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The London Stone, Yantlet Creek

A Grade II Listed Building in Isle of Grain, Medway

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Coordinates

Latitude: 51.4753 / 51°28'31"N

Longitude: 0.6783 / 0°40'41"E

OS Eastings: 586094

OS Northings: 178555

OS Grid: TQ860785

Mapcode National: GBR QQ7.J93

Mapcode Global: VHJLJ.P5YV

Entry Name: The London Stone, Yantlet Creek

Listing Date: 6 May 2015

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1424771

Location: Isle of Grain, Medway, ME3

County: Medway

Civil Parish: Isle of Grain

Traditional County: Kent

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Kent

Church of England Parish: Grain St James

Church of England Diocese: Rochester

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Summary

The London Stone, a granite obelisk dated to 1856, marking the eastern boundary of the City of London's conservancy jurisdiction on the south bank of the river Thames.

Description

The obelisk, dated to 1856, stands eight metres high on a stepped stone four stage plinth vaulted above the foreshore. It is made of a single pillar of granite stone, of square section with a pyramidal top on a square stone base. The obelisk inscription is in a weathered condition with the date 1856. The plinth is inscribed with Mayoral names, and records Horatio Thomas Austin and Warren Stormes Hale; it is subject to tidal erosion.

History

Commemorative stones denoting the position of events which have otherwise left no visible trace on the landscape are to be found throughout Britain. One such obelisk stands on the foreshore of the Isle of Grain, near the south bank of the Thames close to Yantlet Creek. It is dated to 1856 and was erected to mark the eastern boundary of the City of London's jurisdiction over the River Thames. The City's rights of control were originally purchased from Richard I in 1197 and concerned control of fisheries and tolls along the River Thames and part of the Medway. The legal position on the capital's ownership was never clear and the City's jurisdiction was frequently challenged. The locations of the London Stones were visited by the Lord Mayor of London and other officials on their periodic visits to assert the City's conservancy jurisdiction. These river trips included ceremonies undertaken at the stones, pomp and excitement with spectators rewarded with beer, wine and newly minted coins. All of these served to instil the position of such boundaries in the minds of those who needed to observe them. These visits became social events with dinners and balls held in either Rochester or Southend-on-Sea close to another London Stone called the Crow Stone at Leigh-on-Sea in Essex. This, along with Yantlet Creek and Upnor, marked the south and eastern boundary of the City's control (Howe, G.W 1965, 282-287; Anon 1816, 3; Anon 1836, 3).

City of London obelisks were erected at Upnor, Leigh and Yantlet Creek to reassert these rights following a government select committee held in 1836. This concluded that London should lose its jurisdiction over the Thames and Medway due to laxity in carrying out its duties (Weinreb & Hibbert 1995, p. 883). These obelisks may have been symbolic in adding legality and permanence to the City's claims of jurisdiction. Damage to the banks of the Medway and problems to navigation were highlighted to the Lord Mayor during his 1856 septennial visit (Anon, 1856, 11). The fall in revenue for maintenance may have been due to competition from the railways (Thacker, 1914,pp. 188-9). Yantlet was the final obelisk to be erected by the City of London the same year.

The City lost control of these rivers to the Crown in 1857 under The Thames Conservancy Act. These stones have therefore become memorials to the points in the landscape where the boundaries of London's reach were along the Thames and Medway. They are memorials to points in the landscape where the excitement and ceremony of the Mayoral septennial customs was experienced.

Reasons for Listing

The London Stone, an obelisk erected in 1856 close to Yantlet Creek, Isle of Grain, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

* Historic interest: as a boundary marker of the final year of the City of London's conservancy jurisdiction along the River Thames and as a memorial to significant points in the landscape along the River Thames and Medway where the excitement and ceremony of the Mayoral septennial customs was experienced;

* Design interest: as a prominent in-situ obelisk and commemorative civic structure on the foreshore and within the surrounding estuary landscape. The obelisk design may have been symbolic in adding legality and permanence to the City's claims of jurisdiction;

* Group value: for its functional and aesthetic relationship with the other London Stones in this part of the River Thames and Medway which served to mark the southern and eastern river jurisdiction boundaries of the City of London.

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