The London Stone, a single stone pillar, square, with a pyramidal top, erected in the C18, marking the southern boundary of the City of London's conservancy jurisdiction on the River Medway.
Reasons for Designation
The London Stone (Old London Stone), an C18 boundary stone in Upnor, erected to mark the southern boundary of the City of London’s jurisdiction over the River Medway, is listed Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* Historic interest: as a boundary marker of the City of London's conservancy jurisdiction along the River Medway and as a memorial to significant points in the landscape along the River Thames and Medway where the excitement and ceremony of the Mayoral septennial customs was experienced;
* Design/Aesthetic interest: as an intact boundary marker and commemorative civic structure within the surrounding landscape and riverfront at Upnor. The design may have been symbolic in adding legality and permanence to the City's claims of jurisdiction;
* Group value: for its functional and aesthetic relationship with the other London Stones in this part of the River Thames and Medway which served to mark the soutern and eastern river jurisdiction boundaries of the City of London. In particular, the granite obelisk (New London Stone) erected alongside it.
Commemorative stones denoting the position of events which have otherwise left no visible trace on the landscape are to be found throughout Britain. One such boundary stone, known as 'The Old London Stone', stands in the village of Lower Upnor in the parish of Frindsbury Extra. In 1836, an obelisk was erected in front of the earlier stone. Both stones are described in historic sources and illustrated as standing on the foreshore below Cookham Wood, now Cockham Wood, in Upnor and marked the City of London's jurisdiction over this part of the river (Howe, G.W 1965, p. 285). The stones now stand on dry land in the same vicinity between the Arethusa Venture Centre and the River Medway close to the riverfront in Lower Upnor. Historic sources indicate the stones may have been moved to dry land for protection. The boundary stone is marked on late C19 OS maps as 'The London Stone' in the same vicinity as present. The City's rights of control were originally purchased from Richard I in 1197 and concerned fisheries and tolls along the River Thames and part of the Medway. The stone is inscribed with the date 1204, two years after the date of a charter concerning London rights over the Thames and Medway (Allen, 1839, p. 66). The London stone at Upnor is believed to date to the C18 and was the focus of periodic visits by the Lord Mayor of London and other officials to assert the City's conservancy jurisdiction. These river trips included pomp, ceremonies and excitement with spectators rewarded with beer, wine and newly minted coins: "the Sword of State and City Colours were laid on each stone and the stones circled three times. Wine and beer were made available and after drinking a toast to the City of London some of those present were “bumped” on the stones. Money was also thrown amongst the poor which along with the bumping and general excess was for the purpose of keeping the City’s Claims in recollection. (Anon 1796, 3) All of this served to instil the course of such boundaries in the minds of those who needed to observe them. These visits became social events with dinners and balls held in either Rochester or Southend-on-Sea close to another London Stone called the Crow Stone at Leigh-on-Sea in Essex (Howe, G.W 1965, 282-287; Anon 1816, 3; Anon 1836, 3).
Taller City of London obelisks were erected at Upnor, Leigh and Yantlet Creek to reassert these rights following a government select committee held in 1836, which concluded that London should lose its jurisdiction over the Thames and Medway (Weinreb & Hibbert 1995, 883). At Upnor, the earlier pillar was still in use for "bumping" as late as 1849. The City lost control of these rivers to the Crown in 1857 under The Thames Conservancy Act. These stones have therefore become memorials to the points in the landscape where the boundaries of London's reach were along the Thames and Medway. More specifically they are memorials to where the excitement and ceremony of the Mayoral septennial customs was experienced.
The boundary stone, dated C18, stands behind a later obelisk. It is made from a single pillar of stone, square, with a pyramidal top. It is 1.2m high and inscribed with the date 1204 and 'GOD PRESERVE THE CITY OF LONDON'.