Thames Mudlarking


Title: Thames Mudlarking

Writer: Jason Sandy, Nick Stevens

Publishing House: Osprey Publishing

Date of Publication:  April 20th 2021

Rating: 5 stars

‘’Without the River Thames, London would not exist.’’

Mudlarking and London’s past and present. There is an unbreakable bond between the great metropolis and the mudlarkers who bring the treasures of bygone eras to light. From the children ‘’mudlarks’’ of the Victorian era to the ‘’explorers’’ of our times, mudlarking is a journey in time.

Pre-historic beasts, votive offerings and coins, jewellery, remnants of the Roman times and the Viking threat. The traces of Britain following William the Conqueror, the might of the Church, the nightmare of the Black Death. Marvellous pilgrims’ badges depicting St George and the Dragon, toy knights made of pewter. 

The wealth and witchcraft obsession of the 16th and 17th century are demonstrated by beautiful artefacts, reminding us of the era of great discoveries and even greater crimes. Toys lost by the children who played by the river banks. Memento Mori rings dedicated to the ones who perished during the Great Fire. Love tokens. Beautiful Venetian glass beads. And pins. Let us not forget pins, such fascinating objects!

A prisoner’s ball and chain originating from the floating prisons of the 18th century. The skull of a 12-year-old girl, dating back to the 1700s, was discovered in 2009. A victim of poverty and hunger. How bitterly ironic, standing side-by-side to golden shoe buckles and valuable cufflinks…

Market tokens dating back to the 19th century. Beautiful green glass medicine bottles. Ornate clay pipes. Lead toys and ‘’’Frozen Charlotte’’ dolls. Victorian Santa Claus figures and snow babies. Artillery shells from the two World Wars. Service buttons and Tommy helmets. Fascinating modern-day rings that declare carelessness, frustration, anger.

A fascinating book that offers us a generous glimpse of a turbulent and exciting past…

‘’London owes its very existence to the majestic Thames, and the city’s history is intimately interwoven with the river. It is simply not possible to understand London without first understanding the river and all of its quirks and foibles.’’

Adrian Evans, founder of the Thames Festival Trust

Many thanks to Osprey Publishing and NetGalley for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.