Puddle Wharf was a water gate along the north bank of the Thames (Stow). Also known as Puddle Dock, it was located in Castle Baynard Ward, down from St. Andrew’s Hill. The London Encyclopedia describes it as
a small inlet […] just east of [what is now] Blackfriars Railway Bridge and formerly east of the mouth of Fleet River(Weinreb, Hibbert, Keay, and Keay 668).
The name of the site has been attributed both to its early function and the name of a nearby Londoner. This site served to water horses in medieval times. Stow describes it as a water gate into the Thames,
where horses vse to be watered, & therefore being filed 1 with their trampeling, and made puddle.Stow also suggests that the name derives from a person named Puddle; it might be so called
as also of one Puddle dwelling there: it is called Puddle Wharfe(Stow).
Puddle Wharf was built in 1294 to serve as the main quay for Blackfriars Monastery. (Weinreb and Hibbert 68, 229). In the early modern period, Puddle Wharf would have been the main landing place for playgoers on their way to the Blackfriars theatre via the river.
Francis Beaumont capitalized on Blackfriars’ playgoers’ familiarity with Puddle Wharf when he had Nell invoke it as an address marker in The Knight of the Burning Pestle. The Grocer’s wife, comically out of her element on the Blackfriars stage, mentions that (the eponymous knight) has rescued their lost child:
I shall nere forget him, when we had lost our child you know, it [the child] was straid almost alone, to Puddle Wharf and the criers were abroad for it(Beaumont 1613). This reference may suggest that Nell and George live near the Blackfriars theatre, yet have such an insular life that Puddle Wharf seems far away, or that they do not belong in the Blackfriars neighbourhood and that Puddle Wharf is thus out of their usual ambit.
A reference by Thomas Adams suggests that Puddle Wharf was the site of a popular tavern. He suggested that listening to Jesuit lies made
Men drink so greedily at the Popes Puddle Wharf(Adams sig. P2r).
See also Chalfant 145.
- i.e., defiled
- Adams, Thomas. The deuills banket described in foure sermons. London: Thomas Snodham, 1614. STC 110.5. EEBO. Subscription.
- Beaumont, Francis. The Knight of the Burning Pestle. 1607. Ed. Sheldon P. Zitner. Manchester: Manchester UP, 2004.
- Chalfant, Fran C. Ben Jonson’s London: A Jacobean Placename Dictionary. Athens: U of Georgia P, 1978.
- Stow, John. A Survey of London. Reprinted from the Text of 1603. Ed. Charles Lethbridge Kingsford. 2 vols. Oxford: Clarendon, 1908. Reprint. British History Online. Subscription. [Kingsford edition, courtesy of The Centre for Metropolitan History. Articles written 2011 or later cite from this searchable transcription. In the in-text parenthetical reference (Stow; BHO), click on BHO to go directly to the page containing the quotation or source.]
- Weinreb, Ben, and Christopher Hibbert, eds. The London Encyclopaedia. New York: St. Martin’s, 1983. [You may also wish to consult the 3rd edition, published in 2008.]
- Weinreb, Ben, Christopher Hibbert, Julia Keay, and John Keay. The London Encyclopaedia. 3rd ed. Photography by Matthew Weinreb. London: Macmillan, 2008.
Last modification: 2016-05-27 14:37:29 -0700 (Fri, 27 May 2016) (tlandels)