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

Open location in Google Maps: 51.507432, -0.063352

8 Annotations

First Reading

Pedro  •  Link


At this time there was a tavern in Wapping called the Six Stars, from which a Captain Jacob Johnson wrote to Coventry to assist in obtaining redress for losses. He had been captain of the Dutch ship The Golden Lyone, taken by Holmes.

Second Reading

Bill  •  Link

Wapping, a hamlet of St. Mary, Whitechapel, on the Middlesex side of the River Thames, a little below The Tower, "and chiefly inhabited by seafaring men and tradesmen dealing in commodities for the supply of shipping and shipmen." It was originally a great wash, watered by the Thames, and was first recovered in the reign of Queen Elizabeth. Stow calls it "Wapping in the Wose" (really Wapping in the Ooze), signifying as much, says Strype, "as in the wash or in the drain." The usual place of execution for pirates was at "Wapping in the Wose."
---London, Past and Present. H.B. Wheatley, 1891.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

Capt. John Taylor was one of the foremost shipbuilders of his day. He built the London in 1657 and her successor the Loyal London 1666. Like many shipbuilders he was unversed in theory of naval architecture. He served as Master-Shipwright at Chatham under the Commonwealth until he was replaced in 1660 at the instigation of the Duchess of Albemarle by Phineas Pett. He then resumed business as a private shipbuilder and timber merchant with a yard at Wapping. So apparently he lived at or near the yard.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

[In the 18th Century) when a sailor returned after a voyage he’d be on the ran tan ashore just as fast as he could. The main area was Wapping, roughly from where the Tower of London is until the river bends. It was a maze of tiny streets and alleys, with names like Cat’s Hole, Shovel Alley, the Rookery, Dark Entry and so on. A wider road called Ratcliffe Highway ran through it, lined with shops, taverns, ship’s chandlers, doss houses and so on. It still exists, now called simply ‘The Highway.’ Every shop had a sailor’s lodgings above it and every kind of sharp practice was used to part the sailor from his hard-earned silver.

For more about London, 50 years after the Diary -- see…

Third Reading

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

Site of Execution Dock, Wapping, England
Where condemned pirates met their end at the gallows on the River Thames.

THE CITY OF LONDON WAS once the largest port in the world, and as such attracted its share of pirates and smugglers. Policing the port was the responsibility of the Admiralty court, which often handed down the death sentence to those convicted of piracy.

Prisoners would be marched along the south side of the Thames, across London Bridge, past the Tower, and to the foreshore of the river in Wapping. They ended their journey, and their lives, at the site known as Execution Dock.

Pirates meeting their end on the gallows at Execution Dock were allegedly subject to an unusual hanging: The rope was purposely too short to break the neck on the drop, so the condemned would be strangled, appearing to dance as their limbs twitched as they died. Their bodies were often left hanging until three tides had washed over them.

Particularly notorious pirates’ corpses were tarred and placed in cages (known as gibbets) along the river as a warning to others.

Capt. William Kidd is probably the most famous swashbuckler to meet his end this way in 1701; his gibbeted body was left in the Thames estuary for 3 years.

All traces of Execution Dock are long gone; after 400 years of use the last pirates stepped off in 1830. The location of the former dock is disputed, with 3 riverside pubs claiming the site:
the Prospect of Whitby (which comes complete with replica gallows),
the Captain Kidd,
and the Town of Ramsgate which is thought to be the most likely location. Down a narrow alley along the western side of the pub, you’ll find some stairs known as the Wapping Old Steps. At low tide, they lead all the way down to the river foreshore, to what may well have been the site of Execution Dock.

Know Before You Go:
The stairs only lead to the foreshore at low tide, so time your visit accordingly. Watch out for mud and debris when walking down toward the water.
There is no sign indicating the location of the dock. However, the pub named The Town of Ramsgate is situated along Wapping High Street; take the narrow lane named Wapping Old Stairs E.
The dock is about a 15 minute walk along the Thames Path from the Tower of London to the South and Wapping Station to the North.

For pictures, see…

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




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