp shall now be laid,

“That he, whose heart in sorrow bleeds,

“May love thro’ life the soothing shade.

“Remembrance oft shall haunt the shore,

“When Thames in Summer wreaths is drest,

“And oft suspend the dashing oar,

“To bid his gentle spirit rest!

“And oft, as Ease and Health retire

“To breezy lawn, or forest deep,

“The friend shall view yon whitening spire,*

“And ’mid the varied landscape weep.”

* Richmond spire.


The affection of this friend was such as to induce him to quit Richmond immediately on the death of Thomson.

I cannot pass this neighbourhood without noticing the adjoining village of Roehampton, where, in the mansion of the Earl of Besborough, whose taste is as distinguished as his polite attention to the stranger, the amateur will be gratified with a small, but elegant selection of the best works in the art of painting.

Notes and Corrections: Section V

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decorations from the pencil of Lady Di. Beauclerc
[Generally spelled Beauclerk. Diana Spencer (1734–1808) was a daughter of the third Duke of Marlborough and hence a granddaughter of Sarah Churchill—yes, that Sarah Churchill. In 1757 she married Viscount Boling­broke, but it didn’t last. She had an affair with Topham Beauclerk, which more or less compelled Bolingbroke to divorce her; fortunately this was not hard to do when you were a viscount. The instant the divorce came through, she married Beauclerk and became well known as a painter and illustrator.]

in the parish church of Twickenham
text has Twickenhem
[Corrected from 1792 edition.]

Here, in the midst of this rich and embowered scene
text has emboweredscene

In yonder grave a Druid lies
[The full Ode, included with many editions of Thomson’s Seasons, is eleven stanzas. Ireland gives stanzas I, II, IV and V.]


Richmond bridge, with village in the background




THE charming village of Richmond, from the singular beauty of its situation, has not improperly been termed the Frescati of England. It received the addition of the present elegant stone bridge from a design of the late Mr. James Payne. The arches are semi-circular, and the structure taken altogether is not inferior to the first work of the kind on this river.

The annexed view was taken below the bridge, where the rich and variegated scenery of the adjacent country, with the beautiful hill in the back ground, render the landscape highly interesting and worthy selection.

The village of Richmond formerly bore 108 the name of Shene, which in the Saxon tongue signifies bright or shining, an appellation it lost in 1501, when Henry VII. built a new palace here on the site of the old one, and bestowed on it its present name, from that of his own earldom, before he obtained the crown. The palace was scarcely finished, when Henry ended his days here. It likewise received the last breath of his renowned grand-daughter Queen Elizabeth. As this palace was destroyed in the civil wars, and no trace of it now remains, I have subjoined a sketch of it from a very scarce print, by Hollar, in my possession, as it stood in the time of Charles I. The engraving was made in 1638.

small drawing of old Richmond palace


On part of the site on which this palace stood, the Duke of Queensbury’s house was erected.

Richmond has been long famed for the residence of our Monarchs. Here died the valiant Edward III. of grief, as it is said, for the loss of his warlike son, whose death, according to Camden, “was such an affliction to him, and to all England, as was not to be conquered by the ordinary methods of consolation.” The Monarch did not survive his son twelve months. Here also died Ann wife to Richard II. who first taught our fair country-women the present mode of riding on horseback: Richard was so affected at her death, that he neglected, and even avoided the house; but in the reign of Henry V. it received considerable repairs and additions, and continued in a perfect state till destroyed by fire in the reign of Henry VII.


The additions and improvements made to the grounds at Richmond by his present Majesty, are such as reflect honour on the judgement of the sovereign, and are such as the peculiar elegance of the situation demanded from the hand of regal taste and magnificence.

The center part of the lodge in Richmond Park, which is of Portland stone, was built in the late reign from a design of Messrs. Morris and Wright, and intended as a retreat for his Majesty, and the royal family, after taking the diversion of hunting in the park. The wings, which are of brick, have been since added by her Royal Highness the late Princess Amelia, when ranger of that park, but I believe have never been completed.

Of the many striking objects that present themselves from the Terrace, Syon House 111 appears the most conspicuous; and from hence it is seen to most advantage, as its happy distance in this point of view renders it more picturesque than on a nearer approach.

It was formerly a convent, founded by Henry V. in 1414, for sixty virgins of the order of St. Bridget of Zion, thirteen priests, four deacons, and eight lay-brothers; each sex to live in separate convents, and not to be allowed to come out, except by the Pope’s special licence.

By a letter, however, addressed from this convent to Thomas Lord Cromwell, from one Richard Layton, who styles himself his “assured poor priest,” we find him “certifyinge the incontynense of the nunnes at Syon with the friores,” without the sanction of his holinesse’s licence; and that “one Bushope would have persuaded one of 112 his brederen a smithe, to have made a keaye for the doare, to have in the night time received in wenches for him, and his fellowes, and specially a wyffe of Uxbridge, now dwelling not far from the old Lady Derby, nigh Uxbridge, which wyffe his old customer hath byne many times here at the grates, communying with the sayd, and he was desirous to have her convoyed in to him. The said Bushope also persuaded a nunne, to whom he was confessor, ad libidinem corporis perimplend.”

Whether from these enormities, or from the partialities of this convent to the avowed enemy of the Sovereign, the Maid of Kent, does not appear; but it is certain that the King made this monastery the first object of his resentment, at the dissolution in 1537, previous to which, he caused Richard Reynolds, a Brigettin monk, of Syon House, and an eminent doctor in divinity, to be 113 tried for opposing his will, in the article of supremacy: and for which opposition he was hanged at Tyburn on the 4th of May, 1535.

At the dissolution the revenues of this religious house amounted to one thousand nine hundred and forty-four pounds eleven shillings and eight pence farthing, per annum: after which period the abbess, nuns, lay-sisters, &c. to the number of seventy-three, were all pensioned during their lives; and as a matter of information to the curious, I relate, that the last abbess of Syon Monastery was interred in Denham church, near Uxbridge, and on her grave-stone is inscribed as follows:

Of youre charite pray for the soule of dame Agnes Jordan, sometyme Abbas of the monasterye of Syon, whiche departed this lyfe the xxix day of January, in the yere of or Lord God MVcXLVI. on whos 114 soule IHU have m’cy, Amen.” Some fragments of pious sentences in Latin appear around the figure. The coats of arms are torn off.

In Isleworth Church, in the neighbourhood of Syon, another religious female of this convent was interred, on whose grave-stone is inlaid a small brass plate, with an engraved figure of a nun, and under it this inscription.

Here lyeth the body of Margaret Dely, a syster professed, in Syon, who deceased the VII. of October, Ao 1561, on whose soule Jhu have m’cy.”

I am favoured with these inscriptions by the Rev. Mr. Brand, who has preserved the off-tracts in his valuable collection of portraits.

After the dissolution this house was 115 granted to the Protector, the Duke of Somerset, who built out of the ruins a palace, which now remains on the same spot where the church belonging to the monastery formerly stood.

After the fall of the Protector, it was obtained by Percy ninth Earl of Northumberland, from whom it descended to the present illustrious possessor.

In 1646 the Dukes of York and Glocester, and the Princess Elizabeth, were sent hither by an order of Parliament, and were so well treated, by the Earl and Countess of Northumberland, that the unfortunate father, on visiting them the next year, thought it no small alleviation to his misfortunes, to see them thus happy in their confinement.

This extensive mansion received its last alteration in 1632, from the hand of Inigo 116 Jones, who new-faced the inner-court, materially altered the apartments, and finished the great hall in nearly the state in which it appears at present.

The entrance to the vestibule from the hall by a noble flight of marble steps, is in a great stile of design. The grand gallery in this building, although in some respect deserving notice, is yet for want of height so conspicuously defective as to destroy the general effect. The gardens, which were originally planned by the Protector, agreeable to the dark and mysterious reserve of the times, have within a few years been modernized by the late Duke, and nature has been suffered to display herself in all her wonted pride of simplicity and unaffected negligence.

The elegant gateway and open colonade at the grand entrance on the Western Road, 117 from a design of Mr. Adam (erected in compliment to the King of Denmark, at the time the late Duke gave a magnificent ball and entertainment) is truly elegant, and does credit to its architect; but it is elegance apparently ill-applied, when we consider the antiquity and style of the building to which it leads.

Osterley House, in this neighbourhood, has a double claim to notice in this work, as having been part of the demesne appurtenant to Syon, and having also been after the dissolution, granted by the crown to the Protector Somerset. Upon his attainder it was given, with the manor of Heston, by Queen Elizabeth, to Sir Thomas Gresham, who erected on the site a noble mansion, and from whom, through several owners, it passed to the family of Child, in the beginning of the present century.


In the number of those who held it, before it passed into this family, (towards the close of the last century) there was one, whose name had so much notoriety, that I cannot forbear to mention it; this was the son of the famous Praise-God Barbone, a Nicholas Barbone, doctor of physic, who held these premises, till they were so deeply mortgaged, as to oblige him to alienate them.

The present house was built and ornamented by the late Robert Child, Esq. under the direction of Mr. Adam. The architectural design, as well as the internal decoration of the building, has shewn a taste and air of grandeur, that does honour to its owner. The apartments are splendid in ornaments, consisting of the richest hangings of silk, velvet, and gobelin tapestry, elegant sculptured marbles, and highly enriched entablatures in mosaic work, &c. The well-chosen collection of pictures, by the first masters, 119 must likewise evince to the foreigner, who visits this mansion of taste, that the fruits of commerce in this country, yield ample means to vie with the first-rate splendor of nobility.

At Old Brentford the Brane, or Brent, a brook rising at Finchley Common, and passing through the west part of the town, unites itself with the Thames, which is in this spot so shallow at ebb-tide, as not to be above three feet deep.

Brentford gave the title of Earl in the twentieth of Charles I. to Patrick Ruthen Earl of Forth, in Scotland, who, for his valiant services in the King’s party, was made general of his army. Before it was new-paved, this place was remarked as being the worst public road, near the capital, for carriages, in the kingdom. Under these circumstances, it seems a little extraordinary, that 120 it should have received the commendation, which it is well known frequently to have had, from the mouth of one who had undoubtedly the means of making the comparison, “Dat he liked to ride dro’ Brentford, it wash so like Hawnoversh.”

Kew Gardens, though not very large, form a principal ornament to the banks of the river Thames, and I understand it is to the taste and good sense of the late Earl Bathurst, under the auspices of Queen Caroline, and the later improvements and additions under the direction and botanical skill of the Earl of Bute, that we see a flat and barren soil, without either wood or water, rising at once into a state of elegant cultivation, and vieing with the choicest productions of nature.

The various temples, mosques, pagodas, &c. are not, perhaps, altogether consistent with the present mode of decoration in 121 gardening, but they were suited to the taste of the times, and were at least the means of circulating immense sums, and giving employment to many industrious artificers.

The river from Hampton, and in this neighbourhood, is amply enriched with that noble water-fowl the swan, whose round and beautiful form, when sailing along the stream, has not, perhaps, in the works of nature, its equal; yet, when out of its favourite element, no bird makes a more inelegant figure, stretching out its neck with an air singularly unmeaning, and with all its motions equally awkward and ungraceful.

This bird has long been rendered domestic, and is as delicate in its food, as in its proper point of view it is in form elegant: corn, bread, or herbs growing in the water, and seeds or roots found near its margin, are its constant diet.


The swan is remarked for its longevity; some naturalists have asserted that it lives to the age of three hundred years, and to support the assertion draw their inference from its slow approaches to maturity, it being two months hatching, and a year growing to its proper size. Though the swan may remain longer in the shell than any other bird we know, yet two months is by no means proportionate to its extraordinary longevity; I think the firm and hard texture of the flesh of an old swan, is a much more convincing argument.

The goose, it is observed, has been known to live to an hundred years, but the Michaelmas-day festivities, since the period of good Queen Bess, have put the proof of the assertion totally out of the question.

The swan was by the ancients consecrated to Apollo, from the belief of its 123 singing melodiously when near expiring. In aid of this opinion Pandasius affirms, that he had often heard swans sweetly singing in the lake of Mantua, as he was rowed up and down in a boat; and Aldrovandus the Bolognese, who died so late as the beginning of the seventeenth century, and who was perhaps one of the most inquisitive men in the world, in respect to natural history (though perhaps with more credulity than belongs to this sceptic age) says, that even in other times, and on other occasions, he is assured, beyond all doubt, that “nothing was more common in England than to hear swans sing; that they were bred in great numbers in the sea near London; and that every fleet of ships that returned from their voyages from distant countries, were met by swans that came joyfully out to welcome their return, and salute them with a loud and chearful singing.”


Of the melodious faculty of this bird, as we have no testimony ancient or modern that can be relied on, we must leave him with that share of fame which his beautiful and elegant form has acquired. The swan has ever been held in great esteem in England, and by an act of Edward IV. none except the son of a King was permitted to keep one, unless possessed of five marks a year; and by a subsequent act, taking their eggs, in like manner as those of the hawk, was punished with imprisonment, for a year and a day, and a fine at the King’s will.

In Coke’s Reports, part vii. in the case of swans it is remarked, “that he who stealeth a swan in an open and common river, lawfully marked, the same swan shall be hung in a house by the beak, and he who stole it shall, in recompence thereof, give to the owner so much wheat as may cover all the swan, by putting and turning the 125 wheat upon the head of the swan, until the head of the swan be covered with wheat.”

The chief reason for making the stealing of swans thus penal, is said to be from the conjecture, that if either of a pair die, or be otherwise separated from its mate, the other does not long survive. Great attention is paid at present to the preservation of this noble bird. At stated periods of the year, the King’s barge and those of two of the city companies, the Vintners and Dyers, proceed up the river, nearly as high as Marlow, to mark the young ones, which ceremony bears the appellation of swan-hopping.

small drawing of pair of swans

Notes and Corrections: Section VI

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as it stood in the time of Charles I. The engraving was made in 1638.
text has the engraving (not capitalized)

Ann wife to Richard II. who first taught our fair country-women the present mode of riding on horseback
[Anne of Bohemia, who married Richard in 1382, is said to have arrived riding sidesaddle—which at that time basically meant a chair perched sideways on the horse. The story may or may not be true, but nobody has found a better one. The sidesaddle would go through a series of redesigns, most recently around 1830, before falling out of fashion in the 20th century.]

destroyed by fire in the reign of Henry VII.
text has the the

such as reflect honour on the judgement of the sovereign
[File under: Harsher in Hindsight. In fairness, George III’s son the Prince Regent—later George IV—was not exactly famed for his refined architectural taste. ]

ad libidinem corporis perimplend
text unchanged
[Unlike most, this error is carried over from the first edition. The word is really perimplendam.]

Isleworth Church, in the neighbourhood of Syon
text has neigbourhood

Praise-God Barbone, a Nicholas Barbone
[Generally spelled “Barebone”. But his given name really was Praisegod, with or without hyphen.]

the means of circulating immense sums, and giving employment to many industrious artificers
[Back when trickle-down economics was a reality, because all you could do with money was spend it on locally produced goods and services.]

some naturalists have asserted that it lives to the age of three hundred years
[Give or take 260-odd years. For swans in captivity, the outer range is 40 years for a mute swan, 33 for a trumpeter.]

it being two months hatching
[I suspect Mrs Swan has been pulling the wool over Mr Swan’s eyes; it’s more like five weeks.]

The goose, it is observed, has been known to live to an hundred years
[Give or take eighty years.]


Kew Bridge seen through trees

Kew-bridge &c. from Strand on the green.



THE present handsome stone-bridge at Kew, from a design of the late Mr. Payne, is in its construction simple, yet elegant, and does credit to the skill of its architect.

The form of this bridge is much hurt by the necessary addition of so many brick arches at either end, particularly those which have been occasioned by the marshy situation of the shore on the Surry side. It was erected nearly parallel with the old structure, which did not stand more than thirty years, the act of parliament having passed for its building in 1758. The present bridge was opened for carriages, &c. on the King’s birthday, the 4th of June, 1790.


The advantages of the Kew-bridge tontine, which has been established only a few years, I am informed are so great as to produce a net interest to the last class of subscribers, of more than nine per cent.

In this neighbourhood, among other buildings of public notice, that of Gunnersbury-House, near Brentford, should not pass unobserved, as having been the work of Inigo Jones, the celebrity of whose name cannot preserve it from the censure it so justly merits. It is a design unequal in its parts, composed of large unwieldy ornaments of foreign growth, injudiciously thrust into apartments which were originally constructed too small for convenience. We have a large stair-case, though noble in itself, yet enormous for the size of the house, and to which every consideration has been sacrificed; and also a grand front, composed merely of 129 a portico, which seems waiting for that period, when an additional wing on either side may give it something like a finish.

It is some palliation, however, of the errors of the present day, in building, when we find that either the good sense or rare talents of Inigo Jones can sometimes slumber, and leave us the painful reflexion, that to err, is the lot of humanity.

The rage for building has extended itself in no inconsiderable degree on the banks of the Thames, in the neighbourhood of Kew: Strand on the Green, by no means the most eligible situation, and lately a small village, inhabited by fishermen, is now one continued range of houses, till we reach Chiswick, which has justly gained much celebrity from the charming villa, now in the possession of the Duke of Devonshire, but formerly the residence of that extraordinary 130 genius Richard Boyle, Earl of Burlington, from whose design it was erected. His extensive munificence, and liberal patronage of the fine arts, justly rendered him the Mecænas of his age, but with higher qualities than merely the ability to reward merit in others, he was himself superior, in his science, to most of those whom he patronized. The general idea of this building is evidently from Palladio, and I have heard it remarked as being copied from the famous Rotonda, of Marchese Capra, in the environs of Vicenza.

The criticisms that have been made on this building, are certainly not without justice; it stands on too contracted a space for the extensive nature of the design, being only seventy feet square, exclusive of the portico.

A contemporary wit, Lord Hervey, happily exercised his talents in observing, “The house was too small to inhabit, and 131 too large to hang to one’s watch;” and he has not inelegantly worked up the “Quam bene non habitas” of Martial, in the following sarcastic little epigram:

“Possess’d of one great hall for state,

“Without one room to sleep or eat,

“How well you build let flattery tell—

“And all mankind how ill you dwell.”

Yet in spite of all this, and also the redundancy and massiveness of parts, which are too frequently to be found in the smaller apartments in this house, the severest critic must allow, there is a degree of taste and classic elegance in the whole, that must ever render it an object of first-rate admiration.

The great veneration in which the works of Inigo Jones were held by Lord Burlington, is almost proverbial; he is known to have purchased the gate of Beaufort Garden 132 in Chelsea, a work of this architect, and to have removed it with a religious care and attention to his villa at Chiswick; and in the garden, near the river, he has given us an exact model of the portico of Covent Garden church.

As a further instance of the excess to which some may think this veneration was carried, I have heard it related, that a person in Wapping, accidentally seeing some butter wrapped in a dirty paper, filled with architectural sketches, found, on enquiry, that there was a large parcel of the same designs in the shop of a cheesemonger in the neighbourhood; on examining them, little doubt remained of their being genuine designs of Inigo Jones; he accordingly exchanged cleaner paper for them, and soon after he came into possession of this treasure, was applied to by Lord Burlington, who on expressing a desire to become 133 a purchaser, obtained them for the moderate sum of two thousand pounds. I do not vouch for the truth of this story.

The garden scenery of this elegant villa is rich in orange trees, cypresses, firs and forest trees. The avenue of cedars of Libanus, leading to the house, are said to have been planted by the noble Earl, and the good effect produced from them in maturity, exhibits a proof of his lordship’s taste in their original designation.

The statues of Palladio and his favorite Inigo Jones, decorate this entrance from the garden. It is to be regretted that the sculptured ornaments of these grounds, are scattered with too much profusion. They are principally the works of Scheemaker, and may with justice be admired; but it is possible to have a redundancy of excellence, in works of art so applied.


The internal decorations of this beautiful villa must be allowed to correspond with the external building. Here the best works of the best masters, both in the Italian and Flemish schools are selected, but are too numerous, and too well known, to be particularised in this work.

Quitting this scene, which presents every thing that can give a relish to earthly enjoyment, we are led to its reverse, a scene of solitude and reflection—The church-yard! that solemn retreat, “from whose bourne no traveller returns.”

Here are deposited the remains of some whose extraordinary talents yet live in remembrance, amongst whom rests the inimitable Gainsborough, who died August 2, 1788, at the age of sixty-one. As a man and an artist he has left few equals; yet after three years interment, we find no frail testimonial 135 bearing record to his superior genius, nor even a grave-stone to indicate where he lies, but it is to his works we must refer for a lasting monument of his excellence. Here likewise rests our great English satyrist William Hogarth, who died October 26, 1764, aged sixty-seven years; and on whose monument, which is ornamented with a mask, a laurel wreath, a pallette, pencils, and a book inscribed “Analysis of Beauty,” are the following lines by his friend the late Mr. Garrick:

“Farewell, great Painter of mankind,

“Who reach’d the noblest point of art;

“Whose pictur’d morals charm the mind,

“And through the eye correct the heart.

“If Genius fire thee, reader, stay,

“If Nature touch thee, drop a tear;

“If neither move thee, turn away,

“For Hogarth’s honour’d dust lies here.”

The annexed sketch of the monument of this extraordinary genius, whose talents must ever do honour to the country that produced 136 him, as it has never been engraved, will, I trust, prove not unacceptable to his admirers.

small drawing of Hogarth’s grave monument

On the opposite shore adjoining to Mortlake is East Sheen, long the residence of Sir William Temple, who upon his retreat hither in 1672, seems to have entertained a high opinion of this soil and situation, and to 137 have expected much from its produce, as we find by a letter written from Brussels to Lord Lisle, before his first coming over in August 1667, where he says, “I am contriving here this summer how a succession of cherries may be compassed from May to Michaelmas, and how the riches of Sheen vines may be improved by half a dozen sorts which are not yet known there, and which I think much beyond any that are.”

What might have been expected from the Sheen vines, or what was produced, we know not, but at present we hear nothing of the superior excellence of the grape at that place. Here Sir William Temple was often visited by King William soon after his landing, and as often pressed to become his Secretary of State, which on account of age and infirmities he declined.


It was about this period that Dr. Swift came to offer his services to Sir William, who there took him as an amanuensis.

About the end of the year 1689, soon after the unfortunate death of his son Mr. John Temple, Sir William exchanged his situation for Moor Park, one at that period every way inferior, where he resided till the year 1698, when worn out with the gout, and a natural decay, he died in his seventieth year.

Agreeable to his will, his heart was buried in a silver box, under the sun-dial in his garden, opposite to the window, whence he used to contemplate and admire the works of nature, with his dearly beloved sister the ingenious Lady Gyffard.

Amongst the elegant retreats which 139 adorn the banks of the Thames in this vicinity, the sequestered villa of Sir Richard Hoare, at Barn Elms, should not be passed unnoticed. The verdant and spacious lawn that slopes from the house towards the river, is frequently the scene of much festivity to many chearful parties from the capital: even as far back as the time of Congreve, we find mention made of the fame of this retreat; in his comedy of Love for Love Mrs. Frail observes, “that had she gone to Barn Elms with a man alone, something might have been said.”

The celebrated Mr. Heydegger of opera memory formerly resided here, and had the honour of entertaining the late King with much splendor. The tall elms were trimmed and illumined on the occasion, and in all probability were taught to do every thing but dance before the Sovereign.


In the year 1776 the city of London caused a towing-path to be made from Putney to Richmond, which enclosed these grounds, and gave additional security to the neighbouring meadows.

Putney bridge, with church on the far bank

Putney-bridge & Church.

From hence passing down the river, the decayed and apparently dangerous state of Putney-bridge cannot fail to disgust the observer. This disgraceful appendage to the river was erected in the year 1729, when the pontage or toll was settled on the subscribers by act of parliament; and, as I am informed, was within twelve months after so greatly advantageous to them, as to repay all their disbursements. At the extremities of this tottering bridge stand the rival churches of Putney and Fulham, which are said to have been built by two sisters.

Amongst the many elegant mansions that adorn the village of Putney, few have 141 been erected on the banks of the Thames. That of the late Sir Joshua Vanneck stands conspicuous, but has nothing about it to render it an object worthy attention.

In a small white house between these premises and the bridge, it may perhaps not be generally known that Richardson, the ingenious novellist resided, and produced his much admired work of Sir Charles Grandison, &c. Putney is rendered famous from having been the birth-place of Thomas Cromwell Earl of Essex, whose father was a blacksmith in this village. The great talents and integrity of this able statesman merited a less severe fate than that which attended him. He was brought to the scaffold by the tyrant Henry, on the 8th of July, 1540.

The town of Fulham, on the Middlesex shore, derives its name from the Saxon, Fullon-ham, i. e. a house of Fowle. Whether 142 the adjoining old palace, which has so long been occupied by the Bishops of London, was originally this “house of fowle,” to denote the good living within, or whether from the neighbourhood producing good poultry, is not generally known. The Saxon chronicle informs us that in this spot an army of Danes wintered, in the year 879, previous to their flight into Ghent in Flanders.

The river scenery, below Putney, though by no means equal in luxuriance to that above the bridge, has yet, if we may judge from the late increase of buildings in its vicinity, many admirers. The view towards Battersea-rise and Wandsworth is richer in houses than verdant scenery. Wandsworth is said to have obtained its name from the river Wandle, which passes through the town, and empties itself beneath a bridge into the Thames.

At Chelsea Reach the river increases much 143 in width, and is famed in particular winds for its extreme agitation, and sometimes dangerous roughness, which has given rise to a quaint saying among the watermen: “That a set of fidlers having been drowned in this reach, many years ago, the river has been occasionally dancing ever since.” Ludicrous and vulgar as this remark may appear, we find a passage equally absurd, and no more deserving credit, on the high authority of Aristotle, who tells us of a merry river, “the river Elusina, that dances at the noise of music; for with music it bubbles, dances and grows sandy, and so continues till the music ceases, but then it presently turns to its wonted calmness and clearness;” and to complete the wonders that rivers have been capable of performing without either the aid of music or fidler; Josephus tells us of a river in Judea that “runs swiftly all the six days of the week, and stands still and rests all their sabbath.”


Battersea Church is a neat structure of brick with the addition of stone coins, and ornaments; it has been erected within a few years, and would merit farther commendation if the spire had been otherwise formed; it seems to have been modelled from a candle extinguisher.

The village of Battersea is remarkable for having been the birth-place of one of the most extraordinary persons this kingdom has produced, Henry St. John, Lord Viscount Bolingbroke. He was born here in 1672, and on the 15th of November, 1751, after a life of strange political vicissitudes, ended his earthly career, where he had often wished to fetch his last breath, at Battersea, in which church he was interred, in the vault of his noble ancestors, and a marble monument erected to his memory, with a suitable inscription.


The greater part of the old mansion has been recently pulled down, what remains is applied to the uses of the neighbouring distillery, where a horizontal mill, on a novel construction, for the purpose of grinding linseed, was erected about three years since, by a Mr. Fowler, at a considerable expence. The height of this building is about eighty feet, its diameter towards its base fifty-two feet, and at the extreme height forty-seven. Its advantages over the ordinary windmill are said to be very considerable; it was designed by a Mr. Hooper of Margate, where another mill, on the same plan was erected some years since, which was the first of the kind ever constructed in this kingdom.

On the opposite shore is the pleasant villa of Lord Dartrey, and adjoining to it that of Lady Mary Cook, both of which are rapidly losing the beauties of their situation, by the increase of buildings in their vicinity.

Notes and Corrections: Section VII

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the King’s birthday, the 4th of June, 1790.
[George was thoughtfully born in the early summer, so that’s his actual birthday.]

the Kew-bridge tontine
[Tontines are more associated with France, where they became a major money-maker. A tontine is a kind of lottery in which the winnings are not drawn at once, but go to the last survivor among the initial pool of purchasers. This was obviously an incentive to develop the actuarial profession.]

Gunnersbury-House . . . the work of Inigo Jones
[Now attributed to Jones’s student, John Webb, it was torn down in 1801—before this second edition. The surviving floor plans suggest that Ireland does have a point about the staircase: what is the sense in designing something so monumental, and then shoving it away into an alcove where nobody can see it?]

Richard Boyle, Earl of Burlington
[Great-grandnephew of chemist Robert Boyle.]

justly rendered him the Mecænas of his age
spelling unchanged: error for Mæcenas
[The spelling is carried over from the first edition, so we’ll have to leave it.]

being only seventy feet square, exclusive of the portico
text has . for ,

in the shop of a cheesemonger in the neighbourhood
text has neigbourhood

nor even a grave-stone to indicate where he lies
[This is a slight exaggeration. The original simple marker visible in Ireland’s time was replaced by a fancier one in 1866.]

the monument of this extraordinary genius
text has extraordinay

He was born here in 1672
text has borne
[Corrected from first edition.]


Chelsea overlooking the Thames




WITHIN two miles of the capital, the curious observer is again offended with another tasteless object, the wooden bridge of Battersea, where the breadth of the river, and its contiguity to the metropolis, certainly demanded a more elegant structure.

The original cost of this bridge was twelve thousand eight hundred pounds, which sum was raised by sixteen persons, in shares of eight hundred pounds each. The present heavy expence of toll, it might reasonably have been supposed, would have defrayed the extra charge of a bridge of stone; but, I am informed, that heavy as that expence may appear, it barely affords common interest to the persons concerned in the undertaking.


If the advantages arising to the subscribers from the toll of this bridge are so inconsiderable, it is much to be regretted, that some parliamentary aid had not been solicited, to have produced a sum equal to the expence of raising a magnificent structure.

The contracted scale on which this undertaking was begun, (in consequence of which the bridge was thrown across a narrow part of the river) has been productive of great inconvenience. It should certainly have abutted on the Chelsea side, nearly opposite the church, in which direction it would have stood in a right angle with the current of the river: not being so placed, its piers are continually receiving injury from the vessels and barges striking against them.

To the ancient church of Chelsea so many modern additions have been made, so ill-adapted to the original design as to render 149 the external appearance of this structure little deserving attention. Of the internal decorations, among other monuments worthy the notice of the curious, I shall mention that on the south side of the choir, erected by Sir Thomas More, in the year 1532, to the memory of his two wives, consisting of a black marble tablet, which gives an account of his father’s employments, &c. in a long Latin inscription of his own composition.

Sir Thomas, soon after he was made Treasurer of the Exchequer, about the year 1520, purchased some land at Chelsea, on the banks of the river, on which he erected a spacious mansion of brick, the greater part of which is now standing, and is reduced to the humble uses of a paper manufactory. Its situation is in Cheyne Walk, adjoining to the house of the Bishop of Winchester; it has undergone many alterations, and has lost much of its Gothic and venerable appearance.


The entrance to two regular arched subterraneous passages appears in the court-yard before the house; one is reported to lead to Kensington, the other to Hammersmith, for what secret purposes we are yet to learn. Of the chapel, gallery, &c. said by his biographers to have been erected by him in the garden of this house, no traces are now discernible.

In the year 1533, with some difficulty, he obtained leave to resign the great seal, and as the affair was not immediately known, the next morning, being a holiday, he went to Chelsea church with his lady and family, where during the service, he sat, as usual, in the choir, wearing a surplice; and because it had been a custom, after mass was done, for one of his gentlemen to go to his lady’s pew, and tell her that my lord was gone before; he came now himself, and making her a low bow said, “Madam, my lord is gone:” she 151 thinking it to be no more than his usual humour, took no notice of it; but in the way home, to her great mortification, he unriddled the jest, by acquainting her with what he had done the preceding day.

This ill-fated great statesman was beheaded on Tower-hill, July 5, 1535. His body was interred in the chapel of the Tower, and being afterwards begged by his daughter Margaret, was deposited in the south side of the chancel, in the church of Chelsea. The same piously disposed daughter soon found means to procure his head also, which had remained fourteen days stuck on a pole, on London-bridge; this she carefully preserved for some time in a leaden box, till a proper opportunity offered of removing it to Canterbury, when she placed it in a vault belonging to the Roper’s family (into which she married) under a chapel adjoining to St. Dunstan’s church in that city.


Wood says, “the head had remained on the bridge some months, and that the daughter was taken up for it, and being examined before the Council, declared she bought it, that it might not become food for fishes in the Thames; so after a short imprisonment she was discharged.”

In the church-yard of Chelsea is the family monument of that eminent physician and naturalist, Sir Hans Sloane, Founder of the British museum, and President of the Royal Society. Sir Hans purchased the manor of Chelsea, and gave, with his wonted liberality, the entire freehold of the botanical garden to the Company of Apothe­caries in 1721, upon condition only, that they should present yearly to the Royal Society fifty new plants, till the number should amount to two thousand. This garden was established by the Company in 1763; and from its excellent situation on the banks of the Thames, and 153 its contiguity to the capital, it derived many peculiar advantages. It is famed for producing the most rare medicinal plants, and is consequently an excellent school for young botanists, a proof of which we have from Sir Hans Sloane himself, having drawn from thence, in the early part of his life, his best knowledge.

In 1733 the Company erected a marble statue of the donor in the center of the garden, which is well executed by Rysbrack. Two noble cedars of Libanus conspicuously mark the front of this garden towards the river.

In May, 1741, at the age of four-score, this good and learned man resigned the presidency of the Royal Society, and quitting the service of the public in the next year, removed his library, which consisted of more than fifty thousand volumes, and his celebrated 154 museum, from Bloomsbury to the manor house at Chelsea, his then residence. This house stood in Cheyne-walk, near what is called Saltero’s Coffee-house.

Here he does not seem to have lived in seclusion from the world, as he was continually receiving the visits of the learned and great, and still more to his praise, was ever accessible to a numerous train of poor, who never asked advice, or sued for relief in vain.

In his ninetieth year he felt strong indications of an universal decay, which brought with them none of those terrors so frequently attendant on the approach of death. After an illness of three days, he expired on the 11th of January, 1752, and was interred on the 18th, according to the directions of his will, in the same vault with his lady, in Chelsea church-yard.


At Little Chelsea, in a house formerly occupied by Lord Shaftesbury, and since by Mr. Serjeant Wynne, resided the justly celebrated John Locke. A small summer-house still remains in the gardens, which used to be his favourite apartment, and in which (a ridiculous instance of the veneration paid by posterity to eminent talents) has recently been shewn, part of the bed on which he slept.

Chelsea College and Ranelagh house overlooking the Thames with boats

Chelsea College & Ranelagh-house.

Chelsea College forms no inconsiderable ornament to the river Thames; it is one of the many superb and useful buildings erected in this country, in the gay and careless reign of Charles II. It were fruitless to enquire why a dissipated and licentious reign, like that of Charles, should have encouraged and patronised so many great works; but certain it is, that no other period has produced an equal number, in which so much excellence and utility have been united. It is no less singular, that in the opinion of 156 a very distinguished writer, the late Mr. Justice Blackstone, the fabric also of our constitution was, at that time, brought to a point of theoretical perfection, which it cannot exceed.

Sir Christoper Wren, whose name must ever be dear to the admirer of the arts, happily for this reign, shone forth a modern Vitruvius, and it is to his taste, and superior skill in architecture, that we owe the design of this noble building. On the spot on which it was erected stood formerly a college, founded by James I. for the study of polemic divinity, of which the King laid the first stone, and contributed something towards its establishment; the clergy too threw in their mite, and the public likewise contributed: yet, all these assistances were found unequal to its support, and being left unfinished, it soon fell into neglect and decay.


The ground on which it stood having escheated to the crown, Charles II. as it is reported, at the instigation of Nell Gwyn, began to erect the present building, which was continued by James his successor, and completed by William and Mary.

The north front of this building is enriched with a noble pediment, supported by columns of the Tuscan order, in a bold and masterly stile of design; beneath which, on each side, is a spacious room, the one used as a chapel, and the other as a dining-hall for the pensioners. In the former is a good picture of the Resurrection, by Seb. Ricci, and in the latter some inferior works of Verrio, said to be finished by Cook.

This great and extensive work is constructed of brick, with pillars and rusticated stone coins, and is so happily disposed in all its parts, as to convey an high idea of 158 the sound judgment of the architect, and his superior knowledge both of what is useful and elegant. It were to be wished that the blanks both above and below the principal windows, which are of brick, had remained in their natural colour, as they are now very offensive to an observing eye, and form so many white unmeaning spots.

The expence of the building was estimated at one hundred and fifty thousand pounds, and the ground belonging to it consists of forty acres. Here are accommodations for upwards of four hundred pensioners, who are amply provided with every convenience that can contribute to their comfort and happiness.

A bronze figure of the merry monarch, habited as a Roman, stands in the middle of the entrance. The south front has two large wings, which, from their extent and regularity 159 of design, present a grand object towards the water.

Contiguous to this noble charity is another handsome addition to this river, the spacious amphitheatre of Ranelagh! whose pleasurable round has been so often and so long frequented by all ranks of people, as to render a particular description needless. It derived its name from an Earl of Ranelagh, whole house was situated on this spot.

Of the innumerable benefits derived from the river Thames, Chelsea and its neighbourhood have had an ample share, by means of the water-works which have supplied them with that necessary element, before obtained with great difficulty, and which must every where be classed amongst the first necessaries of life.

These works are divided into two thousand 160 shares; the proprietors were incorporated by act of parliament in 1722, and have power to purchase lands, &c. in mortmain, to the value of one thousand pounds per annum.

The much admired gardens of Vauxhall, on the south side of this river, however well adapted to their purpose, would not here have been noticed, were it not for the superior excellence of the statue of Handel, which is certainly a chef d’œuvre of Roubilliac, although the first great display of the sculptor’s abilities. This master of harmony is characterised as Orpheus sounding his lyre; and the excellence of the sculpture exhibits such a model of perfection, both in design and execution, as might stand the test of criticism, even of a Michael Angelo.

This figure is a whole length and beautiful marble, not quite so large as life, and is a singular instance of a statue erected to living 161 merit; it has been within a few years judiciously removed from its exposed situation, to a recess within the great room, secured from the inclemency of the season, and the still ruder touch of the hands of the vulgar. This combination of rare talents in the person represented, and the happy idea of the sculptor, gave rise to the following well-turned compliment:

“Drawn by the fame of these embower’d retreats,

“See Orpheus rising from th’ Elysian seats!

“Lost to th’ admiring world three thousand years,

“Beneath great Handel’s form he re-appears.”

On the derivation of the name of these gardens I will venture a conjectural opinion from a remark of the late Dr. Ducarel. He says, Guy Faux, or Vaux, was once an inhabitant of Lambeth, and lived in a large mansion called Faux-Hall, and that he was probably lord of the manor of this place. The site whereon this mansion stood, was near 162 or on the spot, now called Cumberland-gardens. May it not therefore from hence reasonably be concluded, that the name of these gardens originated from this source?

The scenery of the Thames on the Lambeth side, receives no additional beauty from the miserable range of buildings erected on its banks, along what was, and is still in parts, called Lambeth-marsh. In the reign of Queen Elizabeth there was no house built either on this or on Millbank, the opposite shore, so called from a mill formerly standing on the spot, on which the house, late Sir Robert Grosvenor’s, now stands.

From hence the eye is disgusted with the massive and insipid towers of the church of St. John the Evangelist, Westminster, which hath with justice been so universally condemned, nor would it have been mentioned here, but from my wish to rescue the 163 name of Vanbrugh from the unmerited reproach of having been its architect. It is the work of a Mr. Archer, who I strongly suspect had applied himself with more industry than taste, to the study of the works of that artist, and seems here, with a strange fatality, to have selected all his defects.

The remark of the late Lord Chesterfield on this building has no less of wit than justness of criticism: “That it is like an elephant thrown on its back, with its feet erected in the air.”

Lambeth Palace near the Thames

Lambeth Palace, &c.

The venerable palace and church of Lambeth, in whatever point they are viewed from the Thames, meet the eye as a stately pile of antiquity. The ground on which the palace stands, originally belonged to the see of Rochester; but from its contiguity to the court became an object to the Metropolitan, and in 1168, Baldwin, then Archbishop of Canterbury, 164 purchased this spot of the Bishop of Rochester, and erected a palace thereon. This structure was, about eighty years after, much improved by the proud prelate Boniface, who retired hither to make his peace with heaven, after cudgelling the sub-prior and monks of St. Bartholomew, for refusing him the priorship of their monastery.

The grand west entrance was built by Cardinal De la Pole; the more modern additions of the chapel and hall by Archbishop Juxon, are both so dissimilar in taste and design to the original plan, as to form at the entrance an heterogeneous and motly assemblage of objects. Adjoining to the hall is the Lollard’s Tower, the works of Archbishop Chichely. In the upper apartments of this tower, which is lined with stout oak, are still remaining several large iron rings and staples, driven into the wall, to which 165 the unfortunate adherents to the cause of Wickliffe were chained, before they were brought to the stake.

The severities exercised under this prelate, however palliated by the spirit and prejudices of the times, will yet be thought, in the cooler judgment of posterity, to sully a name that would otherwise have done honour to any age. Thanks to Heaven we live in a period when every man may think and speak freely, without the dread of chains or faggots, and when Protestant and Catholic seem to have but one wish, to live peaceably, and in all things to conform themselves to one another.

The gallery of this palace has been recently modernized by the present excellent prelate, but the old portraits are still remaining, among which are several worthy attention, viz. Cardinal De la Pole, who built the room, and Archbishops Warham, Chichely, 166 and Parker. The library was founded in 1610 by Archbishop Bancroft, who bequeathed to it all his books: it has since been so considerably increased by the succeeding archbishops, as to consist at present of more than twenty-five thousand volumes. The gardens belonging to this palace contain about nine acres, and have a communication across the road to the Thames. In the adjoining parish church of Lambeth, on the south side of the choir, is a small painting on glass, of a pedlar and his dog, said to be the portrait of the person who 167 bequeathed to the parish a piece of ground near the east end of the abutment, on the Surry side of Westminster-bridge: the spot is now called Pedlar’s-acre, and contains one acre seventeen poles.

small drawing of peddler and dog

The nature of this bequest was, that the priest of the parish should give consent to burying the pedlar’s favourite dog within the church walls, which being acceded to, the parish became seized of this land in the year 1504, at which period it was valued at two shillings and eight-pence per annum. In 1752 a lease of it was granted to a Mr. Wells for sixty-one years, at one hundred pounds per annum, and a fine of eight hundred pounds. It is now estimated at two hundred and fifty pounds per annum. Fabulous as this story may appear, yet it may be thought worthy of relation, as it tends to shew the amazing increased value of landed property 168 within the period of two hundred and eighty years.

In the church-yard the monument or altar tomb of the Tradescant family may be entitled to notice. Their laborious researches, in the study of every branch of natural history, must render their name ever respected by the admirers of that species of philosophy.

Notes and Corrections: Section VIII

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gave, with his wonted liberality, the entire freehold of the botanical garden to the Company of Apothe­caries in 1721
[It’s still there.]

the spacious amphitheatre of Ranelagh!
[Really. The first edition also deemed Ranelagh worthy of an exclamation mark.]

Chelsea and its neighbourhood have had an ample share
text has ampe

that necessary element . . . which must every where be classed amongst the first necessaries of life
[This would seem to be a no-brainer. But as recently as 2021, the U.S. Secretary of Transportation had to patiently explain to a journalist that water is a necessity of life, and that a safe and reliable water supply is therefore an essential component of infrastructure.]

This master of harmony is characterised
[The printer goofed and indented the word “This”, as if for a new paragraph (minus the small capitals and vertical space that are such a feature of this book’s design):

page image

The statue, incidentally, is now in the Victoria and Albert Museum.]

On the derivation of the name of these gardens
[Today the name “Vauxhall” is generally held to date back to the 13th century, so Guy is out of luck.]

like an elephant thrown on its back, with its feet erected in the air
[It has also, with equal merit, been called Queen Anne’s Footstool. But it is no longer the church of St. John the Evangelist; it was decommissioned in the mid-20th century and now serves as a concert hall.]


Westminster bridge, with Abbey in the background

Westminster-bridge, Abbey, &c.


APPROACHING Westminster, the grand assemblage of venerable and Gothic scenery, combined with the stately bridge, and other modern edifices raised within the last century, cannot fail to inspire the mind of every observer, whether native or foreigner, with an exalted idea of the wealth and splendor of the British empire.

The variety of objects comprised in this view, are of an extent too diffused to be brought within the size of the present work; the annexed sketch from below the bridge, was therefore preferred, and, I flatter myself, will be deemed the most judicious selection; and in the history of these objects, I shall confine myself within narrow limits to some general remarks on their external forms, as 170 they appear to illustrate the picturesque scenery of the river Thames.

The abbey church of St. Peter’s Westminster, considered in this point of view, certainly appears flat and wanting height; and it is with regret we find that after so many centuries, whether from poverty or avarice, the necessary appendage of a steeple has yet been withheld.

In 1713 Sir Christopher Wren, in his memorial relative to this church, says, it clearly appears to have been the original intention to erect a steeple by the “beginnings which are discoverable on the corners of the cross, but left before it rose so high as the ridge of the roof.” Sir Christopher’s design for a steeple, which I have seen, is light and elegant, and perfectly adapted to the Gothic style of the whole structure; but he says, he has “varied a little from the usual form in 171 giving twelve sides to the spire, instead of eight.” He has decorated the angles of the pyramids with a flower the Botanists call Calceolus, an ornament that it is to be wished had been more generally applied in the course of the repairs which took place under this able architect. The want of Gothic ornaments in the many additions made by him, is but too apparent; yet our knowledge of his architectural skill is such, as to induce us, with respect to these omissions, to vary the charge, and throw it rather upon those who are known to have limited him too much in point of expence.

The decayed and dangerous state of this immense pile required so many additions and repairs in the beginning of the present century, as to render it a work of twenty-five years in completing; and deficient as it may appear in the want of well-adapted ornaments, we are yet pleased to find, that what 172 was done, was under the conduct of his judicious eye, or we might now have witnessed amongst other absurdities of the present century, the richer columns of the five Roman orders lending their feeble aid, as buttresses, to support the Gothic remains of the Abbey of Westminster.

The elegant structure, called Henry VII’s or our Lady’s Chapel, was finished in 1502. Towards the erection of this building, the King contributed in the whole sixteen thousand pounds, and afterwards added three thousand pounds more, which was delivered to the Abbot of Westminster, to defray the expence of masses to be said at six-pence each, between the period of his death and burial. It is much to be regretted that this “nice embroidered” fabric, as Sir Christopher Wren terms it, was constructed of such perishable materials as the stone from Caen in Normandy. Had the penurious and priest-rid Monarch 173 applied the sum expended in six-penny masses to defray the extra-charge of good Portland or freestone, the produce of our own country, we should yet have had the gratification of viewing the building in something like that state of perfection, which entitled it to be termed “the miracle of the world,” and the Sovereign, though he had lost the prayers of the church, would at least have obtained (what might have answered quite as well) the good wishes of every man of taste in the kingdom. I think I may, without censure, here observe, that this justly-admired structure is so shamefully misplaced, as to destroy all symmetry in the south front of the abbey, and to appear rather an excrescence than an ornament. The prudence of modern times, however, has taken no small pains in keeping pace with the want of taste in our ancestors, by crouding this noble building with so many additions, as almost to obscure what appears censurable 174 in them, by recent absurdities still greater of their own.

I am informed that an estimate has been made to new-case the whole of this fine Gothic specimen, with artificial stone-work of Coade’s manufactory, and to preserve every ornament agreeable to the original design; the expence is estimated at ten thousand pounds.

Westminster Hall is generally allowed to be the largest room in Europe unsupported by pillars, its length is two hundred and seventy feet, and its breadth seventy-four; the height is well proportioned, and its curious vaulted roof of oak is in a fine style of Gothic design. It is to the period of Richard II. that we owe the building of this stately hall, which was finished in its present form in 1397, and in two years after 175 the King kept here a jovial Christmas, entertaining each day upwards of ten thousand guests, and employing two thousand cooks.

How various has been the change of scenery exhibited in this hall since that period of feasting! Now, except at coronations, nothing is heard of feastings but Parliaments have sat here! Peers have been tried! and a King condemned to death! It does, indeed, at stated periods, exhibit the mock heroism of a champion’s challenge; but instead of social scenes of festivity, it is in general devoted to contention not more bloody, though in consequences much more serious, than that of the champion—the altercation and wrangling of the bar. And here it may not be amiss to mention the dangers that have sometimes threatened the gentlemen of the long robe, from the high tides, which have occasionally been known to rise more than twenty-two feet, and to have overflowed 176 this hall and its neighbourhood. The last of these calamities was in February, 1791, when the lawyers, who were necessitated to pass Westminster-hall, and Palace-yard, were obliged to retreat in boats.

A similar circumstance of distress occurred about thirty-six years ago, which is humorously adverted to by Henry Fielding, in his farce of Pasquin, in the following lines, where the representative of law says,

“We have our omens too! the other day

“A mighty deluge swam into our hall

“As if it meant to wash away the law.”

An idea, I am informed, has been suggested of removing the various buildings and incumbrances which at present surround this hall, which I doubt not would reveal many Gothic parts and ornaments that have been so long and so shamefully obscured from the 177 notice of the curious. The entire removal of the decayed buildings of the Exchequer Chambers, &c. towards the river, would likewise make a spacious opening for the display of Westminster-bridge, a structure which, amidst all our boasted improvements in this species of building, we have not yet exceeded.

This elegant work was begun and completed from a design, and under the management, of Mr. Charles Labelye, a native of Switzerland. The first stone was laid on the 29th of January, 1739, by Henry Earl of Pembroke, a nobleman to whose skill and taste we owe much of its excellence. The whole of the superstructure is of Portland stone, except the spandrels of the arches, which are built of purbeck, a material, that is not only much cheaper, but being of a darker hue, makes a good back-ground, and gives a relief to the other parts constructed with Portland stone. The bridge was opened 178 for carriages seven years, nine months, and sixteen days after the laying of the first stone, and was completely finished, says the architect, in eleven years, nine months, and twenty-one days; he likewise informs us that the whole expence did not exceed two hundred and eighteen thousand eight hundred pounds.

This bridge is twelve hundred and twenty-three feet in length, and its five principal arches have each more space than the width of Westminster-hall: The quantity of stone used in this building, is nearly double to that employed in St. Paul’s cathedral.

It is matter of astonishment that we find at that period so much opposition made to the building of a stone bridge. The plan and estimate for one composed of wood was laid before the Commissioners, and favorably received; but on urging the builder to fix a sum 179 for keeping it in repair, for a certain number of years, he declined making any proposal; notwithstanding which the wooden project had many friends, and it was only by a small majority in the House of Lords that the plan for a stone bridge was carried; those in the minority obtained the appellation of Wooden Peers.

The utility of a bridge on this spot was urged as far back as the reign of Elizabeth. The ferry at this place is known to have been established ever since the time of the Romans, and on digging the foundation of this bridge, was found a copper medal, well preserved; upon one side of which was the head of the Emperor Domitian, and on the reverse the figure of a woman, holding a pair of scales in her right hand, and supporting a cornucopia with her left.

At the completion of Westminster-bridge, 180 the advantages arising from the ferry-boat, which had from time immemorial been the property of the Archbishop of Canterbury, having ceased, the sum of two thousand two hundred and five pounds, was given to that see as an equivalent.

The great improvements recently made upon the Thames by the embankments at the houses of the Dukes of Richmond and Buccleugh, and the Earl of Fife, are not only ornamental, but give an additional depth of water in aid to the navigation of the river. The cabinet of pictures in the house of the Duke of Buccleugh, is highly deserving the attention of the curious. The decayed old building next the water, which formed part of the offices in the house of the late Dutchess of Portland, was the kitchen belonging to the old palace of Whitehall, and it is to be hoped, from its ruinous state, will soon be removed, and the embankment 181 continued down the river, till it joins that of Somerset-place. The upper part of the elegant banquetting-house at Whitehall appears conspicuous from the river; in the façade of this noble structure, the happy adaption of the various orders and just proportions of all its ornaments, render it, in my judgment, a model of perfection, and a study for professors in the science of architecture, and if more attended to, the critical observer would not have so frequent occasion to take offence at the absurdities of modern elevations.

This edifice was begun in 1619; It was from a design of Inigo Jones, and was executed by Nicholas Stone, master-mason and architect to the King; it was finished in two years, and cost seventeen thousand pounds. Mr. Walpole says, that the pay of Inigo Jones, at the period of building this structure, was only eight shillings and four-pence 182 per diem, and forty-six pounds per annum, for house-rent, &c.

The emblematical pictures representing the apotheosis of King James, in the cieling, are the works of Sir Peter Paul Rubens, and justly rank amongst his first productions; he was paid three thousand pounds for this undertaking.

Hungerford Stairs and Market derive their appellation from an Earl of Hungerford, whose house formerly stood on the site which the market now occupies: a little below Hungerford-stairs, the Bishops of Norwich had their inn or lodgings, called Norwich House, which having been purchased by Heath Archbishop of York, in 1556, was then called York House. The premises were afterwards purchased and occupied by George Villiers, Duke of Buckingham, and after his death were parcelled out into streets, which 183 still retain the name of York-buildings, &c.; the present gate to which, leading from the water, is the work of Inigo Jones, and remains another testimony of his unequalled excellence as an architect. The lions on this water-gate were sculptured by Andrew Kearne, a German.

The elevated and very conspicuous situation of that pile of building called the Adelphi, where so much brick and mortar has been heaped together, forms such a mountain of absurdity, as scarcely to be deemed worthy a criticism. Withoutside this ponderous mass we find a series of trifling ornaments, fit only to be viewed through a microscope, or to decorate a lady’s dressing room; and though they may claim the merit of foreign growth, and of having been designed by the ancients, they were either totally discarded by them, or used only for inferior purposes.


The back apartments in these buildings are principally in darkness, and almost deprived of air, while the grand front is parching in the summer months, nearly under the heat of the torrid zone; and should the inhabitants escape the miseries of suffocation, the perpetual rumbling of the coal carts, carriages, &c. beneath this pile, will at least keep them in constant apprehension of being destroyed by an earthquake.

This building was erected on the spot called Durham-yard, where formerly stood the palace of the Bishops of Durham, which was originally erected by Thomas De Hatfield, Bishop of that see, in 1345. In the reign of Edward VI. the mint was established here, by the influence of Thomas Seymour, Lord Admiral; it was afterwards the residence of the ambitious John Dudley, Earl of Northumberland; and Sir Walter Raleigh likewise obtained from Queen Elizabeth the use of Durham-place.


Of the ancient palace called the Savoy, which was begun by Henry VII. and finished by his son, little of the front, towards the river, now remains; the former edifice was celebrated in ancient times, as being the residence of Monarchs, and the prison of John King of France, after the battle of Poictiers, in 1356. It was entirely destroyed by Wat Tyler in 1381, from his enmity to its great possessor John of Gaunt. Of the present remains, part is converted into barracks, and part to a loathsome prison, which it is to be wished, for the honour of humanity, may soon be removed, together with its ruins, so disgraceful to the scenery of the river and its vicinity.

Somerset Place on the banks of the Thames

Somerset Place.

Adjoining these ruins, Somerset-place, that immense and extensive fabric, though far from being completed, must necessarily claim our attention, by raising ideas of magnificence in the mind of the spectator; it is 186 erected on a noble terrace fifty-three feet wide, and the building, when finished, will extend about eleven hundred feet. From this terrace the scenery of our noble capital, and justly-famed river Thames, taken in any point of view, exceeds, in my judgment, every thing of the kind in this country.

This elegant superstructure is supported on a rough rustic basement, adorned with a lofty arcade consisting of thirty two arches, each twelve feet wide, and twenty-four high. The grand semicircular arch in the middle of the basement is, as I am informed, for the reception of the King’s barges. The length of the arcade is happily relieved by projections, distinguished by rusticated columns of the Tuscan order.

On the terrace the south or principal front consists of a rustic basement, over which the Corinthian order prevails, and must be allowed 187 to have an air of magnificence; yet this front, considered as a grand assemblage, has been deemed censurable, as consisting of too many distinct parts, and not forming one complete and perfect whole.

The dome in the center is certainly too small for the extent of the building, it should have had a diameter nearly equal to the central projection, whereas it is but the breadth of the peristyle over which it is placed.

planned bridge to be built near Somerset Place

Design for a Bridge near Somerset place by Thos Sandby Esqr RA

I have the pleasure of communicating to the public the annexed elegant design for a bridge, by Thomas Sandby, Esq. Professor of Architecture to the Royal Academy, which if thrown across the Thames from the western extremity of Somerset-place, would in a great measure remove the objection that has been raised to the length of that building, and add a specimen of taste and magnificence to the public works of this great city, surpassing 188 any thing it has yet received. This design was made by the ingenious architect for the purpose of illustrating his lectures on the subject of bridge-building, and from the view before us, we have ample proof of his ability, in a happy combination of the most elegant forms, with all that can be attained in point of utility.

It consists of seven principal arches, each ninety-two feet wide. The piers are adorned with Doric pilasters, and a noble entablature, each wing contains various apartments, and is crowned with a dome sixty-six feet in diameter. Over the center arch is an ornamental building composed of the Ionic and Corinthian orders. The piers are constructed with niches for statues, and pannels for bas reliefs.

At each end, the entrance to the bridge is through a grand arch forty-six feet high, and 189 twenty-three wide, leading to the carriage-way, which is fifty-five feet in breadth; at each side of that arch is a smaller one for foot passengers, continued to a covered colonnade of the Ionic order, where the foot-way between the columns is thirteen feet broad. The bridge, including its wings, extends one thousand and sixty-two feet, and its height to the upper ballustrades in the center and wings one hundred and twelve feet.

I cannot quit the subject of Somerset-place without adverting to the Strand front, which is deservedly admired as being the most elegant part of the edifice; it consists of a rich and ornamental rustic basement supporting an excellent example of the Corinthian order, containing a principal and attic story. The decorations of this front are in a superior taste, and do honour to the scientific knowledge of the architect; it has, however, not escaped the criticism of some who have 190 thought the basement too predominant, being nearly the same height as the order above.

At the grand entrance of this building, the arches are likewise deemed too high for their width, and are thought to injure the general effect of this elegant façade; but had the architect been less circumscribed in space, he would undoubtedly have obviated this objection.

Entering the quadrangle, an excellent statue of Father Thames, modelled by Bacon, will, from its superior merit, claim the world’s attention; but we are sorry to add, that it is a general remark that this river God is totally misplaced, and so far removed from his proper element, as to induce us to believe that from indignation and disgust, he will not, under these circumstances, be prevailed upon to dispense the blessings of his urn. 191 The erect figure above it is tame and feminine, and in merit much inferior to the rest of the composition.

Some objections have been made to the height of three sides of the quadrangle; but if there are parts in the external of this great and magnificent undertaking, which to nice and critical observation may appear censurable, few such objections can reasonably be made to the internal, where utility in general will be found to prevail in every department.

The opposite shore of the river Thames, though not rich in public buildings, has yet some works in art and science that demand our attention. In Mrs. Coade’s manufactory of artificial stone will be found numberless statues, busts, vases, pedestals, and every architectural enrichment known to the ancients or moderns, with their foliages and most minute 192 ornaments, all of which are executed with more delicacy and sharpness than is to be found in the best sculptures, and at less than half the expence.

The durability of the various articles produced in this work, as far as the experience of twenty-three years can ascertain, leaves no doubt but that that desirable quality will be annexed to its other recommendations. The arcanum of the composition seems to rest with the proprietors, as several attempts have been made to establish works on a similar plan, but none have as yet succeeded. The most elegant and expensive production I have seen from this manufactory, is the screen in the chapel of St. George at Windsor, where every minute Gothic ornament and projection is retained, and with apparent superiority to any performance of the chissel. When we consider that these nicer productions are burnt or baked in a kiln, it 193 becomes matter of astonishment that they preserve with so much delicacy their original and proper form.

Not far from Mrs. Coade’s, on the banks of our Thames, is to be found in the highest state of cultivation, the richest and perhaps the most diversified vineyard the world can boast, where the various productions of the grape yield every luxuriant wine that can be named, from “humble port to imperial tokay,” and from which fertile production, we have no longer reason to dread the failure of foreign vintages. Such is the magic power of the soil of Mr. Beaufoy, the proprietor of this prolific spot.

On this site stood Cuper’s Garden, which derived its name from one Boyder Cuper, a gardener in the Arundel family at the time this spot was in the hands of Lord Arundel. Here many damaged statues from this noble 194 Lord’s collection were lodged, on the demolition of Arundel-house, which stood on the site now called Howard-street, on the opposite shore.

A little below this place a new structure has been lately erected, called the patent shot manufactory. It is near one hundred and fifty feet high, about nineteen feet in diameter, and works half a tun of lead in an hour. It cost near six thousand pounds, but cannot be considered as an object ornamental to the river Thames.

The venerable hall of the middle Temple, breaking through a thicket of trees across the garden, has from the water a truly picturesque appearance. This magnificent building was erected, according to the date on the east window, which is of painted glass, in 1570. It is a spacious and well proportioned room, and the fine Gothic vaulted 195 cieling, which is of oak, is enriched with ornaments suitable to the times, and kept in good preservation. On the small pannels around the hall are painted the arms of the gentlemen who have been readers to the society, they are judiciously placed, and have a good effect.

The Inner Temple hall is considerably less, and, from its style of architecture, is certainly of older date; there is little doubt of its being the same building in which we find, on the 16th of October, 1555, a magnificent dinner given at a call of Serjeants, when they sat down to a standing dish of wax, representing the Court of Common Pleas, and a bill of fare, that in length might vie with a modern bill in chancery, and from which one would suppose they had stript the parks of all their red deer, and the Thames of all its swans, having on 196 this occasion convened no less than ninety-four of these birds.

About seven years after, in 1562, at a Christmas gambol, we find the Lord Chancellor, with all the great law officers, hunting in this hall, a fox and a cat, with nine or ten couple of hounds, the huntsman blowing his horn, until the fox and the cat are set upon by the hounds, and killed beneath the fire.

Dudley Earl of Leicester was the hero of this feast, who on the occasion was called Palaphilos Prince of Sophie, and was supposed to be entertained by a person stiling himself a Sovereign Prince, when supper being ended, “the Constable Marshall presented himself with drums afore him, mounted on a scaffold borne by four men, and goeth three times round about 197 the harthe crying aloud, A Lord, A Lord, &c. then he descendeth and goeth to dance, &c. and after he calleth his court, every one by name, one by one, in this manner:

“Sir Francis Flatterer, of Fowlehurst, in the county of Buckingham.

“Sir Randle Rackabite, of Rascall-Hall, in the county of Rakehell.

“Sir Morgan Mumchance, of Much Monkery, in the county of Mad Mopery.

“Sir Bartholomew Baldbreech, of Buttocksbury, in the county of Brekeneck.”

This done, the Lord of Misrule addresseth himself to the banquet, which ended with some minstrelsye, mirth and dancing, every man departeth to rest.”


With such mummeries were our ancient sages in the law, and rulers of the land, content to regale themselves; and it is to be regretted, that as elegance and refinement have progressively increased in later times, the statues have become more voluminous, and bills in chancery have lengthened in the same ratio.

The recent improvements to the Temple Gardens, and embankments into the river, have added greatly to the views from the Thames, and it were to be wished that a proper attention was paid to the regulation of the coal-lighters, by keeping them nearer to the shore, and not suffering them to block up the channel, as is frequently the case when a large fleet arrives in the river.

Notes and Corrections: Section IX

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the richer columns of the five Roman orders
[The three classic Greek orders—Doric, Ionic, Corin­thian—plus Tuscan and Composite. Using all five in the same building would definitely have been dreadful.]

by recent absurdities still greater of their own
text has resent
[Corrected from 1792 edition.]

a loathsome prison, which it is to be wished, for the honour of humanity, may soon be removed
[I cannot quite figure out if the prison is innately loath­some, or only objectionable because it is ugly. Either way, the whole thing was cleared in the early 19th century, which should make our author happy.]

Professor of Architecture to the Royal Academy
text has Arademy

Mrs. Coade’s manufactory of artificial stone
[Eleanor Coade (1733–1821) never married; fortunately she lived in a century when any adult woman merited a “Mrs.” Especially one who ran her own factory making an important product—in this case, a new type of ceramic. The formula was lost after her death, and wasn’t redis­covered until the late 20th century. So anything you see made of “Coade Stone” is either brand-new, or more than 200 years old.]

a truly picturesque appearance
text has appearence


Blackfriars bridge, with towering dome in the background

Black-friars-bridge, &c.


THE noble addition of Black-friars-bridge to the river Thames, whether considered as an ornament, or an object of convenience to our capital, cannot but yield the highest gratification to the mind of every well-wisher to the interest of this island, as well as the citizen of this great emporium of the universe.

The spacious and numerous public roads which the communication with the borough of Southwark, and the counties of Kent, Surrey, &c. have opened since the erection of this bridge, evince at once the judicious choice of situation for such a structure.

In February 1754, the city determined on building a bridge on this spot, and in January, 1756, a petition was presented to Parliament, 200 in consequence of which an act passed, empowering the Mayor, &c. to procure a loan of one hundred and sixty thousand pounds, the sum required to complete this undertaking; the interest was to be paid out of the tolls granted by the act. Amongst the many designs proposed for a bridge that of Mr. Robert Milnes was approved, and the first stone laid on the 30th of October, 1760, by the then Lord Mayor. It was completed in the latter end of the year 1768, at the expence of one hundred and fifty-two thousand eight hundred and forty pounds, three shillings and ten-pence.

The length of this bridge is nine hundred and ninety-five feet; the breadth of the carriage-way twenty-eight, and of the two footpaths seven feet each. It consists of nine eliptical arches, the center of which is one hundred feet wide. The eliptical form, as it gives more space, is well adapted to aid the 201 navigation, though the circular is generally allowed to be superior in strength. The upper surface of this bridge forms, in the opinion of many, too large a portion of a circle, a fault generally imputed by foreigners, and perhaps with justice, to most of our buildings of this kind. The design of this bridge must be allowed to have an ample share of elegance. The Ionic pillars projecting from the piers give a happy relief to the whole, and appear singularly light and beautiful from the river. It were to be wished that the materials for this work had been selected of a more durable quality, as it might then have shewn to posterity the merits of its architect who stands a fair chance at present of outliving his own work. At the building of this bridge the city was authorised to fill up the channel of Bridewell-dock, that

“King of dykes, than which no sluice of mud

“With deeper sable blots the silver flood.”


The mouth of this creek, Stowe says, in 1307, was of such a width and depth, “that ten or twelve ships navies at once, with merchandises, were wont to come to the aforesaid bridge of Fleete.”

It is to be observed that draw-bridges were at that period upon London-bridge, through which vessels of a certain size might pass, and land their cargoes in the mouth of the fleet.

From Black-friars-bridge, amidst the noble amphitheatre of buildings on the London side of the river, the stately cathedral of St. Paul, at once the boast of art and science in our country, raises its majestic dome. The first stone of this grand edifice was laid on the 21st of June, 1675, and was completed in 1710, from the design of Sir Christopher Wren, to whose extraordinary talents alone (not from any hint borrowed from the church 203 of St. Peter’s at Rome, as has been generally conceived,) we owe this perfect and sublime undertaking. The highest stone on the top of the lantern was laid by the hand of the architect’s son, Mr. Christopher Wren, at the particular request of his father.

It is a singular circumstance that this work was begun and finished by one architect and under one prelate, Dr. Compton, Bishop of London, when the church of St. Peter, at Rome, was one hundred and forty-five years in building, and under the reign of nineteen Popes. Wren, in his Parentalia, mentions an extraordinary incident which occurred at the commencement of this undertaking: “That when the surveyor in person had set out the dimensions of the great dome, a common labourer was ordered to bring a flat stone from the heaps of rubbish, to be laid for a direction to the mason; the stone which was immediately brought and 204 laid down for that purpose, happened to be a piece of a grave-stone, with nothing remaining of the inscription, but this single word in large capitals, Resurgam;” from hence it is thought Sir Christopher caught the idea of the Phœnix, which is placed on the south portico, and to which he has added the motto “Resurgam.”

From the same work we are told the expence of the building was chiefly supported by an easy duty on sea-coal brought to the port of London. If every part of the impost on that necessary article had been as laudably applied, we should have had less reason to be dissatisfied with the gallantries of Charles II.

To go into a particular detail of the excellencies of this superb pile of building, it is presumed will not be expected within the narrow limits of this work, nor can I, by 205 my feeble eulogium, add one iota to the fame of its great architect, whose genius may be said to have awakened the spirit of science in our country.

Sir Christopher Wren died at the age of ninety-one, on the 25th of February, 1723, and was interred beneath the south aide of the choir, near the east end. The close of the Latin epitaph written by his son is happily applied, but is unfortunately so obscurely placed as to be seen only by those who descend beneath the church:

“Lector, si monumentum requiris, circumspice.”

At this period, when the sculptor’s aid is called forth to decorate this noble edifice, surely the first memorial erected within its walls, should have been dedicated to the same and extraordinary talents of Sir Christopher Wren.


The remark already thrown out in this work, of want of a larger space, as we approach our most distinguished buildings, for the purpose of displaying them to advantage, is here remarkably conspicuous; a removal of all the buildings between this edifice and the river, not to except Doctor’s Commons, and even Apothecary’s Hall, would rid the neighbourhood of many intricate ways, and lay open in a proper point of view, one of the first structures in the world.

Paul’s Wharf Hill, adjoining to Doctor’s Commons, as appears by the leases granted from the Dean and Chapter, formerly held the name of Camera Dianæ, which Camera was a spacious vaulted room full of mazes and labyrinths, and in which Henry II. is reported to have kept his Diana or favourite Rosamond, when she was absent from Woodstock-park.


The extensive building on the Surrey side of Black Friars Bridge, called the Albion Mills, from its commodious situation, and various advantages of conveyance, &c. it is presumed would have enabled the proprietors to have brought that valuable article corn to market at a reduced price; but report, perhaps calumny, deemed the undertaking a monopoly; and whether from incendiaries or accident, it ceased to be an object of dissatisfaction, from the conflagration which happened within the last year.

From this building, the busy scenery of the opposite shore, abounding in wharfs, warehouses and various conveniencies for the aid of our commerce, gives the highest idea of the industry and consequent opulence of our capital; yet with how much regret must we deplore the want of the execution of that noble plan designed by Sir Christopher Wren, after the fire of London, in which he proposed 208 to have built a spacious wharf and quay from London-bridge to the Temple, and so to have ranged all the halls belonging to the several companies of the city, with proper warehouses for merchants interspersed, as to have rendered it at once, the most beautiful and useful arrangement of structures in the world; but the hurry of rebuilding, and the disputes at that time about property, prevented this glorious scheme from taking place.

Among the many works of Sir Christopher Wren which adorn our capital, and enrich the scenery of the river, the steeple of St. Mary le Bow, in Cheapside, classes as one of the first; the happy disposition of the various orders of architecture, in which he seems to have soared above the ordinary rules of science, forms an assemblage of taste and elegance, rarely to be met with. This church was built on the walls of an old temple that stood on the Roman causeway, which was 209 eighteen feet below the level of the present street.

A large mass of stone presents itself farther eastward, which we are told is the Mansion House; but whether from its ponderous appearance it is the attic or the base of that building is not easily distinguishable.

It has been ludicrously suggested that this city mansion was erected from a design of a ship carpenter, which was received in preference to one presented by Lord Burlington; this is said to have been the work of Palladio, and that upon a question put at the time in a city committee, who this Palladio was; and it being answered, that he was a papist, and a non-freeman of the city of London, his design was immediately voted inadmissible. Had it been the fortune of the city, that her honors had at that time been in such hands as 210 distinguished them in the year 1791, this disgrace would never have stained their annals. The then chief magistrate, skilled in more than science, and wealthy as the east, with a sway like that of the company which rules in Hindostan, possesses at once the empire and commerce of the arts; and as the Ganges is permitted to waft no treasure, no model of elegance, or product of value, without paying tribute to them; so no navigable stream throughout the globe can flow, without acknowledging the more extended control of his deeper seated empire; nor would the name of Palladio have been unknown at Guildhall, or any advantage public or private to be derived from that name have escaped the discerning eye and commercial talents of that vigilant Lord Mayor of London.

On the opposite shore, which is called Bank-side, was formerly the Bear Garden, or 211 “British Circus,” where Stowe says, “bears, bulls, and other beasts were kept to be baited, as also mastives in several kennels, nourished to bait them.” Savage as this custom may now appear, it certainly was considered in the time of Elizabeth as a fit entertainment for persons of the first quality, and we are told that she accompanied the French Ambassador to this scene of brutality, as to a rational and pleasant amusement.

Adjoining to this spot stood the Globe Theatre, where our immortal Shakespeare is known to have occasionally trod the stage; and for which, in 1603, he with his fellow commedians obtained a licence. Most of his plays are said to have been performed here, and at the theatre at Black-friars.

small drawing of old Globe Theatre

During the hours of exhibition, which were always by day-light, a flag was displayed 212 on the roof of the building, which was of an hexagonal form, though from its name, most probably it was round within. When the sanguinary sports of the Bear Garden were over, the same spectators, it is most probable, resorted to the adjoining theatre. Taylor, the water-poet, observes, “that after the players began to play on the Bank-side, and to leave playing in London and Middlesex, 213 then there went such great concourse of people by water, that the small number of watermen remaining at home, were not able to carry them, by reason of the court, the terms, and other employments.”

It is scarcely possible to find in the history of our amusements, a change equal to that which has taken place in the hours of play-going, when instead of quitting the theatre by day-light, it is now within a few hours of the breakfast time of our ancestors, before we can possibly reach home.

Along the banks on the city side of the river from Black-friars, were formerly many stately inns, a name given to the town residences of the nobility and persons of consequence, at that time, amongst which may be ranked Baynard’s Castle, which being rebuilt in 1428, by Humphry Duke of Glocester, 214 was on his demise granted by Henry VI. to Richard Duke of York, who in 1458 we find lodged here with his train of four hundred men, besides which his noble followers had each a numerous suite. To the north-east of St. Paul’s Wharf stood Beaumont’s Inn, the residence of Lord Hastings, in the reign of Henry IV. in 1465.

Queen Hithe or harbour is of great antiquity, possibly as early as the time of the Saxons; large boats, and even ships here discharged their lading. In the time of Henry III. it obtained its present name, being called Ripa Reginæ, or Queen’s Wharf. The ships of the Cinque Ports were obliged to bring their corn here, and were not permitted to land it at any other place.

Near Vintner’s-hall stood Worcester-place, the residence of John Tiptoft, Earl of Worcester, Lord High Treasurer of England; 215 and near it the Tower Royal, supposed to have been founded by Henry I. and “which” Stowe says, “was the residence of King Stephen.” Edward III. gave the title of Inn Royal, from having been the residence of that Monarch. Richard II. likewise lodged herein 1386, when he entertained his royal guest, Leo III. King of Armenia, after being expelled his kingdom by the Turks. John Duke of Norfolk, the friend and adherent of Richard III. made likewise this tower his residence, having obtained a grant of it from his Sovereign.

Whittington College, in the church of St. Michael Royal, from the name of its founder, should not be passed unnoticed; it was built in 1424, and was suppressed at the reformation. The alms-houses still exist. The famous cat of this thrice-elected Lord Mayor is now generally understood to have 216 been a Newcastle collier, a name which these vessels still bear.

The Three Cranes in the Vintry was allotted, by royal order, for the landing of wines and other merchandize. For a curious account of the jovial feasting given by Sir Henry Picart, vintner, Lord Mayor in 1356, I refer the reader to Stowe’s Survey.

At Dowgate formerly stood one of the Roman gates for passengers, who took boat here at the trajectus or ferry. In the reign of Edward III. customs were paid by ships resting here, in the same manner as at Queenhithe. Near this runs concealed into the Thames, the ancient Wall-brook, or river of Wells, which rises to the north of Moorfields; it passed through London-wall between Bishopsgate and Moorgate, and so on through the city to this place.


In the reign of Edward III. at the Erber, not far from hence, was formerly a noble palace, occupied by the family of the Scroops, the Nevills, and Richard the great Earl of Warwick. It was rebuilt in 1584, by Sir Thomas Pullison, Lord Mayor, and became afterwards the residence of the renowned Sir Francis Drake.

The Steel-yard has been a famous quay for the landing of merchandise, as far back as the tenth century: here was the Guildhall of the Easterlings, or the Germans of the Steel-yard; who, under certain restrictions, came hither with their ships, and were accounted “worthy of good laws.” It was then called Staplehoff, or general house of trade of the German nations; but in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, about the year 1597, as we became more politic, and grew wiser with respect to commerce, this house 218 was shut up, and the Germans expelled the kingdom.

Of Coal-harbour we find historical mention as far back as Edward II. A magnificent house was built here by a Sir John Poultney, who was four times Lord Mayor of London, from whom it was named Poultney-Inn. In 1397 it became the residence of John Holland, Duke of Exeter, and Earl of Huntington, who gave a splendid entertainment in this house to his royal brother-in-law Richard II.

After passing through the hands of many noble owners, this inn was at length granted to the Earl of Shrewsbury, by Edward VI. from whom it obtained the name of Shrewsbury-house.

In having thus adverted to the many ancient 219 buildings which once graced the bank of our river Thames, and to the royal and noble possessors of them, I hope I shall not be censured as having deviated from my intention; this brief account may at least tend to shew the vicissitudes of human scenes, and the high estimation in which this capital has ever been held, not by the mercantile orders only, but by princes and nobles of the first worth and consequence.

Notes and Corrections: Section X

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In February 1754, the city determined on building a bridge
text has Febuary

a loan of one hundred and sixty thousand pounds
text has an sixty

ten or twelve ships navies at once, with merchandises
[In Gebhard Wendeborn’s View of England—published in English in 1791—the word “merchandises”, plural, occurs frequently. Evidently it is not simply a calque from Wendeborn’s native German.]

were wont to come to the aforesaid bridge of Fleete.”
close quote missing

raises its majestic dome.
. missing

The highest stone on the top of the lantern was laid by the hand of the architect’s son, Mr. Christopher Wren
text has wasla id
[Christopher Wren junior was born in 1675, the same year construction of St. Paul’s began; it took 35 years to finish.]

Wren, in his Parentalia, mentions an extraordinary incident
[. . . which must happened when he was a baby, since the Parentalia was written by Christopher junior.]

this city mansion was erected from a design of a ship carpenter
text has errected

a question put at the time in a city committee,
text has committe

possesses at once the empire and commerce of the arts
text has possessess
[Can’t help but feel the typesetter is getting tired as we near the end of this second volume.]

Edward III. gave the title of Inn Royal
text has , for .

Whittington College, in the church of St. Michael Royal
. in “St.” missing

The famous cat of this thrice-elected Lord Mayor is now generally understood to have been a Newcastle collier


London bridge, with city buildings beyond

London-bridge, &c.



WE now approach London-bridge, a specimen of the Gothic labors of our ancestors, and no less a subject of reproach to those who have the superintendance of it in the present day. This perilous absurdity, for such in its present renovated, if not mutilated state, it presents itself to a modern eye, has in its day been stiled the “wonder of the world,” and properly enough may now bear that epithet, it being a matter of astonishment to every one, that it is yet in existence.

The enormous size of the sterlings, which are and must be increasing, as the piers fall into decay, will in all probability, in the course of time, shut up the current through the few arches that still remain in use. 222 These sterlings are by no means coeval with the bridge, nor are they, as is vulgarly supposed, at all necessary either in aid of the depth of water, or to restrain the current at ebb, when the river is found navigable so many miles above the reach of the tide: the water is now so dammed up by these incumbrances, that at the return of the tide, it is near five feet higher above than below the bridge, and in its fall has so many tremendous cataracts, and hideous roarings, as to fill the mind of the spectator with horror.

When the nuisance of the houses on the upper part of this bridge was removed in 1756, it is matter of astonishment that the whole of this disgraceful lumber was not taken away. The expence which has been incurred, on a moderate computation, within the last century, would have defrayed twice the charge of building an elegant structure, 223 and would probably have saved the lives of perhaps thousands of his majesty’s best subjects, the industrious and laborious poor.

Among the many dreadful calamities that have happened near this bridge, the premeditated death of Mr. Temple, only son of Sir William, of whom I have had occasion to make mention in this work, is deserving notice. On the 14th of April, 1689, he hired a boat on the Thames, and directing his waterman to London-Bridge, (having previously filled his pocket with stones) there plunged himself into the stream, and instantly sunk to rise no more. The apology for this rash action was thus worded in a note, found in the bottom of the boat.

My folly in undertaking what I could not perform, whereby some misfortunes have befallen the King’s service, is the cause of my putting myself to this sudden 224 end. I wish him success in all his undertakings, and a better servant.” The singular reflection of his father on this occasion, “That a wise man might dispose of himself, and make his life as short as he pleased”—breathed more the principles of stoicism, and of the philosophy of Zeno, than of parental affection, or the lessons of Christianity.

The width of the river is here nine hundred and fifteen feet, and the bridge consists of nineteen irregular arches, each so unlike its neighbour in size and shape, as to baffle any attempt at criticism. This bridge was constructed in 1176, by one Peter, Curate of Colechurch in London, a person high in reputation for his architectural skill; he died four years before it was finished, which was in 1209, a period of thirty-three years; it was completed by three merchants of London. The architect was interred in a chapel erected at his own expence, on 225 the east side of this bridge. In the year 1758, two years after the demolition of this and other buildings, it was described as a beautiful arched Gothic structure, sixty-five feet long, twenty broad, and fourteen high, paved with black and white marble, and in the middle a sepulchral monument, wherein was deposited the remains of Master Peter the Curate. This chapel had an entrance from the river by a winding stair-case, and likewise one from the street, and was therefore calculated to receive the prayers of those who travelled by water as well as by land.

An anecdote of the ancestor of the Duke of Leeds, as an act of singular gallantry, is not unworthy of record here. Edmond Osborne, in the year 1536, was an apprentice to Sir William Hewitt, a cloth-worker, who resided on this bridge, at which time a servant maid, playing with the only child of 226 her master at the window, accidentally let it fall into the river: young Edmond, who was witness to the calamity, instantly plunged after it, and fortunately restored the infant to its afflicted parent. The reward of this spirited action was, at a proper period, the hand of the fair daughter, and with it the knight’s lands and beeves: Many wealthy and noble suitors, (among whom was the Earl of Shrewsbury,) had paid their addresses to this damsel, yet the gallantry of Edmond obtained the preference, and he became Lord Mayor of London in 1582; his portrait is now at Kiveton, the seat of the Duke of Leeds, in his magisterial habit, with gold chain and bonnet.

At the south end of London-bridge, in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, mills were constructed for grinding corn, in order to supply the poor with flour at a reasonable rate in times of scarcity. In the same reign, 227 in 1582, an engine was erected here to supply the city with water, by Peter Morice, a Dutchman, who obtained a lease of one arch for five hundred years, at the annual rent of ten shillings, and in two years after, from the great utility experienced in this undertaking, he procured a second, since which two other arches have been included in this work, and in the year 1701, the whole was sold by the representatives of Morice to Richard Soames, citizen and goldsmith, for the sum of thirty-six thousand pounds, after which this property was divided into three hundred shares, at five hundred pounds each, and the proprietors obtained a charter of incorporation.

Adjoining to the bridge is Fishmonger’s Hall, the only specimen of the range of city halls along the river towards the Temple, agreeable to the idea of Sir Christopher Wren. The south front of this building is of brick, with stone coins; it is decorated with a portal 228 of the Ionic order, and a suitable pediment, forming altogether a happy combination of strength and elegance. In the great hall is a large wooden figure of Sir William Walworth, whom Stowe calls “the glory of their company,” but of whom he says, “they know nothing more than that he slew Jack Straw, which is a mere fable;” he likewise says of the fishmongers, “that they are men ignorant of their own antiquities.” They have however since discovered by the inscription that appears under the figure, that it was not Jack Straw, but Wat Tyler, whom the worthy knight slew “in his alarmes;” and could Master Stowe now witness the decorations of their tables on Court and other days of festivity, he would be led to acknowledge, that what they then wanted in antiquarian skill, is now amply compensated by their information in the culinary arts.

The noble pillar, emphatically called the 229 Monument, which though Pope says, it “lifts its head and lies,” may yet be declared in all its parts, to speak one lasting truth to posterity, that it is the paragon of modern excellence in building; and may even vie in some respects, with the most celebrated columns of antiquity consecrated to the name of Trajan and Antoninus, both of which it exceeds in height.

The Biographical Dictionary says, that “Sir Christopher Wren built the Monument hollow, that it might serve as a tube to discover the parallax of the earth, by the different distances of the star in the head of the dragon, from the zenith, at different seasons of the year; but finding it was liable to be shaken by the motion of the coaches and carts, almost constantly passing by, laid that thought aside.” This noble column is of the Doric order, and fluted; the height is two hundred and two 230 feet, and on its pedestal is a bas-relief sculptured by Gabriel Cibber: the truth of the allegory I shall not here discuss; it was begun in 1671, and finished in 1677, at an expence of fourteen thousand five hundred pounds; the damage sustained by the dreadful conflagration at that period was estimated at ten millions, seven hundred and sixteen thousand pounds; and we can only regret the wretched choice of situation for this elegant column; had it been placed at the top of Cheapside, it would as well have informed us of the dreadful calamity it is meant to perpetuate, and have been a splendid addition to the public buildings of our capital.

A fanatical preacher, at the time, after descanting on the various causes why such a calamity should have been permitted, defines it to have evidently arisen from the city’s gluttony; for “that it commenced at Pudding-lane, and ended at Pye-corner.”


Nearly opposite to the Monument formerly stood the residence of our valiant Edward the Black Prince; Stowe says, in his time it was made a common hosterie or inn, having a black bell for its sign.

The beautiful spire of St. Dunstan’s in the East, cannot fail to attract the attention of the curious observer from every point of view. The geometrical skill of Sir Christopher Wren has no where appeared more conspicuous than in this bold attempt of placing the spire on the top of four Gothic arches, a base that seems so insecure as to fill the mind with apprehensions for its safety, while we have had experience of its braving the tempests for more than one hundred and twenty years, and have reason to believe it will yet continue for ages to come.

Of the Custom-house little can be said in its commendation, as a public building; the 232 want of space within, and on the quay, to transact the immense business of this great city, is so notorious to the mercantile world, as to afford matter of astonishment that some means have not yet been found to remove the whole; and by erecting a more extensive structure, and giving a greater space of quay towards the river, to render this spot as well an ornament to the city, as a convenience to the merchants of this great emporium of commerce.

high-masted ships in the Thames, with Tower of London in the background

Tower of London

Of the Tower of London, that part of it called the White Tower, makes a grand addition to the scenery of our river; its formidable appearance naturally leads the mind back to that period when the defence of our capital was more an object of attention than its commerce. This building has long borne the appellation of Cæsar’s Tower, but on what authority we are yet to learn: it was 233 erected in the year 1078, in the reign of William the Conqueror, and under the direction of Gundulph Bishop of Rochester, who, while he was employed here, Stowe tells us, “was lodged in the house of one Elsmere, a citizen of London.” This building originally stood by itself, but in the year 1092, received the castellated addition on the south side, towards the Thames, which was called St. Thomas’s Tower, beneath which is what is denominated Traitor’s-bridge.

In the reign of Richard I. this tower was inclosed by Longchamp Bishop of Ely, with embattled walls and a spacious ditch, which communicated with the river. For the many additions and improvements it has since received, as well as for its internal decorations, I refer the reader to the particular history of the place, which, at present harmless and inoffensive as it may seem, once displayed scenes of horror, perhaps greater than were even 234 imagined in the Bastile, and these perpetrated in the name of religion, a convenient mask, under which, in some degree, were disguised the lust and caprices of a tyrant.

Our attention is now pointed to the glorious scene which presents itself from Tower-wharf down the river, through what is called the Pool; where groves of shipping of all nations appear emulous to unlade their burthens, from each quarter of the globe, into the lap of Britannia; and

——“Where the crowded ports

“With rising masts, an endless prospect yield,

“With labours burn, and echo to the shouts

“Of hurried sailor, as he hearty waves

“His last adieu, and loosening every sheet,

“Resigns the spreading vessel to the wind.”

Through this immense maritime forest, we have a comparative view at once of the 235 wealth of every port in Europe; each vessel here displaying its variegated colours, to denote from whence it bears that produce which adds to the wants, and even luxuries of our capital.

The various docks and vast piles of building that range along the shores of the river, which are principally occupied by sea-faring and commercial people dependant on its navigation, afford a scene of laborious industry strongly characterizing the spirit and commerce of the country. The erecting of houses along the shore from Wapping, seems to have been in the time of Elizabeth, a matter of good policy to preserve that neighbourhood from the frequent inundations of the river, by obliging the inhabitants to defend their own banks.

The narrowness of the streets on this and the opposite shore may be accounted for by 236 the regulations made in 1656, when we find to prevent the increase of building, all new works then carrying on within ten miles of London, were obliged to have four acres of freehold land laid to them, except such buildings as should be raised below London-bridge within two furlongs of the Thames, and belonged to mariners and ship-builders.

At Rotherhithe they seriously claim the credit of having produced Dean Swift’s Captain Lemuel Gulliver, whom he describes to have lived in Love-lane, in that parish, and where some credulous old people are now happy to shew the identical house in which he resided.

Below Rotherhithe is what is called Cuckold’s Point: Horns, as is generally the case, distinctly mark the spot; the history of these horns runs thus: That King John having kissed a miller’s wife at Eltham, and being 237 detected by the husband (to quiet his feelings, by gilding his horns) gave him all the land he could see from that spot towards the river. The enormous value then set on the virtue of a wife, appears so far to exceed any estimate of modern times, that we are apt to doubt the truth of the relation.

An annual fair is now held at Charlton, on St. Luke’s day, which is called Horn Fair, a scene exhibiting as much licentiousness in low life, as ever has on any occasion proceeded from the example of superior situation.

On the opposite shore, a cut or canal, formed from the Lea River at Bow, empties itself into the Thames. This cut is of essential service to the neighbouring manufactories, particularly the distilleries in its vicinity. At high tide there is a depth of water of near twenty feet.


Approaching Deptford we should not pass unnoticed the dock-yard of Mr. Randall, where we find that thirty-two King’s packet-boats, with which government were formerly supplied from Falmouth, have within the last five years been launched. Deptford was anciently called West Greenwich; it derived its present name from the deepness of the ford over the river Ravensborn, upon which the town is seated. Here the King’s dock-yard, victualling-office, store-houses, and other extensive buildings, meet the eye, as objects that cannot but yield pleasure to the mind of every Englishman, as in this approach to our capital, they manifest our ability and state of preparation, to ward off any hostile attempt, however unwilling we may be to throw the gauntlet, or to give the first offence.

Notes and Corrections: Section XI

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Sir William [Temple], of whom I have had occasion to make mention in this work
[Towards the end of Section VII in this volume.]

a servant maid, playing with the only child of her master at the window, accidentally let it fall into the river
[That’s her story and she’s sticking to it. More likely, as recorded in Tristram Shandy, she was encouraging the child to **** *** ** *** ******, and failed to keep a firm grip.]

he would be led to acknowledge
text has lead
[Corrected from 1792 edition.]

The noble pillar, emphatically called the Monument
[Gebhard Wendeborn, writing at about the same time as Samuel Ireland, also had a good deal to say about the Monument. And, like Ireland, he omits all mention of its co-designer, Robert Hooke. Thanks to two rounds of renovation—and an added cage to deter suicides—the Monument is still standing.]

a common hosterie or inn
text unchanged
[I would have preferred “hostelrie”, but the 1792 edition has the same spelling.]

have reason to believe it will yet continue for ages to come
[St. Dunstan-in-the-East endured another century and a half, but in 1941 it fell victim to the Blitz. Instead of rebuilding, the ruins—including the spire, which still stands—are now a public garden.]

. . . Resigns the spreading vessel to the wind.
[Thomson’s Seasons: Summer 1461–1466.]


Greenwich Hospital overlooking the Thames

Greenwich Hospital


MINDFUL as we have been in providing the means of defence for our country, we have certainly not been less so in affording a comfortable existence and quiet retreat for the brave veterans of our navy, by the erection of that stately pile of building, Greenwich Hospital. This noble edifice has more the appearance of a regal palace, which was its first destination, than an hospital. The vicinity of this building had long been the residence of our Monarchs; and its ancient retreat bore the appellation of Placentia; but being much decayed in the reign of Charles II. was taken down by his order, and one of the present wings erected on the site, as part of an intended palace. About ten years after this Monarch’s death, his grand-daughter, Queen Mary, desirous of 240 prosecuting his plan, called in the aid of Sir Christopher Wren: under whose skill and direction the opposite wing, called Queen Anne’s building, the painted hall, grand colonade, &c. were completed.

The west front of this building, which is of brick, was finished by Sir John Vanbrugh, then surveyor of the hospital; and is, I am informed, intended to be cased with stone.

The Queen’s house, at the extremity of this building, was from a design of Inigo Jones: It was at the particular order of Queen Mary left standing; and the grand design of the hospital was of course made subservient to this direction.

The north or river front of this princely structure consists of two ranges of stone buildings; in which the coupled Corinthian 241 columns, supporting the pediments, afford a beautiful relief, and produce a happy mass of light and shade.

The two noble domes, which are supported by columns corresponding with the order below, and the grand range of colonade terminated by the distant rising hills of Greenwich, combine a splendor of scenery scarcely to be equalled in this country.

The great defect in this structure appears to be want of height in the basement story.

The chapel, which has been recently erected from a design of the late Mr. James Stuart, publisher of the Antiquities of Athens, is the most complete specimen of the Grecian style that I remember to have seen: it is simple, yet elegant: and its various ornaments are so judiciously adapted, as in no part to appear redundant, or ill applied.


The decorations of this chapel are principally from the designs of Mr. West, and many of them executed in artificial stone of Coade’s manufacture. The pulpit, which is circular, is supported by six fluted columns, made of lime-tree wood: and above is a richly-carved entablature, with suitable decorations.

When we consider Greenwich hospital as a specimen of architectural elegance, the taste of every observer cannot fail to be highly gratified; but when we view it on a more extended scale, as an object of national beneficence, exerted in relieving the brave and worn-out veterans of the British navy, how must the exulting heart of every Englishman glow with the idea! I am proud to confess, that the scene before us surpasses all this noble river has yet produced. Here the multitudes of old pensioners, assembled together, or dispersed in smaller groups, recounting 243 their former acts of bravery, and the hazards of the boisterous ocean, seem, like the gentle river that washes the walls of their edifice, to be smoothly gliding from this perilous existence

————“To that silent shore,

“Where billows never break, or tempests roar.”

Poplar Marsh, on the opposite side the river, is a large peninsula, known by the appellation of the Isle of Dogs; and, though flat, and uninteresting in the landscape, is yet in its soil rich and fertile, producing remarkably large cattle, and a species of grass which is esteemed a great restorative in the distempers to which these animals are subjected. The Isle of Dogs derives its name from having been the place where the King’s hounds were formerly kept, during the royal residence at Greenwich.

By a wind of the river round this marsh 244 we pass Blackwall, distinguished by its docks constructed for the building of our East-India ships, which generally come to their moorings off this place, as they seldom go much higher up the river. The vast influx of wealth from the commerce of the East, or rather our despotism in that devoted country, renders it, in the minds of some, whose philosophy and nicer feelings have never been acted upon by the more than religious influence of their pagodas, a matter of doubt, whether this accumulation of wealth has not been more than balanced by such an inroad of their luxuries and vices, as sooner or later may tend to enervate the political as well as physical state of our constitution.

Charlton church, and the Gothic mansion of Sir Thomas Wilson, are by their elevated situation placed in a conspicuous and pleasing point of view. Upon the river, a little below Charlton, the attention is caught 245 by an object of the first consequence to our country, Woolwich—famed as the “mother dock of our royal navy,” and which is said to have furnished as many men of war as any two docks in England. Here the spacious magazines of masts, planks, pitch, tar, &c. and the warren stored with guns, mortars, and every other instrument of destruction, seem to bid defiance to any hostile attacks in times less tranquil than the present, and to give a degree of security to the feelings of the most timid politician.

The Royal Military Academy at Woolwich was built in 1719: here forty-eight gentlemen cadets are admitted, but none under the age of twelve years; they are taught Latin, French, Mathematics, and every branch of military science necessary to qualify them for the service of the artillery, and the business of engineers; the whole expence is defrayed by government.


The hulks lying off Woolwich, in which near three hundred wretched convicts are confined, present a scene on our river, that it were to be wished could be removed. Might not the lead, or other mines, and repairs of our roads, give more useful employment to these people, whom the law has wisely doomed to an exemplary punishment?

It is a singular circumstance that the parish of Woolwich is said to contain as much land on the Essex as on the Kent side of the river. In the last century, many acres in this neighbourhood were laid under water by frequent inundations, at which time the division of the counties was deemed to be the middle of the current. It is therefore possible that at the time when the embankments took place on the Essex coast, this land was given by the county as a compensation for the damages sustained by the town of Woolwich, by the encroachments then made by the river. 247 These embankments surround the marshes of what is called the Devil’s-house, of which a very small shattered remain still exists. This Devil’s-house was formerly a large mansion of the family of Devall, with whose name the vulgar have taken this liberty. Some vestiges of an extensive building are yet discernible.

Below what is called the Gallions, the scenery on the Essex shore considerably improves, and towards Barking, a large creek is formed from the river, for the convenience of the neighbouring country.

In the beginning of the present century, the damage sustained from inundations, at what is called Dagenham Breach, was of such direful consequence, as to become an object of national importance. It was occasioned by the blowing up of a small sluice or trunk, made for the drain of land-waters 248 on the banks of the Thames, and was at its beginning not more than sixteen feet broad; but for want of proper attention, the constant force and fall of the water, in a few years increased to so great a depth, as to extend in several branches, above a mile and a half into the country.

It is computed that more than one hundred and twenty acres of marsh ground were washed into the Thames by this inundation. After many unsuccessful projects, carried on at an enormous expence by the land-owners, to stop up this breach, it was at length relinquished by them as impracticable; Parliament, however, considering it as a circumstance worthy their attention, and highly necessary for preserving the navigation of the Thames, appointed trustees for conducting this work.

On the 26th day of January, 1715, they 249 entered into a contract with a Captain John Perry, for making up and stopping the breach in the levels of Dagenham and Havering, and for so effectually excluding the water, as to leave no leakage of the fourth part of an inch, even at the highest tides. This arduous work was accomplished in less than two years, for twenty-five thousand pounds, the sum agreed upon between the Captain and the Trustees.

On the summit of a hill near Erith on the opposite shore, stands the noble mansion of Lord Eardly, called Belvedere; its elevated situation, richly embosomed within an extensive thicket of trees, presents a beautiful object, not only from hence, but for several miles, as we pursue the course of the river. From the house, the beautiful serpentine form of the Thames, enriched with vessels from every quarter of the globe, proudly swelling their sails at each returning tide; 250 and the distant view of our extensive capital, compose as grand an assemblage of objects, as can be pointed out in any part of the island.

The collection of pictures within the Belvedere may be allowed, from the judiciousness of its choice, to vie in excellence with any other of equal magnitude.

Below the mansion, the humble and lowly situation of Erith Church, with its ivy and moss-grown tower, presents a scene truly picturesque: within the view is comprised at this autumnal season of the year, not less than fifteen sail of East Indiamen, all at their moorings; a scene that in no other river in the world, I may venture to assert, can be equalled.

About two miles below Erith the river Darent, which rises at Tunbridge, unites 251 with the Thames; the chalk quarries of Purfleet on the opposite shore, convey a faint idea of the noble Cliffs of Albion, and are so pleasingly combined, as to present a just and leading idea of the characteristical features of English landscape.

Quitting what is called Long Reach, the Thames now becomes much agitated, and partakes in a great degree of the briny quality of its parent ocean.

At Northfleet a wet-dock is constructing within the excavations made in the Chalk Cliffs by a Mr. Cleverly, a ship-builder, which promises from its advantageous situation to become in time an object of much national as well as private emolument.

As we approach Gravesend, the immense number of Dutch and other fishing-boats occasionally lying off that town, gives, at a certain 252 distance, such an idea of a numerous fleet, as might in former times have created some apprehension for our safety, notwithstanding the military strength of Tilbury-fort, and the gallantry and vigour of the troops there stationed.

Gravesend, the first port on our river, is well situated for commerce, and is famed for fish, filth, and asparagus. The abbot of St. Mary le Grace, of Tower-hill, being desirous, as is related, of “promoting the interest of the town, obtained of Richard II. a grant to the men of Gravesend and Milton, of the exclusive privilege of conveying passengers from thence to London, on the conditions that they should provide boats on purpose, and carry all persons either at two-pence per head, with his bundle, or the whole boat’s fare should be four shillings.” This charter has been confirmed by succeeding princes; and the boats 253 which have been rendered, of late, very commodious, are obliged to depart for London at every flood, on the ringing of a bell for a quarter of an hour; the same ceremony is observed at their return from Billingsgate, at every ebb tide.

Tilbury Fort, with Thames and ships in the background

Tilbury Fort

In the year 1380, this town was burned by the French and Spaniards, who came up the Thames in row-gallies, and committed this outrage in return for the ravage and plunder of the English army in France, commanded by the Lord Nevil. Henry VIII. to prevent a repetition of this outrage, raised a platform of guns to the east of the town, and erected Tilbury Fort on the opposite shore, which has been since improved as a regular fortification from a plan of Sir Martin Beckman, chief engineer to Charles II. The bastions are said to be the largest in England: it is doubly moated, with a counterscarp, ravelins, &c. and on the platform are placed one 254 hundred and six cannons, from twenty-four to forty-six pounders, besides smaller ones planted on the bastions and curtains.

If with all this force the river Thames and the capital are not safe from the attack of the enemy, we must even rely on that of the Tower of London, and the vigilant endeavours of the Master of our Ordnance, in a more extended application of his new system of general fortifications. All outward-bound ships are compelled to anchor in Gravesend-road, till they have been examined by the officers of the customs; and a centinel is placed at the Block-house below the town, to give notice when they are coming up the river by firing a gun; and here the outward-bound ships generally take in provision, an essential advantage to the mercantile class of inhabitants in this town.

A little below Milton is a small Gothic 255 building, not undeserving the attention of the antiquary; it is the remains of a church or religious house, now used as a barn: near which a new coal-wharf has been lately established, where coals are landed to avoid the port duty, a practice not uncommon on the Essex side of the river, though novel here; and from which the neighbouring country is supplied with that article, six-pence per bushel cheaper than at Gravesend.

Near the town of Cliff, begins a part of the river which is called the Hope; the view from whence of the Chalky Cliffs, on the Kentish shore, and the more extended scenery of the Essex hills, affords no unpleasing prospect; here the river widens considerably, being half a league across, and at some certain boisterous periods, when the wind and tide oppose each other, the damage done to the shipping is very considerable.


At the Isle of Canvey on the Essex shore, we cannot help noticing the singular appearance of empty cockle-shells that cover the strand for a considerable distance, and have been there observed as long as can be traced by the memory of man.

At the extremity of this isle a branch of the Thames forms what is called Lea Road, on the bank of which is affixed a stone denoting the boundary of the city jurisdiction on the Essex shore; it is dated anno 1285.

Below this place the beacon called the Nore Light, appears full in view; it is fixed in the hulk of a Dutch vessel, stationed nearly in the center of the Nore, between what is called Shoebury Ness, and the Isle of Sheppey.

The breadth of water between Shoebury Ness on the Essex coast, and the western extremity of the Isle of Grain in Kent, 257 may properly be termed the mouth of the Thames; it is about six miles across. Here our majestic river loses itself in the embraces of the ocean, whose spacious bosom expands itself far beyond the reach of such objects of picturesque beauty as have been delineated in this work, and seem to call for powers of description exceeding the ordinary standard of prose composition.

Under this impression I cannot more happily close my subject, than in the elegant and nervous language of a modern bard, whose animated versification is so immediately adapted to the present enquiry, and so beautifully illustrative of the glorious scenery before us:

————“Now the ocean bay

“Beneath the radiance glisters clear and pale;

“And white from farre appears the frequent sail,

“By Traffic spread. Moor’d where the land divides,

“The British red-cross waving in the gale,

“Hulky and black, a gallant warre-ship rides,

“And over the greene wave with lordly port presides.


————“Oh, glorious, happy care!

“To bid Britannia’s navies greatly dare,

“And through the vassal seas triumphant reign,

“To either India waft victorious wane,

“To join the poles in Trade’s unbounded chain,

“And bid the British Throne the mighty whole sustain.”


small drawing of Neptune with trident, riding a shell pulled by horses

Printed by C. Clarke, Northumberland Court, Strand.

Notes and Corrections: Section XII

All typographical errors in this final section were corrected from the 1792 edition. Each one could have been passed off as a late-18th-century usage, so it seemed best to check.

that stately pile of building, Greenwich Hospital
comma invisible

This noble edifice has more the appearance of a regal palace
text has superfluous comma after “has”

artificial stone of Coade’s manufacture
[See Section IX of this volume, and Notes.]

whether this accumulation of wealth has not been more than balanced
text has acumulation

every branch of military science necessary to qualify them for the service of the artillery, and the business of engineers
[We are in the middle of the two-century span when British military commissions were, quite literally, bought and sold. Engineers and artillery were exempt because these departments required solid skill and training.]

whom the law has wisely doomed to an exemplary punishment
text has examplary

many acres in this neighbourhood were laid under water
text has was laid

famed for fish, filth, and asparagus
[An utterance to set alongside Wendeborn’s “Billings­gate, the seat of politeness, the forum of eloquence, and the best market for fish”.]

the elegant and nervous language of a modern bard
[The spelling may not look all that modern, but it’s an affectation. The lines are from Canto II of “Syr Martin: a poem in the manner of Spenser” by William Julius Mickle (1734–1788), published in 1767. Nope, I’d never heard of him either. He can be found in Volume 17 (of 75) of The Works of the English Poets from Chaucer to Cowper, edited by a certain Samuel Johnson.]

The original of this text is in the public domain—at least in the U.S.
My notes are copyright, as are all under-the-hood elements.
If in doubt, ask.