Old London Bridge was built in 1209 and was the first stone bridge ever built in the world. Its 20 huge arches were home to many houses and shops and until 1750 was the only crossing across the River Thames.
The bridge’s entrance was known as ‘Traitor’s Gate’, as it was where the heads of beheaded traitors were placed on tall spikes to act as a deterrent to others. The Old London Bridge stood proudly for over 600 years until it was finally demolished in 1831. But have you ever wondered what happened to Old London Bridge?
When it was demolished the Victorians decided to sell parts of the stone work to various locations across London, where they have remained ever since.
Some of the best surviving remnants of the Old Bridge are the stone-domed alcoves, of which there were originally 14 at each end of the piers. Victoria Park is home to two of these ancient alcoves, which, since the 1860s have provided many a visitor to Victoria Park a place to rest or shelter from the sun or the rain.
Another of these great domed monuments stands alone in a courtyard of Guy’s Hospital, while another, somewhat unusually, ended up in a garden of a block of flats in East Sheen.
Another impressive remnant from the Old Bridge can be found at Courtlands Estate in Richmond, while another of the stones can be found in the churchyard of St Magnus the Martyr, a church built where all people crossing the Old London Bridge used to enter the City.
The final known piece of the Old London Bridge that has remained in London for almost three centuries, is the coat of arms that can been seen above the door at the King’s Arms pub in Borough. This coat of arms had been added to the Old London Bridge in 1728 when a bridge tollgate had been erected in 1760.