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Deptford and the River

Tudor London

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Deptford and the River

LONDON: LATE FIFTEENTH CENTURY

While much of England is consumed with the troubles between the White Rose and the Red, London has been quietly changing its appearance.

There are many more ships now moored below the bridge, and there is the sound of hammering as new ones are built in the yards along the southern bank of the river, from the bridge along Bermondsey to Rotherhithe and Deptford.

One sees the carpenters and boat builders at work with what will be the figurehead turned towards the river; piles of timber lie ready, and in the few open spaces left on the shore rope makers are at work. Trade is increasing, and vessels are wanted to carry and to fetch things from beyond seas.

The grim Tower of London, with its frowning battlements and towers and wide moat, shows no change externally, but even there, behind the walls, many new structures are rising. The buildings to the south and east, which contain the royal apartments, are being altered, and larger windows are replacing the narrow lights of the previous centuries.

Nearer the bridge Billingsgate and the old Custom House present a busy scene on their quay's in front. Beyond, on Tower Hill, the houses of the citizens form a thick fringe around the open space.

Churches are being rebuilt on a larger scale and are adorned with large windows. Allhallows Barking, St. Dunstan in the East, and St. Magnus are now quite important buildings, and so are most of those seen from the river.

There are more boats and barges on the Thames; the "silent highway" is much frequented, and whether travelling for business or pleasure, the citizens prefer the trip if it will take them within a short walk of their destination.

Baynard's Castle has been repaired, or almost rebuilt by Henry the Seventh. During the reigns of his immediate predecessors, Edward the Fourth and Richard the Third, it had been frequently occupied by them. Now it has lost much of its fortress-like look.

According to Stow: "It was not embattled or so strongly fortified castle-like, but far more beautiful aniall commodious for the entertainment of any prince or great estate."

Henry and his Queen, Elizabeth of York, lodged here, and on one memorable occasion he entertained all the Knights of the Garter, who first rode in their habits from the Tower to St. Paul's and then repaired hither. In the same year Henry here received the King of Castile.

Next page: Bridewell




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