Greenwich’s Tudor pier

Low tide at Greenwich is revealing the remains of a Tudor pier in front of the Naval College buildings.

Piles show the outline of a jetty just yards to the west of the Palace of Placentia site.

Henry VIII was born there as were his daughters Mary and Elizabeth. As King, he spent much time there using the Thames as a highway to reach Westminster and Hampton Court.

He might have stood on the pier although the palace had its own watergate.

But Francis Drake, Walter Raleigh and Samuel Pepys probably did land at the pier.

The wash over recent years from boats and tides has dramatically exposed the piles as well as the 17th-century revetments along today’s wall which holds the narrow path in front of the college buildings.

Brickwork from the line of the Tudor waterfront can be seen on the beach just in front of the western building.

Some of the exposed timbers, especially by the wall, are likely to be covered by stones shortly.

Greenwich waterfront
Greenwich waterfront
Low tide
Low tide
Tudor jetty
Tudor jetty


17th-century revetments
17th-century revetments


Line of Tudor waterfront
Line of Tudor waterfront

Path closed at Barnes

Closed towpath at Barnes Bridge
Closed towpath at Barnes Bridge

There is a temporary towpath closure for works between Barnes Railway Bridge and The White Hart at the start of Mortlake High Street in London.

Walkers must follow the road as far as the pub.

The path improvement is just one of many planned changes in the area.

There is a scheme to turn the upstream side the railway bridge into a ‘garden bridge’. This has the support of councils on both banks and Network Rail. The local claim is that this will not cost very much unlike the one being resisted by City and Waterloo residents in central London.

Just after The White Hart, the towpath runs below the large windows of The Depot restaurant. Next year this will be a Rick Stein restaurant. He recently opened a branch at Sandbanks on the Bournemouth Coast Path.

A few yards further on the path passes over the Mortlake Brewery drawdock. This is where Watney’s Red Barrel was produced and more recently Budweiser. Brewing began in 1700 and ended last December. The riverside site with Victorian buildings is now due to be redeveloped for housing.

The Ship, almost as old as the brewery and  once the University Boat Race finishing post, survives. It is also now a community toilet point.

St Edmund of Abingdon: Special event

The tomb of St Edmund d’Abingdon is a dominant feature at Pontigny Abbey in Burgundy where he is called St Edme.

As the name suggests, St Edmund of Abingdon was born in Abingdon. This was about 1175 when he was known simply as Edmund Rich and lived with his parents near today’s St Edmund’s Lane off West St Helen Street.

He went to school upstream in Oxford and it in these early days that he is reputed to have had an encounter with an apparition of the Christ Child in water meadows near the River Thames.

As a priest he often stayed at Reading Abbey which may have been an overnight stop when sailing up and down the Thames but it was also a favourite place for retreat or vacation.

In 1233 he became Archbishop of Canterbury. A recent predecessor was the martyr St Thomas Becket.

Edmund is buried in the vast Abbey church in France because he died nearby in 1540 whilst on his way to Rome.

The date of his death is the 16 November which is now his feast day.

Next Sunday 13 November the Roman Catholic Bishop of Portsmouth will be at St Edmund’s Roman Catholic Church in Abingdon at 1.30pm to celebrate a Mass marking the end of the Year of Mercy. He will rededicate the Roman Catholic Portsmouth Diocese to St Edmund.

A relic of St Edmund is being brought for the occasion and at 3pm Abbot Geoffrey Scott will give a talk about Edmund.

On Wednesday  St Edmund Hall at Oxford, named after Edmund of Abingdon, will be keeping St Edmund’s Day with evensong and a feast.

Rotherhithe: Commercial Pier Wharf path plan

A diversion from the river in Rotherhithe might be about to become redundant.

At present upstream walkers, having crossed Greenland Dock, must suddenly turn inland down narrow Randall Rents because, although New Caledonian Wharf ahead has a good path, there is no walkway further on.

At the end of Randall Rents, the diversion continues past the back of The Ship & Whale pub and along Odessa Street to return to the water by way of the far side of Commercial Pier Wharf.

Southwark Council has approved a planning application for flats on the Commercial Pier Wharf. The scheme includes provision for not only a riverside path in front but also a downstream extension path across the narrow Custom House Reach to link with New Caledonian Wharf.

This would provide a continuous route by the river from Greenland Dock to Surry Docks Farm.

However, the Commercial Pier Wharf site is well-known for its red crane which would have to be removed so planning permission will only be granted if Historic England (English Heritage) decide not to list the crane.

There has been a crane on the site for at least a century. However, Southwark planners claim that the present red Scotch Derrick crane is not old at it was installed only in 1965.

Retaining the crane will require a new design for the development and a new planning hearing.

The development’s architect is Simon Hudspith who once promoted a scheme for a Thames riverside path in front of Winchester Wharf and through London Bridge.

Commercial Pier Wharf crane
Commercial Pier Wharf crane