Pedlar's Acre

At the beginning of the 16th century three separate things seem to have become mixed up :- a church window that was donated by a family called Palmer; the ownership of at plot land; and an old legend.

When or how St Mary's Church first became the owners of land called Church or Osier Hope or Hoopes is not known. Church accounts record that in 1504 it was let out for 2s.8d (about 13p) per year, in 1557 for 5s (25p), 1623 for �26.8s (�26.40), in 1656 for �4. In 1690 the name of the plot is called Pedlars Acre for the first time, the reason for the change is also not known.

In 1810 the southern part of Pedlars Acre were let to Henry Maudslay and Maudslay, Sons and Field till 1900 when the land 'reverted' to Lambeth Borough Council. The company made a pumping engine for Lambeth Waterworks (1831) and the Lord William Bentinck surpossedly the first iron vessel built on the Thames (launched 1832) as well as many other things on the site. The Northern part of Pedlars Acre became two wharves and houses 7 & 9 Belvedere Road with the rent being paid to the Lambeth Vestry (forerunner to Lambeth Council). It was sold to London County Council in 1910 for �81,342 so that County Hall could be built. When excavating the site a boundary stone was discovered that said:

Boundary of

Church records show that back in 1607 two shillings (10p) was paid "for a pannell of glase for the windo where the picture of the pedler standes". So it is clear that the legend predates this time.

Image Source : The Museum of Garden History

Stained Glass Window in St. Mary-at-Lambeth

There are several versions as to the origin of the Pedlar's Window. One states that a 15th century incumbent of St. Marys once gave charity and shelter a pedlar and his dog. This pedlar prospered with time and upon his death left an acre of land to the church, on condition that both he and his dog be forever commemorated in 'painted' glass.

The legend on the window reads -

"This window by tradition represents a benefactor who about the year 1500 left to this church a piece of land later known as Pedlar's Acre (on which the County Hall now stands) on condition that his image be placed in the church and repaired from time to time. Mended in 1608; renewed 1703; tranfered to this chapel 1884; destroyed 1941; renewed 1956".

It is known as 'The Luck of Lambeth'. The legend beneath it reads 'May God prosper the land as he hath prospered me'.

Test Source: The Museum of Garden History