Lambeth Bridge stands on the site on an ancient landing stage that was in use as far back as the 13th century. This landing stage was used to receive the monarch on state occasions and was also the meeting place of Henry VIII and Cranmer and Elizabeth I and Archbishop Parker.
Today Lambeth Bridge is approached from the north by Horseferry Road, a reminder that this was a river crossing before the construction of Lambeth Bridge. The dangerous horse-ferry, which operated between Lambeth and Millbank, was under the control of the Archbishop of Canterbury, whose London residence is at Lambeth Palace. After Westminster Bridge was completed in 1750 the Archbishop surrendered his lease but received compensation for loss of revenue.
As the population of Lambeth grew, there was a need for a new bridge to serve the locality. Although an Act was passed in 1809 authorising a bridge at Lambeth, insufficient funds to build the structure meant that the bill eventually lapsed.
In 1860 the Lambeth Bridge company finally succeeding in obtaining another Act and sufficient funds to build a bridge. Designed by P.W. Barlow and opened in 1862, the new suspension bridge from Church Street, Lambeth, to Market Street, later renamed Horseferry Road in Westminster, had three massive iron arches.