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Stangate Stairs

Removed in the late 1860s to make way for the Albert Embankment, Stangate Stairs has no place on a modern map of London (Draft Lambeth Palace Conservation Area Statement). In the early modern period, however, these stairs and their accompanying wharf of the same name provided river access to the east bank of the Thames, directly opposite Westminster Hall, Westminster Palace, and Westminster Abbey. Citizens of London could catch a boat or a barge from Stangate Stairs to Westminster on the opposite bank for a small sum, according to a 1579 book of common law statutes: From the Blacke Friers, Bridewell, & the Temple, to Westminster, or Lambeth .ij.d. with their males or els euery person .ob. so that it amount to .ij.d. From Westminster to Lambeth or stayngate. ob. for a boate (Fitzherbert sig. F1v). The charge here for the boat between Stangate Stairs and Westminster is listed as ob., an abbreviation for a halfpenny that actually refers to a Roman coin called an obulus. A halfpenny is a small sum, and thus a boat between the Stangate Stairs and Westminster would have been affordable for most early modern Londoners.
According to one cordwainer by the name of Edmund Gayton under the pseudonym Hodg Turberuil in a 1659 satirical treatise entitled Walk knaves, walk, a person could wade across the Thames between the Westminster bank and the Stangate Stairs—provided they had strong waxed boots:
Now if thy boots be long enough, (which as I told you before; you must be sure to observe, before you buy them for this purpose) and the Seams strong and well-waxed, so as they will hold out water, which you ought first to make tryal of, by wading in them over the Thames, from the Parliament-stairs to Lambeth, or from White Hall to Stangate, (for one of these wayes we must all fly if the Cavaliers prevail) you need not be afraid afterward to go over with them, to any part beyond the Seas. So as methinks, this also should be another strong motive, to perswade us to buy strong and long waxed boots. (Turberuil 11)
Since the tone of Gayton’s text is satirical, it is fair to assume that his impassioned suggestion to cross the Thames near Stangate Stairs was not used by early modern Londoners—at least not more than the one time needed to test their boots.
In addition to providing river access for the area of Lambeth, Stangate Stairs, situated directly opposite of Westminster, saw its fair share of history. According to a 1677 account of the monarchs of Great Britain, the body of the three-year-old Elizabeth Tudor (the second daughter of Henry VII) was conveyed from Stangate Stairs to Westminster Abbey in 1495 as part of a mournful procession:
Thus on Thursday, the eleventh day after her decease, her Corps was conveyed with a solemn proceeding to the Stangate over against Westminster; and at the Gate at the Bridge end of Westminster, was received by the Prior and Convent of the Abbey, and conveyed into the Quire to the Herse, the Majesty Cloth, and the Vallence of black Sarcenet, fringed with red and white Roses, and the Word in Letters of Gold, Jesus est Amor mens [Jesus is my love]. (Sandford 448)
Stangate Stairs also saw happier times. One 1662 history of the kings of Portugal describes a celebration held in honour of King John IV and Queen Luisa on the Thames between Westminster and Lambeth on 23 September 1662:
I shall only say (which none but the absent will deny) That the oldest person alive never saw the Thames more fully, nor more Nobly covered. Amidʼst a Throng of a Thousand Boats, and more than Ten thousand joyful Subjects, Their Majesties landed at Whitehall about 7. of the Clock in the Evening, where the most Excellent Princess the Queen Mother, and the Dutchess of York, gave Her Majesty Her Welcome; which was seconded by a Tere of Artillary Planted at Stangate-Wharf over against Whitehall for that purpose; the same Night, afterwards being made an Artificial Day, by the Number of Bone-fires and Fire-works. (Sandford 135)
The name Stangate itself probably derives from the Anglo-Saxon stan geat, meaning stone gate. Referring to a rather common piece of architecture, it is no wonder that the stairs and wharf on the east bank of the Thames opposite Westminster were not the only holders of the name Stangate. Northeast of London on the Blackwater River stood the Priory of Stansgate and the infamous Stangate Hole, and in York there was also a place by the name of Stangate. With so many places marked by the name, context is required to determine which of these specific locations records are referencing.


  • Citation

    Draft Lambeth Palace Conservation Area Statement. Lambeth Council.

    This item is cited in the following documents:

  • Citation

    Fitzherbert, Anthony. In this booke is contayned the offices of shyriffes, bayliffes of lybertyes, escheatours, constables, and coroners and shewed what euerye one of them may doe by vertue of their offices, drawen out of bookes of the common lawe and of the statutes. London: Thomas Marshe, 1579. STC 10993.9.

    This item is cited in the following documents:

  • Citation

    Sainte-Marthe, Scévole de, and Louis de Sainte-Marthe. A Genealogical History of the Kings of Portugal. Trans. Francis Sandford. London: Printed by E.M., 1662. Wing S360.

    This item is cited in the following documents:

  • Citation

    Sandford, Francis. A Genealogical History of the Kings of England and Monarchs of Great Britain. London: Printed by Tho. Newcomb, 1677. Wing S651.

    This item is cited in the following documents:

  • Citation

    Turberuil, Hodg. Walk knaves, walk a discourse intended to have been spoken at court and now publish’d for the satisfaction of all those that have participated of the svveetness of publike employments. London, 1659. Wing G421.

    This item is cited in the following documents:

Cite this page

MLA citation

Riley, Gregory. Stangate Stairs. The Map of Early Modern London, Edition 7.0, edited by Janelle Jenstad, U of Victoria, 05 May 2022,

Chicago citation

Riley, Gregory. Stangate Stairs. The Map of Early Modern London, Edition 7.0. Ed. Janelle Jenstad. Victoria: University of Victoria. Accessed May 05, 2022.

APA citation

Riley, G. 2022. Stangate Stairs. In J. Jenstad (Ed), The Map of Early Modern London (Edition 7.0). Victoria: University of Victoria. Retrieved from

RIS file (for RefMan, RefWorks, EndNote etc.)

Provider: University of Victoria
Database: The Map of Early Modern London
Content: text/plain; charset="utf-8"

A1  - Riley, Gregory
ED  - Jenstad, Janelle
T1  - Stangate Stairs
T2  - The Map of Early Modern London
ET  - 7.0
PY  - 2022
DA  - 2022/05/05
CY  - Victoria
PB  - University of Victoria
LA  - English
UR  -
UR  -
ER  - 

TEI citation

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