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According to the Domesday Book the area which we now call Mortlake was known at that time as ‘Mortelage’, which is believed to mean ‘a small stream containing salmon’, relating to a nearby fishery. The Archbishops of Canterbury were the area’s main ruling force, until the area’s exchange to Henry VIII at the time of his ruling. Throughout the 1700’s and for many decades after this, the most prominent commodity of Mortlake was its production of tapestries- the major site for said manufactory being the Mortlake Tapestry Works.Nowadays Mortlake is considered a constituent region of the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames and lies between Barnes and Kew. Mortlake was previously a part of the borough of Surrey up until 1965.
Mortlake has a number of famous individuals attributed to the area, such as being the resting place for Sir Richard Burton; being the area where Tommy Cooper’s ashes are buried (at Mortlake Crematorium) and being the residential location of John Dee, Elizabeth I’s advisor. The site is also the finishing point for the Oxford / Cambridge boat race, ever since 1845, which is incidentally marked by the University Boat Race Stone which lies south of Chiswick Bridge. The Oxford and Cambridge boat race is only the most famous of rowing events which lie in Mortlake, as there are many other important rowing races that go on at this location, making this a notable location for rowing and boating sport enthusiasts.
Mortlake is also home to the Budweiser Stag Brewery, which has stood in Mortlake since the 15th century. Originally being named Mortlake brewery, it received its new name when owners of the brewery at the time had a different brewery, called ‘Watney’s Stag Brewery’, within London (specifically Victoria) close down, thereby prompting the name to be adopted by the Mortlake brewery. Recently there have been plans to demolish the brewery, however any such action has been delayed until at least 2014. The loss of such a building would result in many jobs being lost, as well as a historical artefact of Mortlake.