“We never know the worth of water till the well is dry.”-Thomas Fuller (1608-1661)
Turning on the tap and getting fresh water has to be one of the top things we take for granted, possibly up there with breathing.
Although this is a relatively new “Given”, with water sources in London still dubious until the mid 20th Century, our London ancestors would have been more concerned with finding a source of water before worrying about it’s purity.
I read an online article recently about the number of public springs and wells within the City boundaries, which numbered them at less than twenty during the 16th & 17th Centuries. Given that the population back then was around 500,000, that’s quite a lot of people per source.
This intrigued me, and so I started to map out the location of these sources that were known to have existed.
The Green map pins are conduits and wells with public access.
The Orange map pins are conduits or wells that were private.
The Purple map pins are the sites of pumps from the 18th & 19th century, which stand above springs that were probably known of at the time.
The centre of the City seems well catered for, with many access points along what was Eastcheap and around Gracechurch Street, however, you have to wonder about anyone living along the banks of the Thames. Perhaps they just stuck to drinking Ale!