Map of Greater London with Lambeth shown in blue and the Vauxhall area circiled in red

Old Windmills at Lambeth c 1750

Lambeth has been described as a village between Southwark and Battersea. The name comes from Lamhytha (1088) a 'Landing-place for lambs'. Lambeth and has been spelt in various ways including Lamb-hythe, Lamheth, Lambyth, Lamedh, Lamhees. Lambeth was mostly marsh and fields with scattered villages and hamlets till the 18th century. King Hardacanute owned the Manor of Lambeth and died there in 1041 whilst eating a feast. The Convent of St Andrew, Rochester sold the part of the Manor to Archbishop Haldwin of Canterbury in 1190. Archbishop Hubert Walter bought the rest of the Manor in 1197 and built a Palace by the river roughly opposite the Palace of Westminster. For centuries the two palaces were linked by a horse ferry thus Horseferry Road. The Black Prince lived in a royal palace at the nearby Manor of Kennington.

By 1746 the riverbank was fringed by houses and boat yards but apart from small villages at Vauxhall, Stockwell and Brixton there were few houses mainly dotted along the main roads and a forest at Norwood. During the early 1800s houses were being built for rich merchants and early industrialists. New factories (such as Vauxhall Plate Glass Works, Coade's Artificial Stone works and Doulton) were set up near the river in the north of the borough. To service these industries factories the workers lived in mainly slum dwellings and shanty towns. Today the countryside is gone save for a few small parks and two large ones (Kennington and Brockwell) and the two commons of Clapham and Streatham. The Vauxhall Gardens made famous by Pepys and Evelyn are no more and all that is left is a small grass area called Spring Gardens

Lambeth has some notable churches, including the Georgian: St Luke's, St Marks, St Matthew's, St John's and St Mary the Less and 13 Victorian ones. The South Metropolitan Cemetery at West Norwood was established in 1836 and contained many elaborate Victorian monuments and mausoleums, some of which have recently been destroyed by the local Council.

The Lambeth Coat of Arms
Lambeth Borough Coat of Arms

The patent of Arms issued by the Herald's College is dated 22 April 1922. The significance of the design is as follows: The paschal lamb with pennon has always formed part of the late Vestry and of the Borough Council and in heraldic terms is a "canting" or pruning reference to the name of the borough.

Fifteen golden bezants, or circles, round the edge of the shield have reference to the Arms of the Duchy of Cornwall, whose London estates are at Kennington in the borough. These bezants are supposed to have had their origin in the time when the Crusaders brought back gold coins from Byzantium.

The large red cross on the left hand upper corner of the shield is the cross of St George and is from the Arms of the London County Council.

The blue and gold squares in the right hand bottom corner from the Arms of the Warennes, Earls of Surrey, and this device also appears in the seal of the Surrey County Council: Lambeth was in the old geographical county of Surrey.

The mitre and pastoral staff in the dividing line of the shield are Ecclesiastical emblems, and refer to the fact that the Archbishops of Canterbury have had their residence at Lambeth Palace since the thirteenth century.

The two quarters ermine are associated with the use of ermine fur by the monarch and the nobility of the nation, as a symbol of purity and stainless honour that should be conspicuous in its wearer.

The translation of the motto "spectimur Agendo" is "let us be regarded according to our conduct".

Text Source : London Borough of Lambeth