September 28, 2016

London History

History of London and How it Affected the City

Medieval London (1066 – 1485)

The Normans attacked from France and William the Conqueror took control of London. Rapidly, he started to construct a stronghold to act as a defense system to guard London. This stronghold became the Tower of London. The Tower of London had been used as a castle and a palace in the past, as well as a zoo and a weapons storage facility, a factory where coins are made and surprisingly also a prison. The city was constructed inside the walls made by Romans, these walls were quickly repaired and built up strong and high. Wood and plaster was used to construct houses which were placed tightly next to each other to allow for maximum population, the upper floors even lent out into the streets! A normal thing to do back then was to throw your rubbish out of the window and down onto the street outside. In the early 13th Century, King John decided London was to become a very important England city and therefore allowed for a Lord Mayor to be elected once a year. 

In a part of London called Square Mile, you will still be able to find signs of the Medieval age when looking at street names. The names actually tell you about the trades and shops that were in operation on those streets in that particular time. Examples are Threadneedle Street, Ropemakers Square and Silk Street. There are also many streets with the word ‘gate’ in their name, for example Moorgate. The reason I mention this is because they were defensive gates in the past where people could enter the city.

Tudor London (1485 – 1603)

London was often the centre of business and trade during the Tudor times. By this age, there were already around 200,000 people living in London, mostly around the Westminister part and on the south side of the Thames river. Palaces were made by the Tudors as well as deer parks so they could exercise their favourite activity – hunting. The river Thames became increasingly important for the Tudors as Britain focused on creating a large navy and sent ships to explore other parts of the world.

17th Century

This, unfortunately, was a very unsettling time. Not only for London but for the whole of Britain. In and around the 1640’s civil war was being actively engaged in Britain. Charles and his army were fighting the Parliment which at the time was under the command of Oliver Cromwell (in London). The king had lost the war and was beheaded inside London’s walls in 1649. After this, the Parliment collapsed and Charles II became king.

The Great Plague, 1665

This was a horrific time for London as rats which were onboard ships introduced the great plague into London. As people lived so close to each other and London had started to become quite crowded, not to mention how extremely low the hygiene standards were, the chance of someone not getting ill from the plague were very small. If someone in your family or household had been infected, a noticeable red cross was painted on their door and everyone inside the house was isolated for a long 40 days. Official statistics show that 100,000 people had been killed by the great plague. When the plague began, the wealthy quickly moved out of the city as dead bodies were thrown out onto the streets and empty houses were looted.

London, United Kingdom

City of London

The Great Fire of London, 1666

In 1666, a small fire was unintentionally started on Monument Street in September. This had caused a gigantic fire which went on for 4 days and destroyed around 80% of the entire city of London. Surprisingly, only a very low amount of people living in London had lost their lives as a consequence of the fire however, most building were destroyed. Especially the ones crammed together as they were made out of wood which allowed the fire to spread very quickly. Once the rebuild and cleanup had started, all new constructions were made out of brick and stone. 

Today, in the City of London there is a very high monument which was built to represent the great fire of London.

18th Century London

By this time, Britain had become one of the most powerful nations. Consequently, London, along with its capabilities in trading was an extremely important city and the power of Britain. Goods were shipped and traded from all over the world in London at this time and most business advertising was done in the comfort of coffee houses in the Square Mile area.