7 Annotations

Mary  •  Link

Though water had been piped into London since the completion of the New River and the Islington reservoir at the beginning of the century, by the 1660s the supply was intermittent, necessitating storage in domestic cisterns. As it had passed through elm pipes and lead 'quills' before reaching the house and then was allowed to stagnate, it would not have been thought a healthy or pleasant drink. Though some houses would have had domestic wells, the chances of these being contaminated by nearby cess-pits were high. Water was not, therefore, a drink of choice for the city dweller.

David Quidnunc  •  Link

"Spaw" water from Holland

On 10 June 1658 (old style), Pepys's employer, George Downing, also the English ambassador to the Hague, writes to Secretary of State John Thurloe that he is sending him four dozen bottles of "Spaw water . . . the bottles were all sealed at the Spaw." He tells Thurloe that he can have more bottles if he wants. On June 25, Thurloe writes back that he'd like 100 more.

-- John Beresford, "The Godfather of Downing Street: Sir George Downing 1623-1684: An Essay in Biography," p. 94.

vincent  •  Link

Are that modern water "Perrier" ou "de Vichy" ou est "aqua de energetique" [so wot's new]
Aqua Gentian

Pedro  •  Link

Água escrito…

'At the "Angel and Sun," in the Strand, near Strand Bridge, is to be sold every day, fresh Epsum-water, Barnet-water, and Tunbridge-water; Epsumale, and Spruce-beer'—1664.

Curious Advertisements, the Book Of Days.

Mary  •  Link

The New River.

A recent BBC TV programme on UK rivers, presented by Griff Rhys Jones, showed excellent views of The New River and demonstrated how it still supplies 22.5 million gallons of water to London each day.

The programme should be available for UK viewers to see on BBC i-player for several days yet.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

According to WaterHistory.org, the City of London developed a water delivery systems over the millenia which made "conduits" available to Shakespeare.

London in the early 13th century was a small community situated on the north bank of the Thames River. North of the City of London walls was a marshy area known as the Moors, headwaters for the Walbrook which flowed down through the center of the city. The stream, together with specialized drainage ditches, supplied water to the moat around the city wall.
Beyond the walls in western suburbs flowed the larger Fleet river.
There were also a number of springs outside the City of London which flowed with good drinking water.

By the 16th century the rise in population made these waterways contaminated.

Soon pipes connected the spring at Tybourne [sic] with the Great Conduit House in Cheapside. (The term “conduit” was originally used mainly to refer to the cisterns at the end of the system.) In all, 12 conduit systems were built in the suburbs of London. They were all similar in design. The head of the conduit was placed near a natural spring and the water from the spring was used to fill a nearby cistern or tank. From the cistern, the water flowed through pipes for a distance of a mile or more. At the terminus, the water was stored in a larger cistern equipped with cocks or taps for dispensing the water.

Water was distributed to customers by people called “cobs” or carriers. When peoples realized they could tap into the pipes and have the water flow into their home without paying the cobs, the problem of water theft arose.

During Shakespeare’s lifetime (1580s) two men decided to take advantage of new engineering and turned the flow of water to conduits into businesses.

One was a Dutchman, Peter Morice, who applied to city officials for permission to construct a water-wheel and pumps under one of the arches of London Bridge to create the energy to pump clean water to the city. He demonstrated his pump power by forcing a jet of water over the spire of the Church of St. Magnus (located near London Bridge). This so impressed city officials that they granted Morice a 500-year lease on one arch.

Peter Morice's water-wheels and other machinery were destroyed in the Great Fire of 1666, but they were replaced by his grandson, and these water-wheels remained under the bridge until the early 19th century.

Enjoy finding out more on global water use at WaterHistory.org

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

Peter Morice’s work was overshadowed by Sir Hugh Myddelton’s construction of a canal to carry water to London from the Hertfordshire springs of Chadwell and Amwell, a distance of nearly 60 kilometers. This engineering feat, begun in 1609 and finished in 1613, was so bold the “New River” source is still used as a valuable part of London's water supply.

The building of the “New River” is one of the legendary feats of London. It provided a great deal of water for the City, but unsurprisingly people weren’t keen on having to pay for it. At first there was trouble persuading people to sign on for the service, and when they had enough subscribers, there was insufficient water for all the people. These challenges, plus problems from using wooden pipes, leaks, and water theft, continued into the 19th century.

In 1904 the company passed control of London’s water supply to the Metropolitan Water Board.

The development of things like conduits and water systems in the 16th century were massive innovations not just for England, but for the world. These systems’ longevity and the scope with which they served the city are still impressive.

Shakespeare’s lifetime was awash with mechanical ingenuity, which is what the conduit system represents.

Enjoy finding out more on global water use at WaterHistory.org

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


  • Aug