1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Lambeth

LAMBETH, a southern metropolitan borough of London, England, bounded N.W. by the river Thames, N.E. by Southwark, E. by Camberwell and W. by Wandsworth and Battersea, and extending S. to the boundary of the county of London. Pop. (1901) 301,895. The name is commonly confined to the northern part of the borough, bordering the river; but the principal districts included are Kennington and Vauxhall (north central), Brixton (central) and part of Norwood (south). Four road-bridges cross the Thames within the limits of the borough, namely Waterloo, Westminster, Lambeth and Vauxhall, of which the first, a fine stone structure, dates from 1817, and is the oldest Thames bridge standing within the county of London. The main thoroughfare runs S. from Westminster Bridge Road as Kennington Road, continuing as Brixton Road and Brixton Hill, Clapham Road branching S.W. from it at Kennington. Several thoroughfares also converge upon Vauxhall Bridge, and from a point near this down to Westminster Bridge the river is bordered by the fine Albert Embankment.

Early records present the name Lamb-hythe in various forms. The suffix is common along the river in the meaning of a haven, but the prefix is less clear; a Saxon word signifying mud is suggested. Brixton and Kennington are mentioned in Domesday; and in Vauxhall is concealed the name of Falkes de Breauté, an unscrupulous adventurer of the time of John and Henry III. exiled in 1225. The manor of North Lambeth was given to the bishopric of Rochester in the time of Edward the Confessor, and the bishops had a house here till the 16th century. They did not, however, retain the manor beyond the close of the 12th century, when it was acquired by the see of Canterbury. The palace of the archbishops is still here, and forms, with the parish church, a picturesque group of buildings, lying close to the river opposite the majestic Houses of Parliament, and to some extent joining with them to make of this reach of the Thames one of the finest prospects in London. The oldest part of the palace remaining is the Early English chapel. The so-called Lollard’s Tower, which retains evidence of its use as a prison, dates c. 1440. There is a fine Tudor gatehouse of brick, and the hall is dated 1663. The portion now inhabited by the archbishops was erected in 1834 and fronts a spacious quadrangle. Among the portraits of the archbishops here are examples by Holbein, Van Dyck, Hogarth and Reynolds. There is a valuable library. The church of St Mary was rebuilt c. 1850, though the ancient monuments preserved give it an appearance of antiquity. Here are tombs of some of the archbishops, including Bancroft (d. 1610), and of the two Tradescants, collectors, and a memorial to Elias Ashmole, whose name is preserved in the Ashmolean Museum at Oxford University, to which he presented the collections of his friend the younger Tradescant (d. 1662). In the present Westminster Bridge Road was a circus, well known in the later 18th and early 19th centuries as Astley’s, and near Vauxhall Bridge were the celebrated Vauxhall Gardens.

The principal modern pleasure grounds are Kennington Park (20 acres), and Brockwell Park (127 acres) south of Brixton, and near the southern end of Kennington Road is Kennington Oval, the ground of the Surrey County Cricket Club, the scene of its home matches and of other important fixtures. Among institutions the principal is St Thomas’ Hospital, the extensive buildings of which front the Albert Embankment. The original foundation dated from 1213, was situated in Southwark, and was connected with the priory of Bermondsey. The existing buildings, subsequently enlarged, were opened in 1871, are divided into a series of blocks, and include a medical school. Other hospitals are the Royal, for children and women, Waterloo Road, the Lying-in Hospital, York Road, and the South-western fever hospital in Stockwell. There are technical institutes in Brixton and Norwood; and on Brixton Hill is Brixton Prison. In the northern part of the borough are numerous factories, including the great Doulton pottery works. The parliamentary borough of Lambeth has four divisions, North, Kennington, Brixton and Norwood, each returning one member. The borough council consists of a mayor, 10 aldermen and 60 councillors. Area, 4080.4 acres.