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Southwark, then, had no reason for existence at all except for its connection with London by bridge and ferry, and especially by bridge. Before the Ferry and the Bridge there was no Southwark. The history of Southwark is closely connected with the Bridge. It was on the south end of the Bridge that all the fighting took place, London very generously handing over her battles to her daughter of the south. I propose, in this chapter, to discourse about the Bridge and one or two of its earlier battles.

It is sometimes stated, confidently, that before the Bridge there was the Ferry. Why? To carry people across the river and 'dump' them down in the marsh? But people had no business in the marsh. First came the Bridge and the Causeway to connect it with the Dover road. Then traffic began to cross the Bridge and to meet the Dover road. But as yet there was no ferry. Then came the Embankment, and the appearance of houses along the Causeway and on the Embankment. As the trade of London increased, so Southwark—I would we had the Roman name—increased in proportion. Inns were created for the convenience of merchants, trade was drawn from Thorney on the south by the Bridge, just as it was diverted on the north by the military way connecting the great high road with London. When the Causeway was always filled with caravans and long trains of heavily laden packhorses; when the inns were crowded with merchants and their slaves; when the Bridge was all day{26} covered with passengers and carriers; then the Ferry was demanded as a quicker and an easier way of getting across. Two Ferries, there were; perhaps more. One of these ran from Dowgate Dock to St. Mary Overies; the other crossed the river lower down, nearer the Tower. So things remained for nearly two thousand years—say, from A.D. 100 to A.D. 1750. If a man wanted to get across the river, he did not make his way to London Bridge, and painfully walk across amid the carriers and the caravans, the plunging horses and the droves of oxen; he stepped into the boat and was ferried across. We must not look on the Bridge as a means of getting across the river for the people: it was not; it was the means of conveying merchandise to and fro; it was a construction most important for military purposes; it was a barrier to prevent a hostile fleet from getting higher up the river; but, for the ordinary passenger, the boat was the quicker and the easier means of conveyance.

When was the Bridge built? It is impossible to say. It was not there A.D. 61, when Queen Boadicea's troops sacked the City and murdered the people. It was there when Allectus led his troops out to fight the Roman legions. It was there very early in the Roman occupation, as is proved by the quantities of Roman coins of the four centuries of their tenure found in the bed of the river on the site of the old Bridge. It is also proved by the fact that Southwark was a settlement of the wealthier class, who could not have lived in a place absolutely without supplies, had there been no bridge. We may take any time we please for the construction of the Bridge, so long as it is quite early—say, before the second century.

The building of the Bridge can be arrived at with such great certainty that I have no hesitation in presenting a drawing of it. As this Bridge has never before been figured by the pencil of any artist, it will be well for me to indicate the steps by which its reconstruction has been made possible.
Merchants crossing Southwark Marsh Merchants crossing Southwark Marsh

The Britons themselves were quite unable to construct a{27} bridge of any kind, unless in the primitive methods observed at Post Bridge and Two Bridges, on Dartmoor, by a slab of stone laid across two boulders. The work, therefore, was certainly undertaken by Roman engineers. We have, in the next place, to inquire what kind of bridge was built at that time by the Romans. They built bridges of wood and of stone; many of these stone bridges still remain, in other cases the pieces of hewn stone still remain. The Bridge over the Thames, however, was of wood. This is proved by the fact that, had it been of the solid Roman construction in stone, the piers would be still remaining; also by the fact that London had to be contented with a wooden bridge till the year 1176, when the first bridge of stone was commenced. Considerations as to the comparative insignificance of London in the first century, as to the absence of stone in the neighbourhood, and as to the plentiful supply of the best wood in the world from the forests north of the City, confirm the theory that the Bridge was built of wood. We have only,{28} therefore, to learn how Roman engineers built bridges of wood elsewhere, in order to know how they built a bridge of wood over the Thames. And this we know without any doubt.

First: they drove piles into the bed of the river—not upright piles, but inclined at an angle; they placed two piles side by side, and opposite to these two more; they connected the two piles by ties and the opposite piles with them by transverse girders. Across them they laid a huge beam—a tree roughly hewn, and across these beams they laid the floor of stout planks. The weight of beams and planks and the parapet put up afterwards, with perhaps other planks for greater safety, pressed down the piles and held them in place. To prevent the current from carrying them away, each double pair of piles was protected by a 'starling,' formed by driving upright smaller piles in front at the piers and enclosing a space, which was filled up with stones, so that the force of the current was not felt by the great piles.

In this way the Roman Bridge was built. You will understand it better from the drawing, which shows the Bridge taken from the Embankment near the present site of St. Mary Overies Church. The gate is the river-gate in the long straight wall which ran along the bank of the river. The wall, it is obvious, must have been pierced at several points for the convenience of trade and the quays: one supposes that these posterns could be easily closed and defended. This river-wall, we shall presently see, was standing in the time of Cnut. Some parts of it stood until the building of the stone Bridge in the last quarter of the twelfth century. The Roman Bridge was also the Saxon Bridge, the Danish Bridge, and the Norman Bridge.

In course of time the river-wall was removed, bit by bit: its foundations still lie under the pavement and the warehouses. The gate was altered. I do not suppose there was much of the original structure left when the East Saxons took possession of the City after a hundred years of desertion and{29} decay. But a gate of some kind there must always have been. The breadth of the Bridge allowed, according to FitzStephen, two carts to pass each other. That means about sixteen feet. Like the very ancient stone bridges of Saintes and Avignon, the Bridge was from sixteen to twenty feet broad. The river-gate stood at the south end of Botolph Lane, some seventy feet east of the present Bridge: the second Bridge—the first of stone—stood between the first and third, having St. Magnus' Church on the north and St. Olave's on the south side; together with its own chapel of St. Thomas on the Bridge itself, to place it under the special protection of the saints most dear to London hearts.
London Bridge, A.D. 1000 London Bridge, A.D. 1000

The Bridge, and especially the south end of it, was a field of battle whenever the way of war came near to London. The first glimpse, as we have seen, which we catch of it is when Allectus and his forces crossed the river by the Bridge to give battle to the legions of Asclepiodotus on the Heath beyond the rising ground. A few hours later, on the same day, their columns routed, their general dead, we see the defeated troops once more flying across the narrow Bridge. There was no one to lead them, or they could have held the Bridge against all comers; there was no drawbridge to pull up, or they could have kept the Romans out by that expedient. One wonders{30} if all their officers were lying dead on the field, with Allectus, for the troops, who were Franks for the most part, seem to have left the Bridge without a guard, and the river-gate wide open, while they melted into little companies, who ran about the City pillaging the houses and murdering the unfortunate people.

By the Roman law the people were unarmed: no one could carry arms except the soldiers. The law was a safeguard against rebellion; but it opened the door to military revolts, and it destroyed the military spirit among the civil population—always a most dangerous thing for a State. The Roman legions poured into the City; they found Allectus' Franks at their murderous work, and they cut them down. If it is true, as stated by the historians, that they were all cut off to a man, London must have been a horrible shambles.

The second glimpse of the Bridge is also that of a routed army flying across the narrow way to seek shelter between the walls. It is in the year 467. They are the Britons flying from their defeat in Kent. After this there is silence—absolute silence, leaving not so much as a whisper, a tradition, or a legend; the silence that can only mean desertion—silence for a hundred and fifty years.
A Danish House A Danish House

When London reappears, it is in humble guise: the City has shrunk within her ancient walls; and these have fallen into decay. Southwark no longer exists. We learn that the Bridge has been repaired, because there is easy communication with Canterbury. Yet in the Danish troubles there is no fighting on or for the Bridge. Why? simply because there were no defenders of the Bridge on the south. In 819 and in 857 the Danes entered London and 'slaughtered numbers,' apparently without opposition. In 872 they occupied London, apparently without opposition. We hear of no siege, of no fighting on the Bridge; of no shelter behind the walls. Yet there was a defence at York, at Reading, at Nottingham—behind the walls. Why not in London? Because in London{31} the walls, 5,500 yards in length, had become too long to man, or to defend, or to repair. The Danes ran into the City through the shattered gate; they leaped over the broken wall. What happened to the people; what street fighting was carried on, what slaughter, what plunder, what horrible treatment of women—we may understand from the page of the historian Saxo relating other sacks and sieges by the gentle Dane. As for the trade, the wealth, the name and fame of London—they all perished together. It was a ruined city, with a miserable population of craftsmen enslaved by the Dane, that Alfred reconquered. The Bridge itself was broken down; the settlements of the south were deserted: even the fishermen had left the Thames above and below London, and sought for safety in the retired creeks and safe backwaters along the coast of Essex. The London fisherman sallied forth in his coracle from the marshes behind Canvey Island, and from the slopes of Hadleigh. Alfred repaired the walls and the Bridge and rebuilt the gates. Something like peace was restored to the City and order to the country. Then trade, which welcomes the first appearance of safety, began again. If the merchant feared the pirates of the Foreland, he could march across the Bridge to Dover; or he could land at Dover and march across Kent to the Bridge. Then the old{32} settlements on the south Causeway were rebuilt and new inns sprang up, and Southwark began again.

A hundred years of rest from the 'army,' as the 'Chronicle' calls the Danes, gave Southwark time to grow. It is spoken of by the Danish historian as an 'emporium.' I understand from the use of this word that the trade of London was carried on principally by way of Dover, because the seas were swarming with pirates. Southwark was a halting-place and a resting-place, such as Thorney had been of old.

The prosperity of the settlement, however, received another blow when the Danes once more, mindful of their former victories, sailed up the river with hope of again taking London. Southwark was defenceless. There was never any wall about the place: its population was migratory. When the enemy appeared the people of Southwark retreated across the Bridge. The Danes landed, pillaged, and burned; they then went away. Some of the people returned, especially the fishermen, whose huts were easily repaired. When, however, the attacks became more frequent, and the Danes appeared every year, Southwark was deserted. But in London itself they were grievously disappointed; for their grandfathers had told them that it was a feeble and a helpless place, perfectly incapable of resistance, with walls through whose wide gaps a whole army could march; and they fondly expected to find it in the same condition. But it had been growing, unseen by them, in population and resource and power.

In the year 992 the City showed its strength in a manner which was extremely startling to the Danes; for it equipped a great fleet, manned the ships with stout-hearted citizens, sent the ships down the river, met the Danish fleet, engaged them, and routed them with great slaughter. Two years later they returned, eager for revenge—the revenge which they vainly sought in six successive sieges. The army on this occasion consisted of Norsemen and Danes in alliance,{33} under the two kings, Olaf of Norway and Swegen of Denmark. They were firmly resolved to take the City: with their warriors they would attack it by land, with their ships by water. They had no ladders; they had no knowledge of mining; they had no battering-rams; they could, and doubtless did, endeavour to break down the gates with trunks of trees; but the gates were well manned and well defended. On the river-side one half of the town kept open their communications; the other half were exposed to the arrows of the sailors, but had arrows of their own. How long the siege lasted I know not; the 'Chronicle,' all too brief, tells us only that the enemy discovered that they could not prevail, and that they withdrew.

The appearance of a Danish or Norwegian fleet, whose ships were models to King Alfred when he founded the English Navy, must not be gathered from the drawings of the Bayeux tapestry, where the ships are conventional in treatment. We have, fortunately, one actual surviving specimen of a ship of King Olaf's time. It is the famous ship of Gokstad, in Norway. Look at the two pictures on this and following page. One is taken from the tapestry, the other{34} is the Gokstad vessel. The former carries about a dozen men, rather high out of the water, with straight sides, and would certainly capsize. The latter is a long, light, swift vessel, built for speed, and able to sail over quite shallow water; she is constructed on lines which, for beauty or for usefulness, cannot be surpassed even at the present day: she rides lightly, drawing very little water. She is clinker built; the planks overlying each other are fastened with iron bolts, riveted and clinched on the inside. She is built of oak; her length from stem to stern, over all, is 78 feet; her keel is 66 feet; her breadth is 16? feet; her depth is no more than 4 feet; the third plank from the top is twice as thick as the others; she is pierced by portholes for as many oars. The ship is pointed at both ends; she is steered by a rudder attached to the side of the stern; on each side hang 16 shields; she carried 64 rowers, and probably as many men besides. The decorations lavished on the ship were profuse. The figure-head was gilt, the stern was gilt, the shields were gilt; the ships{35} were painted in long lines of bright colour—you can see that in the ships of the Bayeux tapestry. The whole of the vessel—bows, figure-head, gunwale, stern-post—were covered with carvings; the sails were decorated with embroideries; the mast was gilt. Verily the 'fleet shone as if it were on fire.'
A Viking Ship A Viking Ship

Such were the ships which came up, nearly a hundred in company, with Olaf and Swegen. Low in the water they came, the oars sweeping in a long, measured swish of the water: swiftly flying up the broad river, the sunshine lighting up the colours and the gilding of the ships, and the bright arms of the company on board. It was a company of tall and strong men; young, every one, with long fair hair and blue eyes. From the grey walls of the town, from the Bridge on the river, the citizens saw the splendid array rushing up to destroy them if they could. At the Bridge, the foremost stop: they go no farther; those behind cry 'Forward!' and those in front cry 'Back!' The Bridge would suffer none to pass; and so, jammed together, perhaps lashed together, as when Olaf was to meet his death five years later in his last splendid sea-fight, they essayed to take the city by assault. They shot arrows with red-hot heads over the walls, to strike and set light to the thatch; they shot arrows at the citizens on the walls; they tried to scale the piles of the Bridge. If they could get within the City, these splendid savages, there would be slaughter and pillage, ravishing of women, firing of the thatch, the roar of flames and the clashing of weapons, and next day silence, long teams of slaves and of treasure lifted into the ships, bows turned outward; and the fleet would leave behind it a London once more desolate and naked and forlorn, as when the East Saxon entered towards the end of the sixth century. It was a day of fate, and big with destiny. Had the Danes succeeded, we know not what might have been the history of London and of England.

When they were beaten off, the people of Southwark went back to their homes, and the daily business of life was carried{36} on as usual. We may observe that if there had been a permanent settlement here—a town of any importance—they would have built a wall to protect it. But there was never any wall; the place could be approached by the Causeway or by the river; no one ever at any time thought of protecting Southwark.

But now a worse time fell upon the place, as well as upon London. The whole country, almost unresisting, was ravaged by the Danes: Swegen came over and proved the English weakness, and saw that time would help him, if he waited. Time did help him, and famine helped him as well.

In 1009 occurred the second siege of London, this time by Thurkitel, who afterwards entered into the service of Ethelred. He ravaged Kent and Essex, took up his winter quarters on the Thames, apparently at Greenwich, and laid siege to the City—but in vain. It is of course obvious that without ladders, mines, battering-rams, or wooden towers, the City could never be taken. The people beat him off at every assault with great loss. It seems as if the whole valour in England was at the moment concentrated in London.

The third siege of London was in 1013, when Swegen returned. This time, mindful of his former failure, and of Thurkitel's failure, he left his ships at Southampton; he marched upon London by way of Winchester, which he took on the way; but although he came up from the south, he did not attack from the south, nor did he encamp on the south. The reason is obvious: the Causeway was narrow; to fight on the Bridge was to engage a mere handful of men; there was no place except that and the Causeway. Swegen, therefore, passed over the ford of Westminster, and attacked the walls on the north side. Within the City was Thurkitel, now in the English service; by his help or counsel, the Londoners drove Swegen off the field. He withdrew. But all England rapidly submitted to his arms; therefore London, too, seeing that it was useless to hold out alone, sent hostages and submitted. It is reported{37} that they were terrified at the threats of Swegen: he would cut off their hands and their feet; he would tear out their eyes; he would burn and destroy—and so forth. But these promises were the common garnish of besiegers; they no more frightened the defenders of London at this time than they frightened the defenders of any other city.

The end of Swegen, as everybody knows, was that St. Edmund of Bury killed him for doubting his saintliness.

We now come to the three successive sieges by King Cnut. The expedition with which he proposed to reduce London was far finer and more powerful than that of Olaf and Swegen. The poetic description of it says that the ships were counted by hundreds; that they were manned by an army among whom there was never a slave, or a freeman son of a slave, or one unworthy man, or an old man. Freeman asks what nobility meant if all were nobles? A strange question for one so learned! The nobles of Denmark were simply the conquering race; nobility consisted in free birth, and in descent from the conquering race, not the conquered: it was not necessarily a small caste; it might possibly include the larger part of the people.{38}

Cnut anchored off Greenwich and prepared for his siege. First of all, he resolved that the Bridge should no longer bar the way. He therefore cut a trench round the south of the Bridge, by means of which he drew some of his ships to the other side of it. He then cut another trench round the whole of the wall. In this way he hoped to shut in the City and cut off all supplies: if he could not take the place by storm, he would starve it out. There are no details of the siege, but as Cnut speedily abandoned the hope of success and marched off to look after Edmund, his investment of the City was certainly not a success.

He met Edmund and fought two battles with him; with what result history has made us acquainted. He then returned and resumed the siege of London. Edmund fought him again, and made him once more raise the siege. When Edmund went into Wessex to gather new forces, Cnut began a third siege, in which, also, 'by God's help,' he made no progress.

In twenty years, therefore, the City of London was besieged six times, and not once taken.

Antiquaries have written a good deal on the colossal nature of the canal constructed by Cnut; they have looked for traces of it in the south of London before it was covered over by houses; they have gone as far afield as Deptford in search of these traces; they have even found them; and to the present day every writer who has mentioned the canal speaks of it and thinks of it with the respect due to a colossal work. Freeman himself called it a 'deep ditch.' How deep it was, how long it was, how broad it was, I am going to explain.

It was in the year 1756 that the painstaking historian, William Maitland, F.R.S., announced that he had been so fortunate as to light upon the course of the long-lost trench of King Cnut.

He had found certain evidence, he said, of its course, in a{39} direction nearly east and west from the then 'New Dock' of Rotherhithe to the river at the end of Chelsea Reach, through Vauxhall Gardens. The proofs were, first, certain depressions in the ground; next, the discovery of oaken planks and piles driven into the ground for what he thought was the northern fence of the canal, near the Old Kent Road; and next a report that, in 1694, when the wet dock of Rotherhithe was constructed, a quantity of hazel, willow, and other branches were found pointing northward, with stakes to keep them in position, forming a kind of water fence, such as, it is said, is still in use in Denmark. It will be seen that Mr. Maitland's theory has but a small basis of evidence, yet it seems to have been generally accepted—partly, I suppose, because it was so colossal.

The canal thus cut would actually be a little over four miles and a half in length. Another writer, seeing the difficulties of so great a work, suggests another course. He would start from the site of the New Dock, Rotherhithe, and end on the other side of London Bridge, a course of only three and three-quarter miles!

Let us ask ourselves why it should be a 'deep' ditch; why it should be a long ditch; why it should be a broad ditch.

Wherever Cnut began his trench, whether at Rotherhithe or nearer the Bridge, he would have the same preliminary difficulties to encounter: that is to say, he would have to cut through the Embankment of the river at either end, and he would have to cut through the Causeway in the middle. In these cuttings he would perhaps have to take down two or three houses, huts, or cabins, all deserted, because the people had all run across the Bridge for safety at the first sight of the Danes, if there were any people at the time living in Southwark—which I doubt.

We may, further, take it for granted that Cnut had officers of sense and experience on whom he could depend for carrying out his canal in a workmanlike manner. A people who{40} could build such perfect ships would certainly not waste time and labour in constructing a trench which would be any longer or deeper or wider than was absolutely necessary.

Now the shortest canal possible would be that in which he was just able to drag his vessels round without destroying the banks. In other words, if a circular canal began at C B, and if we drew an imaginary circle round the middle of the canal, what was required was that the chord D F, forming a tangent to the middle circle, should be at least as long as the longest vessel. Now (see diagram)—

AD2 - AE2 = DE2.

If r is the radius, AD and 2a the breadth BC, and 2b the length of the chord DF—

r2 - (r - a)2 = b2 ∴ r = (a2 + b2)/2a.

This represents the length of the radius in terms of the length and breadth of the largest vessel in the fleet, and is therefore the smallest radius possible for getting the ships through. Now, the ship of Gokstad, already described, was undoubtedly one of the finest of the vessels used by Danes and Normans. The poets certainly speak of larger ships,{41} but as a marvel. Nothing is said about Cnut bringing over ships of very great size. Now, that vessel was 66 feet in length, considering the keel, which is all we need consider; 16? feet in breadth, and 4 feet in depth. She drew very little water; therefore a breadth of canal less than the breadth of the vessel was enough. Let us make the chord 70 feet in length, so that b = 35. Let us make the breadth of the canal 12 feet. Therefore 2a = 12 or a = 6 and r = 105 feet very nearly. Measuring, therefore, 105 feet on either side of London Bridge, we arrive at a possible commencement of Cnut's work. That is to say, if he made a semicircular canal, in that case the length of the canal would be 320 yards, which is certainly an improvement on four miles and a half, or even three miles and three-quarters.

There is, however, more to consider. Why should Cnut make a semicircle when an arc would serve his turn? All he had to do was to draw an arc of a circle with the radius just found, to clear any obstacles in the way of approach to the Bridge, and use that arc for his canal. This is most certainly what he did: I am quite certain he adopted this method, because it was the only sensible thing to do. He would thus get off with a canal about fifty yards long, of which the only difficulty would be the cutting through the Embankment and the Causeway.

What would be the depth of the canal? Look at this section of the Gokstad ship. With her breadth of sixteen{42} feet, she had only four feet in depth; without her company and crew, and their arms and provisions, she would thus draw no more than a few inches—certainly not more than eight inches or so. Freeman's deep canal therefore comes to eight inches at the most. But there is still another consideration which lessened the labour materially. The ground behind the Embankment was a little lower than the river at high tide: the Danes, therefore, had only to construct a low wooden containing-wall of timber on each side in order to make their canal without excavating an inch. When that was done, the cutting of the Embankment let in the tide and did the rest. In this simple manner do we reduce Cnut's colossal work of a deep canal, four miles and a half long, into a piece of construction and demolition which would take a large body of men no more than a few hours.

If, however, there actually was any digging to be done, we must remember that the ground was a level; that there were no stones or rocks in the way, and that it consisted of a soft black humus, the result of ages of successive growths of sedge and coarse grass, formerly washed twice a day by the brackish waters of a tidal river. The object of the canal once attained, the ships drawn back again, Cnut, of course, left the place to be repaired by any who pleased. The broken Embankment let in the tide; the broken Causeway cut off any approach to the river; but Southwark was deserted. When things settled down a little, workmen were sent across from London, and the broken places were repaired. Then all traces of the canal disappeared.

Thirty-six years later, in 1052, Earl Godwine arrived at Southwark with a fleet and an army. He had no difficulty in passing the Bridge; he waited till flood-tide, and then sailed through 'on the south side.' It is quite impossible to explain this statement, or to make it agree with the difficulty felt by Cnut. The Bridge may have sustained some damage; there may have been a drawbridge; or Godwine's ships may{43} have been smaller: one knows nothing. I merely state the fact as the Chronicler gives it.

One more glimpse of the Bridge from Southwark before we pass on to more modern times.
Ships of William the Conqueror Ships of William the Conqueror

After Hastings, William marched northwards. Arrived near London, he advanced to Southwark, where he found the Bridge closed to him—closed, I believe, by knocking away some of the upper beams. This, of course, he expected; his friends within the City, of whom he had many, kept him acquainted with the changing currents of popular opinion. It is commonly stated that the citizens were terrified by the sight of Southwark in flames at his command. Southwark in flames! A few fishermen's huts were all that remained of the suburb, whose population since the time of the Pax Romana had been so precarious and so changeful. Five hundred years of battle, war between kings and tribes, invasion and ravage by Dane and Norseman, had not left of{44} Southwark, once so beautiful a suburb, anything more than these poor huts and ruins of huts. William's soldiers burned them, because wherever a soldier of that period appeared, the thatch always caught fire spontaneously. William saw the flames, and regarded them not, any more than he regarded the flames that followed in his track all the way from Senlac. He gazed across the river, and remembered that twice had London defied all the strength of Swegen; that three times had London beaten off the great King Cnut when all England had surrendered; that in six sieges London had always been victorious; he knew, because his friends in the City would allow no mistake on that point, that the spirit of the citizens was as high now as it had been then; that they still remembered with pride the defeat of Cnut; and that not a few were anxious to treat William the Norman as they had treated Cnut the Dane. One knows not, exactly, what things went on within the walls; what exhortations, what wild talk, what faction fight; how the citizens rolled, and surged, a mass of wild faces, about their Folk-mote by St. Paul's. But of one thing we may be quite certain: that William did not expect the citizens to be afraid of him; and that, in fact, they were not afraid of him, whether he set fire to the huts of Southwark or not; they were not afraid of William, whatever the historians say. As for the Bridge, the old Roman Bridge, by this time there could hardly have been a single pile remaining of the original structure; yet it was constantly repaired.

We may restore to Norman London, therefore, not only the grey wall rising out of the level ground, without any ditch or moat outside, but also the Bridge of wooden piles with the transverse girders and beams for additional security, so that the old Bridge contained a whole forest of timbers like those which support the roof of an ancient hall. It was continually receiving damage. In the year 1091, a mighty whirlwind blew down a good part of London, houses and churches and all. It has been assumed that the Bridge{45} was also destroyed; but the 'Chronicle' is silent on the subject. In 1092 there was a great fire in London; it is again assumed that the Bridge was destroyed, but again the 'Chronicle' is silent. In 1097, however, it is plainly stated that the Bridge had been almost washed away, and that it was repaired.

In 1136 the most destructive fire ever experienced by London, save that of 1666, spread through the whole City, from London Bridge, which it greatly damaged, all the way to St. Clement Danes on the west, and Aldgate on the east. One wonders what ancient monuments—walls of Roman churches, villas, and baths, still surviving halls and chambers of the Forum—were destroyed in this fire; Saxon houses of the better sort, with their great halls and courtyards; small Saxon churches of wood or stone, with low towers and little windows. Possibly there was no great loss: it was already seven hundred years since Augusta was deserted. Roman remains must have been scanty; the City was chiefly built of wood, with thatched roofs; the splendour of the latter centuries had not yet commenced. The Bridge, however, was either wholly or in part destroyed. It was repaired, because, fifty years later, FitzStephen, in his description of the City, speaks of the citizens watching the water sports from the Bridge. Indeed, the Bridge was now absolutely necessary to the City. A hundred years of order in the City—with the seas cleared of pirates, the Danes kept down, and merchants filling{46} the river with ships, and the quays with merchandise—crowded the Bridge all day long with trains of packhorses, and the less frequent rude carts with broad grunting wheels which would have quite taken the place of the horse but for the bad roads. Southwark, during this period of rest, had become once more a town, or at least a village. Still, along the Embankment stood the thatched huts of the fisherfolk; but they were pushed farther east and west every year, until Lambeth and Rotherhithe were their quarters when the fish deserted the river and their occupation was gone. The Roman inns were gone, but new ones were springing up in their places. Bishops and abbots were looking on Southwark as a place of fine air, open to every breeze and free from the noise and crowd of London; ecclesiastical foundations were already springing into existence. In a word, the settlements of the south, after four hundred years of ruin and desertion, were once more beginning a new existence. The day when William rode up to the south end of the Bridge, and looked across upon a City that had not yet made up its mind about his reception, marked a new birth for the long-suffering suburb of the Embankment and the Causeway. A hundred years later still—in 1176—they began to build their Bridge of Stone.


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