BLTC Press Titles

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The Haunted Bookshop

Christopher Morely

Letters on the Aesthetical Education of Man

Friedrich Schiller

The Fairy Tale of the Green Snake and the Beautiful Lily

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Thomas Carlyle, Rudolf Steiner

Further Adventures of an Irish R. M.

Edith Somerville and Martin Ross

London and its celebrities

by John Heneage Jesse







Continuing our route along Thames Street, we shall point out, as we pass along, the particular sites on the banks of the river, which are associated either with the history, the manners, or the romance of past times. We have hitherto strolled from Billingsgate as far as Queenhithe; we will now continue it from Queenhithe to the Temple Garden.

Queenhithe, Queenhive, or Queen's Harbour,—on the west side of Southwark Bridge,—was anciently called Edred's-hithe; and, as far back as the days of the Saxons, was one of the principal harbours or quays, where foreign vessels discharged their cargoes. According to Stow, it derived its more ancient name of Edred's-hithe from one Edred, who had been a proprietor of the wharf. We have evidence that it was royal property in the reign of King Stephen; that monarch having bestowed it upon William de Ypres, who, in his turn, conferred it on the Convent of the Holy Trinity within Aldgate. In the reign of Henry the Third it again came into the possession of the Crown. In consequence of the harbour-dues being the perquisite of the Queen of England, it obtained particular favour; foreign ships, and especially vessels which brought corn from the Cinque Ports, being compelled to land their cargoes here. From its connection also with the Queen of England it obtained its name of Ripa Regince, or Queen's-hithe. For centuries it maintained a successful rivalry with Billingsgate.* From Fabian, however, who wrote at the end of the fifteenth century, we learn that in his time the harbour-dues of Queenhithe had so fallen off as to be worth only £15 a year; and, a century afterwards, Stow speaks of it as being almost forsaken.

Opposite to Queenhithe, on the north side of Thames Street, is situated the parish church of St. Michael, Queenhithe; another uninteresting edifice, erected by Sir Christopher Wren on the site of a very ancient church destroyed by the fire of London. In 1181, we find it denominated St. Michael de Cornhithe; the neighbouring harbour of Queenhithe being probably thus occasionally styled from the quantity of corn which was landed there from the Cinque Ports. The church contains no monuments of any interest; nor,—with the exception of its small but elegant spire, and some fine carved fruit and flowers on the doorway next to the pulpit,—has it much artistical merit.

* See ante, p. 26.


A little beyond Queenhithe is Paul's Wharf, which derives its name from its vicinity to the great cathedral of St. Paul's.

Close to this spot stood the mansion occupied by Cicely, youngest daughter of the haughty and powerful Baron, Ralph de Neville, first Earl of AVestmorland, and widow of Richard Plautagenet, Duke of York ; in whose ambition originated the devastating wars between the White and Red Roses. She was the mother of a numerous family, of whom seven survived to figure in a prominent manner in the stirring times in which they lived. When this lady,— the granddaughter of John of Gaunt, and the gentle mother of an ambitious race,—sat in her domestic circle, and watched complacently the childish sports, and listened to the joyous laughter of her young progeny, how little could she have anticipated the strange fate which awaited them! Her husband perished on the bloody field of Wakefield ; her firstborn, afterwards Edward the Fourth, followed in the ambitious footsteps of his father, and waded through bloodshed to a throne; her second son, Edmund, Earl of Rutland, at the age of twelve, was barbarously murdered by Lord Clifford, after the battle of Wakefield; her third son, "false, fleeting, perjured Clarence," perished in the dungeons of the Tower; and her youngest son, Richard, succeeded to a throne and a bloody death. The career of her daughters was also remarkable; Anne, her eldest daughter, married Henry Holland, Duke of Exeter, whose splendid fortunes

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