Custom House key site information
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Custom House key site information Document Transcript

  • 1. thames discovery programme key site information: Custom House FCY04 The zone is approximately 500m long and 50m wide; it is bounded to the W by London Bridge and to the E by Quay Walk. The access to the site is via stone stairs to the E of Custom House. These are well maintained, with a handrail but can become slippery at times. The ground conditions on the site are generally firm (sands and gravels) however, caution is necessary as mudlarkers are active on the site, and there are dredged areas masked by deep mud.archaeological and historical backgroundprehistoricA number of prehistoric finds have been recovered from the area. Residual flints were discoveredduring excavations at Regis House to the west of the zone, and a Neolithic flint axe was found onLower Thames Street. Two Bronze Age axes, a spearhead and a sword were recovered from theforeshore.romanThe zone lies to the south of the line of the Roman waterfront (i.e. within the contemporary riverchannel), and Roman ceramics and metalwork have been recovered during mudlarking activitieson the Billingsgate foreshore. Numerous investigations in the immediate vicinity of the site haveshown that the establishment of the Roman port in the mid 1st century AD led to the developmentof a succession of waterfront structures over the course of the next two hundred years. Quaysidedevelopment was centred on the area of the Roman bridgehead (slightly downstream of modernLondon Bridge). The limits of this development are not exactly established, however waterfrontstructures of mid 2nd to mid 3rd century date were excavated at Old Custom House (now SugarQuay) at the eastern end of the foreshore site, and the late 3rd century east-west river wall hasbeen definitely identified as far east as Three Quays House, adjacent to the Tower.early medieval thFrom the late 4 century until c900AD there is almost no sign of permanent settlement within thewalled city, and waterfront sites uniformly provide evidence of considerable silting over the latestRoman quays. After the Alfredian reoccupation of the city the only evidence of activity in the areacomes from excavations to the west of Custom House; at Regis House (where a number of th thsunken feature buildings were recorded dating to the 10 and 11 centuries), and at New Fresh th thWharf (where clay and timber embankments dating to the late 10 and early 11 centuries wereidentified). A single coin of Eadred AD946-55 has been recovered from the foreshore. The place-name ‘Billingsgate’ is likely to be of Saxon origin and the dedication of the nearby church to StBotolph is also indicative of activity of this date.later medievalArchaeological evidence from four nearby sites (London Bridge, New Fresh Wharf, Billingsgateand (old) Custom House) shows successive southward waterfront development from west toeast. Corn, malt and salt, as well as fish, were landed and traded at Billingsgate, which was oneof the City’s principal wharves. The first Custom House was built in 1275 to the east of thepresent site; it was rebuilt in 1378 by John Churchman, Sheriff of London.post medievalIn 1559 Custom House was rebuilt by William Paulet, Marquess of Winchester. It was destroyedduring the Great Fire of 1666 and again rebuilt by Christopher Wren. In 1714, an accidentalexplosion of gunpowder severely damaged the Wren building, and it was reconstructed by JohnRipley (1717-25). This building again burnt down in 1814. Construction of a new Custom House,designed by David Laing (on the present site) began in 1813 and was completed by 1817. Apartial collapse of the building in 1825 led to Laing’s dismissal and a subsequent rebuilding byRobert Smirke; it is this building which largely survives on the site today. The East Wing of theCustom House was destroyed during the WWII Blitz and rebuilt to the original plan.
  • 2. ά101 Access Custom House Stairs. Wide granite steps with modern railingά102 Riverfront defence Granite riverside wall (1819)ά103 Access Causeway leading from ά101. Middle section eroded away. Remainder consists of planks, uprights and concreteά104 Bargebed Very large bargebed with metal and wood tie backs. Overlain by ά103ά105 Agradation Layer of sand, gravel, chalk, pot, tile, glass (river rolled), at top of foreshoreά106 Vessel Remains of vessel under modern jettyά107 Consolidation Chalk consolidation. Currently being eroded out and spread over zoneά108 Artefact scatter Animal bone, with frequent clay pipe fragmentsά109 Vessel Remains of vesselά110 Mooring feature Anchor point. Round metal object with chainά111 Jetty Concrete slab. Remains of access to jettyά112 Jetty Remains of jetty in water, now used as dolphinsά113 Gridiron In front of Custom Houseά114 Mooring feature Anchor point and chain. Moulded concreteά115 Agradation Mud, largely covering bargebed and in dredged area in front of this.ά116 Artefact scatter Timbers. Planks and offcuts, marking mudlarking holesά117 Mooring feature Anchor point and chain. Stone.ά118 Riverfront defence Concrete riverside wall (under modern jetty)ά119 Consolidation Concreted consolidation - eroding outά120 Gridiron? Remains of gridiron?ά121 Wharf Remains of wharfά122 Riverfront defence Sheet piled riverwallά123 Deposit Very frequent shell (oyster, mussel, scallop, whelk) and pot, tile, clay pipe, animal boneά124 Wharf Remains of wharf with braces, standing up to approx 5m in heightά125 Wharf ?Revetment and wharf (2/3 phases). Roundwood piles and horizontal planking (reused house timbers)ά126 Wharf Collapsed wharf. Revetment similar to ά125, timber horizontals go back into brick wall ά127ά127 Riverfront defence Brick riverside wallά128 Riverfront defence Granite riverside wallά129 Wharf Revetment beneath ά 120 (earlier wharf structure?)ά130 Artefact scatter Nails on ά104. Exposed in middle of barge bedά131 Furniture Sign. Parish boundary mark (All Hallows Barking / St Dunstan’s in the East)ά132 Timber Possibly associated with stairά133 Structure (unclassified) Wharf? Timber. Group of timbersά134 Structure (unclassified) Timber – remains of stair? Causeway?ά135 Vessel Remains of vessel close to timbers ά136ά136 Structure (unclassified) Timber. Vertical postsά137 Wharf Modern wharf structure - Wool Quayά138 Riverfront defence Sheet piled river wallά139 Riverfront defence Stone built river wall