One of my first memories of the word “mudlark” was from an Anne Perry novel. In these British mysteries showing the underbelly of the Victorian era, a mudlark is murdered near the Thames in the Thomas & Charlotte Pitt series. Later, in her Inspector William Monk series, Hester, his force-of-nature wife, brings home a mudlark boy.
So, what’s a mudlark? A person who made their living by searching for anything of value in the mud along the river banks at low tide. In London, the Thames. The Blackfriars Bridge is featured in a number of Perry’s novels, so when I saw the bridge sign and a set of stairs leading down to the bank, I had to go.
The stairs were steep and intimidating, so I didn’t take a photo until after I went back up again, so keep reading. I was surprised at how dry the banks were and how red.
When I first arrived, there was a mother and daughter searching for pieces of pottery, which they piled onto a flat chunk of concrete and left behind. An Italian couple were sunbathing. It was peaceful at the river level. Below you can catch a quick video I uploaded of the Thames at river level to get an idea of what I mean.
Curious for more information?
Here’s an article about a kayaker’s finds: http://www.mby.com/news/pipes-witches-jars-and-ww2-shells-12768
What to do if you find something of great historical value, such as a Roman coin: https://camguthrieblog.wordpress.com/2013/10/02/epilogue-river-thames-archeology/