[[Image:|240px|Putney is located in ]]
Putney shown within
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|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|List of places: UK • England •|
Putney is a district in south London, England, located in the London Borough of Wandsworth. It is situated south-west of Charing Cross. The area is identified in the London Plan as one of 35 major centres in Greater London.
The ferry was mentioned in the household accounts of Edward I (1272–1307) where Robert the Ferryman of Putney and other sailors were paid 3/6d for carrying a great part of the royal family across the Thames and also taking the king and his family to Westminster.
One famous crossing at Putney was that of Cardinal Wolsey in 1529 upon his 'disgrace' in falling out of favour with Henry VIII and on ceasing to be the holder of the Great Seal of England. As he was riding up Putney Hill he was overtaken by one of the royal chamberlains who presented him with a ring as a token of the continuance of his majesty's favour. When the Cardinal had heard these good words of the king, he quickly lighted from his mule and kneeled down in the dirt upon both knees, holding up his hands for joy, and said "When I consider the joyful news that you have brought to me, I could do no less than greatly rejoice. Every word pierces so my heart, that the sudden joy surmounted my memory, having no regard or respect to the place; but I thought it my duty, that in the same place where I received this comfort, to laud and praise God upon my knees, and most humbly to render unto my sovereign lord my most hearty thanks for the same."
The first bridge of any kind between the two parishes of Fulham and Putney was built during the Civil War: after the Battle of Brentford in 1642, the Parliamentary forces built a bridge of boats between Fulham and Putney. According to an account from the period:
The Lord General hath caused a bridge to be built upon barges and lighters over the Thames between Fulham and Putney, to convey his army and artillery over into Surrey, to follow the king's forces; and he hath ordered that forts shall be erected at each end thereof to guard it; but for the present the seamen, with long boats and shallops full of ordnance and musketeers, lie there upon the river to secure it.
The first permanent bridge between Fulham and Putney was completed in 1729, and was the second bridge to be built across the Thames in London (after London Bridge).
One story runs that "in 1720 Sir Robert Walpole was returning from seeing George I at Kingston and being in a hurry to get to the House of Commons rode together with his servant to Putney to take the ferry across to Fulham. The ferry boat was on the opposite side, however and the waterman, who was drinking in the Swan, ignored the calls of Sir Robert and his servant and they were obliged to take another route. Walpole vowed that a bridge would replace the ferry."
The Prince of Wales apparently "was often inconvenienced by the ferry when returning from hunting in Richmond park and asked Walpole to use his influence by supporting the bridge."
The bridge was a wooden structure and lasted for 150 years, when in 1886 it was replaced by the stone bridge that stands today.
The parish church of St Mary The Virgin was the site of the 1647 Putney Debates. Towards the end of the English Civil War, with the Roundheads looking victorious, Oliver Cromwell soldiers' held a minor mutiny, amid fears that a monarchy would be replaced by a new dictatorship. A number, known as the Levellers complained "We were not a mere mercenary army hired to serve any arbitrary power of a state, but called forth … to the defence of the people's just right and liberties". A manifesto was proposed entitled the Agreement of the People and at an open meeting in Putney, the officers of the Army Council heard the argument from private soldiers for a transparent, democratic state, without corruption. This included sovereignty for English citizens, Parliamentary seats distributed according to population rather than property ownership, religion made a free choice, equality before the law, conscription abolished and parliamentary elections held every year. While greatly influential, including inspiring much of the language of the United States Declaration of Independence, Oliver Cromwell would later have the Leveller leaders executed.
The famous diarist Samuel Pepys visited St. Mary's Church on several occasions. During one visit on 28 April 1667, he recorded,
"and then back to Putney Church, where I saw the girls of the schools, few of which pretty; and there I come into a pew, and met with little James Pierce, which I was much pleased at, the little rogue being very glad to see me: his master, Reader to the Church. Here was a good sermon and much company, but I sleepy, and a little out of order, for my hat falling down through a hole underneath the pulpit, which, however, after sermon, by a stick, and the help of the clerke, I got up again, and then walked out of the church."