Growth of London
1600 London was just one of a group of similar sized cities in Europe,
all of similar importance. London's population growth in the 17th
and 18th century outstripped all the others, most of the growth being in
the parishes outside the city walls. Many buildings and alleys spread
over a wide area of former fields to the East to the city, fanning out
from ribbon developments which already flanked the approach roads into
London. Much of this building took place in previously rural hamlets,
especially Ratcliffe, Limehouse, Shoreditch, Whitechapel and around St
space to the north and west to the city was still being used for grazing
and cultivation, but these activities were being gradually forced out to
Islington and surrounding villages as development began to fill in the
fields and open spaces outside the city walls by the end of the 16th
century in the wake of dissolution of the monasteries, their lands were
being made available for development.
the 1630's, the Crown had abandoned its attempts to prevent London's
expansion to the West (towards its Westminster Place) and now sought to
limit growth by allowing only prestigious developments. In this way
areas such as Covent Garden and Lincolns Inn - spacious squares lined by
elegant houses for gentlemen and aristocrats- came to be built.
the East of London was developing a mixture of houses and small
industrial concerns: bell founding, glass-making, ivory and horn working
and, later, silk weaving and paper-making. These industries flourished
outside the city walls because of several factors: low-cost rents; the
exclusion of certain trades from practising within the walls; the
failure of city authorities control industry springing up in these
the city itself, traditional small-scale industries and manufacturing
continued to thrive: Carpenters, Cobblers, Tailors and Printers was
still all based within the walls. So by the end of the 17th century
division between East and West was emerging which was to shape the
long-term geography of London.
the West government and service industries were based, financial
services in the City itself and to the East manufacturing
17th century city came through the civil war in the 1640's and the Great
plague of 1665, the Great fire of 1666, and subsequent great rebuilding:
as a consequence, London 1700 little resemblance to the town in 1600.
the century began, London was crowded within its medieval walls with
open fields to the North and East and a rich suburb expanding Westwards
towards Westminster. Within the city, it its streets, it lanes alleys
were clutter with timber-frame buildings where rich and poor lived side
by side although wealthy inhabitants often occupied secluded and more
spacious sites sat back from street frontages. Houses of artisans and
shopkeepers open directly onto the road with little space for a
yard behind. The poorest inhabitants usually lived in single rooms
in an upper storeys.
life was in the hands of some 100 companies whose halls were a feature
of the City. These include companies such as Mercer's, Grocers, Drapers,
Goldsmith's, Skinner's, Vintners and Mason's. These Guilds and Livery
companies exercised control over all aspects of training and manufacture
through such measures as insistence upon a seven-year apprenticeship
before granting of freedom to ply a particular trade in London. As a
result of these restrictions, new businesses formed by immigrants were
forced to set up outside the city walls where the Guilds had no
the century several merchant companies were also founded to widen
London's International trade. One of the most prominent was the East
India company founded in 1600. The Royal Exchange opened in 1571 also
help to stimulate international trade.
was rich and powerful but it was also noted for its dirt, overcrowding
and squalor. Plague, the most unwelcome of all imports, thrived in such
conditions, killing over 25,000 Londoners in both 1603 and 1625 and a
further 10,000 in 1636. But the worst and the last outbreak was in 1665,
when over 70,000 Londoners died. Large communal graves were dug
outside the city, for the churchyards were all full.
December 1641, following the ousting of the pro royalist regime at the
election to the Commons Council, London became the capital and chief
port for the parliamentarians against the King. The royalist army was
repulsed at Turnham Green in November 1642 after which work began on
a massive project to defend the city and its new suburbs. The 11 mile
long defence was a costly project and involved all sections of the
London population including the puritans who countenance Sunday
working to get the job done. At the end of the war London was on the winning
side which did not endear the city to the later Stuart kings.
Great fire and a great rebuilding
like any ancient town or city, had suffered from many, Conflagrations.
What made the disaster of 1666 different from the rest was it share
scale. It began in a bakery on Pudding Lane early on Sunday morning 2nd
September 1666 and rage for five days and nights. The fire was aided by
strong East winds which allowed it to jump what fire breaks that had
been created. Only when the winds dropped on Wednesday did the fire
fighters gained the upper hand, and the fire was extinguished on Friday.
Parish constable and Watchman had called upon the Lord Mayor of London,
Sir Thomas Bloodworth, on the first night of the fire. Annoyed at be
awoken he dismissed the fire as unimportant and and grumpily observed 'Pish!
A woman might piss it out!'
Great fire and destroyed over 13,000 houses, 87 Churches, 52
Company Halls and much more beside, the total damage was estimated at
over £10 million.
were many who saw London as inelegant and in-sanitary city; the
aftermath of the fire presented an opportunity to create a radically new
city. Despite grandiose plans to impose a new layouts to the city, the
rebuilding had to at reconcile general improvements with the rights of
individual property owners.
Six Commissioners appointed to redesigned the city, set out the most
comprehensive town planning legislation ever seen in England. Over 100
streets and lanes were widen, gradients diminished and two new streets,
King Street and Queen Street were laid out. Timber buildings were banned
and the majority of the new buildings were to be in a uniform red brick