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The Rosary

Also known as, or recorded in historical documents as;
la Rosere

In the civil parish of Bermondsey Rotherhithe And Southwark.
In the historic county of Surrey.
Modern Authority of London Borough of Southwark.
1974 county of Greater London.
Medieval County of Surrey.

OS Map Grid Reference: TQ33458017
Latitude 51.50478° Longitude -0.07856°

The Rosary has been described as a certain Palace.

There are no visible remains.


Limited excavation and extensive watching brief in 1988 on large area east of Morgan's Lane running east to Vine Lane, excluding Anning and Chadwick warehouse and Pickle Herring Street, and Abbots and Vine Lanes. Conducted by the Museum of London Department of Greater London Archaeology (Southwark & Lambeth) in advance of the London Bridge City Phase II
At least three pieces of wall from The Rosary, a house built by Edward II in 1325, were recorded. They were constructed of squared ragstone blocks bedded in yellow sandy mortar. The largest fragment formed a southwest corner supported by one external buttress: on the south side was the base of an aperture, either a window opening or a garderobe chute.
Immediately to the east of Morgan's Lane a mill-stream, dated by documentary sources to the medieval period, was found: it flowed into the Thames. Pottery was exclusively post medieval in date, suggesting that the mill stream had been cleaned out regularly.
An excavation by the Museum of London Department of Greater London Archaeology (Southwark & Lambeth) was conducted prior to redevelopment in 1988, as part of the London Bridge City Phase II project.
Further remains of the moated enclosure excavated in 1987 and now considered to be part of the house built around 1325, known as The Rosary and owned by Edward II. A large section of the north moat was exposed, turning at its west end to the south, indicating two phases of revetment construction associated with a stone and timber bridge in its middle area giving access to the house from the Thames foreshore.
Excavation in 1998 by the Museum of London Department of Greater London Archaeology (Southwark & Lambeth) in advance of redevelopment as part of the London Bridge City Phase II project.
The site revealed the east end of the north moat of The Rosary as it turned to the south, and indicated a moated enclosure measuring around 50m x 40m. (Greater London HER)

The History of the King's Works notes that Edward II owned a "suburban residence in Suthwark called 'la Rosere,' where in 1324-5 a house was built for him by his household carpenters," and adds: "Its subsequent history is odbscure." The location of this house, again described as "la Rosere," is given the Rolls of Parliament as "contra la Tour." Burford surmises that this retreat was used almost certainly "for debauchery and other similar pastimes," and that Edward's house subsequently became a brothel known as the Little Rose. (Rex)

Perhaps at the Rosary Edward was indulging in his well-known passion for hedging and ditching, a preference that offended his contemporaries almost as much as his close relationships with his favourites. (Phillpotts)


Land was let from Lady Agnes de Dunley in the 1320's by Edward II who built a timber hall within a moated enclosure between October 1324 and March 1325 on the site on the opposite side of the Thames from the Tower of London. By 1330 Lady Agnes was petitioning Parliament for the new King, Edward III, to repair the river walls suggesting the site was abandoned and in some disrepair by then. The site probably returned to the Dunley's shortly after. Unsurprisingly this short-lived timber palace has left few archaeological remains.
It would seem that London City Hall is built on the site of this small palace and later brothel.
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Sources of information, references and further reading
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This record last updated 26/07/2017 09:21:01

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