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The Lost River Tyburn

Bolding and Son may have been plumbers in the Grays building for a century, but Bennie Gray could have used their services when he first moved into the Mews. The basement was under six feet of water, the reason for this Bennie discovered, was a running tributary to the Thames – the famous hidden River Tyburn.

Tyburn Road
Map of Tyburn gallows and immediate surroundings, from John Rocque's map of London, Westminster and Southwark (1746)

Before Oxford Street took its present name in the 18th century, it was known as Tyburn Road, which led to the Tyburn hanging gallows at the site of Marble Arch and Tyburn Lane (now Park Lane). The river rises at Shepherds Well in Hampstead and flows through Regents Park and the West End to the Thames via The Mews. As the area became built up the river was culverted, but there is one place the clean and running water of the Tyburn can still be seen and that is beneath the basement of Grays Mews, where it has become a popular tourist attraction full of golden fish.

The Tyburn Tree
The Tyburn Tree

Such tributaries have played an important role in London’s History, dedicating the course of roads, determining industrial location as well as being the sites of famous murders. The river at Grays was once a well known spot for reviving criminals who had been unsuccessfully hanged at the gallows on the Tyburn tree up the road. Ghosts are still said to walk through the river at night.

Interesting facts about the Tyburn Brook…