Old London Bridge

The amazing web site of Shakespeare's Sonnets. Shakespeare's London. London Bridge.



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A view of London Bridge circa 1600. Arches 11-15, counting from the Middx. side.


From a photo-chromolithograph made for the New Shakspere Society, from a drawing in Pepys' Collection at Magdalene College, Cambridge. This is reputed to be the earliest genuine view of London Bridge.


The elaborate house above the second pier on the left of this picture is Nonesuch House. It dates to c. 1584.

It was made entirely of wood, built in Holland, shipped over in pieces, and was held together entirely by wooden pegs.

It replaced the former drawbridge tower. The wooden drawbridge, which could be pulled to one side (or raised ?)

to let masted boats through, may be seen next to Nonesuch House.





The bridge was built from 1176 to 1209. The Middlesex side is on the left, the Surrey side on the right. For a long period it was the only bridge across the Thames in London. On the Surrey side heads of traitors were stuck on poles above Southwark tower, and may be seen in the drawing. Parts of the bridge were continually collapsing, due to inadequate maintenance. Revenues for its upkeep, derived from toll charges, rents etc., were usually appropriated for other more frivolous purposes. Henry III is reputed to have given all the revenues to his wife to spend as she pleased. In the fourteenth century five arches fell into the river after a particularly hard winter. The bridge was finally abandoned by the Victorians, being deemed beyond economic repair.



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General notes

Sonnets 1 - 50

Sonnets 51 - 100

Sonnets 101 - 154