Sir Christopher Wren

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The Council, which included the King, the Lord Archbishop of Canterbury, the Lord Chamberlain, the Earls of Ogle, Bridgewater, Sandwich, Craven, and Lauderdale, Lords Arlington and Ashley, Mr. Treasurer, Mr. Secretary Trevor, and Sir John Duncombe, ordered that Christopher Wren, the Surveyor-General, to carry out a survey of the area and compile a report.

Wren accordingly reported on the 25th of January 1670 that he had surveyed the same quay from the Temple proceeding all along the wharf to London Bridge, and that the circumstances were as represented; and, furthermore, that this space had been encroached upon continually all along.

Innumerable sheds had been built. Piles of faggots, heaps of coals, and bricks were scattered round the area; stalls, offices, and warehouses were built on the forty feet; and two towers of Baynard's Castle had not only been left, but had been turned into private accommodation.

With the exception of another order, in which the King exempts Paul's Wharf from the forty foot way to allow the passage of stone and other materials for the rebuilding of St. Paul's Cathedral, there is no further mention or order made referring to the projected quay, or even to the removal of the obstructions noted by Wren. It seems quietly to have been dropped so far as the Council Orders are concerned.

The original book listing th building developments, most of it in the handwriting of Sir Christopher, is preserved in the Library of the Soane Museum. The "waterhouse" referred to was a machine for raising water from the Thames for the use of the City, which stood at the north end of the Bridge, and was first erected by Peter Morice, a Dutchman, in 1582; it forced water up to the height of Gracechurch Street.

It was afterwards much elaborated and extended, and was supposed to excel the famous machine at Marly le Roy, for it raised 46,896 hogshead a day (a unit of measurement equivalent to 63 gallons or 238 liters) to the height of 120 feet. Some more of the arches further to the south had also been utilised in Elizabeth's reign to contain mills and water-wheels for grinding corn in order that the city might supply the poor with meal at a reasonable rate in times of scarcity.

Both Evelyn and Wren agreed that all these obstructions to the water way ought to be removed, and the houses on the Bridge also taken down, by which it would be possible to widen the roadway, and by substituting a handsome balustrade for the walls and stone parapets, give to passengers an uninterrupted view up and down the river.

But long leases granted by the corporation and vested interests of private individuals proved too strong, and it was not until nearly a century afterwards that the houses on the Bridge were finally removed.

In the great fire about half of the houses were burnt, but the fire stopped at one of the openings made between the houses, and did not reach the Southwark side. The great fire in Southwark did not occur until some years after, when the Borough nearly shared the fate of the City.

From old views of the bridge, especially those by Hollar and Visscher, one sees how terribly these old houses overhung the stream, all sorts of excrescences projecting from them, not only over the arches but also over the starlings.

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