Saturday, August 26, 2017

The London Stones: The Crow Stone (part 1)

The London Stones (for there are two of them) at Southend-on-sea are called The Crow Stones.

No one really knows why. This web site quotes an Essex Countryside article which states:

How the Crowstone(s) became so called is not accurately known.  The name may have arisen from a nearby tenement exiting in 1536 – Crowes.  The again it has been suggested that at one time beachcombing crows, which colonized agricultural settlements of the district, favoured the stone as a look-out.  That these numerous birds accounted in the first instance fro the naming of both the tenement and stone is sufficiently realistic to be accepted.  Beyond this, other reasons advanced have no local connection.

It's location is also sometimes described as Leigh (just upriver), Chalkwell (the nearest railway station) or Southend-on-sea (the general area). I use the last of these as there are two stones in the general area so it covers both of them.

The Essex Countryside article also gives more information about the process and payment amount:

Formal rights over restricted stretches of the Thames east and west of London Bridge were first granted to city conservators in 1197, for the payment of 1,500 marks, by Richard I.  Richard’s document was confirmed by King John in 1199, by Henry III in 1227 and by Edward I, whose charter of 1285 extended administration of the river, the easterly limit being determined at the Essex shore

That explains the date of 1285 on the older of the two stones (as described in the next post): the one in the photo above is a more recent, Victorian era addition, shaped a little like a mini Cleopatra's Needle.

This part of the Thames has large tidal variations, so the Victorian stone, which are a decent walk to the sea at low water (above), is completely cut off at high:
It is possible to see both Crow Stones in a single day trip to Southend-on-sea but I chose to be distracted by a highlight of this sea side town: the famous 2.16 km pleasure pier, which is the longest in the world:
The pier has its own railway so you don't have to walk all the way out there, though I walked back to get the experience. My first trip walking from Chalkwell railway station which is 5.4 km from the end of the pier so I was hungry by lunch-time. Fortunately there is no shortage of good places to get fish and chips!

It's definitely more interesting to visit at low water where there are some intriguing and I suspect historic tracks out across the mud to the distant water:


Anonymous said...

Are the stones not a danger to shipping? Do they have any navaids/reflectors fitted?

JP said...

They are on the charts - I might do a blog post on it. But not before do an update on the ferries of London as have just been on ANOTHER of them that didn't know about until last weekend.

Anonymous said...

thumbs up