Blackwall Park was a piece of open land located outside the City of London, near the bank of the Thames. The park is documented in several historical texts, including the diary of Samuel Pepys.

Nobody today can be sure of exactly where it was located, but according to the best guesses of historians, it seems likely that it ran between the bank of the river and the old town of Blackwall, which itself was located beyond the eastern edge of the city boundary (close to where the Blackwall Tunnel stands today) on the northern bank of the river.

This park may have remained anonymous were it not for the final actions of one of London's earliest and most famous confidence-tricksters, Lord Archibald Waltley, the chronic gambler who was notorious for swindling fellow rich aristocrats out of their fortunes.

Throughout his incarceration in the Tower of London, he resolutely refused to reveal the location of his ill-gotten gains but in the summer of 1596, while being hung, drawn and quartered in front of a baying crowd he famously bellowed that his fortune 'now belonged to the people', and that it was buried deep below Blackwall Park. According to eye-witnesses they were his final words before giving out his last breath and dying with a wry smile upon his face.

So began the 'Blackwall Goldrush' of 1596. Hundreds of Londoners descended upon the park armed with shovels, sectioning off parts of the park and claiming them as their own, fights broke out, even deaths were reported before Queen Elizabeth I was eventually forced to send a battalion of the Royal Guard to the area to keep the peace, proclaiming that anything found would belong to the crown.

It is thought that nothing was ever found, and as is so often the case with an easily excitable crowd, the hysteria soon died down and was promptly forgotten.

Whether he really buried his treasure, or whether he merely wanted to play one last trick on the city that had, at that moment, been joyously torturing him to death, nobody will ever know. Blackwall Park was long ago swallowed by the urban sprawl of London and where it might have stood lays only industrial units, riverside docks and dual carriageways; forever sealing Waltley's secret.

LieQuest 2013

Log in or register to write something here or to contact authors.