Notes by Walter Money

These notes on Karslake’s paper appeared in The Antiquaries Journal, 3 (1923), 70.


Meaning of Cold-Harbour.—Mr. Walter Money, F.S.A., sends the following notes: The question was first started in the eighteenth century, but no satisfactory explanation founded on fact has hitherto been forthcoming. As is well known, along the Roman military highways were inns and post-houses, Diversoria and Caupones, which had their stated sites and were the predecessors of the present Cold Harbours. The prefix ‘Cold’ was probably derived from a bleak situation, and the proper sense of ‘Harbour’ as it occurs in this name is best illustrated by a quotation from the Morte d’Arthur (cap. xxv): ‘At last they came unto a courtelage, and there they asked herborow, but the man of the courtelage wold not lodge them.’ One of the best known of these ancient Cold-Harbours was that which Stow speaks of as the ‘Great House’, Thames Street, in the City of London, the site of which is now covered by the City of London Brewery. The house stood near the water’s edge. It was a large building with steps leading down to the river through an archway. About the year 1600 it is represented with five gables facing the water. Until 1607 Cold-Harbour had been outside the city jurisdiction, for it is one of the places added to the City’s rule by the Charter of James I bearing that date. At this time it was unquestionably an ‘Inn’, as it is described as ‘The Inn or Liberty of Cold Herberge otherwise Cold Harburgh, and Cold Harbour Lane, within the City of London’. To prove that Cold-Harbours were ancient Inns there is a hostelry known as ‘Cold Harbour Inn’ at the present day mentioned in all the old road-books. It stands about midway between Highworth and Cricklade, Wilts. It has been rebuilt, but still bears its memorable name. Cricklade is on the main Roman road, the Ermin Street, which connected Corinium (Cirencester) with Spinæ (Speen, near Newbury), Silchester and London. These facts will now go very far to prove the origin of the name ‘Cold-Harbour’.