6 Annotations

First Reading

Pedro  •  Link

Custom House.

From L&M, up to being destroyed in the Fire…

In 1660 this stood on the s. side of what is now Lower Thames Street, a little to the w. of the Tower and opposite the s. ends of Water and Bear Lanes, its wharf separating it from the river bank. An Elizabethan building…

in Aqua Scripto  •  Link

It be two furlongs from Office to the Customs House, not far enough to get winded.
Down Seething Lane across Tower Street to Beer lane,down the lane across the street again into the Building other wise if thy want to get a toe wet goto Porters Key and and thee can get a wherry to go down river at Customs House Keys or look around for some dropped items,spice from the Indies.
The Customs House Key be a stones throw from the Tower and the Tower dock and Tower Stairs:
For those that wish to take a gander: http://www.motco.com/map/81002/Se…

Second Reading

Bill  •  Link

The first Custom House of which we have any account was "new built" by John Churchman, Sheriff of London in 1385, and stood on "Customers'-key" to the east of the present building, and therefore much nearer Tower Wharf. In Strype's Map the site of the present building is taken up by a series of small quays, called respectively (commencing at the east) Porters, Great Bear, Little Bear, Young's, Wiggin's, Ralph's, Temple, Little Dice, Great Dice, and Smart's. Another and larger edifice on the same site, erected in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, was burnt in the Great Fire of 1666, The new house designed by Wren in its place was a "commodious and substantial building of brick and Portland stone" -Elmes. It was completed in 1671.
---London, Past and Present. H.B. Wheatley, 1891.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link


For centuries the Custom House in London, where customs duties on imports and exports were collected, played a central part in the working of the commercial Thames and was a major source of income for the Exchequer.

At each major English port the officials responsible for collecting duties on behalf of the monarch were based at a building known as Custom House. England’s major export during the early Middle Ages was wool and in 1203 King John introduced a tax on its export. London duties were paid at Wool Quay, immediately upstream from the Tower of London. By the time of Edward I import duties on wine and other goods were providing a considerable income to the Exchequer. London’s first recorded customs building was constructed at Wool Quay by the Sheriff of London in 1382 during the reign of Richard II. The poet Geoffrey Chaucer, Comptroller of the Customs of Wools, Skins and Tanned Hides from 1374 until 1386, was based at Custom House for his work as manager of tax collectors.

Those officials appointed as collectors and controllers during the mid-15th century were from amongst London’s leading merchants and stayed in their posts for short periods, often then rising to higher civic offices. The leading London customs officials during the latter years of Edward IV and reign of Henry VII however were royal servants who held their positions for many years. During the reign of Queen Elizabeth eight principal officers were employed at Custom House, each with between two and 16 men below them.

The medieval Custom House was rebuilt in red brick 1559 of three stories, with the lower level being an open arcade. Inspectors from there known as ‘tide-waiters’ boarded each ship as it arrived to obtain a certificate of the vessel’s cargo, to be recorded at Custom House and the duty calculated. With confiscated goods stored inside, often of a flammable nature, fire was always a danger.

When the Elizabethan property was destroyed in the Great Fire it was the first building that Charles II proposed to be rebuilt, with funds coming from a newly-introduced tax on coal arriving into the capital. The King surprised everyone by appointing Christopher Wren, a professor of astronomy from Oxford, to oversee the work, his first design project in London, at a cost of £10,000.

Christopher Wren’s building was constructed in a U-shape around a courtyard. It featured a main hall known as the Long Room, where merchants and ships’ captains came to make payments. It gave its name to the equivalent office in customs buildings in all Britain’s ports, regardless of their shape and size. Wren’s building was in turn devastated by fire in 1715.

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

Here's an article about the role of the London Customs House which contains prints of both the one Pepys knew before the Fire, and the one built by Wren.

(It says the current Customs House, no longer dependent on being situated at the wharf, has moved out of London and the building is up for sale. It would make a magnificent museum or public building, but the current bidders want to make it into another hotel. London continues to evolve with the times.)


Third Reading

San Diego Sarah  •  Link

So what's a furlong?

A furlong is a measure of distance in imperial units and United States customary units --
equal to one eighth of a mile,
equivalent to 660 feet,
220 yards,
40 rods,
10 chains
or approximately 201 metres.
-- Google librarian

Log in to post an annotation.

If you don't have an account, then register here.


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