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On Shooters Hill, London

On Shooters Hill, London

Artist: Scharf, George

Medium: Watercolour

Date: 1826

Shelfmark: Add MS 36489 A

Item number: Folio 38

Genre: Topographical Drawing

At 434 feet high, Shooter's Hill is famed as an excellent viewing point over London. The hill is the highest point in south London and still offers superb views of the city. Celia Fiennes, who in 1697 proceeded out of London along the Dover Road, wrote in her diary of stopping at "Shuttershill, on top of which hill you see a vast prospect ...some lands clothed with trees, others with grass and flowers, gardens, orchards, with all sorts of herbage and tillage, with severall little towns all by the river, Erith, Leigh, Woolwich etc., quite up to London, Greenwich, Deptford, Black Wall, the Thames twisting and turning it self up and down bearing severall vessells and men of warre on it".

By the 18th century a hotel had been built on the summit to entertain wealthy travellers. It was however not safe to linger here too long because the remote spot was a notorious hideout for highwaymen, who arguably account for the origin of the hill's name. In fact, due to the additional proximity of the local gallows and gibbet, few aspects of Shooter's Hill (other than the view from the top) were pleasant - as Samuel Pepys noted in 1661: "I rode under a man that hangs at Shooters Hill and a filthy sight it was to see how the flesh is shrunk from his bones".

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