Vetusta Monumenta: Ancient Monuments

Plate LXIII: A True and Exact Draught of the Tower of Liberties, survey’d in the Year 1597 by Gulielmus Haiward and J. Gascoyne


A Note of the Boundaries of ye Liberties of ye Tower as appears in the Leet, Anno 27 Hen. VIII.

The Liberties of the TOWER beginning at the Water Gate next the Ram’s Head in Petty Wales, doth extend straight North to the end of Tower Street, and direct North to the Mud Wall call’d Pikes Garden on this side the Croutched Fryers & so straight East to the Wall of London with ye Nine Gardens above the Postern and the Broken Tower right unto the midst of Hog Lane, and so straight broad South to the Stone Corner, and so on to the Thames, and according to the farmer Abutting a green Line is drawn about the said Liberties.

The Several Towers.

A. The Middle Tower.
B. The Tower at the Gate.
C. The Bell Tower.
D. Beauchamp Tower.
E. Devilin Tower.
F. Flint Tower.
G. Bowyar Tower.
H. Brick Tower.
I. Martin Tower.
K. Constable Tower.
L. Broad Arrow Tower.
M. Salt Tower.
N. Well Tower.
O. The Tower leading to the Iron Gate.
P. The Tower above ye Iron Gate.
Q. The Cradle Tower.
R. The Lanthorn Tower.
S. The Hall Tower.
T. The Bloody Tower.
V. St. Thomas’s Tower.
W. Cæsar’s, or White Tower.
X. Cole Harbour.
Y. Wardroab Tower.

Boundaries of the Liberties.

AB. The House at ye Water Gate, call’d ye Ram’s Head.
AC. The Place where ye Mud Wall was, call’d Pikes Garden
AD. The City Wall at the NE. of the Nine Gardens.
AE. The Place where the Broken Tower was.
AF. Hog Lane End.
AG. The House call’d the Stone corner House.
AH. The End of Tower Street.
AI. The Stairs without the East End of ye Tower.


Draughtsman William Hayward and John Gascoyne; Engraver George Vertue.  Surveyed 1597; engraved 1742.

Object The Tower of London


Commentary [by Kelsey Jackson Williams]

“Liberties” were geographical areas within the city of London which lay outside the jurisdiction of the city itself.  Prominent amongst these were the Liberties of the Tower of London, exempt from urban control by virtue of their position as part of the Crown Lands.  Here, as elsewhere, these anomalous areas proved to be loci for contention and unrest and on 29 June 1595 a thousand-strong crowd gathered at Tower Hill, leading to a riot which left four persons injured and led to the subsequent execution of five apprentices (Deiter, 93-94). 

In its wake, the Privy Council began investigations into the precise boundaries of the Tower Liberties, but it was only with the appointment of the officer and administrator Sir John Peyton (1544-1630) as Lieutenant of the Tower in June 1597 that significant progress was made (Evans).  Peyton prepared a series of reports on the boundaries in 1597 and 1598 as part of which he commissioned the draughtsmen William Hayward and John Gascoyne to prepare the present plan (Deiter 83; Keay, 9-11).  Of the two, Hayward was already an established cartographer, having produced a “description” and map of the Norfolk marshes as early as 1591 alongside a number of other projects over the following decade (Skempton, 308-309).

The survey produced by Hayward and Gascoyne reflects the priorities of Peyton and his superiors.  A vertical series of cartouches on the right hand side emphasise the legal and physical structure of the liberties, quoting a historical record of their boundaries from 27 Henry VIII (1535-36) and identifying both the specific locations of the boundary points themselves and the several towers which defined the visual appearance of the Elizabethan Tower of London.  Mapping the boundaries given in the Henrician document onto 1597 London proved, however, to be a less than straightforward task.  The “Mud Wall call’d Pikes Garden” of 1535/36 had been replaced with a “New Brick Wall”, the “Broken Tower” of the earlier description was entirely absent, and similar changes could be seen across the landscape of the area.

Despite these changes, the immediate vicinity of the Tower remained noticeably undeveloped in 1597.  To the northwest can be seen Tower Hill, with the “Posts of the Scaffold” clearly marked, while to the northeast East Smithfield was wasteland crisscrossed with several paths and distinguished only by “The place where the Cross stood”.  To the west wall a more populated area was dominated by Petty Wales running north to south and Thames and Tower Streets intersecting with it on an east-west axis.  These were overshadowed by the eleventh-century church of All Hallows-by-the-Tower, here referred to as “Barkin Church” in allusions to its by-name of “All Hallows Barking”.  The concern with legal and geographical boundaries is again indicated by the note that “The Houses betwixt the Church Yard and the Hill are St. Katherines Rents”.  To the east can be seen a further row of houses, just on the boundary of the Liberties, and the beginning of Hog Lane, while the southern section of the draught is dominated by the Tower Wharf and the Thames, populated by boatmen and river craft.

The Tower itself is depicted in considerable detail with the Lieutenant’s Lodgings, the Jewel House, the Queen’s Lodgings, the Queen’s Gallery, the Privy Garden, and other landmarks clearly marked.  Three pyramids of shot can be seen in the courtyard to the northeast of the White Tower, attesting to its continued use as an arsenal, and a small garden is depicted by the Lieutenant’s Lodgings.  Some indication is also given of Peyton’s concern, attested elsewhere, regarding the ruinous fabric of many of the Tower’s buildings through the note “decay’d” subjoined to the roofless great hall which had been erected by Henry III (Thurley, 41).

Taken as a whole, this map of the Tower Liberties provides important evidence, not only for the physical appearance of this corner of Elizabethan London, but for its position at a nexus of political and legal concerns which had recently reached boiling point with the riots of 1595.  Like many other plates in the first volume of the Vetusta Monumenta, this was engraved by George Vertue (1684-1756), the artist and antiquary.

Suggestions for Further Reading:

​​​​Anna Keay, The Elizabethan Tower of London: The Hayward and Gascoyne Plan of 1597 (London: London Topographical Society with Historic Royal Palaces, 2001).

Works Cited:

Deiter, Kristen.  The Tower of London in English Renaissance Drama: Icon of Opposition.  New York and London: Routledge, 2008.

Evans, Helen M. E.  Sir John Peyton (1544-1630).  Oxford Dictionary of National Biography

Keay, Anna.  The Elizabethan Tower of London: The Hayward and Gascoyne Plan of 1597.  London: London Topographical Society with Historic Royal Palaces, 2001.

Skempton, A. W., et al. eds., A Biographical Dictionary of Civil Engineers in Great Britain and Ireland, Volume 1: 1500-1830.  London: Thomas Telford, 2002.

Thurley, Simon.  Royal Lodgings at the Tower of London, 1216-1327.  Architectural History 38 (1995): 36-57. The DESCRIPTION of the TOWER of LONDON with all the Buildings & the Remains of ye Royal Palace; and the Outermost Limits thereof together with all such Places adjoining as do confine and abound the said Liberties, made by the Direction of Sr. John Peyton Kt.

This page has paths:

This page has tags:

This page references: