London at Large

This section started as an attempt to show pictures of things that were frequently confused with being parish boundary markers, but were actually something quite different. After not very long at all, it was obvious that it was going to develop along very different lines owing to the huge diversity in interesting old objects dotted around the London streets. It would actually comprise examples of things that struck me as interesting and worth (in my opinion) drawing attention to. Nevertheless I must stress that if anything appears on this and allied pages then it is not a parish boundary marker!

Artefacts that are not parish boundary markers

Enough has been said on the pages directly relating to parish boundary markers  to explain what parish boundary markers are and why they are located where they are. Free-standing markers are very unusual in built up areas, where they would be an obstruction, and markers are nearly all set into walls or placed up against walls, or affixed within or marked upon a pavement or kerb. Survivors often appear in pairs, though it must be conjectured that most boundaries were once marked by pairs of co-located markers, one for each of the bordering parishes.

All this is mentioned because there are other pieces of street furniture that were marked up with the name of the parish (and later the borough council). This was no doubt principally because being made of cast metal, which had intrinsic value, and human nature being what it is, some kind of ownership mark discouraged theft, especially if the mark were difficult to remove. In addition there was the small matter of civic pride, and a visible manifestation that ratepayers money was being deployed doing something useful.

The obvious things to receive civic marks of some kind were buildings, lamp standards, rubbish receptacles and traffic bollards. Few if any lamp standards are known with parish markings, hardly a surprise since ubiquitous electric lighting is a twentieth century phenomenon and parishes had disappeared by then. The humble traffic bollard is a far more enduring feature of the streetscape and there are still quite a few around with parish markings.

Each highway authority (usually but not always a civil parish, for there could be separate highway parishes or local boards of health which had highway responsibilities) was inclined to use its own design of bollard. Having said that, there is evidence that 'standard' designs were available from iron-founders. A popular standard design was that of a cannon, said to be because when the navy no longer required cannons the patterns could conveniently be modified for use making street furniture. In Hampstead (in the appropriately named Cannon Lane) there are ancient looking bollards that could well be real cannons with open muzzles or muzzled sealed with cement. More usually cannon-type bollards have a stoppered end in the form of a cannon ball; possibly older ones were really stoppered in this way, but most clearly have the ball incorporated into the moulding.

It is true that a Camberwell cannon bollard is found in use in Sydenham Hill near (but not on) a boundary; however close examination of the site reveals the actual marker is a stone one referencing a boundary 27ft away and the bollard appears to be next to it to protect it from damage, as it is located at a busy junction.

Other kinds of Street Artefacts

From what has already been said it will be obvious that quite a lot of street furniture will carry initials or armorial bearings relating to the owning authority, usually parish or borough. There are many other things in the street that will be owned by others, and there are examples adjacent of two decorative marks that relate to property ownership. Other public authorities (gas, water and electricity authorities for example) will often have equipment or manhole covers with interesting markings on them.

The photographs below relate to things that I have found interesting, with as much of an explanation as I can muster. No doubt when I have added enough entries I will need to sort them out by topic.

Quick Links

Go To Property Markers (this page)
Go To Other Administrative Marks (this page)
Go To London County Council Marks (this page)
Go To Milestones (on its own page)
Go To Traffic Bollards (on its own page)

Through the lens (1) - Property Marks

This section includes images of marks that relate to property ownership and have no immediate connection with local administration

St Barts

This mark is the armorial device of the Skinners Company and is affixed to a property which they owned or may still own (they own much property in the Euston area). It is nothing to do with local administration. A pub 'The Skinners Arms' is nearby.

This mark, suspiciously close to  a parish boundary, is the mark of the Girdlers Company and was affixed to a shop in Turnmill Street, opposite Farringdon Station. The Girdlers own the block.

This shield represents the Clothmaker's Company and is attached to a building they own in Old Street. Above is a very old traditional pawnbroker's sign, happily left behind after the need for it finished.

This mark is close to, but does not quite lie on, a parish boundary but it not a parish boundary mark. It is a property marker relating to St Bartholomews's Hospital (whose armorial bearings are shown on the plate). The hospital presumably once owned this block and there is a similar mark at the other end of the block in Bentley Road.

St Gabriels
St Pancras Property

This could so easily be confused with a parish boundary mark but is one of several property marks placed at the extremities of the Charterhouse Estate, which extended beyond the limits of the walled extra-parochial area a little to the south. This one in near St John Street.

The initials stand for St Gabriel's College, near Stockwell. Located in Lambeth parish, it was built in 1898. It could be confused with St Giles Camberwell parish, coincidentally quite nearby. It is one of several property boundary markers along the college border

This mark, in Grove Place Hampstead, clearly represents St Pancras (Middlesex) but is nowhere near a parish boundary and is located firmly in Hampstead. The mark probably represents some property interest St Pancras had in the building to which it is attached. (Where this pattern is used as a boundary mark the blank space is occupied by the distance from mark to boundary line.)

This City of London mark is one of a pair in New Bond Street and represents the City of London Estates Committee, the City having wide property interests outside the square mile (see also next mark). It has some (but not many) characteristics of a parish boundary mark, though clearly is not one.

City of London Property
Walcot Square
St Olave
St Olave and St John

This mark is the armorial device of the City of London and marks the south east corner of a parcel of land it owned alongside Tottenham Court Road and Alfred Mews. As it happens it does lie on a parish boundary but it is a property mark and has no administrative significance. Property and parish boundaries often ran together, especially those of large estates that had manorial origins.

This stone post is connected with the Walcot estate and is located at the east end of magnificent Walcot Square, on south side of road near corner of Sullivan Road. It is easily confusable with a parish mark but is nowhere near any parish boundary and is a property ownership mark for the trustees of the estate (which included the parish of Lambeth).The Lambeth monogram is just visible on all three faces, with the date 1779. It is hard to believe it is nearly a quarter of a millennium old. A useful map of the walcot estate may be found HERE.

This stone is a property mark relating to the boundary of endowed land (Walcott Estate) that happens to benefit the two parishes mentioned (it is nowhere near a parish boundary). It reads 'The Ground belonging to the parishes of St Olave and St John Southwark extends 7 feet 6 inches from this stone. 1809'.)

This stone (part of a gatepost at 112 Kennington Road) looks just like a parish boundary marker, even down to the dividing line. There was nowhere where Lambeth actually bordered any parish beginning with 'St O' and it is not on a parish boundary. It is in fact quite close to the picture to the left and marks the property boundary of the same estate, round the corner. On the side it is marked recut 1923, and it may be of interest that someone took this trouble. The Lambeth monogram was not present to signify its involvement as the parish but because the estate was divided in 1815 in order to benefit different parishes and this line was installed at that boundary. A comprehensive description of the estate and its division may be found HERE

St Olave
War Department

Druid Street SE1, west side. This 1794 marker is an estate marker and is not located on a parish boundary. The top 'S' is clearly 'St' for 'Saint' and the letter 'I' was often used by masons to represent the letter 'J'. St Olave and St John Horsleydown are the parishes implicated. The latter was created from part of the former in 1733. It may be significant that the St Olave workhouse was located on the other side of the road (in St John parish) and this almost certainly relates to the boundary of that estate. There are identical markings on right hand face.

This lump of rock, apparently dumped here at random, is the historic Weald Stone, after which this district in Harrow was named. It is one of a small number of sarsen stones in this area, brought millennia ago from at least a hundred miles away. Its history is inconclusive and although by repute it might be a boundary stone there isn't actually any evidence, it is not on any modern boundary, and alternative explanations are more plausible.

This is similar in style to many parish boundary stones but is an old property boundary, dated 1873, and relates to an institution called the Orphans Working School. There is a second stone nearby.

This looks superficially like a parish boundary mark but is in fact a property boundary mark for the War Department (the letters WD and the war office arrow are clearly visible). Located at Wormwood Scrubs, it is numbered 36 in the set.

WD Marker

A metal War Department property boundary marker (one of many) near Shooters Hill. A typical design including the so-called arrowhead used by several government departments.

This looks like a parish boundary mark but appears to relate to Middlesex County Council and probably indicates some road feature. The cryptic marks have not yet been worked out.

Chertsey Urban District seems to have been full of civic pride. This impressive ownership mark was attached to a public lavatory.

These can be very distractimg when looking for parish boundary marks. It is actually a concrete cable marker used by the GPO to indicate location of telephone cables.

LCC Millfield S 3

Millfields South. Eastern edge, main (central) access path from canal towpath and bridge, on north side. This plate is marked 'LC', for the Lee Conservancy, and is proabably a property boundary mark (though its mileposts were similar).

These shields represent the armorial bearings of the Middle and Inner Temples (local authorities in their own right). Here, they mark ownership of a Thames landing stage.

This large shield is a typical bronze Middlesex County Council mark often used to identify feautures for which it was responsible, usually bridges.

Most of these Middlesex ownership marks are in weathered bronze. This one at Park Royal (which is probably bronze) is painted and looks strikingly smart. I shouldn't approve, but it does look rather good.

Downs Road
Downs Road
313 Brixton Road
313 Brixton Road

Downs Road, opposite Rendlesham Rd in Hackney Downs border. On no maps, this 1ft high artefact appears to be a property mark. This face (facing towards Downs Road) is marked WSF.

This is the east face of the same mark and just bears the date 1857. The north face (facing into park) is marked 'JCB' and the west face is marked 'WW'.

This stone (marked W.W. 1703) is embedded in a fairly modern section of wall on land formerly part of 315 Brixton Road and was presumably associated with this or neighbouring property. Most of this land now form part of a public garden. 'WW' not yet traced.

This Malden & Coombe stone is sometimes represented as a parish boundary mark (though is not on a boundary). It is more likely an estate marker showing edge of Sheephouse Way council housing estate built by that council.


New Kent Road, north boundary wall of pub (The Windsor) just south of Peckham Railway Bridge. A St Mary Le Strand parish mark on massive boundary stone of Strand charity estate.

This stone block is at south end of same pub as previous mark and is another estate marker of the Strand Charity.

This shows the western and southern face of same stone. It is conjectured the letter sequence is S:M:L:S with the L where the lamp standard has been located and the stone cut away to fit (not clear why lamp could not have been two inches further away to avoid cutting stone.

This listed 1731 stone is in Rick Roberts Way near corner of Stratford High Street, in which it was originally positioned prior to building reconstruction. It marked the property boundary of an estate belonging to the parish of Rotherhithe (over the River and so was not a parish boundary marker). Three of the faces are simply marked SMR 1731 and the other adds that the actual boundary extends 5 feet 3 inches to north of stone.






Through the lens (2) - Other Administrative Marks

The images here are of marks that had an administrative function but were not parish or borough marks

Hackney West
West Hackney
EF No 1
EF No 2

AM01. SE corner of Downs Park and Cecilia (previously Norfolk) Roads. E8. It looks quite big here, but is about 2ft high. Marked HP 1825. XII Ft West. WHH (latter probably churchwarden Hayworth).
Separated wards of West Hackney and The Downs. Parish of Hackney.

AM02. Dalston Lane,. E8, north side, about 50yds east of Cecilia Road. Bears markings HP 1825  WHH & L-C  CHW. (latter probably means 'churchwardens'.)
Separated wards of West Hackney and The Downs. Parish of Hackney.

EF1. Wanstead Park. An Epping Forest boundary stone, marked EF, dumped in a small pond next to bridge across stream linking Perch Pond with The Lake. Previously located about 170ft south, near southern footpath.

EF2. Wanstead Park. An Epping Forest boundary stone, marked EF and located near east end of southern pathway.

This pair of very old posts are located near each other but are not parish boundary markers in the usual sense of the word, though they are located on ward boundaries of some antiquity. Although I have yet to get to the bottom of these, I think I have part of the story, and the unusually early date on the markers is important. In 1825, Hackney parish was split to create a new parish called West Hackney. Although the new parish was purely an ecclesiastical unit, its vestry did handle a certain amount of civil business and for certain purposes was autonomous. This is probably the origin of these markers though I have not yet unearthed the exact boundaries of West Hackney before later alterations were made to it. In 1855 this arrangement was superseded for civil purposes by the standard Metropolitan vestry, which covered the whole of Hackney. The border these markers delineate was abolished in 1871 and it is rather surprising these marks survive unless, since they followed the ward boundary, it was felt more useful to leave them. More research is needed, when I have a moment. I am not presently inclined to include them in main list of parish boundary markers since they have never marked the extent of St John at Hackney parish.

Wanstead Park was part of the Manor of Wanstead and a large mansion was built within it for Earl Tilney, including extensive landscaping. The house was later demolished and to prevent the land being built on the City Corporation purchased part of the estate in 1882 and added Wanstead Park to its protected Epping Forest estate - these markers presumably date to that period and mark the southern edge at that time. 

Brixton Church

AM03.A very rare example of a boundary mark representing a political boundary. In this instance it is the 1832 Reform Act boundary that defined the new parliamentary borough of Lambeth (on right) and the existing eastern division of the County of Surrey (left). Located outside St Matthew's church Brixton.




Through the lens (3) - LCC Administrative Marks

The following images are of boundary marks of the London County Council, which as successors to the Metropolitan Board of Works owned and managed a number of large parks and open spaces. These markers were placed at the boundaries. Although the LCC was a 'county' authority these marks bear no relation (except by chance) to the London county boundary. Readers should note that to save space and avoid duplication, markers that follow parish boundaries are listed as parish boundary marks as they are the only surviving visible evidence.

Wandsworth Common

Wandworth Common had for centuries been common land shared between the manors of Wandsworth and Battersea. To protect the land from encroachment by builders and industry it was purchased by a body of conservators in 1871. This was not at all satisfactory and after several years, during which the quality of the space deteriorated, the land was transferred to the Metropolitan Board of Works in 1887, thence to the London County Council on its formation in 1889.

LCC Wandsworth 1
LCC Wandsworth 2
LCC Wandsworth 3
LCC Wandsworth 4

AM03. South side of Wandsworth Common between Spencer Park and railway. The common was transferred to Metropolitan Board of Works in 1878. The markers are of the LCC standard type but the property boundary follows no administrative boundary.

AM04.  South side of Wandsworth Common between Spencer Park and railway. To right of preceding marker.

AM05.  South side of Wandsworth Common between Spencer Park and railway. To right of preceding marker.

AM06.  South side of Wandsworth Common between Spencer Park and railway. To right of preceding marker.

LCC Wandsworth 5

AM07.  South side of Wandsworth Common between Spencer Park and railway. To right of preceding marker, near windmill




Clapham Common

Clapham Common was acquired by Metropolitan Board of Works in 1877 from the Lords of the Manors of Clapham and Battersea. 70 acres were drained and formal recreation grounds laid out. It was transferred to London County Council on its formation in 1889. LCC markers placed along Nightingale Road, which followed the parish boundary, and along west side against property line (the road was not there at first), though this followed no existing boundary.

LCC Clapham 1
LCC Clapham 2
LCC Clapham 3
LCC Clapham 4

AM11. Clapham Common West Side. In fenced garden area opposite No14.

AM12. Clapham Common West Side. In fenced garden area opposite No17.

AM13. Clapham Common West Side. In fenced garden area opposite No 20.

AM14. Clapham Common West Side. In fenced garden area near ice cream stall, opposite No 21

LCC Clapham 5
LCC Clapham 6
LCC Clapham 7
LCC Clapham 8

AM15. Clapham Common West Side. Along footpath by railings, opposite No 26.

AM16. Clapham Common West Side. Along footpath by railings, opposite Manchuria Road.

AM17. Clapham Common West Side. Along footpath by railings opposite No 31.

AM18. Clapham Common West Side. Near north eastern end outside No 81.

For the marks along Nightingale Lane, note that the sequence runs with the parish boundary, and presumably the manorial boundary before that. In consequence they appear on the main Parish Boundary inventory. Refer to marks: PBM 498, 499, 500, 514, 515. There is another reputed to be outside the school but I cannot find it.

Millfields Park (Lea Bridge) South Section

Millfields was former Lammas land in the manor of Hackney. This was land which, between Lammas Day and Lady Day, could be used in common for grazing cattle (it was otherwise part of the usual strip farming system). Today the two sections, North Millfields and South Millfields, are separated by Lea Bridge Road, a turnpike built in 1787. Prior to that, these two names were already in use, each perhaps associated with one of the pair of water mills located along the Lea nearby. It appears that North Millfield (whose boundary was somewhat north of today’s location) had been reduced to a brickfield by the nineteenth century. The Millfields were saved from development following a petition to preserve 180 acres of common land in Hackney for public use. The Metropolitan Board of Works attempted to take control of the fields in 1872, but the action was contested by the Lord of the Manor and it was not until 1884 that the old rights were extinguished and the Board began to turn the land into a large recreation ground. It passed to the London County Council in 1889 and the GLC in 1965. Following abolition of the GLC it is now controlled by Hackney Council. As usual with LCC land, the outside boundaries are peppered with undated iron LCC marker plates. Some confuse these with county boundary marks (none are on the County boundary), but they are purely property marks.

LCC Millfield S 1
LCC Millfield S 2
LCC Millfield S 4

AM21. Millfields South. Eastern edge, northerly access path from canal towpath, on south side

AM22. Millfields South. Eastern edge, northerly access path from canal towpath, on north side.

AM24. Millfields South. Eastern edge, main (central) access path from canal towpath and bridge, on north side. It is located just to left of a Lee Conservancy boundary mark..


Millfields Park (Lea Bridge) North Section

For notes see Millfield Park South Section

LCC Millfield N 1
LCC Millfield N 2
LCC Millfield N 3
LCC Millfield N 4

AM31. Millfields North. West end, next to Lea Bridge Road. First in set progressing clockwise. First of batch against west wall.

AM32. Millfields North. West end, About 10yds from AM34. Second and third in set progressing clockwise. Second and third of cluster against west wall. The right hand mark shows rarely-visible bottom part of column (in most cases this is buried).

AM33. Millfields North. West end, About 15yds from AM32. Fourth in set progressing clockwise. Fourth of cluster against west wall.

AM34. Millfields North. North-west part, about 230yds from directly from AM33. Fifth in set progressing clockwise. First of cluster against low concrete wall beneath north-south section of Casimir Road (virtually at its southern turn).

LCC Millfield N 5
LCC Millfield N 6

AM35. Millfields North. North-west part, about 80yds from AM34. Sixth in set progressing clockwise. Second of cluster against low concrete wall beneath north-south section of Casimir Road (near children’s playground).

AM36. Millfields North. Northern boundary fence, at bend, about 35 yards west of the end of the new block of flats where the park opens out. Seventh in set progressing clockwise. Only one in this section.



Hampstead Heath and Environs

Hampstead Heath was for many years owned and maintained by the London County Council. Along the south western edge LCC property markers were set out but because the Heath boundary in that area ran with the parish boundary these are mostly listed on my Parish Boundary Mark List. There are, however, other parts of the Heath where LCC boundary marks have been placed that do not run with other boundaries and these are indicated below. They do not (as I have said elsewhere) refer to any county boundary.

LCC Hampstead

AM41. On path at western border of Hampstead Heath NW3 at corner of Christchurch Hill. The mark appears to be separating the footpath from the heathland. A standard LCC mark.




The marks I have listed as parish boundary marks (because they are the only surviving visual evidence of boundaries) are PBM 292, PBM 293, PBM 640, PBM 641, PBM 642, PBM 644, PBM 645 and may be found in sets 2 and 3.

Hainault Forest and Environs

Hainault Forest was disaforested in 1851 and much of it was sold off for building and other commercial uses. This created an outcry which eventually resulted a relatively unspoilt block of land being identified and saved for the nation in 1906, management being placed 'for ever' in the hands of the London County Council, which had made a major financial contribution (although it was many miles outside the border of the County of London).  The estate boundary was marked by the usual London County Council semi-circular and round-topped metal posts. As usual, they do not (as I have said elsewhere) refer to any county boundary. The abolition of the GLC resulted in management being split amongst the surviving local authorities, the larger proportion in the hands of Redbridge.

LCC Hainault

AM51. Near car park at Lambourne Road entrance to the foest (east of houses at east end of Sunnymede). A standard LCC mark.