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The History of London

A fuller History of London. Starting from the Romans, Saxons, Vikings, Medieval times, Tudors, Stuarts, Plague, Great Fire of London, Georgians, Victorians, Golden age, Industrial revolution and to the 20th century

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The History of London

  1. 1. The History of London
  2. 2. Roman London • The beginnings of London can be dated back to the Roman invasion in 43AD. • Prior to this invasion there was no permanent settlement in London. • The commander of the Roman troops was Aulus Plautius. • He pushed his men up from their landing place in Kent towards Colchester, then the most important town in Britain. The Roman advance was halted by the River Thames.
  3. 3. Roman London
  4. 4. London Bridge Aulus Plautius • Aulus Plautius was forced to build the first “London Bridge” to get his men across the river. • This first Bridge has been excavated recently and found to be only yards from the modern version! • The Bridge allowed the speedy movement of troops. • The Bridge proved a central point for the new network of roads that spread out.
  5. 5. • The Roman settlement on the north side of the Bridge, was called Londinium. • Londinium quickly became an important trading centre for goods brought up the Thames River by boat and unloaded at wooden docks by the bridge.
  6. 6. Londinium
  7. 7. Boudicca • Just 18 years after the arrival of the Romans, Boudicca, Queen of the Iceni tribe of presentday East Anglia, launched her rebellion against the Romans. • She destroyed London and killed thousands of traders who had started to live there.
  8. 8. After Boudicca • • • • Londinium was quickly rebuilt. Clusters of timber-framed wooden buildings surrounded the large Roman civic buildings. The city continued to grow in size and splendour over the next century, reflecting the increasing importance of trade in Britain. By the middle of the second century AD, Londinium possessed the largest basilica (town hall) west of the Alps, a governor's palace, a temple, bathhouses, and a large fort for the city garrison. Gracechurch Street, in the City, ran through the middle of the old Roman Basilica and forum (market place). One of the best Roman remains in London is the 2nd century Temple of Mithras (mithraism was a form of religion popular among Roman soldiers). It was found near Walbrook during construction work this century. It was moved to Temple Court, Queen Victoria Street. Artefacts recovered from the excavation of the temple are now in the Museum of London.
  9. 9. Growth and decline • A defensive Roman wall was built around the city in about 200 AD. For well over a millennium the shape and size of London was defined by this wall. • The area within the wall is now called "the City", London's famous financial district. Traces of the wall can still be seen. • London continued its growth under the late Roman Empire and at its peak the population probably numbered about 45,000. • As the Roman Empire declined, troops were recalled back to Rome. London went into a decline. • The population diminished drastically and large areas of the city were left in ruins.
  10. 10. Roman London Wall
  11. 11. Saxon London • • • • London's location on the Thames was too good for this decline to continue. In the 7th century trade began to expand and the city grew again. In about 604 AD, the first St. Paul's Cathedral was made, on the site now occupied by the present St. Paul's. By the mid-eighth century, London was prosperous trading centre again. Its wealth attracted the attention of Danish Vikings…
  12. 12. The Vikings • In 851, some 350 longboats full of Danes attacked and burned London to the ground. • Alfred the Great beat the Danes in 886 • After Alfreds death, the Danes took control again • In 1014 the Anglo-Saxons and Norwegian Vikings sailed up the Thames and attacked London. • The attacks ceased when a Danish king came to power in 1017.
  13. 13. The growing importance of London London was now the most prosperous, and largest city in the island of Britain - but it was not the capital. The official seat of government was in Winchester. But the royals usually resided in London. Edward the Confessor was an extremely religious man. Edward had been raised in Normandy, so his rule brought French influence and trade. He made it his dream to build a vast monastery and church at an island on the Thames just upriver from the city. He remade the abbey at Westminster and moved his court there. When Edward died in 1065, his successor, Harold, was crowned in the new abbey, cementing London's role as the most important city in England. Edward the Confessor
  14. 14. Medieval history William the Conqueror This may have begun on Christmas Day, 1066, when William the Conqueror was crowned king of England in a ceremony at the newly finished Westminster Abbey, just three months after his victory at the Battle of Hastings. William granted the citizens of London special privileges. He built a castle in the southeast corner of the city to keep them under control. This castle was expanded by later kings until it became the Tower of London.
  15. 15. William II The Tower acted as royal residence, and it was not until later that it became famous as a prison. During the medieval period it also acted as a royal mint, treasury, and housed the beginnings of a zoo. In 1097 William II began the building of Westminster Hall, close by the abbey of the same name. The hall was to prove the basis of a new Palace of Westminster, the prime royal residence throughout the Middle Ages. On William's death his brother Henry needed the support of London merchants to maintain his dubious grip on the throne. In exchange, Henry I gave city merchants the right to levy taxes and elect a sheriff. Tower of London
  16. 16. 12 Century th • • • • In 1123, St. Bartholomew's Priory was founded in the city, and other monastic houses quickly followed. By the early 12th century the population of London was about 18,000 (compare this to the estimated population at the height of Roman Britain – 45,000). At one point in the medieval period there were 13 monasteries in the city. Today, these places are remembered only by the names - Greyfriars, Whitefriars, and Blackfriars. The city played a role in the outcome of the struggle between Stephen and Maud for the crown in the 12th century. Although the City initially supported Maud, her arrogant behaviour angered the citizens and they rose in revolt. Maud was forced to flee London.
  17. 17. Building London… • • • In 1176, the first stone London Bridge was built. This bridge was to remain the only one in London until 1739. The passage across this bridge was narrow and constantly clogged with traffic, it was quicker and easier for travelers to hire boat-men to row them across the river, or transport them up or down the river. In 1191 Richard I, acknowledged the right of London to self-government, and the following year saw the election of the first Mayor. This right was confirmed by later monarchs. In 1245 Henry III, began his lifetime work of rebuilding Westminster Abbey, which was reconsecrated in 1269. The other major building project of the medieval period was Old St. Paul's. The cathedral was finished in 1280.
  18. 18. Wat Tyler & Edward IV Edward IV In 1381, the city was invaded by peasant's during the Wat Tyler's Peasant's Revolt. Although the major complaints of the peasants were aimed at the advisors of Richard II, they took advantage of their occupation of London to loot houses within the city. The Lord Mayor, William Walworth, stabbed Wat Tyler to death in a confrontation at Smithfield. The London merchants supported Edward IV to grab the throne in 1461. In gratitude, Edward knighted many of the merchants. A few years later in 1477, William Caxton made history when he printed the first book on his new printing press near Westminster.
  19. 19. Why was life medieval? • • • • • The threat of fire was constant. Laws were passed to make sure that all householders had fire-fighting equipment on hand. A 13th century law required new houses to use slate for roofing rather than the more risky straw, but this was ignored. Diseases were rife. Plague was a constant threat. London lost at least half of its population during the Black death in the mid 14 th century. London was subject to no less than 16 outbreaks of the plague between 1348 and the Great Plague of 1665. Sanitation was poor and sewage was often infected water supplies Until the late 16th century, London citizens were reliant for their water supplies on water from shallow wells Life was hard!
  20. 20. Tudors Henry VIII • • • • When Henry VII took the throne in 1485, the population of the city of London was about 75,000. By 1600 that figure had risen to 200,000. London under the Tudors was a prosperous, bustling city. Henry's son Henry VIII made Whitehall Palace the principle royal residence in the city, and after Cardinal Wolsey "gave" Hampton Court to Henry, that palace became a countryside retreat for the court. During Henry's Dissolution of the Monasteries, the 13 religious houses in London were either converted for private use or pulled down for building materials. All that now remains are the names they gave to areas of the city, such as Whitefriars and Blackfriars.
  21. 21. Tudors – part 2 • Many areas that are now London parks were used as Royal hunting forests. Richmond Park served this purpose, so did Hyde Park, Regent's Park, and St. James Park. • An international exchange was founded by the mercer Thomas Gresham in 1566 to enable London to compete for financial power with Amsterdam. This became the Royal Exchange in 1560, and is now housed in a massive Victorian building beside the Bank of England Museum in Mansion House Square. • In 1598 John Stow, a retired tailor, wrote a survey of the city, which gives a wonderful snapshot of Tudor London and its history. Stow is buried at St. Andrew Undershaft. A ceremony is held there every year celebrating his life.
  22. 22. Tudors – part 3 • • • • After the Reformation, theatres were banned in the city of London, but it wasn't for religious objection to the play's contents. Rather, the city authorities (read guilds) thought they wasted workmen's time. The theatres moved across the Thames to Southwark, outside the authority of the city government. Southwark became the entertainment district for London (it was also the red-light area). The Globe Theatre was the scene of many of Shakespeare's plays, was built on the South Bank in 1599, though it burned down in 1613. A modern replica shown above, has been built near the original site. Unfortunately, many of London's Tudor buildings were destroyed in the Great Fire of 1666, so it is difficult to get a real sense of what the city was like at that time
  23. 23. The Stuarts • • • Catholic conspirators planned to blow up the Houses of Parliament when they opened on November 5, 1605, hoping to kill the new king, James I. The plot was discovered, and a conspirator named Guy Fawkes was discovered in cellars beneath Parliament with kegs of explosives. This event, called the Gunpowder Plot, is commemorated each year with the celebration of Bonfire Night on November 5. London water was pretty foul. But in 1613 the New River Head at Finsbury was completed. This was a massive engineering project collecting clean water from 40 miles away and bringing it to large cisterns at Finsbury before final delivery to the city in "pipes" made of hollowed elm trunks.
  24. 24. Covent garden piazza Stuarts – part 2 • • • • In the early years, the landscape of London was changed by the work of the self-taught architect, Inigo Jones. In 1631, Jones designed Covent Garden piazza. He also created Queen's House in Greenwich, a Banqueting Hall in Whitehall and Queen's Chapel. In 1637 Charles I, opened Hyde Park to the public. If Charles was looking for support, he didn't get it. The City helped finance the Parliamentary war efforts in the English Civil War and Charles was eventually beheaded outside Jones' Banqueting House. The Protectorate and Commonwealth that followed Charles' death saw a concerted effort by Puritan extremists to subdue Londoner's appetite for the bawdier aspects of life. Theatre was banned, as was dancing and almost anything else enjoyable. Churches had their organs and choirs removed.
  25. 25. Stuarts – part 3 • • • When the Restoration of the Monarchy brought Charles II to the throne in 1660 the pendulum swung back the other way. Entertainment was back in fashion. Theatre gained the royal approval The city entered a period of extensive building development. New residential squares were laid out for the aristocracy to live in St. James, Mayfair and Marylebone. The Stuart period is sadly dominated by the Great Plague and the Great Fire Theatre Royal Drury Lane gained the royal warrant in 1665.
  26. 26. Plague • • • In 1665, Plague broke out in the city, brought by ship from Holland. London had experienced the plague several times since the Middle Ages. This time it was more serious - a strain that sufferers could catch and die within hours. The city descended into panic. Sufferers were locked in their houses with their families. It was thought that dogs and cats spread the disease, so the Lord Mayor ordered them killed. So the natural enemies of the rats who were all killed. Throughout the long, dry summer of 1665 the plague raged throughout London. The court fled. Most doctors and priests followed. Anyone with the means to go, left quickly. Although the worst of the plague died by the autumn, it did not fully die out until the next great disaster cleansed the filthy streets of London. It is estimated that 70,000 to over 100,000 lives were lost.
  27. 27. St Paul’s Cathedral The Great Fire of London • • • • On the night of September 2, 1666 a small fire, perhaps started in the shop of the king's baker in Pudding Lane. Fanned by a strong wind, the fire soon became an inferno. For four days the fire raged through the close-packed streets of wooden houses, until the wind died. The toll of the fire was immense. Although only 8 lives were lost, four-fifths of the city was completely destroyed, including 13,000 buildings, 89 churches, 52 company halls and the old St. Paul's Cathedral. Within days, Christopher Wren presented a plan for rebuilding the city with broad boulevards and open squares replacing the warren of alleys and byways. Wren's plan, though, was simply too costly, and people carried on building along the same street pattern as before. Wren was, however, given the task of rebuilding the churches, including St. Paul's Cathedral. Most of the churches in London today are Wren's work. It is difficult to find any surviving churches from before this time.
  28. 28. Chiswick House The Georgians • • • The early years of the 18th century saw the birth of newspapers. The most notable was Richard Addison's Spectator. It catered to an increasingly literate population. Many newspapers set up shop along Fleet Street. The Georgian period in London coincided with the Palladian Revival in architecture and art. In 1715, Burlington House was built in Piccadilly. It played a major role in popularizing this classical style. A few years later, Lord Burlington remodeled Chiswick House in 1725. At the same time, Grosvenor Square was laid out in Mayfair. Part of this was the aristocratic district. More London squares followed, notably Berkeley Square designed by William Kent. Kent was also responsible for building the Treasury Building in 1733 and the Horse Guards in 1745.
  29. 29. Georgians – part 2 • • • • In 1737, a series of satires staged at the Theatre Royal Haymarket infuriated the authorities. Lord Chamberlain was given the power of censorship over all the public theatre performances. This power was not revoked until 1968. For some six hundred years the only bridge across the Thames was London Bridge. However, the growing city demanded easier movement, so shops and houses were pulled down and large sections of the old city walls were destroyed. In 1750, a second stone bridge was created, Westminster Bridge. In 1759, the British Museum opened its doors (shown below). The museum was based on a collection of "curiosities" collected by Sir Hans Sloane. When Sloane died, his collection, was acquired by the government and put on display to the public. If the early Georgian period was influenced by Lord Burlington, the latter was influenced by Robert Adam and his imitators. Adam was responsible for a spate of influential designs around London, including Syon House (1761), Osterley Park and Kenwood House.
  30. 30. Georgians – part 3 • • • • • King George III and Queen Charlotte moved into Buckingham House (which later becomes Buckingham Palace). St. James Palace remained the official royal residence. Coffee houses became very popular as a forum for business, entertainment and social activity. New Jonathan's was one of them. Merchant entrepreneurs would gather there. It became the London Stock Exchange. 1780 saw the outbreak of what we now call the Gordon Riots. They began as a march through the streets of London to protest the Catholic Relief Act, which granted basic rights to Catholics. The marchers, under the leadership of Lord George Gordon, let their religious prejudice boil over into a week of looting and murder. The Gordon Riots terrified the authorities and brought repressive measures against any form of protest or reform-minded writing. Pleasure gardens (outdoor amusement parks) such as Ranelagh and Vauxhall became popular.
  31. 31. Victorians • • • The Victorian city of London was a city of contrasts. New building and affluent development went hand in hand with horribly overcrowded slums. The population surged from about 1 million in 1800 to over 6 million a century later. This growth far exceeded London's ability to look after the basic needs of its people. Coal-fired stoves and poor sanitation made the air heavy and foulsmelling. Immense amounts of raw sewage was dumped straight into the Thames River. Even the Royals were not immune - when Queen Victoria occupied Buckingham Palace her rooms were ventilated through the common sewers, a fact that was not disclosed until some 40 years later. Joseph Bazalgette was responsible for the building of over 2100 km of tunnels and pipes to divert sewage outside the city. This made a drastic impact on the death rate. Outbreaks of cholera dropped dramatically as a result. Bazalgette also was responsible for the design of the Embankment, and the Battersea, Hammersmith and Albert Bridges.
  32. 32. Buckingham Palace Victorians – part 2 • • • John Nash designed the broad avenues of Regent Street, Piccadilly Circus, Carlton House Terrace, and Oxford Circus, as well as the ongoing transformation of Buckingham House into Buckingham Palace. In 1829, Sir Robert Peel founded the Metropolitan Police Just behind Buckingham Palace the Grosvenor family developed Belgrave Square. In 1830, land just east of the palace was cleared to create Trafalgar Square. The National Gallery was created two years later.
  33. 33. The Golden age • • • The early part of the 19th century was the golden age of steam. The first railway in London was built from London Bridge to Greenwich in 1836. The great railway boom followed. Stations were built at Euston (1837), Paddington (1838), Fenchurch Street (1841), Waterloo (1848) and King's Cross (1850). In 1834, the Houses of Parliament at Westminster Palace burned down. They were gradually replaced with what we have now. Big Ben - The clock tower of the Houses of Parliament was built in 1859. The origin of the name refers to the bells of the tower and not to the large clock itself.
  34. 34. Great Exhibition of 1851 • Prince Albert, consort of Queen Victoria was largely responsible for one of the defining moments of the era; the Great Exhibition of 1851. This was the first great world's fair. It showcased technology and manufacturing from countries all over the world. The Exhibition was held in Hyde Park. The centerpiece was Joseph Paxton's revolutionary iron and glass hall, dubbed the "Crystal Palace".
  35. 35. V & A and the Science Museum • • The Great exhibition of 1851 was a huge success, with over 200,000 attendees. Crystal Palace was moved to Sydenham, in South London. It stayed there until it burned to the ground in 1936. The proceeds from the Great Exhibition went towards building two permanent displays: The Science Museum and the Victoria & Albert Museum (Seen below).
  36. 36. Growth • • • • In 1848 the great Potato Famine struck Ireland. As a result, 100,000 Irish people fled and settled in London. At one point they made 20% of the population of London. 1863, saw the completion of the very first underground railway in London, from Paddington to Farringdon Road. The project was so successful that other lines soon followed. The Thames was clogged with ships from all over the world. Consequently, London had more shipyards than any other Country. Living conditions among London's poor were appalling. Children as young as 5 were often sent to work. Campaigners like Charles Dickens did much to make their plight known to the literate classes with his novels. In 1870, these efforts bore some fruit when a passage of laws provided compulsory education for children between the ages of 5 and 12.
  37. 37. Harrods 20th Century • • • • • The terrific population growth continued. In 1904, the first bus service in London began, followed by the first underground electric train in 1906. A spate of new luxury hotels, department stores and theatres sprang up in the West End. The Ritz opened in 1906, Harrods new Knightsbridge store in 1905 and Selfridges in 1907. New entertainment venues sprouted all over the place. The London Palladium was the largest of 60 major halls that were built. These were used for music-hall and variety shows. Several major building projects marked Edward VII's reign. The Mall was designed by Aston Webb. Webb was also responsible for Admiralty Arch, the Queen Victoria memorial, and the east front of Buckingham Palace. Both the first and second World Wars brought great hardship to the city. In the Fall of 1915, the first Zeppelin bombs fell in London killing 39 people. There were 650 fatalities resulting from bombings during the "War to End All Wars".
  38. 38. 20 Century – part 2 th • • • • • In 1921, the population surged to about 7.5 million. London County Council began building new housing estates, which gradually ate up the surrounding countryside. Unemployment was high, and as a result there was a General Strike in 1926. The army was called in to keep the Underground and buses running. But also to maintain order. In the 1930's, large numbers of Jews emigrated to London. The escaped persecution in Europe and most of them settled in the East End. In 1938, the threat from Germany was big enough for large numbers of children to be moved out of London to the surrounding countryside. The defining moment of the century for Londoners was the Blitz. During the dark days of 1940 over a third of the City was destroyed by German bomb. Some 17 of Christopher Wren's London churches were badly damaged. The area worst hit was the City itself. St. Paul's Cathedral suffered minor damage. Some 16 acres around the Barbican development and the Museum of London were totally flattened. Numerous historic buildings were destroyed. The death toll was heavy; 32,000 dead and over 50,000 badly injured.
  39. 39. Millennium Dome 20th Century – part 3 • • • • • • After the second world war, Britain experienced heavy immigration from the old British Empire. This changed the character of the city. Notting Hill acquired a large Caribbean population. Immigrants from Hong Kong settled in Soho, Sikhs in Southall and Cypriots in Finsbury. The Festival of Britain took place in 1951 on the centenary of the Great Exhibition. It left behind it the much despised South Bank Arts complex. Heathrow airport opened to commercial flights in 1946. The first red doubledecker buses (dubbed the Routemaster) appeared on London roads in 1956. The London Docks declined after the war. The Isle of Dogs fell has been rescued within the last fifteen years by modern development. Between 1972-82, the Thames Barrier was built to control potential flooding. The last great building project of the century was the Millennium Dome. It is an exhibition centre in North Greenwich. The Dome opened on January 1, 2000. It is a massive complex. It has sponsored exhibits on the human experience of life etc.
  40. 40. London Olympics 2012
  41. 41. The end

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A fuller History of London. Starting from the Romans, Saxons, Vikings, Medieval times, Tudors, Stuarts, Plague, Great Fire of London, Georgians, Victorians, Golden age, Industrial revolution and to the 20th century


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