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Channels

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In early modern London, the term channel could refer to any natural or artificial waterway, from the Thames and Fleet Rivers to roadside gutters, the latter of which were used primarily for sluice drainage purposes. In narrow streets, it was customary for a single channel to run through the centre of the roadway, while in wider streets it was customary for two channels to be built, one on each side of the road. The flow of water in these channels, which collected most of the city’s rainwater and runoff from any nearby wells, was intended to be constant. However, the illegal dumping of solid household or privy waste could lead to stopped-up channels or flooding in the streets. Jonathan Swift’s Description of a City Shower (1710) infamously depicts an epic flood of swelling kennels (channels) in northwest London, from the butcher stalls of Smithfield to Holborn Bridge, the gushing waste-laden contents of which would have emptied into the Fleet Ditch.1

Notes

  1. See Sabine, OED channel n.1, and OED kennel n.2. (KMF)
Last modification: 2016-05-27 14:37:29 -0700 (Fri, 27 May 2016) (tlandels)
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MLA citation:

Foley, Christopher. “Channels.” The Map of Early Modern London. Ed. Janelle Jenstad. Victoria: University of Victoria. Web. 28 June 2017. <http://mapoflondon.uvic.ca/CHAN4.htm>.

Chicago citation:

Foley, Christopher. n.d. “Channels.” The Map of Early Modern London. Ed. Janelle Jenstad. Victoria: University of Victoria. Accessed June 28, 2017. http://mapoflondon.uvic.ca/CHAN4.htm.

APA citation:

Foley C. (n.d.). Channels. In J. Jenstad (Ed.), The Map of Early Modern London. Retrieved June 28, 2017, from http://mapoflondon.uvic.ca/CHAN4.htm

TEI citation:

<bibl> <author><persName><surname>Foley</surname>, <forename>Christopher</forename></persName></author> (<date>n.d.</date>). <title level="a">Channels</title>. In <editor><persName><forename>J.</forename> <surname>Jenstad</surname></persName></editor> (Ed.), <title level="m">The Map of Early Modern London</title>. Retrieved <date when="2017-06-28">June 28, 2017</date>, from <ref target="http://mapoflondon.uvic.ca/CHAN4.htm">http://mapoflondon.uvic.ca/CHAN4.htm</ref> </bibl>