Story Of London

The City Wards in 1731: XI

Our final instalment from the Gonzales guide to London in the early part of the 18th century takes us across the river to Southwark which constitutes the Bridge ward Without. Our guide takes us to visit the two great hospitals of St Thomas’s and Guy’s. The former has now moved to Westminster Bridge but Guy’s is still where it ever was and now towers above London Bridge Station.

The gate and drawbridge on the Southwark side of Old London bridge.The gate and drawbridge on the Southwark side of Old London bridge.
Note the traitors’ heads stuck on poles above the gate.
26. Bridge Ward Without contains in chief the Borough, or Long Southwark, St. Margaret’s Hill, Blackman Street, Stony Street, St. Thomas’s Street, Counter Street, the Mint Street, Maiden Lane, the Bankside, Bandy-leg Walk, Bennet’s Rents, George Street, Suffolk Street, Redcross Street, Whitecross Street, Worcester Street, Castle Street, Clink Street, Deadman’s Place, New Rents, Gravel Lane, Dirty Lane, St. Olave’s Street, Horselydown, Crucifix Lane, Five-foot Lane, Barnaby Street, Long Lane and Street.The Bankside consists of certain houses so called from their lying on the south bank of the Thames to the westward of the bridge.The public buildings in this ward are, St. Thomas’s Church and Hospital, Guy’s Hospital for Incurables, the church of St. Saviour, the church of St. Olave, and that of St. George, the Bridge House, the King’s Bench Prison, the Marshalsea, and the Clink Prison, the Sessions House, Compter, and New Prison.The remains of the Marshalsea Prison.The Hospital of St. Thomas consists of four spacious courts, in the first of which are six wards for women. In the second stands the church, and another chapel, for the use of the hospital. Here also are the houses of the treasurer, hospitaller, steward, cook, and butler. In the third court are seven wards for men, with an apothecary’s shop, store-rooms and laboratory. In the fourth court are two wards for women, with a surgery, hot and cold baths, &c. And in the year 1718 another magnificent building was erected by the governors, containing lodgings and conveniences for a hundred infirm persons. So that this hospital is capable of containing five hundred patients and upwards at one time; and there are between four and five thousand people annually cured and discharged out of it, many of them being allowed money to bear their charges to their respective dwellings.But one of the greatest charities ever attempted by a private citizen was that of Thomas Guy, Esq., originally a bookseller of London, and afterwards a Member of Parliament for Tamworth, who, having acquired an immense fortune, founded a hospital for incurables, on a spot of ground adjoining to St. Thomas’s Hospital, and saw the noble fabric in a good forwardness in his lifetime, assigning about two hundred thousand pounds towards the building, and endowing it, insomuch that it is computed there may be an ample provision for four hundred unhappy people, who shall be given over by physicians and surgeons as incurable. This gentleman died in December, 1724, having first made his will, and appointed trustees to see his pious design duly executed. He gave also several thousand pounds to Christ’s Hospital, and a thousand pounds a piece to fifty of his poor relations; but the will being in print, I refer the reader to it for a more particular account of this noble charity.The first church and hospital, dedicated to St. Thomas a Becket, was erected by the Prior of Bermondsey, so long since as the year 1013; but the hospital was refounded, and the revenues increased, anno 1215, by Peter de Rupibus, Bishop of Winchester, in whose diocese it was situated, continuing, however, to be held of the priors of Bermondsey till the year 1428, when the Abbot of Bermondsey relinquished his interest to the master of the hospital for a valuable consideration. In the year 1538 this hospital was surrendered to King Henry VIII., being then valued at 266 pounds 17s. 6d. per annum. And in the following reign, the City of London having purchased the buildings of the Crown, continued them a hospital for sick and wounded people; and King Edward VI. granted them some of the revenues of the dissolved hospitals and monasteries towards maintaining it: but these were inconsiderable in comparison of the large and numerous benefactions that have since been bestowed upon it by the Lord Mayor, aldermen, and other wealthy citizens and men of quality, governors of it, who are seldom fewer than two or three hundred, every one of them looking upon themselves to be under some obligation of making an addition to the revenues of the hospital they have the direction of. A committee of the governors sit every Thursday, to consider what patients are fit to be discharged, and to admit others.