King's College London
Exhibitions & Conferences
In the Beginning ...

Medieval King's

archaeologist in blue hardhat before uncovered low building foundationsArchaeologist beneath Somerset House East WingThe estate on which King's College now stands lay outside the boundaries of the old Roman city, on land later occupied by Saxon settlements.

A Danish colony was later established in the 9th century centred on the eponymous church of St Clement Danes.

Archaeological excavations beside the College Chapel have recently unearthed remains of brooches and other artefacts dating from the early medieval period and from Tudor and Stuart times.

During the Middle Ages, the future King's College was situated on land belonging to the Savoy estate inherited by John of Gaunt, whose palace, one of the largest private homes in medieval Europe, was located beneath what is now the Savoy Hotel and the approach to Waterloo Bridge. The palace was subjected to riot and serious damage during the Peasants' Revolt in 1381 and a hospital built on the ruins under Henry VII.

Strand Lane described the eastern boundary of King's College in 1829. This was originally a small stream that conveyed the waters of St Clement Well to the Thames river gate located approximately where the Macadam building now stands. The stream ran under a small bridge as it crossed the path of the Strand but in late medieval times was filled in to become a thoroughfare.

During the later middle ages, the Strand was home to a number of important bishops' urban residences - the town palaces of the ecclesiastical hierarchy. Lay nobles appropriated these palaces at the time of the Reformation in the 16th century, which were generally demolished to make way for sumptuous new houses and their gardens.

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