Lost London – King Edward III’s Thames-side manor house…

The remains of one of the lesser known former royal residences in London, King Edward III’s manor house, sit amid a grassy park on the south bank of the Thames at the corner of Bermondsey Wall East and Cathay Street in Rotherhithe.

Believed to have been built in about 1350 during the reign of the king (1312-1377), the 14th century property – which consisted of stone buildings arranged around two courtyards – was originally built on what was then an island surrounded by marshes.

The premises was surrounded on three sides by a moat – the fourth side opened directly to the river, allowing the king to travel to the property by boat.

Among the buildings in the complex were a hall with a fireplace as well as private chambers for the king and utility spaces like kitchens (pictured below is a reconstruction of the property as depicted on an information plaque located at the site).

The function of the building remains somewhat a mystery – with no nearby royal parks it is unlikely it was a conventional hunting lodge although documentary evidence does point to falcons being house there so perhaps it was a place where the king hunted with falcons.

As the Thames riverbank was pushed northward over the following centuries, the residence became completely surrounded by a moat. It was eventually sold into private hands.

The site was apparently used as a pottery in the 17th century and warehouses occupied it in the 18th and 19th centuries (in fact a 14th century wall was incorporated into one of these and was still standing in 1907).

The warehouses were demolished in the 1970s and the remains of the palace confirmed on the site during an excavation by English Heritage 1985 (they also found a lot of Delftware on the site apparently related to its days as a pottery).