The London Stone, Staines

The London Stone, Staines

It is from the Saxon word stana, or stone, the town of Staines most probably derived its name.

Church Island

Right Bank Island.  The church can be seen in the background of the London Stone print of 1859 below.

The London Stone

Right Bank. [See the Crowstone and the London Stone in the Estuary section, marking the other end of the Port of London’s area.]
1280:  Original inscription -

God preserve the city of London. A.D. 1280

1620:  The stone was moved further into the meadow away from the water
1781:  A new stone provided (according to Cooke in 1811)

1792: Picturesque Views on the Thames, Samuel Ireland -

ON the bank of the river, at Colne ditch, not far from the church of Staines, stands what is called London-Mark-Stone, which is the ancient boundary to the city jurisdiction on the Thames.
ON a moulding round the upper part of the stone (which is much decayed by age) is inscribed, "God preserve the city of London. A.D. 1280."
THIS stone was, during the mayoralty of Sir Watkin Lewes, in 1781, placed on a new pedestal, on which is inscribed, that it was erected exactly over the spot where the old one formerly stood.
From hence the jurisdiction of the city of London extends over the river Thames as low as Yendal, or Yenleet, to the east, including part of the rivers Medway and Lea ; and it is the office of the Lord Mayor's Deputy, the Water Bailiff, to search for, and punish all persons who infringe the laws made for the preservation of the river and its fish.
And in order to maintaintain the rights and privileges of this river, the Lord Mayor holds a Court of Conservancy eight times in the year, in the four counties of Middlesex, Surrey, Kent, and Essex, when a Jury for each is charged on oath to make inquisition after all offences committed on the river, in order to proceed to judgment against those who shall be found guilty.

1802: Report of certain Impediments and Obstructions in the Navigation of the River Thames, William Tatham

THE CITY STONE. This land-mark terminates the jurisdiction of the City of London over the River Navigation, inasmuch as it marks the extent of the First District, as laid out by Act 2 Geo. III. which was afterwards placed under the jurisdiction of the City of London by Act 14 Geo. III.
...[a detailed legal discussion follows] ...
The City Stone, it seems, is placed somewhat in the middle way of a shoal or gull, which Philip Rosewell says, has three feet at low water; and hence arises a doubt whether it shall be repaired at the expence of the First or Second District. This circumstance cannot be otherwise than injurious to the general improvement of the river navigation; for if all the rest was made perfect, both above and below, this would still be a broken link in the chain of commercial communication, and must always have a tendency to-injure the work next below it.
Just below this stone, on the northern bank of the river, there is some little mischief done by a breach, which seems to be of long standing ; and the injury is evidently accumulating. Both Districts ought to join .heartily in this repair, and they should take .into consideration every part .of the subject .matter which may combine to prevent an increase of the breach during high floods, and tend to bring the water to an easier leivel. If the gentlemen of the Upper District should not think proper to lend their aid, or combine to do this at joint expence, I should recommend to the City District to ballast out a sufficiency of the main channel at the foot of the shallow part, near the Stone, to give water to barges till past their boundary ; securing such excavation in the best possible way which so compulsory, a restriction will permit, for their own safety here and below ; and raising the water, by means of one of our proposed side-gates, to be selfacting, placed across the narrow stream which runs round the adjoining ayte on the Middlesex shore; so that the same may be either used as a stop-gate to turn the water into the main channel when such help may be needed, or to act as a gauge gate to relieve the press of the current, whenever the land floods swell too high.

1818: Havell's View of the London Stone -

London Stone Staines 1818
The London Stone, Havell, 1818. Manual dredging.

1821: Arnald’s view of the London Stone –

London Stone Staines 1821
the engraving by W B Cooke
after the painting 'Stone at Staines' by G. Arnald, A.R.A. Novr 1, 1821
[with fourth Staines Bridge in background, see above]

1825:  Repairs to the boundary stone.

The Lord Mayor took a view of the City’s boundary at Staines, when a procession was formed round the same and the usual ceremony of claiming the jurisdiction took place;  and after drinking ‘God preserve the City of London’ and distributing money to the numerous assemblage on the spot his Lordship went on board the shallop and proceeded down the river.

1839:  Trotter’s view of the London Stone.  It may be on the occasion of a Lord Mayor’s visit  –

Staines Bridge 1839 Marshall
Staines Bridge Midddlesex. C. Marshall. J Henshall.
London, Simpkin, Marshall & Co., C. Tilt
and the Proprietors, 1 Cloudesley Terrace, Islington. A Asher, Berlin

1846:  Illustrated London News, 15th August –

The State Barge being moored close to the edge of the meadow a procession of the Watermen, Lord Mayor, the Water Bailiff’s eight watermen in full uniform bringing up the procession.  The ceremony was commenced by walking round the stone.  Alderman Moon then ascended to its summit, and then drank ‘God bless the Queen, and Prosperity to the City of London’.  Three cheers were then given;  the band played ‘God save the Queen’;  cake and wine were distributed among the party, and small coin was thrown among the crowd.
There is an old custom of bumping at the stone the Sheriffs and Aldermen who had not been made ‘Free of the Waters’;  accordingly four watermen seized upon Sheriff Laurie, and while they were bumping the worthy sheriff his colleague Sheriff Chaplin, made his escape, and was followed by the Aldermen, with the exception of Alderman Hughes, who declined to answer to his name when called, and had, indeed, refused to land from the barge.  Upon Alderman Moon descending from the stone, he was instantly bumped.  Those who had been so served then paid certain fees, and were declared Free Watermen of the River Thames.  The Lord Mayor gave the usual direction that his name, as a record of the visit, should be painted on the stone.

1859: The London Stone -

London Stone, 1859
The London Stone, 1859

1870:  The London Stone, Henry Taunt -

London Stone, Henry Taunt, 1870
London Stone, Henry Taunt, 1870
© Oxfordshire County Council Photographic Archive; HT01125

1883:  Swan Uppers at the London Stone, Henry Taunt -

Swan Uppers at the London Stone, Henry Taunt,1883
Swan Uppers at the London Stone, Henry Taunt,1883
© Oxfordshire County Council Photographic Archive; HT03991

The original stone is now held in the Old Town Hall Arts Centre near Staines Bridge. In place of it is a replica.

Holm Island

Right bank above Church Island

Hollyhock Island

Right bank small island "inside" Holm Island
The house called "The Nest" is where the Duke of Windsor and Mrs Simpson stayed.