The overlays that highlight 17th century London features are approximate and derived from Wenceslaus Hollar’s maps:

Open location in Google Maps: 51.510759, -0.095004

10 Annotations

First Reading

Phil  •  Link

I'm guessing this is the right location. This 18th century map shows the Queenhithe ward… which is centered on Thames Street. Maybe it is the same as the Thames Street pointed to by the Streetmap link above.

Richard  •  Link

Queenhithe and some of the streets from the 18th Century map (above) still exist by the north side of Southwark Bridge.


Pedro  •  Link

Queenhithe--or Queenhive, as it was corruptly called by the Elizabethan dramatists--was originally, according to Stow, called "Edred's Hythe," or bank, from some Saxon owner of that part of Thames Street.

Second Reading

Bill  •  Link

Queenhithe, in Upper Thames Street, a short distance west of Southwark Bridge, a common quay for the landing of corn, flour, and other dry goods from the west of England,—originally called "Edred's hithe" or bank, from "Edred, owner thereof,"—but known, from a very early period as Ripa Reginae, the Queen's bank or Queenhithe, because it pertained unto the Queen. King John is said to have given it to his mother, Eleanor, Queen of Henry II. It was long the rival of Billingsgate, and would have retained the monopoly of the wharfage of London had it been below instead of above bridge. In the 13th century it was the usual landing-place for wine, wool, hides, corn, firewood, fish, and indeed all kinds of commodities then brought by sea to London, and the City Records afford minute details as to "the Customs of Queen-Hythe," and the tolls ordered to be taken there by Edward I.
---London, Past and Present. H.B. Wheatley, 1891.

Third Reading

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

Queenhithe's importance comes from the fact that it is a surviving dock space dating back to the Saxon and Medieval period.

The dock was probably established by King Alfred after he reoccupied the area within the City walls in 886. At that time, it was called Ethelredshythe after King Alfred's son in law, when it was a place where boats were pulled up on the foreshore with goods being sold from the boats.

The name Queenhithe comes from Queen Matilda, wife of Henry I, who was granted the taxes generated by trade at the dock. Hithe means a small landing place for ships and boats.

Matilda also built London's first public lavatory at the dock, which was available for the "common use of the citizens" of London, and was no doubt built at the dock so the output of the lavatory could flow directly into the river - some things do not change.

Queenhithe is shown in the Agas map (from the mid 16th century to the early 17th century), with a boat with a sail, and a smaller boat being within the dock. The map shows open space between the end of the dock and the houses lining Thames Street, which was presumably used for holding cargos being moved between the ships on the river and the land, and for sales.

Writing in London Past and Present (1891), Henry Wheatley describes Queenhithe as:
"It was long the rival of Billingsgate and would have retained the monopoly of the wharfage of London had it been below instead of above bridge. In the 13th century it was the usual landing place for wine, wool, hides, corn, firewood, fish and indeed all kinds of commodities then brought by sea to London."

The dock today is a much smaller part of what was the original dock and trading area. Excavations beneath some of the buildings surrounding the dock have found remains of a Roman quay along with the 9th century shore where trading took place, along with a series of medieval waterfronts, showing how during the medieval period the river wall was gradually being pushed further into the river.

Queenhithe is classed as a Scheduled Ancient Monument, and is one of the areas along the river where mudlarking or disturbance of the dock or foreshore is prohibited.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link


The Historic England description of the reason for designating Queenhithe as a Scheduled Ancient Monument explains the importance of the place:
"Quays are structures designed to provide sheltered landing places with sufficient depth of water alongside to accommodate vessels over part of the tidal circle. The features and complexity of quays vary enormously depending partly on their date but also on their situation and exposure, the nature of the underlying geology and alluvium, and the volume and types of trade they need to handle. By their nature, quays also tend to occur in proximity to centres of trade and administrative authority, usually in locations already sheltered to some extent by natural features. Basic elements of quays may include platforms built up and out along a part of the coast or riverside that is naturally deep or artificially dredged, or along an artificial cut forming a small dock on a riverside or coast.
"Urban waterfront structures and their associated deposits provide important information on the trade and communication links of particular periods and on the constructional techniques and organisation involved in the development of waterfronts. Artefacts recovered through excavation and the deposits behind revetments will retain evidence for the commodities which were traded at such sites.
"... Queenhithe Dock is a rare survival of a sequence of waterfront constructions dating from the Roman period. The timber quays, revetments and the occupation levels are well preserved as buried features. It will provide evidence for the riverside development of London including archaeological and environmental remains and deposits. These deposits will provide information about the river and riverside environment and, by extension, about the people who lived alongside and have used it. The site is of particular significance as one of the few early medieval docks recorded in London."

All that is left of Queenhithe is an indentation in the line of wharves backing onto Upper Thames Street. But this, with Billingsgate, once formed the Port of London.

It was called by its present name in the reign of Henry II, but as a dock it is centuries older, first mentioned in 899 during Alfred's reign. To encourage its prosperity taxes were levied on foreign vessels discharging cargo elsewhere in the city.

By Stow's time it had fallen into disuse.

Queenhythe as a trading dock gradually lost its usefulness as the size of ships increased and the docks grew along the river, both within the City of London, and along the rest of the Thames. ... it did continue to be a place where lighters could be moored, with the relatively flat bottom of the dock allowing a lighter to be settled at low water, rather than being moored in the river.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link


Along the eastern wall of the dock is the Queenhithe Mosaic, which provides "A timeline displaying the remarkable layers of history from Roman times to Her Majesty's Diamond Jubilee":

The mosaic was design by Tessa Hunkin and Southbank Mosaics created the installation in 2014, and next to the river, it starts with the first Roman invasion. Other key London events are included such as when St. Paul's Cathedral was first built in stone, and when London became a Saxon town:

Given the level of 19th century rebuilding of the City, it is surprising Queenhithe survived, but the dock had already given its name to a Ward, so the importance of the place must have long been clear, and removing the place that was the source of the Ward's name was probably too much, even for Victorian commercial redevelopment of the City of London.

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Chart showing the number of references in each month of the diary’s entries.





  • Sep