Where did the Black Prince come ashore when he crossed the Thames to his favourite palace at Kennington….?

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Old Kennington Green, Kennington
Sketch of Kennington Palace, taken from https://debdavemason.com/2018/10/07/lost-palaces/

In my seemingly endless trekking around the internet in search of information about Kennington (not Kensington!) Palace, I was pleasantly surprised to at last discover something I’d been trying to pinpoint for some time.

In the days before there was any bridge over the Thames except Old London Bridge, the only way to cross the river was by boat. Well, unless one wished to ride over Old London Bridge, but if you were in, say, Westminster and wished to go to Kennington Palace, it was rather a long ride downstream to the bridge, cross over, and then ride upstream again on the other side.

How leafy it still was in the 18th century, see the above illustration of Old Kennington Green. In those days there were numerous Thamesside landings, piers, steps and stairs at which to land, but did the palace at Kennington have one of its own? Surely it must have.

1767 map showing White Hart Stairs

I was resigned to making vague mentions of the stairs at Lambeth or maybe a/the horse ferry. Yet I knew there had to be somewhere specific to a palace as important as Kennington. Then I came upon this site , from which I have taken the following extract:-

“….One remaining dock that has managed to survive is White Hart Dock in Vauxhall. With a road separating the dock from the Thames, it would be easy to miss it if you walked past. However, today there are modern boat sculptures giving a clue to what lurks behind. Situated at the junction of the Albert Embankment and Black Prince Road, there has been a dock or slipway at the site since the 14th or 15th century. On a 1767 map, White Hart Stairs are marked just a short distance south from the famous Horse Ferry embarkation, an ancient river crossing. At the time, Black Prince Road was named Lambeth Butts and led from White Hart Stairs to Kennington Palace (which existed from 12th to 16th century). By the early 19th century, the riverside end of Lambeth Butts had become Broad Street, with White Hart Stairs a popular drop off for water transport….”

View along the foreshore towards Lambeth Bridge after the construction of Albert Embankment. The resting barges are being unloaded by horse and cart into the free dock, near Broad Street (now Black Prince Road) and accessed through the bridged arches.  From https://boroughphotos.org/lambeth/thames-foreshore-lambeth/
Showing the channel under the embankment to the arches onto the foreshore – from https://knowyourlondon.wordpress.com/2016/07/29/white-hart-dock/

White Hart Dock when the tide’s in – from https://www.london-se1.co.uk/news/view/4157
View from the arches to the foreshore (under Albert Embankment) from White Hart Dock on the corner of Black Prince Road.
Photograph by John Topham

The White Hart dock itself may not have been there in the 14th century, but the stairs were and important personages came ashore there and then rode along Lambeth Butts/ Black Prince Road to the palace. The Albert Embankment and subsequent developments have changed everything, so that it’s hard to imagine that back in the time of Edward III, the Black Prince and Richard II there would have been fields and trees, as you can see on the 1785 map below (with apologies for the poor quality):-

Kennington Palace – destroyed by Henry VIII in 1531

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