Friday, 2 May 2008

Tothill Fields

Browsing through a book of engravings by Wenceslaus Hollar (1607 - 1677), the Czech artist who worked in 17th century England, I came across these interesting images. Above, Tothill Fields, south of Westminster Abbey, in about 1640. The Abbey (called by its proper name 'St Peters at Westminster' stands at the centre of the picture, not yet adorned with its Hawksmore Towers at the west end. This area lay in what was then countryside, and was well known to Samuel Pepys, who records having an 'assignation' there!

Later, the area was used to house prisoners from the Jacobite rebellion, and subsequently, Tothill Prison was erected on the site, later to become the Millbank House of Correction.

Of interest to us, of course, is that this is where Westminster Cathedral would one day stand - the site of the Cathedral is towards the left of the engraving.

In another engraving (here shown in two parts), Westminster and London are shown from the south bank of the Thames, at Lambeth Palace. The image above again shows the countryside beyond Westminster - Tothill Fields and the site of the Cathedral are under the 'S' of Westminster.

The continuation of thus magnificent engraving shows Westminster Abbey (again, minus its towers), and to its right St Stephen's Hall (later destroyed by fire) and Westminster Hall. In the foreground, Lambeth Palace, the London residence of the Archbishops of Canterbury.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Tothill Prison was a local prison under the control of the Middlesex magistrates dating back to the
17th Century. The Millbank House of Correction was a new 'model prison' under the control of the Home Secretary, opened in 1816. The Cathedral complex occupies the site of the Tothill Prison, but not Millbank which was down by the Tate Gallery.