Cold Harbour: the original site of Watermen's Hall. The Company was founded in 1514.

An item signed Alan Hamilton, in The Times, 1st August 1982, contains some interesting details about the Doggett's Race. He points out that the watermen were "the taxi drivers of their times". The History of the Origins and Progress of the Company of Watermen and Lightermen of the River Thames with Numerous Historical Notes, by Henry Humpherus, 1859, is a mine of information. I hadn't studied it properly at the time of the 1983 Chichester exhibition, but have finally managed to get hold of a copy. Moreover, further consideration (2009) tends virtually conclusively to the conviction that Monamy's painting portrays William Morris, born 1699, who won the race in 1722.

Watermen's Hall 1670? From Crace collection, BM.

The above rather puzzling sketch appears, I believe, in the 1859 edition of The History, but seems to have been removed from the facsimile edition. Could there be a reason? Faith has been retained in another depiction, below, dated 1749, which appears on page 209, Vol II, of the reprinted volumes, published in 1981 by E.P.Microform.

This engraving must have been based on the drawing below, inscribed with date.
Or, more probably, the drawing was loosely copied from the engraving.

Watermen's Hall 1740 --- or 1749?     It's 1749.

Both the engraving and the drawing must have been copied directly from the print detail above.
Scanned from A Prospect of Britain, by Ralph Hyde, 1994. See page 47.
Engrav'd by S.& N.Buck Published according to Act of Parliament, Septr. llth, 1749.
86: Waterman's Hall.. 87: Coldharbour Stairs.

The detail from the Buck print, 1749, depicts a number of extra bits and pieces, clearly added to the hall and its surroundings some time after Monamy's picture was painted. So what. It's obviously the same place.

Humpherus records that on 29 August 1717 the hall's committee resolved to renew its lease in Coldharbour. In June 1719 the old hall was ordered to be pulled down. "The company seems to have taken immediate steps for the re-erection of the building." By 1721 "the building must have progressed, as it was ordered that a dial and new flag be provided for the new building". Vol II, p 112.

Monamy clearly didn't paint his picture before the hall was rebuilt, and it cannot portray the winner of the race in 1715, except anachronistically. The earliest sensible date to put on the painting is 1722. This, in fact, is the most probable first year of the race to be formally known, from then on, as Doggett's Coat and Badge.  Next page

      Ten thousand years hence, if this world lasts so long,
Tom Dogget will still be the theme of their song;
When Old Noll, with great Lewis, and Baubon are forgot,
And when numberless Kings in oblivion shall rot.

Written on a window pane in Lambeth on the 1st of August 1736,
evidently by a republican.

watermen's hall one       watermen's hall two
broughton and doggett's coat & badge
more on thomas doggett
introduction       background
article 1981       article 1983
royal occasions
monamy website index


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