Survey of London: Volume 23, Lambeth: South Bank and Vauxhall. Originally published by London County Council, London, 1951.
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CHAPTER 20 - STANGATE, STANGATE STREET, AND LAMBETH MARSH
[See plates 55 and 56.]
Narrow Wall, the old earth river wall, originally extended south as far as the gateway to Lambeth Palace, and probably constituted the boundary between the grounds of the Archbishop's house and the river. In the course of centuries “hopes” of land were reclaimed from the river though they were not so extensive as those farther north. It was perhaps for this reason that the wall did not develop into a road except at its northern end, but remained a footway (known in the 19th century as Bishop's Walk), until the formation of the Albert Embankment and Lambeth Palace Road.
In the 17th and 18th centuries this strip of foreshore was mainly occupied by bargehouses. The royal barge was kept there after the King's Barge House in Upper Ground fell into disuse (see p. 13), and so were the state barges of several of the City Companies including the Armourers, the Goldsmiths (with whom the Skinners afterwards joined forces) and the Barber Surgeons (who were succeeded by the Drapers). (fn. 182) The Dukes of Richmond and Montagu, who had houses across the river at Whitehall, also kept their barges on the Lambeth shore. (fn. 182) In the late 18th and early 19th centuries Roberts' and Searle's Boathouses occupied most of the river frontage here, while at the northern end was the Mitre Public House (fn. n1) illustrated on Plate 55a.
The name Stangate, attached to a wharf and river stairs just south of the site of Westminster Bridge, dates at least from the mediaeval period, (fn. n2) and it is possibly of Roman origin but, as has been shown on p. 1, such material evidence as exists for a Roman crossing of the river between Lambeth and Westminster suggests that it was farther south near the Horseferry.
The name Stangate is now applied only to the short stretch of roadway extending from Westminster Bridge Road to Lambeth Palace Road, though in the 17th and 18th centuries it was sometimes given to the northern part of Bishop's Walk along the river front.
Stangate Street follows the line of the old road linking Stangate with the road across Lambeth Marsh. (fn. n3) It crossed the fields known as Sowters Lands which were part of the demesne land of the manor of Lambeth. On the 1761 edition of Rocque's map the road is shown without houses except at the north-west end, but before 1788 (fn. 45) both sides were built up.
Nos. 2–46 (even) on the south side of Stangate Street form a long terrace of brick-built houses with an irregular skyline (Plate 59). Some have interesting doorways.
Until the 18th century the term Lambeth Marsh was applied to most of the parish of Lambeth north of the church and east of Narrow Wall, but gradually as the area began to be developed it came to be used more specifically for the road across the marsh to St. George's Fields, the road now known as Upper Marsh and Lower Marsh. On Rocque's map of 1745 most of the road is shown as lined with houses, a piece of ribbon development in what was otherwise an area of fields and gardens. The frontispiece to this volume, a watercolour drawing by William Capon in the Council's collection, purports to be a view from “a gentleman's seat” in Lambeth Marsh made in 1804. The alignment of the City churches, the Monument, and the square shot tower suggests that the viewpoint was at or near Lambeth Palace and that the large house which forms the central feature was Carlisle House. It does not, however, seem possible to reconcile the view completely with the position as shown on maps and other views of the period, and it is probable that Capon was to some extent drawing on his imagination and memory of what he had seen in his earlier days.
Brief mention must be made of the Canterbury Music Hall in Upper Marsh, opened by Charles Morton in 1849, (fn. 185) which survived until the 1939–45 war (Plate 47) and of the Bower Saloon near the junction of Upper Marsh and Stangate Street, which was used for crude melodrama and variety entertainments in the middle of the 19th century.