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Chapel of St Thomas à Becket

In the centre of the medieval stone London Bridge stood the chapel dedicated to St. Thomas of Canterbury, facing downstream. The bridge was built between A.D. 1176 and 1209 under the supervision of Peter of Colechurch, Cheapside. Houses on the bridge are first shown in the records of 1201, and in 1205 they record the death, and burial, in the chapel of its builder. The building was two-storeys high and access to it was from both the bridge level and the river. The crypt (cellar) was vaulted and the upper chapel had a groined roof springing from 'clustered columns of great beauty'. Technically it was under the control of the Parish of St. Magnus, London Bridge but the chaplain and other members of the 'Brothers of the Bridge' enjoyed a certain amount of freedom from the parish priest. In 1483 the chaplain, after a disagreement with the parish priest, was granted the right to keep the alms collected during services for himself and his community with the proviso that he make a generous contribution to the finances of the parish. Fishermen from the South coast on their way to sell their fish at Billingsgate passing over the bridge were controlled by the times of the services in the chapel. To prevent forestalling, salt fish could not be sold until the Office of Prime, and freshwater fish had to wait for the end of the mass.

After the Reformation, the chapel was desecrated and turned into a house, and later a warehouse. In the second half of the 18th century both the chapel and the houses on the bridge were demolished, at which time the bones of Peter of Colechurch were unceremoniously dumped into the river.