The ’Lamb’ in Lambeth really means just that.
The name is recorded in 1062 as Lambehitha
, meaning ’landing place for lambs’, and in 1255 as Lambeth. The name refers to a harbour where lambs were either shipped from or to. It is formed from the Old English ’lamb’ and ’hythe.
South Lambeth is recorded as Sutlamehethe
in 1241 and North Lambeth is recorded in 1319 as North Lamhuth. The marshland in the area, known as Lambeth Marshe, was drained in the 18th century but is remembered in the Lower Marsh street name. Sometime after the opening of Waterloo railway station in 1848 the locality around the station and Lower Marsh became known as Waterloo.
Lambeth Palace is located opposite the Palace of Westminster. The two were linked by a horse ferry across the Thames.
Until the mid-18th Century the north of Lambeth was marshland, crossed by a number of roads raised against floods.
With the opening of Westminster Bridge in 1750, followed by the Blackfriars Bridge and Vauxhall Bridge, a number of major thoroughfares were developed through Lambeth, such as Westminster Bridge Road, Kennington Road and Camberwell New Road.
In William Blake’s epic Milton a Poem
, the poet John Milton leaves Heaven and travels to Lambeth, in the form of a falling comet, and enters Blake’s foot. This allows Blake to treat the ordinary world as perceived by the five senses as a sandal formed of "precious stones and gold" that he can now wear. Blake ties the sandal and, guided by Los, walks with it into the City of Art, inspired by the spirit of poetic creativity. The poem was written between 1804 and 1810.