Lambeth in 1839
LAMBETH, a large parish, a portion of which, together with portions of the parishes of St. Giles’s, Camberwell, and St. Mary, Newington, constitute a parliamentary borough. It is in the eastern division of the hundred of Brixton and county of Surrey. It is situated on the right bank of the river Thames. The name is of Saxon origin, and signifies, according to Camden, ‘a dirty station.’ The Saxon kings had a mansion here, where they occasionally resided. The palace of the archbishop of Canterbury, which is situated near the river, exhibits specimens of the architecture of various ages. The chapel and crypt beneath were probably built by archbishop Boniface as early as the year 1262, but the other parts of the building are of more recent date. Within the last five or six years the palace has been repaired under the direction of Mr. Edward Blore. In the dining-room are the portraits of all the archbishops who have filled the see from Laud down to the present time. The library occupies the four galleries over the cloisters, which form a small quadrangle. During the civil wars the greater part of the books were removed to the university of Cambridge, and the others dispersed among private individuals. After the Restoration exertions were made to effect their complete restoration, which were in a great measure successful. At the present time there are about 25,000 volumes, some of which are of great rarity. Many of the manuscripts are valuable, and those which contain the registers of the see of Canterbury are in an excellent state of preservation. Before the Reformation the archbishops had prisons here for the punishment of ecclesiastical offenders, and it was here that Elizabeth confined the earl of Essex before sending him to the Tower.
In the year 1831 the parish contained a population of 87,856 persons, having been increased during the previous ten years by 30,218 persons. The manufactures are numerous and important, comprising those of soap, white and red lead, plate-glass, patent shot, besides extensive breweries, distilleries, &c. There is a parochial school erected in 1808, the Philanthropic Society’s school, another belonging to the Benevolent Society of St. Patrick, and many other charitable institutions.
Lambeth was constituted a parliamentary borough by the Reform Act, and returns two members.
For an account of the antiquities of the parish the reader is referred to the Bibliotheca Topographica Britannica, vol ii.; and Lysons’ Environs of London, vol. i.