Curator's choice - artefacts
Section of lead water pipe, Coombe Springs to Hampton Court
This is a cross-section of the three-inch diameter lead water pipe that carried a supply of drinking water from Coombe Springs to Hampton Court Palace when first built by Cardinal Wolsey (c.1473-1530) in 1515, and subsequently occupied by Henry VIII (b. 1491 r. 1509-47). At this early period, domestic water supply of such sophistication was unheard of outside royal circles and the monasteries and illustrated the wealth and status of the owner.
The ‘egg-shape’ of the pipe shows evidence of knowledge of hydraulics far in advance of its time. The ‘egg-shape’ was adopted because when the depth of water in the pipe does not exceed one-third of the total depth, the surface of the pipe exposed to the flowing water is much smaller than it would be in the case of a round or circular pipe, and therefore offers less resistance to the flow. The supply was continued until 1876 after which the pipes were removed. This example was formerly in the collection of the English civil engineer, Sir Francis Fox (1844-1927). Maximum diameter 117mm. LDWIM : S044.