The construction of the first Waterloo Bridge between 1811 and 1817 and then the Victoria Embankment between 1864 and 1870 removed all the hospital buildings except for the chapel of St John which still survives.
The current building was built between 1886 and 1889 to serve as an examination hall for the Royal College of Physicians and the Royal College of Surgeons. This is the building that the current Institution of Engineering and Technology now occupies. More information on the building, its history and recent renovations, can be read in the history of the Savoy and the IET London: Savoy Place.
Uncovering pieces of the past
In addition to the earlier stonework and walls that were discovered in the trenches, there were a number of smaller items that were of particular interest. They range in date and show who occupied the site and when so a picture can be drawn to illustrate the past that has long since disappeared.
Large numbers of mid-late 14th century Penn floor tiles (from Penn, Buckinghamshire) were found. The vast majority were decorated but a few yellow and brown glazed examples were also present. Some of the unworn tiles could have been ‘wasters’, those which were discarded without being used. These include a number of tiles with clay accidentally attached to the upper surface during the firing stage.
Another tile found was a Low Countries ‘Flemish’ fragment dating probably from the 14th - late 15th century. The surviving top corner has a round nail hole. There was also a thinner, possibly Tudor, tile that had a plain green glaze above a white slip.
An unworn plain white tin-glazed floor tile was found. It is unusually large measuring 169mm in breadth. Plain glazed tin-glazed floor tiles are relatively uncommon in London, the majority are decorated. This is probably mid-16th to mid-17th century.
Although some medieval pottery was recovered during the archaeological excavations, no structural remains could be identified as part of the original Savoy Palace.
The ceramic building material possibly provides the first evidence of the types of flooring installed in the Savoy Palace. It is possible that Penn tiles were laid when the palace occupied by John of Gaunt after 1362. The surviving tiles suggest the floors comprised strips of decorated examples separated by thin rows of plain glazed tiles.