In the winter of 1564-65 the Thames froze solid and many events and entertainments took place on the ice. the freezing process was considerably aided by the fact that the Thames was full of rubbish, including sewage, and that its flow was often considerably reduced. Today it is clean enough to be a suitable habitat for wild fowl and fish, it flows freely and is most unlikely to freeze - particularly given the effects (dare I say it) of global warming. Having ice-skated throughout my childhood and teenage years this comes as a vast disappointment!
In 1587 the Queen granted the right to Thomas Brickett to hold a gunpowder mill for 31 years. The warhf occupied land formerly owned by Bermondsey Abbey, which seems slightly ironic. Only a year later it was actually ceded to new owners who built water mills on the site.
In 1605 the shipwrights of Egnland were incorporated, in order to make them more transparently accountable for their ship building activities.
In 1612 the Rotherhithe (Redrith) shipwrights were awarded a Royal Charter, which was a particular honour and indicates how important the Rotherhithe ship building industry was considered to be. A charter is a grant of authority – a type of contract made between people of unequal status. A Royal Charter was only granted by the monarch on the advice of his advisory committee, the privy council, in order to establish or formally recognize an incorporated entity, like a company. It was required for the establishment of any limited body.
In 1642 the rift between Charles I and Parliament developed into Civil War. As part of the London suburbs, Rotherhithe became one of a string of defences that were built by ordinary people as part of the attempt to repulse the Royalist army. Twenty six forts and ditches were constructed. The Redriff fort was constructed near Paradise Street and left the village itself completely undefended. Fortunately for Rotherhithe the defences were never put to the test, and the Royalists were defeated.
In 1647 a second ship named HMS Tiger was also built and launched at Deptford Docks. She had 38 guns and saw exciting service for nearly 100 years. Because it gives quite a good snapshot of some of the remarkable history of the times, here's a brief review of her career, courtesy entirely of the HMS Tiger website:
"Her first captain, James Peacock, brought her fame when, during the Civil War, he commanded her during the siege of
Colchester. She was with Admiral Blake in his pursuit of Prince Rupertin 1650, when he took Rupert's and Charles as prizes. In 1652 she took a Dutch ship, the Morganstar without a single British casualty. After taking part in the battle of the North Foreland under a new captain, Gabriel Sanders, she recommissioned for service in the Guinea Mediterranean. In 1666, early in the Second Dutch War, the Tiger, under the command of Phineas Pert, met a Zeeland privateer of 40 guns and although Pett was killed by the enemy's first broadside, his Lieutenant continued the fight for a further six hours, by which time the Tiger was too heavily damaged to catch the escaping enemy ship. Later that year Sir Robert Holmes flew his flag in the Tiger and sailed into the Terschelling Roads. With fire ships and a number of smaller vessels he raided the Dutch Fleet, destroying 170 vessels and severely damaging some shore installations. In 1672 Captain Thomas Harman took over the Tiger from John Turner under whom she had fought in the Battle of Solebay, and Captain Harman's first action was in defence of a fleet of colliers he was escorting along the east coast to the Thamesduring which he fought off eight Dutch privateers.
On 22 February 1674 the Tiger entered
close on the heels of a Dutch ship, the Schakerloo (Captain De Witte). Having been criticised for not having attacked the Tiger, De Witte borrowed 70 officers and men from his flagship and set sail, and soon he was engaged by Harman at close quarters. Each ship repelled boarders and after a long battle the Schakerloo was boarded by the victorious 'Tigers' as she began to sink. The Dutch had suffered 50 killed and 70 wounded, while the British suffered nine killed and 15 wounded, including Captain Harman who was hit below his left eye by a musket ball." Cadiz Harbour
The famous diarist Samuel Pepys was a frequent visitor to Rotherhithe which, in his diaries, he refers to as Redriff. He was usually on his way to the Royal Docks at Deptford but liked to watch Rotherhithe ships being launched and frequented the local public houses. One of his diary entries records that it was too dangerous to walk alone through the streets. In 1664 he records that he visited Rotherhithe’s
Although at the time it was rumoured that the plague had spread from France, it now seems more likely that it arrived with trading ships from the Netherlands. Certainly, the first areas to succumb were dock areas in 1664, and it only spread to the City of London in the summer of 1665. The precise form of plague has never been determined, if indeed it was a plague in the strictest sense of the term.
In early September 1666 Evelyn described the Great Fire of London, which he watched from the other side of the river, in Southwark, from his coach. It horrified and amazed him. It devastated the buildings of
Another famous (or infamous) visitor to the area was Judge George Jeffreys. In 1681 at the age of only 33 he became Lord Chief Justice of
Evelyn’s diaries make it perfectly clear that the Deptford Royal Docks continued to play an immensely important role in English ship building, retaining both the physical resources and the human skills necessary to produce and repair vast wooden ships. His diaries record two ships in particular. In 1668 the vessel HMS Charles I was launched from Deptford. A second-rate ship of the line, it had 96 brass cannons. It was rebuilt at
Jonas Shish died in 1680 but was succeeded by his son who, as a Master Shipwright, built H.M.S Neptune which was launched on 17th April 1663. The HMS.
In 1698, the same year that
Evelyn considerably by holding wild parties and holding wheelbarrow races through the immaculate hedges and gardens of the property.
Evelyn moved away from
In 1684 the second Duke of Albermale, Christopher Monck was granted permission to form a market at Rotherhithe every Thursday and Saturday. The market sold a broad range of goods including cattle and pigs. He was also given permission to hold two annual fairs on the first Thursdays of April and in October, both of which lasted two days. He also established a ferry at Rotherhithe
One of the information boards that was put up in Rotherhithe when the new developments were first put up, probably commissioned by the LDDC, is still standing next to the Ship and Whale public house on Gulliver Street, marking the presence of Randall's Rents. Randall's Rents is a slender alley leading up towards the Thames. It is the only remaining survivor of a whole network of similar passages which connected the dockers' homes with their dockland workplace. It was originally named Wet Dock Lane when it was laid out by local shipwright John Wells in 1698. The name was changed to commemorate the owner of a local shipyard who owned houses which he rented to the workers at his yard. I would love to see what it looked like in those days.
The next major date in the diary of the area was the construction of Howland Dock, which once occupied the area now covered by the much larger Greenland Dock. That will be the subject of my next Heritage post in a few days time.
Rather endearingly a 17th century Bellarmine/Bartmann jar was found in Platform Wharf in Rotherhithe in 1986. These are sometimes known as witch bottles and wer e sometimes used to ward off evil spirits. This example was owned by Pieter Van Anken, and bears the motif of an anchor. Filled with various objects, including personal items, the witch bottles were either buried or thrown into water.