The Garden Guide

Book: London and Its Environs, 1927
Chapter: 32 From Blackfriars Bridge To The Tower

Custom House

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The Custom House is the headquarters of the Commissioners of Customs and Excise (amalgamated in 1909). The first Commissioners of Customs were appointed in 1671. The total member of officials in this department in London is circa 4000, of whom circa 1500 are accommodated in the Custom House and in Ocean House (an annexe on the north side of Lower Thames St.), while the rest work in various offices scattered along the river down to Gravesend. The Custom House is also the headquarters of the Waterguard, which consists of about 300 men, with four steam-launches and eleven motor-boats. The total amount of the customs and excise duties of the United Kingdom, as estimated for 1925-26, was �239,250,000. The principal duties are those on tea, tobacco, beer, wine, and spirits. Connscated articles are stored in the 'King's Warehouse' and then sold by auction. St. Dunstan Hill Lane, opposite the Custom House, leads to the church of St. Dunstan in the East, rebuilt in 1671 by Wren, who added the fine square tower, with its open lantern and spire (180 feet high), in 1699 (open 10-4). The body of the church was again rebuilt in 1817-21. It contains a number of monuments; and in the vestry is a model of Wren's church, carved in oak and chestnut. 'Australia Day' (January 26th) is celebrated by an annual service here. Harp Lane, a little farther on, contains the Bakers' Hall (No. 16). Lower Thames St. ends at Tower Hill.