Frozen Thames: Frost Fair 1684/1814

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A Frost Fair on the Thames at Temple Stairs.

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Frost Fair on the River Thames, 1814.

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An etching depicting the 1814 frost fair on the Thames, as seen from the south bank, with St Paul's in the background.

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Caricature based on the frost fair of 1814 which took place from February 1 to February 5 between London and Blackfriars Bridges.

Free

These simultaneous displays at the Museum of London and the Museum of London Docklands showcase keepsakes and depictions of London’s 1684 and 1814 frost fairs. The fairs were held on the Thames, which – because the many piers of Old London Bridge slowed the water’s flow ¬– used to freeze solid in extremely cold winters. Traders would capitalise on the opportunity, with coffee houses, taverns and souvenir stalls forming improvised streets across the river. The Museum of London's 1684 display features two prints by the Dutch artist Abraham Hondus, one depicting the frozen Thames in 1677, the other the1684 frost fair. Works by unknown artists appear alongside Hondius’s paintings and depict both the 1684 fair and a later 1716 celebration.

At the Museum of London Docklands, the display includes a collection of original keepsakes from the 1814 frost fair, including stone chipped from Blackfriars Bridge, printed keepsakes, a piece of gingerbread from one of those early London pop-ups with an original handwritten note and contemporary illustrations of the fair.

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