The Harbour Master, Limehouse

The Cherry Garden. T. R. Way. Signed and dated 1899. Lithograph. Source: Reliques of Old London, 23.

Commentary by H. B. Wheatley from Reliques of Old London

THERE is something incongrous to our present ideas in the fact that cherry trees grew by the banks of the Thames in the parish of Rotherhithe two centuries ago.

The “Cherry Garden” was a fevourite place of public entertainment in the reign of Charles II, and we know that that rural name was not misaapplied as we have the authority of Pepys for saying that cherries grew in the gardens, and that on June 13th, 1664, the Diarist picked some and carried them home.

The site of the gardens is marked by Cherry Garden stairs, a landing pier for Thames steamers and small boats. Rotherhithe is a manor and parish on the Surrey side of the Thames between Bermondsey and Deptford. It is not mentioned in Domesday Book, as it was then a hamlet in the royral manor of Bermondsey.

It has been stated that the famous Admiral Benbow was born Rotherhithe, but this is a mistake, as he was bom at Coton Hill, Shrewsbury. We learn, however, from Dean Swift that Lemuel Gulliver was long an inhabitant of the place, and that it was a sort of proverb among his ndghbours at Redriff, that “it was as true as if Mr. Gulliver had spoken it” Rotherhithe is closely assodated with Turner's grand picture, The Fighting Temeraire tugged to her last berth to be broken up, 1838, for there, at the shipbreaking yard then in the occupation of Mr. John Beatson, was the last berth of the old ship. — H. B. Wheatley, 27

[You may use this image without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the Boston Public Library and the Internet Archive and (2) link your document to this URL in a web document or cite it in a print one.]


Way, T. R., and H. B. Wheatley. Reliques of Old London upon the Banks of the Thames and in the Subburbs South of the River. London: George Bell and Sons, 1909. [title page] Internet Archive version of a copy in the Boston Public Library. Web. 22 April 2012..

Last modified 22 April 2012