The Custom House, London, by Robert Smirke

The Custom House. Robert Smirke (1781-1867). 1825-7. Lower Thames Street, London EC3.Scanned image, from the original wood block engraving (Hall 466), and text by Jacqueline Banerjee, 2009. [You may use this image without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the photographer and (2) link your document to this URL in a web document or cite the Victorian Web in a print one.]

"The long facade of the CUSTOM-HOUSE next attracts the eye, with its noble esplanade, adjoining [J. B. Bunning's] Billingsgate Market," write Samuel Carter Hall and his wife, recording their voyage down the Thames. They add that the "long room is one of the largest in Europe, being 199' by 66', and nearly 40 feet in height. Here is transacted the principal business of our enormous London trade, and no more striking picture of the vast importance of our city can be given than this always busy scene presents" (465-6). The east wing was rebuilt to the original plans after bomb damage, and the house is still used by HM Customs and Excise today (see Weinreb 228).


Hall, Samuel Carter and Anna Maria. The Book of the Thames from Its Rise to Its Fall. 1859. Republished 5th ed. Teddington, Middlesex: Charlotte James, 1980.

Weinreb, Ben, et al. The London Encyclopaedia. 3rd ed. London: Macmillan, 2008.

Last modified 14 August 2009