The River Thames has connected people and places since prehistoric times, developing into an important trade and transport route, on which the growth of London was founded.
Throughout the Middle Ages the river was one of London's main highways. Barges and riverboats brought fish, wood and wool to the City, while watermen ferried people up, down and across the river, also connecting the royal palaces of Windsor, Hampton Court, Richmond and Kew with Westminster, the Tower Of London and Greenwich.
By the 1700s, trading ships arrived, carrying goods for sale in the City. Tea, silk and spices came from the East, sugar was brought from the Caribbean, timber from Norway and iron ore from Sweden.
Today the wharves have become residential and the river traffic recreational, but signs of the river’s past endure. The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Pageant echoes a long history of royal events on the River Thames, including the coronations of Richard III in 1483 and Anne in 1533.
This exhibition is a celebration of different facets of London’s River Thames.
Gudde Jane Skyrme