CBA London trustee Rob Whytehead led a sell-out visit to Rotherhithe on 12 December, where we got a taste of the archaeology and history of this one time village on the Thames.
At Edward III’s moated manor house, Rob described theories on why the manor was built, its history and the archaeology that has revealed its development from 14th to 17th centuries.
We examined the significance of the river and the important shipbuilding and shipbreaking industries that thrived here, and the work of Thames Discovery Programme FROG members in recording what remains.
In Rotherhithe village we popped into St Mary’s church, an attractive Georgian church where the captain and crew of the Mayflower are buried, and had a look at other early buildings that remarkably survived the blitz.
Our final port of call was the Brunel pump house museum, where we were treated to a fascinating guided tour by local resident, actor and volunteer Tim Taylor (he was the doctor attending the dying Simon Callow in Four Weddings and wrote and performed the theme music for Rainbow…). By the time they had crawled through a short metre high tunnel and down scaffolding stairs to the huge chamber of the vertical excavation shaft, the group fully appreciated the revolutionary techniques of the undertaking of building a sub Thames tunnel. The vision and daring of Marc Brunel (father of Isambard, who also worked on the project) resulted in the first tunnel under a river anywhere in the world, in a project that took from 1825 to 1843 to complete.
And afterwards, a large contingent of CBA London members naturally headed for the excellent Mayflower, for a pint of Scurvy (yes, really). Members had some great ideas for future visits, which we’ll follow up in the new year.