Agas Map of 1560 / 1633

LONDON BRIDGE before 1632

1300: London Map; only one bridge, all development to the north of it. Westminster is an isolated place, inland of London and well separated from it -

London Map, 1300
London Map, 1300. The yellow is countryside (or moorland)

See Chronicles of London Bridge By Richard Thomson, 1827

43?: A Roman wooden Bridge?

The Roman bridge was sited 70 yards east (downstream) of the current structure. The remains of what is thought to be a pier support were excavated on the north bank in 1981. The other siting evidence we have is the convergence of two Roman roads to a particular spot on the south bank (where Hay's Wharf is today), opposite the site of the presumed bridge pier. In Roman times, this spot was the tidal limit of the Thames, so was a logical place to build. It also had solid gravel banks on either side.


THE darkness and obscurity of the Saxon annals, so justly complained of by Hume, has rendered it impossible to ascertain the period of building the first bridge at London.
From the traditionary account Stow received of Linsted, the last prior of St. Mary Overys, it appears that a maiden, named Mary, who held the ferry at Dowgate, built a religious house on the present site of that church for females, and endowed it with the ferry. It was afterwards converted into a college of priests by a noble lady, named Swithen. This college built the first bridge of timber, but at what period is not mentioned ; Stow says, "of old time, long before the conquest".
It has been urged against this account, that there could have been no bridge at London in the year 994, because AnlafF the Dane, then sailed up the river as far as Staines without obstruction, it being presumed the Londoners would have fortified the bridge ; but this proves nothing against Stow's account ; for, in the wretched state of the country at that period there was no naval force to oppose the enemy, who might have surprised the country by sailing up the Thames, with a fair wind and tide, in a few hours. Vertue, who has been quoted by a modern author* [Malcomb], gives us the exact year (1002), when it was built (as he says) by Ethelred, but without any authority.

963-975: The earliest mention of a bridge over the river is contained in a charter of King Edgar's time in which mention is made of the drowning of a woman "at Lundene brigce"
[ however note that "Bridge" did not necessarily imply a full river crossing - but is occasionally used of a landing stage for a ferry (see Lambeth Bridge) ]

984: A Saxon Bridge

994-1010: "A Treatise on Bridge Architecture", by Thomas Pope in 1811: -

This ancient bridge was first erected with timber in the reign of ETHELRED, one of the Saxon Princes, between the years 994 and 1010;

994: In Chronicles of London Bridge by an Antiquary, 1825 -

It is generally believed, however, that the year following Anlaf's invasion, namely 994, there was built a low Wooden Bridge, which crossed the Thames at St. Botolph's Wharf ... and a rude thing enough it was, I'll warrant; built of thick rough-hewn timber planks, placed upon piles, with moveable platforms to allow the Saxon vessels to pass through it Westward.
A Bridge of any kind is not so small a concern but what one might suppose you could avoid running against it, and yet William of Malmesbury, the Benedictine Monk, who lived in the reign of King Stephen, and died in 1142, says, that, in 994, King Sweyn of Denmark, the Invader, ran foul of it with his Fleet. This you find mentioned in his book, 'De Gestis Regum Anglorum' ... 1596 ... In this record, which is contained in Sir Henry Savile's 'Rerum Anglicarum Scriptoret Post Bedam', [1596] ... is the passage beginning 'Mox ad Ausl rales regimes,' etc, of which this is the purport.
"Some time after, the Southern parts, with the inhabitants of Oxford and Winchester, were brought to honour his ' that is to say King Sweyn's ' laws: the Citizens of London alone, with their lawful King' Ethelred the Second ' betook themselves within the walls, having securely closed the gates against their ferocious assailants, the Danes, they were supported by their virtue, and the hope of glory. The Citizens rushed forward even to death for their liberty; for none could think himself secure of the future if the King were deserted, in whose life he committed his own: so that although the conflict was valiant on both sides, yet the Citizens had the victory from the justness of their cause; every one endeavouring to shew, throughout this great work, how sweet he estimated those pains which he bore for him. The enemy was partly overthrown; and part was destroyed in the River Thames, over which, in their precipitation and fury, they never looked for the Bridge.'

Tolls were to be taken from vessels coming "ad pontem" [to the bridge]

1008: in The Chronicles of London Bridge by an Antiquary (1825) -

We have, however, an earlier description of London Bridge in a state of warlike splendour, than is commonly imagined, or at least referred to, by most Antiquaries; and that too from a source of no inconsiderable authority: for the learned old Icelander Snorro Sturlesonius, who wrote in the 13th century, and who was assassinated in 1241, on page 90 of that rather rare work by the Rev. James Johnstone, entitled 'Antiquitates Celfo-Scandicce', Copenhagen, 1786, quarto, gives the following very interesting particulars of the Battle of Southwark, which took place in the year 1008, in the unhappy reign of Ethelred II, surnamed the Unready.
"They" that is the Danish forces "first came to shore at London, where their ships were to remain, and the City was taken by the Danes. Upon the other side of the River, is situate a great market called Southwark, " Sudurvirke in the original "which the Danes fortified with many defences; framing, for instance, a high and broad ditch, having a pile or rampart within it, formed of wood, stone, and turf, with a large garrison placed there to strengthen it. This, the King Ethelred," his name, you know, is Adalradr in the original "attacked and forcibly fought against; but by the resistance of the Danes it proved but a vain endeavour.
There was, at that time, a Bridge erected over the River between the City and Southwark, so wide, that if two carriages met they could pass each other. At the sides of the Bridge, at those parts which looked upon the River, were erected Ramparts and Castles that were defended on the top by penthouse-bulwarks and sheltered turrets, covering to the breast those who were fighting in them: the Bridge itself was also sustained by piles which were fixed in the bed of the River. An attack therefore being made, the forces occupying the Bridge fully defended it. King Ethelred being thereby enraged, yet anxiously desirous of finding out some means by which he might gain the Bridge, at once assembled the Chiefs of the army to a conference on the best method of destroying it. Upon this, King Olaf engaged," - for you will remember he was an ally of Ethelred " that if the Chiefs of the army would support him with their forces, he would make an attack upon it with his ships. It being ordained then in council, that the army should be marched against the Bridge, each one made himself ready for a simultaneous movement both of the ships and of the land forces.'
... Snorro Sturleson then, having cleared the way for the forcing of London Bridge on the behalf of King Ethelred, thus begins his account of the action, entitling it, in the Scandinavian tongue, Orrosta, or the fight.
King Olaf, having determined on the construction of an immense scaffold, to be formed of wooden poles and osier twigs, set about pulling down the old houses in the neighbourhood for the use of the materials. With these Vinea, therefore,' as such defences were anciently termed ' he so enveloped his ships, that the scaffolds extended beyond their sides; and they were so well supported, as to afford not only a sufficient space for engaging sword in hand, but also a base firm enough for the play of his engines, in case they should be pressed upon from above.
The Fleet, as well as the forces, being now ready, they rowed towards the Bridge, the tide being adverse; but no sooner had they reached it, than they were violently assailed from above with a shower of missiles and stones, of such immensity that their helmets and shields were shattered, and the ships themselves very seriously injured. Many of them, therefore, retired.
But Olaf the King and his Norsemen having rowed their ships close up to the Bridge, made them fast to the piles with ropes and cables, with which they strained them, and the tide seconding their united efforts, the piles gradually gave way, and were withdrawn from under the Bridge. At this time, there was an immense pressure of stones and other weapons, so that the piles being removed, the whole Bridge brake down, and involved in it's fall the ruin of many.
Numbers, however, were left to seek refuge by flight: some into the City, others into Southwark. And now it was determined to attack Southwark: but the Citizens seeing their River Thames occupied by the enemy's navies, so as to cut off all intercourse that way with their interior provinces, were seized with fear, and having surrendered the City, received Ethelred as King.
In remembrance of this expedition thus sang Ottar Suarti -
And now, Sir, as this is, without any doubt, the first song which was ever made about London Bridge, I shall give you the Norse Bard's verses in Macpherson's Ossianic measure, as that into which they most readily translate themselves; premising that the ensuing are of immeasurably greater authenticity.

And thou hast overthrown their Bridges,
Oh thou Storm of the Sons of Odin!
skilful and foremost in the Battle!
For thee was it happily reserved
to possess the land of London's winding City.
Many were the shields which were grasped
sword in hand to the mighty increase of the conflict;
but by thee were the iron-handed coats
of mail broken and destroyed.'

And besides this, continues Snorro, he also sang:

Thou, thou hast come, Defender of the Earth,
and hast restored into his Kingdom the exiled Ethelred.
By thine aid is he advantaged, and made strong by thy valour and prowess:
Bitterest was that Battle in which thou didst engage.
Now, in the presence of thy kindred the adjacent lands are at rest,
where Edmund, the relation of the country and the people, formerly governed.

Besides this, these things are thus remembered by Sigvatus:
That was truly the sixth fight which the mighty King fought with the men of England: wherein King Olaf, the Chief himself a Son of Odin, valiantly attacked the Bridge at London.
Bravely did the swords of the Völscs defend it, but through the trench which the Sea-Kings, the men of Vikesland, guarded, they were enabled to come, and the plain of Southwark was full of his tents.
Such were the martial feats of King Olafus, upon the water

1013: London Bridge was burned down by King Æthelred in a bid to divide the invading forces of the Dane Svein Haraldsson.  This episode reputedly inspired the well-known nursery rhyme "London Bridge is falling down". However behind the rhyme is Snorri Sturluson's Olaf Sagas with its record of the battle and final poem by Ottar Svarte -


It is certain there was a bridge, in the year 1016, when Canute having besieged London, the citizens contrived to fortify it so effectually, that he was obliged to cut a semicircular canal through Southwark, to bring his ships above the bridge, and thus prevent the city receiving supplies.

Listen to 'London Bridge is broken down'

London Bridge is broken down
Gold is won, and bright renown.
Shields resounding,
War-horns sounding,
Hildur shouting in the din!
Arrows singing,
Mailcoats ringing -
Odin makes our Olaf win!
King Æthelred has found a friend
Brave Olaf will his throne defend -
In bloody fight
Maintain his right
Win back his land
With blood-red hand,
And Edmund his son upon his throne replace -
Edmund, the star of every royal race.

[ King Æthelred's son was King Eadmund Ironside. ]
There was also another Viking poem by Sigvat -

See Osney Railway Bridge for "Boney's Bridge is broken down"!

At London Bridge stout Olaf gave
Odin's law to his war-men brave -
'To Win or Die!'
And their foemen fly.
Some by the dyke-side refuge gain -
Some in their tents on Southwark plain!
This sixth attack
Brought victory back.

1091: in The Chronicles of London Bridge by an Antiquary -

This First Wooden Bridge, however, was not fated to stand long; for, on the sixteenth of November, the feast of St Edmund the Archbishop, in the year 1091, at the hour of six, a dreadful whirlwind from the South-East, coming from Africa, blew upon the City, and overthrew upwards of six hundred houses, several Churches, greatly damaged the Tower, and tore away the roof and part of the wall of the Church of St. Mary le Bow, in Cheapside. The roof was carried to a considerable distance, and fell with such force, that several of the rafters, being about twenty-eight feet in length, pierced upwards of twenty feet into the ground, and remained in the same position as when they stood in the Chapel.
... During the same storm, too, the water in the Thames rushed along with such rapidity, and increased so violently, that London Bridge was entirely swept away; whilst the lands on each side were overflowed for a considerable distance.


In the reign of William Rufus, this wooden bridge was washed away by a great land flood [* Stow]; that prince made it a pretext for his rapacity in levying large sums of money throughout the kingdom, to rebuild it.

1114: in The Chronicles of London Bridge -

Our brave old River of Thames itself, however, is of the same changeful nature as Luna, the mistress of his tides; for, if at one time, he overflows his banks, blows up his Bridge, or drowns an invading army, by the fury of his waves; at another season he contracts his waters into their narrowest channel, or draws them back into his urn, without leaving enough to float a wherry over his bed. ...
On the 6th of the Ides of October, videlicet the 10th, in the 15th Year of the reign of Henry I. 1114, the River was so dried up, and there was such want of water, that between the Tower of London and the Bridge, and even under it, 'a great number of men, women, and children' says Stow, in his Survey, volume i. page 58 ' did wade over both on horse and foot,' the water coming up to their knees.
The original account of this is to be found in the ' Annales' of Roger de Hoveden, page 473; from whom we derive the additional information, that this defect of water commenced in the middle of the night preceding, and lasted until the darkest part of the next.

1135: Matthew of Westminster -

[A fire] broke out near London Bridge, which it destroyed; and raging in the most furious manner, caused the most horrible devastation as far to the westward as St. Clements Danes.

1136: in The Chronciles of London Bridge by an Antiquary (1825) -

The second year of ... King Stephen, saw London Bridge in a state to require the exertions of all England to raise it: for, in 1136, a fire broke out in the dwelling of one Aileward, near London Stone, that consumed Eastward as far as Aldgate; and to the Shrine of St. Erkenwald, in St. Paul's Cathedral, to the West. On the Southern side of London the Wooden Bridge over the Thames was destroyed, but was soon after repaired


In 1135, London Bridge was totally consumed by a great fire, which destroyed one half of the city.
In the year 1166, it was in so ruinous a state as to require rebuilding: ...
It was rebuilt under the inspection of Peter, a clergyman, in those days in great reputation for his skill in architecture, and chaplain or curate of St. Mary Colechurch, in London.
About this time some lands were appropriated to its maintenance ; but their produce was very inadequate to the expences of its frequent repairs. Whenever they fell short, it is probable the religious establishments were called upon, as well as corporate bodies ; for we find a charter granted by Henry the First to Ralph, Bishop of Chichester, exempting the manor of Alcestone, among "all other customs of earthly servitude", from the work of London Bridge.

1166: The Chronicle of London Bridge by an Antiquary (1825) -

It was probably in the Register of Trinity Priory, that Stow found a notice that London Bridge was not only repaired, but a new one erected of elm timber, in 1163, by the most excellent Peter of Colechurch, Priest and Chaplain; since I find it in none of the historians with whom I am acquainted.
It is, however, much better authenticated that the same pious architect began his labours upon the first stone one in 1176


Various accidents continually befalling the wooden bridge, the present one of stone was begun under the patronage of Henry the Second, in (1176); and the above-mentioned Peter, curate of St. Mary Colechurch, was the architect. He died before the work was finished ; and King John, by the advice of Hubert, recommended Isenbert, priest, and an architect of ability, who had built a bridge at Rochelle, and was master of the schools of Xainctes ; but it does not appear he was employed by the citizens, who had the custody of the work.

1163: "A Treatise on Bridge Architecture", by Thomas Pope in 1811: -

it was rebuilt with the same sort of material in the year 1163.
but this second formation of timber not proving equal to the first in strength, and a considerable improvement taking place in the erection of bridges; about 13 years afterwards in the reign of HENRY II, this last wooden structure was taken down, and a bridge of Portland stone was begun to be erected in its stead: to accomplish which, a tax was laid upon wool, which in the course of time gave rise to the notion, among the vulgar, that the said bridge was built upon woolpacks.

1176: The Chronicles of London Bridge (1825) -

We are here entering upon the golden age of London Bridge, for the new stone building, by Peter of Colechurch, was such an ornament as the Thames had never before witnessed; indeed, in my poor judgment, it very far surpassed that erection, of which I shall hereafter have occasion to speak; and perhaps, for its time, even that which now stretches itself across the flood (ie the Old London Bridge newly built in 1825].
The person to whom was entrusted the building of the first stone Bridge at London, was, as I have already told you, named Peter, a Priest and Chaplain of St. Mary Colechurch; ...
Of the architectural knowledge of the Curate thereof, I have already shewed you that the Citizens of London had experienced some proofs, since he is said to have rebuilt their last wooden Bridge: and John Leland the Antiquary ... observes, in the notes to his famous 'Song of the Swan', ... that Radulphus de Diceto, Dean of London, who wrote about 1210, states from his own knowledge, that he was a native of this City. The same venerable Antiquary also tells us in his ' Itinerary' ...that 'a Mason beinge Master of the Bridge Howse, buildyd 'à fundamentis' the Chapell on London Bridge, 'à fundamentis propriis impensis' ' or, as we should now say, from bottom to top, at his own costs and charges.
... This new Bridge consisted, then, of a stone platform, erected somewhat westward of the former, 926 feet long, and 40 in width, standing about 60 feet above the level of the water; and containing a Drawbridge, and 19 broad pointed arches, with massive piers varying from 25 to 34 feet in solidity, raised upon strong elm piles, covered by thick planks, bolted together.
Such was the First Stone London Bridge, commenced by Peter Of Colechurch, A. D. 1176.

London Bridge 1176
London Bridge as commenced by Peter of Colechurch in 1176,
in 'The Chronicles of London Bridge, 1825

The Chronicle of London Bridge (1825) also provided a plan of this bridge with dimensions -

... there are engraved Ground-plans of this Bridge, in George Vertue's prints, ... and also in Hawksmoor's tract

London Bridge Plan 1176
Ground Plan of The First Stone Bridge At London : Commenced A. D. 1176, And Completed A. D. 1209 [ in 'The Chronicle of London Bridge', 1825 ]
Breadth of 1st Arch10' 0"
Breadth of 1st Pier30' 0"
Breadth of 2nd Arch15' 0"
Breadth of 2nd Pier18' 0"
Length of 2nd Pier47' 6"
Breadth of 3rd Arch25' 0"
Breadth of 3rd Pier17' 0"
Length of 3rd Pier41' 6"
Breadth of 4th Arch21' 0"
Breadth of 4th Pier18' 0"
Length of 4th Pier47' 6"
Breadth of 5th Arch27' 0"
Breadth of 5th Pier21' 0"
Length of 5th Pier47' 6"
Breadth of 6th Arch29' 6"
Breadth of 6th Pier21' 0"
Length of 6th Pier54' 0"
Breadth of 7th Arch29' 6"
Breadth of 7th Pier21' 0"
Length of 7th Pier54' 0"
Breadth of 8th Arch26' 0"
Breadth of 8th Pier21' 0"
Length of 8th Pier54' 0"
Breadth of 9th Arch32' 9"
Breadth of 9th Pier21' 0"
Length of 9th Pier54' 0"
Breadth of 10th Arch25' 6"
Breadth of CENTRE PIER36' 0"
Length of CENTRE PIER95' 0"
Extreme length of CENTRE PIER125' 0"
Vertue makes extreme length115' 0"
Breadth of Chapel on CENTRE PIER20' 0"
Length of Chapel on CENTRE PIER60' 0"
Exterior height (of Chapel) about110' 0"
Breadth of 11th Arch16' 0"
Breadth of 11th Pier21' 0"
Length of 11th Pier37' 0"
Breadth of 12th Arch24' 6"
Breadth of 12th Pier21' 0"
Length of 12th Pier38' 0"
Breadth of 13th Arch25' 8"
Breadth of 13th Pier27' 0"
Length of 13th Pier50' 0"
Breadth of 14th Arch DRAWBRIDGE29' 4"
Vertue makes Breadth30' 4"
Breadth of 14th Pier17' 0"
Length of 14th Pier26' 0"
Breadth of 15th Arch22' 10"
Breadth of 15th Pier26' 0"
Length of 15th Pier47' 7"
Breadth of 16th Arch21' 10"
Breadth of 16th Pier15' 0"
Length of 16th Pier46' 0"
Breadth of 17th Arch29' 4"
Breadth of 17th Pier25' 0"
Length of 17th Pier46' 0"
Breadth of 18th Arch24' 0"
Breadth of 18th Pier17' 0"
Length of 18th Pier46' 0"
Breadth of 19th Arch27' 0"
Breadth of 19th Pier17' 0"
Length of 19th Pier north side49' 0"
Breadth of 20th Arch15' 0"

The Chapel on the Bridge -

London Bridge Chapel 1176
The Chapel on London Bridge (1176-1209)
as in The Chronicle of London Bridge (1825)

1209: "A Treatise on Bridge Architecture", by Thomas Pope in 1811: -

In the reign of KING JOHN, about the year 1209, the bridge was finished, having been 33 years in the building, at the public expense.

King John allowed houses to be built on the bridge – and indeed it became a ward of the city in its own right. This was in one sense a great mistake - a planning decision that was to cost many people their lives - however there was a positive side to it. Many bridges deteriorated over time and there were always arguments as to who was to pay for the necessary works. But with so many people living on the bridge there was a built in guarantee that they at least would maintain it!


After thirty-three years labour, this ill- contrived structure was completed.
Besides the houses on each side, there was a chapel; it was a beautiful Gothic structure, sixty-five feet long, twenty feet six inches wide, and fourteen high. It was built over the ninth pier from the north end; was paved with black and white marble; and had an entrance from the river. In the middle of it there was a monument, supposed to be that of Peter the architect, or the mason, who is said to have built the chapel and endowed it.
At the dissolution. of the monasteries, the chapel was converted into a dwelling. In making some alteration in 1737, the site of the monument was discovered : this may be worth observation whenever the bridge is taken down.
Among the various distressing accidents related by Stow, and others, was a fire which began in Southwark about four years after the bridge was finished. The Londoners had rushed in crowds to assist at the fire, which, having caught St. Mary Overy's church, a strong south wind communicated the flames to the north side of the bridge. While they were endeavouring to force a passage through the flames into the city, the conflagration had extended across the south end of the bridge, "so that being inclosed between two great fires above 3000 people perished in the flames, or were drowned by overloading the vessels which ventured to their assistance".

1265 -

Queen Eleanor, wife of Henry III, was granted the custody of London Bridge after the battle of Evesham, and continued to enjoy the rents and lands for six years, during which time the bridge fell into disrepair.

And this may have given rise to another version of the nursery rhyme -

London Bridge is falling down,
Falling down, Falling down.
London Bridge is falling down,
My fair lady.
Take a key and lock her up,
Lock her up, Lock her up.
Take a key and lock her up,
My fair lady.
How will we build it up,
Build it up, Build it up?
How will we build it up,
My fair lady?
Build it up with silver and gold,
Silver and gold, Silver and gold.
Build it up with silver and gold,
My fair lady.
Gold and silver I have none,
I have none, I have none.
Gold and silver I have none,
My fair lady.
Build it up with needles and pins,
Needles and pins, Needles and pins.
Build it up with needles and pins,
My fair lady.
Pins and needles bend and break,
Bend and break, Bend and break.
Pins and needles bend and break,
My fair lady.
Build it up with wood and clay,
Wood and clay, Wood and clay.
Build it up with wood and clay,
My fair lady.
Wood and clay will wash away,
Wash away, Wash away.
Wood and clay will wash away,
My fair lady.
Build it up with stone so strong,
Stone so strong, Stone so strong.
Build it up with stone so strong,
My fair lady.
Stone so strong will last so long,
Last so long, Last so long.
Stone so strong will last so long,
My fair lady.


In 1280, the bridge being in a very ruinous state, the citizens applied to the king for relief, who granted the bridge-keeper a brief to collect charitable donations throughout the realm, with particular injunctions to the clergy to promote its success. This scheme failed, and, in the following year, letters patent passed, authorising the corporation to take a toll for three years.

1281: "A Treatise on Bridge Architecture", by Thomas Pope in 1811: -

But, although it was now constructed of a material much less perishable than the former, yet we find that in the reign of EDWARD I, 1281, the King, being informed of the ruinous condition of London Bridge, granted his letters patent, empowering the keeper of the said bridge to receive a toll of such persons as should pass over it.
The winter following, at the breaking up of a severe frost, five arcs of this bridge were entirely swept away by the violence of the ice. Since that period it has undergone many alterations, repairs and improvements.

The old poetry of the Olaf Sagas [above] was again reworked. This version comes from Gammer Gurton's Garland, 1760. Note however that "My Lady Lee" may be a reference to Queen Eleanor as in the previous version -

London Bridge is broken down,
Dance o'er my Lady Lee;
London Bridge is broken down,
With a gay lady.
How shall we build it up again,
Dance o'er my Lady Lee;
How shall we build it up again,
With a gay lady?
Silver and gold will be stole away,
Dance o'er my Lady Lee;
Silver and gold will be stole away,
With a gay lady.
Build it up with stone so strong,
Dance o'er my Lady Lee;
Huzza! 'twill last for ages long,
With a gay lady.

It may be that in that rhyme is recorded the transition from wood to stone as the principle bridge material.


By 1481, partly in consequence of the weight of the houses and buildings erected on it, which now formed a continuous street, it had become necessary to take stringent measures for the preservation of the structure, as it was found that great damage was done to the Drawbridge Tower and other arches and piers of the bridge by vibration occasioned by carts, etc., going over the bridge, and it was ordained in consequence that no "shod" carts should go over, and that the drawbridge should only be raised in times of real necessity, and not for vessels to pass under, as had been done previously. It was further provided that Fishermen were not to cast their nets near the starlings or foundations, and that ships were not to be anchored near them or under the bridge.

1440? The first known view of old London Bridge. Detail from the background of a picture of the Tower in a book of Poems 1500 by Charles, Duke of Orleans, who was prisoner in the Tower 1415-1440 -

London Bridge, 1500
London Bridge 1500

1500: And I suspect this view is created from the previous view in The Chronicle of London Bridge, 1825 -

London Bridge, 1500
London Bridge 1500

1534: The Chronicle of London Bridge (1825) -

We have now arrived at the days of King Henry the Eighth, about the period when Pope Alexander the Sixth sent over the celebrated Polydore Vergil to receive the tribute called Peter-pence, of which he was the last Collector in England.
... in 1521 he was employed by the King to write a History of England, which he performed in most elegant Latin, The best edition of this work, entitled 'Polydori Vergilii Urbinatis Histories Anglice', which contains a descriptive eulogy on London Bridge, is that of Leyden, 1651 ...
"This most delightful river' the Thames 'rises a little above the road to Winchcomb, whence flowing several ways, it is first increased at Oxford; and the beautiful wonder, having washed the City of London, pours itself into the Gallic Ocean, who welcomes it into the impetuous waves of his seas; from which, twice in the space of twenty-four hours, it flows and returns more than the distance of sixty miles, and is of the greatest national advantage, for, by it, merchandise may easily be returned to the City.
In this River there is a stone Bridge, certainly a most wonderful work! for it is erected upon twenty square piers of stone, 60 feet in height, 30 feet in breadth, and distant from each other about 20 feet, united by arches. Upon both sides of the Bridge there are houses erected, so that it might appear not to be a Bridge, but one substantial and uninterrupted street.
... part of the City, which looks Southward, is washed by the River Thames, in which stands the Bridge, as we have said before, leading towards Kent, erected upon 19 arches, and having a series of extensive magnificent houses standing upon both sides of it.

1536: from Picturesque Views on the Thames, Samuel Ireland 1792 -

AN anecdote of the ancestor of the Duke of Leeds, as an act of singular gallantry, is not unworthy of record here. Edmond Osbourn, in the year 1536, was an apprentice to Sir William Hewitt, a cloth-worker who resided on this bridge, at which time a servant maid, playing with the only child of her master at the window, accidentally let it fall into the river : young Edmond, who was witness to the calamity, instantly plunged after it, and fortunately restored the infant to its afflicted parent.
The reward of this spirited action was, at a proper period, the hand of the fair daughter, and with it the knight's lands and beeves : Many wealthy and noble suitors, (amongst whom was the Earl of Shrewsbury,) had paid their addresses to this damsel, yet the gallantry of Edmond obtained the preference, and he became Lord Mayor of London in 1582; his portrait is now at Kiveton, the seat of the Duke of Leeds, in his magisterial habit, with gold chain and bonnet.

1545: Translation of part of Leland's Itinerary
in The Chronicle of London Bridge, 1825
If this translation is accurate then Leland has the earliest reference to the weir like effect of London Bridge - See last verse

More plainly now, as o'er the tide
With swift, but gentle course we glide;
The sight embraces in its ken
Those dwellings of illustrious men,
Where Thames upon his banks descries
The brave, the courteous, and the wise. ...

The streaming river bears us on
To London's mighty Babylon:
And that vast Bridge, which proudly soars,
Where Thames throngh nineteen arches roars,
And many a lofty dome on high
It raises towering to the sky.

There are, whose truth is void of stain,
Who write, in Lion Richard's reign,
That o'er these waves extended stood
A ruder fabric framed of wood:
But when the swift-consuming flames
Destroyed that bulwark of the Thames,
Rebuilt of stone it rose to view,
Beneath King John its splendours grew,
Whilst London pour'd her wealth around,
The mighty edifice to found ;
The lasting monument to raise
To his, to her eternal praise,
Till, rearing up its form sublime,
It stands the glory of all time !

Yet here we may not longer stay
But shoot the Bridge and dart away,
Though, with resistless fall, the tide
Is dashing on the bulwark's side;
And roaring torrents drown my song
As o'er the surge I drift along.

1578: Holinshed's Chronicles -

I would here make mention of sundry bridges placed over this noble stream, of which that of London is most chiefly to be commended, for it is in manner a continual street, well replenished with large and stately houses on both sides, and situate upon twenty arches, whereof each one is made of excellent free squared stone, every of them being threescore foot in height, and full twenty in distance one from another, as I have often viewed.

The medieval bridge had 19 small arches and a drawbridge with a gatehouse at each end.  The narrowness of the arches meant that it acted as a partial barrage over the Thames. To add to the problem the method of construction was to effectively make a small island called a starling at the foot of each pillar. Stakes were driven into the bed of the river and stones dropped within them creating artificial islands on which the bridge was then built. The current was further obstructed by the addition of water-wheels under the two north arches to drive water pumps, and under the two south arches to power grain mills.  This produced ferocious rapids between the piers or "starlings" of the bridge, as the difference between the water levels on each side could be as much as six feet (two metres).  Only the brave or foolhardy attempted to shoot the bridge – and many were drowned trying to do so.  As the saying went, the bridge was -

for wise men to pass over, and for fools to pass under.

1582: in The Chronicle of London Bridge, 1825 -

It was in 1582 that the idea was first formed of erecting Water-works against the Arches of London Bridge; and of adapting the violence of the torrent, as it rushed through its narrow locks, to some purpose of general utility.
As a good account of these original works is given in Stow's 'Annals', and in Holinshed's 'Chronicle' I shall give you the very words, as conveying the best illustration of them.
This year, [1582] Peter Moris, a Dutchman, but a Free-Denizen, having made an engine for that purpose, conveied Thames water in pipes of lead over the steeple of St Magnus Church, at the North end of London Bridge, and so into diverse men's houses in Thames Street, New Fish Street, and Grasse-street, up unto the North-west corner of Leadenhall, the highest ground of the Citie of London, where the waste of the first maine pipe ran first this yeare, one thousand five hundred eightie and two, on Christmasse even;
which maine pipe, being since at the charges of the Citie brought up into a standard there made for that purpose, and divided there into foure severall spouts, ranne foure waies, plentifullie serving to the use of the inhabitants neere adjoining, that will fetch the same into their houses, and also clensed the chanels of the streets, North towards Bishopsgate, East towards Aldgate, South towards the Bridge, and West towards the Stocks Market.
No doubt a great commoditie to that part of the Citie, and would be farre greater, if the said water were mainteined to run continuallie, or at the least at everie tide some reasonable quantitie, as at the first it did; but since is much aslaked, thorough whose default I know not, sith the engine is sufficient to conveie water plentifullie: which, being well considered by Bernard Randolph, Esquier, Common Sergeant of the Citie of London, he, being alive, gave and delivered to the Company of Fishmongers, in London, a round sum to be imployed towards conducting the Thames water, for the good service of the Commonwealth, in convenient order.'
It was probably the success of this engine which occasioned another of four pumps, worked by horses, to be erected at Broken-Wharf, near Queenhithe; invented ... by Bevis Bulmar, 'a most ingenious gentleman'.
It was at first intended to convey the Thames water, by leaden pipes, to the whole Western part of London; but after working it for a short time, it was laid aside, on account of its great charge both to the tenants and the proprietors.

Peter Morice obtained a lease of one arch for five hundred years, at the annual rent of ten shillings, and in two years after, from the great utility experienced in this undertaking, he procured a second, since which two other arches have been included in this work, and in the year 1701, the whole was sold by the representatives of Morice to Richard Soames, citizen and goldsmith, for the sum of thirty-six thousand pounds, after which this property was divided into three hundred shares, at five hundred pounds each, and the proprietors obtained a charter of incorporation.
( 300 x £ 500 ) - £ 36,000 = £ 114,000 profit! Nice work if you can find it!

1581: John Bate produced a wood cut of the pump in his book "The mysteries of Art and Nature" 1683 -

London Bridge Pump, 1581
London Bridge Pump, 1581

John Bate in 1683 wrote -

These pipes carry the water to the top of a turret neare adjoining unto the Engine and there being strained through a close wyer grate it decendeth into the maine wooden pipe which is layd along the street and into it are grafted divers small pipes of led serving each of them to the use and service of particular persons.

The water quality might have been just acceptable at first but in later years must have been quite awful.
Chronicles of London Bridge By Richard Thomson -

London Bridge water pump 1581
London Bridge Water Pump 1581

More on the Waterworks wheels and pumps in 'London Bridge 1666-1825'.

1599: View in Chronicles of London Bridge By Richard Thomson (1825) -

The last view of this edifice which I shall at present notice to you, is one copied by Thomas Wood. Engraved by J. Pye, and dedicated to Brass Crosby. Esq., Lord Mayor, the Aldermen, and Common Council of the City of London ; and it represents the South View of the said City and part of Southwarke, as it appeared about the year 1599.'
I am half inclined to believe, however, that this prospect is made up from Hollar's View, published in 1657 ; as it is certainly taken from the same point. The Bridge rises obliquely on the right hand : at the South end of it appears the Southwark Gate

London Bridge, 1599
London Bridge, 1599 [1657?]

1608: Chronicle of London Bridge (1825) -

The same year of 1608 was also memorable for two tides flowing at London Bridge, on Sunday, the 19th of February. Edmond Howes records it in his Continuation of Stow's ' Annals':
"when it should have beene dead low water at London Bridge, quite contrary to course it was then high water; and, presently, it ebbed almost halfe an houre, the quantitie of a foote, and then sodainly it flowed againe almost two foote higher than it did before, and then ebbed againe untill it came neere the right course, so as the next floud began, in a manner, as it should, and kept his due course in all respects as if there had beene no shifting, nor alteration of tydes. All this happened before twelve of the clocke in the forenoone, the weather being indifferent calme; and the sixt of February, the next yeere following, the Thames againe shifted tydes very strangely."

1610: Camden -

Now for that side where the river runneth, toward the South banke thereof the Citizens made a bridge also over the water reaching to that large Burrough of Southwarke ...
First of wood, in that place where before time they used for passage a ferry bote in stead of a bridge.
Afterwards, under the reigne of King John they built a new bridge with admirable workmanship of stone hewen out of the quarry, upon 19 Arches, besides the draw-bridge, and so furnished in both sides with passing faire houses joining one to another in manner of a street that for bignesse and beauty it may worthily carrie away the prise from all the Bridges in Europe.

1616: View of London by Visscher, 1616

Visscher's London, 1616

Visscher's View of London, 1616
Notice particularly on the skyline the old St Paul's Cathedral, burnt down in the Great Fire 1666.

Detail, London Bridge from Visscher's View of London, 1616

Visscher's London, detailed view of London Bridge, 1616

Visscher's View of London, 1616

1630: Old London Bridge by Claude de Jongh

London Bridge, Claude de Jongh, 1630
London Bridge, 1630 by Claude de Jongh

Old London Bridge by Claude de Jongh
Note: It is suspected that the painting was made to fit an existing panel and that an original drawing has been stretched vertically, exagerating heights of arches and buildings.
See what you think: Corrected proportion (Guess 52%); Original proportion

1632: Strype's edition of Stow's Chronicle

This bridge, with a chapel on the east side, and a gate at the south end, being thus all built of stone, as aforesaid, and houses of timber over the stone piers and arches on both sides thereof; yet there were, and still are, in the whole length of the bridge three vacancies, with stone walls and iron grates over them, on either side, opposite to each other; through which grates, people as they pass over the bridge may take a view of the river both east and west; and also may go aside more to each side, out of the way of carts and coaches, the passage being but narrow, and not only troublesome but dangerous.
These three vacancies are over three of the middle arches, for all the piers are not of a like thickness, nor stand at equal distance one from the other; for those under these three vacancies are much wider than the rest, and are called the navigable locks; because vessels of considerable burthen may pass through them.
One of these is near unto the second gate, and is called the Rock Lock; the second is under the second vacancy, where the drawbridge anciently was, and is called the Drawbridge Lock; and the third is near the chapel, and is called St. Mary's Lock.
There is a fourth between St. Magnus' Church and the first vacancy, and is called the King's Lock, for that the King in his passage through the bridge in his barge goes through this lock.
And in this condition was the bridge until the year 1632.

The 1632 Fire is on the 'Fire of London' page.

1641: in The Chronicle of London Bridge (1825) -

Fryday, Februarie 4, 1641, it was high water at one of the clocke at noone, a time by reason so accommodated for all imployments by water or land, very fit to afford witnesse of a strange and notorious accident.
After it was full high water, and that it flowed its full due time as all Almanacks set downe; and watermen, the unquestionable prognosticators in that affaire, with confidence mainetaine it stood a quiet still dead water, a full houre and halfe, without moving or returning any way never so litle: Yea, the water-men flung in stickes to the streame, as near as they could guesse, which lay in the water as upon the earth, without moving this way or that.
... In this posture stood the water a whole houre and halfe, or rather above, by the testimony of above five hundred watermen, on either side the Thames, whom not to believe in this case were stupiditie, not discretion.
At last, when all men expected its ebb, being filled with amazement that it stood so long as hath been delivered, behold a greater wonder, a new Tyde comes in!
A new Tyde with a witnesse, you might easily take notice of him; so lowde he roared, that the noise was guessed to be about Greenwich when it was heard so, not onely clearly, but fearfully to the Bridge; and up he comes tumbling, roaring, and foaming in that furious manner, that it was horror unto all that beheld it. And as it gave sufficient notice to the eare of its comming, so it left sufficient satisfaction to the eye that it was now come; having raised the water foure foote higher then the first Tyde had done, foure foote by rule! as by evident measure did appear, and presently ebbed in as hasty, confused, unaccustomed manner.

This was about the date of the terrible Dehkharghan-Tabriz Earthquake in Iran
(which was given as Friday night 5th February, 1641) See link