Thames Mudlarking: London's Lost Treasures

A virtual talk by Jason Sandy hosted by the Emery Walker Trust

A selection of foreshore finds made in west London by Jason Sandy
A selection of foreshore finds made in west London by Jason Sandy

Many of us have been enjoying walks along the river, but did you know that at low tide it becomes England's largest archaeological site, revealing riches spanning centuries? Jason Sandy, a Member of the Society of Thames Mudlarks, and Chiswick resident, will be giving a talk on mudlarking, a tradition dating back to the 18th century, for the Emery Walker’s Trust, Hammersmith on Saturday 24 April.

For just a few hours each day at low tide, the River Thames foreshore is transformed into a place of possibilities, exposing finds dating back to prehistoric times.

Licensed mudlarks can access the foreshore an enchanting surface of rocks, oyster shells, broken glass, bricks, tiles, animal bones, sand, gravel and mud, searching for hidden treasures exposed by erosion and the waves of passing boats. Jason’s historically significant artefacts are on display in various museums in Britain, but he also possesses an eclectic cabinet of curiosities containing artefacts which offer insights London life throughout the ages right up to the present day.

“Over the past 2,000 years of human activity along the River Thames, countless objects have been unintentionally discarded or accidentally dropped into its waters. The river has been an extraordinary repository of these lost objects, protected and preserved in the dense anaerobic (oxygen-free) mud.” explains Jason, who will share some of his favourite mudlarking finds and their own unique stories.

Jason Sandy with one of his finds
Jason Sandy with one of his finds

Jason is an American architect and developer who has lectured and written many articles about mudlarking as well as appearing on national television. He co-authored “Thames Mudlarking: Searching for London’s Lost Treasures” published in 2021 by Shire Publications and available at Blackwells, WH Smith, Waterstones, Foyles and online bookstores.

This live, interactive talk is part of a programme of monthly events via Zoom organised by Emery Walker’s House Trust. Entry is by donation. Please prebook via

Coming up next at Emery Walker’s House….

8 May at 3pm Virtual Talk: William Morris Wallpapers with Joanna Banham

“Whatever you have in your rooms think first of the walls!” - Morris

A man of prolific talent and prodigious energy, William Morris was an artist, poet, manufacturer, writer, businessman, conservationist and revolutionary socialist. His creative work included designs for flat patterns, embroideries, stained glass, mural decoration, books and tapestries, and his firm, Morris & Co., was the foremost decorating company of its time. But it is as a designer of repeating patterns, and particularly wallpapers, that Morris is probably best-remembered today. A master-colourist, he was a one-man pattern-making phenomenon, blessed, according to his daughter May, with a ‘god-given gift’ for creating harmonious and beautiful designs. And his wallpapers were not only the most commercially successful aspect of his company’s work, they also helped fulfil his ambition to bring art and beauty into ordinary homes. This lecture explores the history and production of Morris’s work within the wider context of Victorian wallpaper design.

Joanna Banham is a freelance curator, lecturer and writer, and was formerly Head of Adult Programmes at the Victoria and Albert Museum, National Portrait Gallery, Tate Britain and the Royal Academy of Arts.

Emery Walker’s House in Hammersmith has been forced to close since March, so donations large or small are most welcome.

The Emery Walker Trust is a registered charity which aims to preserve and open the House for as many people to enjoy as possible. The Trust also aims to improve knowledge of the Arts & Crafts movement and the life and work of Sir Emery Walker.

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April 9, 2021