Between the 1600 and 1814, the River Thames would often completely freeze over.
This was because Britain was locked in a ‘Little Ice Age’. Another factor was that the medieval London Bridge would often cause large chunks of ice to get lodged, meaning the water was more likely to freeze.
During the first frost fair of 1607/08 the ice was thick enough to walk between Southwark and the city centre.
In the January the ice was so thick that people started to camp, play football, sell fruit and even set up a pub on the ice. It was so cold that fires were lit on the ice to keep the traders warm and nothing melted!
During the Great Winter of 1683/4 it was said that the sea two miles from shore were frozen solid. The most famous frost fair was held that year: The Blanket Fair.
There were a plethora of activities happening on the ice including puppet plays, bull-baiting, pubs, ice skating and much much more. The kings and queens even joined in with King Charles supposedly enjoying a spitroased ox at this fair!
By the 1800’s the climate had started to heat up and the winters were no longer as cold. The last ever Frost Fair took place in the January of 1814 and it was the largest of them all with thousands attending and even an elephant performing.