Descriptive Gazetteer Entry for LAMBETH

LAMBETH, a metropolitan suburb, a parish, a district, and a borough, in Surrey. The suburb lies on the Thames, opposite Westminster, 1¾ mile SW by S of St. Paul's; stands compact with Southwark, Newington, and Kennington; communicates with Westminster by Waterloo, Hungerford, Westminster, Lambeth, and Vauxhall bridges; contains the Waterloo-Road terminus and the Vauxhall-Bridge station of the Southwestern railway; is traversed throughout by that railway, and across the NE by the connecting line with Charing Cross and London Bridge; has abundant facilities of pier and wharf for sharing in the upper traffic of the river; is within the jurisdiction of the central criminal court, and of the metropolitan police; and contains a court-house, a police-station, the head post-office ‡ of London S, and numerous receiving-houses ‡ and pillar-boxes under that office. The place on which the suburb stands was known to the Saxons as Lambhythe or Iambehith; and is thought to have got that name from the words "lam" and "hythe," signifying dirt and a haven; but it figures at Domesday as Lamchei. Some writers suppose it to have been the scene of Hardicanute's death and Harold's coronation; but other writers, with higher probability, assigned these events to Kennington. Lambeth, like Kennington, may have belonged to the Saxon kings; but, at Domesday, it was held by the Earl of Mortaigne and the Princess Goda, the sister of the Conqueror. The Princess gave it to the Bishop of Rochester; and one of these bishops exchanged it for other lands, in 1187, with the Archbishops of Canterbury. A palace appears to have been built on it by the first bishop of Rochester who held it; and this was the scene of the council in 1100 respecting the proposed marriage of the Princess Maud with the king of Scotland, and the scene also of several other important councils. A better palace, on the same site, was built, about the beginning of the 13th century, by Archbishop Hubert; and this was rebuilt, restored, improved, or enlarged, at various times, by his successors. a great synod was held here in 1282, attended by all the bishops of England, to discuss complaints which had been made at Rome respecting the government of the English dioceses; and several other great synods were held here prior to the great Reformation. The palace was sacked, and most of its furniture and records burned, by the insurgents under Wat Tyler, in 1381. It was visited by Henry VII., by Catherine of Arragon, by Queen Mary, and frequently by Queen Elizabeth. It was re-furnished by Mary for the reception of Cardinal Pole; and a tower of it was used by Elizabeth for the incarceration of bishops Tunstall and Thirlby, Lord Henry Howard, the Earl of Southampton, the Earl of Essex, and some other persons. The palace was fortified in 1641, by Archbishop Land, in anticipation of an attack by the multitude with whom he had made himself unpopular; and after the fall of that primate, it was stripped of its ecclesiastical character, and converted into a prison for "malignants." It was subsequently sold to Thomas Scott, one of the regicides, and to Mathew Hardy; but after the restoration, it reverted to the archbishops; and it has ever since remained in their possession. Nothing more than a small village seems to have been at Lambeth when the original palace was built; but this rapidly improved under the bishops and the archbishops, and became a market-town. A college for secular canons was founded near the palace, about 1191, by Archbishop Baldwin; but it encountered great opposition by the monks of Christchurch, Canterbury, who eventually obtained a papal bull for its suppression; and, just when finished in 1199, it was partially taken down: but ruins of it, under the name of Carlisle House, continued till recently to exist. A canal was formed here for the temporary diversion of the Thames during the erection of London bridge; and a vestige of this, which not long ago disappeared, was mistaken by Maitland, in his history of London, for the vestige of trenches formed by Canute, in 1026, on his invasion of London.

Lambeth-marsh, now a thoroughly edificed tract in the NE, was not covered with houses much before 1810; and Inigo Jones is said to have buried his money in it during the civil war. A mineral well, once noted for medicinal qualities, was at Lambeth-walk. Banks the sculptor was a native; and Forman the astrologer, Francis Moore the physician, and Ducarel, who wrote a "History of Lambeth Palace," were residents.

Lambeth palace stands close to the Thames, immediately below Lambeth bridge, nearly opposite the new palace of Westminster; presents a massive but time-worn appearance, in strong contrast to that new palace; and shows gradations of architecture, from early English to late perpendicular. The chapel is the oldest portion, all early English; was built, by Archbishop Boniface, between 1245 and 1270; measures 72 feet by 25; stands over a crypt, 36 feet by 24; has a modern roof, modern stained glass windows, and an oak screen erected by Archbishop Land, and bearing his arms; contains, in front of the altar, the grave of Archbishop Parker; and is the place where all the archbishops of Canterbury, since the time of Boniface, have been consecrated. The hall was built, in 1663, by Archbishop Juxon, who attended Charles I. to the scaffold; shows, over the inside of the door, that archbishop's arms; is in a debased pointed style; measures 93 feet by 38; has a roof of oak, with a lantern in the centre; and contains, in a bay window, a portrait of Archbishop Chicheley, the arms of Philip II. of Spain, and the arms of Archbishops Bancroft, Land, and Juxon. The library is now in the hall; was formerly in four galleries over the cloisters; was founded by Archbishop Bancroft, enriched by Archbishop Abbot, and enlarged by Archbishops Tenison and Secker; was seized by parliament in the civil wars, given to Sion college, transferred to Cambridge university, brought back to Lambeth after the Restoration: and contains, at present, about 25,000 printed volumes, and about 1,200 manuscripts. The Lollards' tower, at the W end of the chapel, is a massive square structure of weather-worn brick; was erected, about the year 1440, by Archbishop Chicheley; took its name from an incorrect tradition that Lollards were imprisoned in it; was the part of the palace which Queen Elizabeth used for confining offenders; and bas, at the top, a gloomy oak-lined room 13 feet by 12, and about 8 feet high, with rude inscriptions cut in the wainscot, and with eight large iron rings in the walls, and traditionally regarded as the prison. The post-room is within the Lollards' tower, and forms the vestibule to the chapel; and it has a flat ceiling, ornamented with sculptures. The gate-house was rebuilt about 1490, by Archbishop Morton; is of red brick, with stone dressings; and has a beautifully groined roof. The inhabited parts of the palace stand eastward of the chapel and the hall; were entirely rebuilt by Archbishop Howley, after designs by Blore, at a cost of £55,000; and front a large paddock planted with trees, and enclosed by lofty brick walls.

Lambeth-proper forms a band of about 1½ mile in length and ½ a mile in breadth, extending along the river, from Waterloo road to Vauxhall: and great part of the parish is cut ecclesiastically into nineteen sections, and contains also five chapels or chapelries without territorial limits. Acres, 4,015. Real property in 1860, £1,668,347; of which £470,331 were in railways, and £57,619 in gas-works. Pop. in 1851,139,325; in 1861, 162,044. Houses, 22,910. The ecclesiastical sections, with their respective pop., are Lambeth-proper, or St. Mary, 20,080; St.-Mary-the-Less, 9,805; St. Philip, 6,000, St. Peter-with-St. Paul, 3,000; Holy Trinity, 7,079; St. John-Waterloo, 10,262; All Saints, 5,452; St. Thomas, 9,660; St. Andrew, 8,407; St. Mark-Kennington, 26,345; Christchurch - Brixton - Road, 3,776; St. Michael-Stockwell, 3,765; St. Barnabas-South Kennington, 9,772; St. Matthew-Denmark-Hill, 5,249; St. Stephen-South Lambeth, 3,500; St. Matthew-Brixton, 10,305; St. John-North Brixton, 4,967; St. Luke-Lower Norwood, 7,098; and Tulse-Hill, 2,334. The five chapels or chapelries, without territorial limits, are Verulam, Stockwell, South Lambeth, Kennington-Road, and Gipsey-Hill. The living of St. Mary is a rectory, and all the other livings are p. curacies, in the diocese of Winchester. Value of St. Mary, £1,500;* of St. Mary-the-Less, St. Thomas, and St. Andrew, each £300;* of St. Philip, £200;* of St. Peter-with-St. Paul, £166;* of Holy Trinity and of St. John-Waterloo, each £300; of All Saints, £201. Patron of St. Mary and St. John, the Archbishop of Canterbury; of St. Mary-the-Less and Holy Trinity, the Rector of Lambeth; of St. Philip, St. Peter-with-St. Paul, St. Thomas, and St. Andrew, Trustrees; of All Saints, the Incumbent of St. John. The values and the patrons of the other livings are noticed in other articles. The places of worship within the parish, in 1851, were 20 of the Church of England, with 22,589 sittings; 7 of Independents, with 4,450 s.; 6 of Baptists, with 2,296 s.; 1 of Unitarians, with 300 s.; 9 of Wesleyan Methodists, with 3,279 s.; 4 of Primitive Methodists, with 450 s.; 1 of Bible Christians, with 256 s.; 1 of the Wesleyan Association, with 160 s.; 1 of Wesleyan Reformers, with 125 s.; 2 undefined, with 270 s.; and 1 of Latter Day Saints, with 80 attendants. The Roman Catholic cathedral, though noticed by us in connexion with Lambeth, only adjoins this parish, and is within St. George-Southwark.

Lambeth poor-law district is a parochial poor-law union under the poor-law amendment act; and is therefore conterminate with the parish. It is divided into the sub-districts of Waterloo-Road-First, – acres, 91, pop., 15,269; Waterloo-Road-Second,–acres, 142, pop., 18,640; Lambeth - Church - First, – acres, 206, pop., 19,839; Lambeth- Church - Second, –acres, 186, pop., 29,542; Kennington-First,–acres, 459, pop., 30,785; Kennington-Second,–acres, 510, pop., 20,440; Brixton,–acres, 1,445, pop., 20,067; and Norwood,–acres, 976, pop., 7,462. The first, second, third, and fifth sub-districts adjoin the Thames, and include respectively 23,43,52, and 7 acres of water. Poor-rates of the district in 1863, £83,273. Marriages in 1863,2,354; births, 6,472,–of which 338 were illegitimate; deaths, 3,756, –of which 1,745 were at ages under 5 years, and 59 at ages above 85. Marriages in the ten years 1851-60, 21,204; births, 53,122; deaths, 33,237. The workhouse is in Lambeth-Church-Second sub-district; and, at the census of 1861, had 879 inmates. The workhouse industrial schools are in Norwood sub-district; and, at the census of 1861, had 442 inmates.

Lambeth borough was created by the reform act, and sends two members to parliament. It comprises most of Lambeth parish, excluding only a portion in the S,–all Camberwell parish, except Dulwich manor,–and all Newington parish. Acres, 5,708. Electors in 1863, 23,944. Amount of property and income tax charged in 1863, £111,496. Pop. in 1851,251,345; in 1861, 294,883. Houses, 44,529. Pop. in 1861 of the Lambeth parish portion, 142,898; of the Camberwell parish portion, 69,765.

(John Marius Wilson, Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales (1870-72))

Linked entities:
Feature Description: "a metropolitan suburb, a parish, a district, and a borough"   (ADL Feature Type: "populated places")
Administrative units: Lambeth St Mary CP/AP/Vest       Lambeth PLPar/RegD       Surrey AncC
Place names: IAMBEHITH     |     LAMBETH     |     LAMBHYTHE     |     LAMCHEI
Place: Lambeth

Go to the linked place page for a location map, and for access to other historical writing about the place. Pages for linked administrative units may contain historical statistics and information on boundaries.