The Story Of London

The history of London! Where to begin? London today is the product of a long turbulent history from its foundation by the Romans to the recent court clashes between Mayor Ken Livingstone and the Blair Government. Discover the whole story here…

  • LONDON’S COSTERMONGERS – INDEX
    In 1862, Henry Mayhew published his magnificent survey:London Labour and the London Poor. He opens the first volume with a detailed survey of the class of people who make their living on the streets of the metropolis, […]
  • London’s Costermongers: 3 – The Varieties of Costermongers
    In 1862, Henry Mayhew published his magnificent survey: London Labour and the London Poor.He now defines for us the different types of Street-Folk to be found in London. Of these, the costermongers are a special breed, or even […]
  • Crime and Punishment: Mary Blandy
    Mary Blandy was a young heiress of Henley-on-Thames who became passionately involved with the unscrupulous Hon. William Henry Cranstoun. This passion eventually and tragically cost her and her father their lives. Mr Francis Blandy was an attorney […]
  • The Fatal Vespers: IIIc
    In 1623 ninety-five people perished when the floor of a temporary chapel in the Blackfriars district collapsed. Two of our antiquaries, John Strype and Walter Thornbury, have left us vivid descriptions of the event. These differ in […]
  • The Fatal Vespers: IIIb
    In 1623 ninety-five people perished when the floor of a temporary chapel in the Blackfriars district collapsed. Two of our antiquaries, John Strype and Walter Thornbury, have left us vivid descriptions of the event. These differ in […]
  • The Fatal Vespers IIIa
    In 1623 ninety-five people perished when the floor of a temporary chapel in the Blackfriars district collapsed. Two of our antiquaries, John Strype and Walter Thornbury, have left us vivid descriptions of the event. These differ in […]
  • The Annals of St. Paul’s: Chapter 3 Part 2
    Wren’s St Paul’s Cathedral is one of the dominant images of tourist London. The religious history of the site, however, goes back to the very arrival of Christianity in England. Sitting atop one of the two hills […]
  • London’s Costermongers: 2 – The Numbers of Costermongers
    In 1862, Henry Mayhew published his magnificent survey: London Labour and the London Poor.He now comes to estimate the number of Costermongers who make regularly scrape a living from London’s markets. He finds that this shifting population is […]
  • Crime and Punishment: Arthur Norcott and Mary Norcott, his Mother
    This is an unusual murder case where the verdict turned on “touching the body,” one of the “trials by ordeal” that were used to determine the guilt or innocence of an accused person. A person accused of […]
  • London Disasters: The Fatal Vespers: II
    In 1623 ninety-five people perished when the floor of a temporary chapel in the Blackfriars district collapsed. Two of our antiquaries, John Strype and Walter Thornbury, have left us vivid descriptions of the event. These differ in […]
  • The Annals of St. Paul’s: Chapter 3 part 1
    Wren’s St Paul’s Cathedral is one of the dominant images of tourist London. The religious history of the site, however, goes back to the very arrival of Christianity in England. Sitting atop one of the two hills […]
  • London’s Costermongers: 1 – The Street Folk
    In 1862, Henry Mayhew published his magnificent survey: London Labour and the London Poor. He opens the first volume with a detailed survey of the class of people who make their living on the streets of the metropolis, […]
  • Crime and Punishment: Stephen Eaton, George Roades and Sarah Swift
    In july 1669, the Reverend John Talbot came to London in connection with a lawsuit. About four in the afternoon he became aware that he was being followed by six persons. Having tried, for hours, to give […]
  • London Disasters: The Fatal Vespers: I
    In 1623 ninety-five people perished when the floor of a temporary chapel in the Blackfriars district collapsed. Two of our antiquaries, John Strype and Walter Thornbury, have left us vivid descriptions of the event. These differ in […]
  • The Annals of St. Paul’s: Chapter 2 part 5
    Wren’s St Paul’s Cathedral is one of the dominant images of tourist London. The religious history of the site, however, goes back to the very arrival of Christianity in England. Sitting atop one of the two hills […]
  • Mayhew’s London Prostitutes: Completed
    In 1862, Henry Mayhew published his analysis of the prostitution business in London. It formed a part of his magnificent survey: London Labour and the London Poor, extracts from which we continue to publish on this site. In the final […]
  • Victorian Etiquette XIII: Cards
    The London Journal, launched in 1845, was one of the most widely read publications of nineteenth-century Britain. Its weekly appearance ushered in the period when mass-market reading, in a modern sense, was born. Between April 12 and […]
  • The Annals of St. Paul’s: Chapter 2 part 1
    Wren’s St Paul’s Cathedral is one of the dominant images of tourist London. The religious history of the site, however, goes back to the very arrival of Christianity in England. Sitting atop one of the two hills […]
  • Mayhew’s London Prostitutes: IX
    In 1862, Henry Mayhew published his analysis of the prostitution business in London. It formed a part of his magnificent survey: London Labour and the London Poor, extracts from which we continue to publish on this site. In this extract […]
  • Edwardian London IX: Round About the Monument
    In 1905 the Pall Mall Magazine published a “little book [which] will appeal to all who wish to possess what is really a portfolio, in a handy form, of beautiful drawings and photographs of the marvellous New […]

“London is to the politician merely a seat of government, to the grazier a cattle market, to the merchant a huge exchange, to the dramatic enthusiast a congeries of theatres, to the man of pleasure an assemblage of taverns… the intellectual man is struck with London as comprehending the whole of human life in all its variety, the contemplation of which is inexhaustible.”James Boswell.

“Above Westminster the Thames is quite frozen over…Many fantastical experiments are daily put in practice, as certain youths burnt a gallon of wine upon the ice and made all the passengers partakers. but the best is of an honest woman (they say) that had a great longing to have her husband get her with child upon the Thames.” John Chamberlain January 8 1608.

“If you stand in Lombard Street at any time of the day, for example, that narrow thoroughfare like others in the vicinity echoes to hurrying footfalls. It has been a continuous sound for many hundreds of years, in the very centre of the City, and it may be that the perpetual steady echo of passing footsteps is the true sound of London in its transience and in its permanence.” Peter Ackroyd, 2000.