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Poitiers Supper - Old London Bridge

On Wednesday 17 November, 22 Bowyers and guests enjoyed a splendidly convivial evening for our annual Poitiers Supper talk. This year's topic was the old London Bridge, the one that stood until 1831, east of the current one, and had been central London's only Thames crossing until Westminster in 1750. Back in the mid-15th century, of some 80 houses and shops on the bridge, as many as 16 were rented by Bowyers.

Our excellent speaker was Dr Dorian Gerhold, a former Clerk to the House of Commons, now independent historian and Fellow of the London Topographical Society. His researches for his recent book on 'London Bridge and its Houses' had unearthed fresh archival records from the original Bridge House governing body, describing in detail the houses that existed on the bridge and the identities of all the tenants.

Dr Gerhold's descriptions and depictions of life on the bridge in medieval times were vivid and fascinating, new to us all. It was quite remarkable that the bridge carried so many residences, in large part due to some quite innovative architectural structures extending out over the river and between the piers.

As is traditional at our Poitiers Suppers, this being the 15th consecutive, a good three-course supper was enjoyed after the talk. The venue this year was Davy's atmospheric Champagne Charlie's wine bar in The Arches off Villiers Street near Embankment tube, where we were delightfully looked after. Another great Bowyers' evening!

Tony Kench
Past Master

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