The above outline map of the City shows the ward boundaries that many people who study its history grew up with. The City boundary and the smaller Ward boundaries were in use throughout the 20th century, they were the boundaries that the Georgians and Victorians used and they were the boundaries that were familiar to John Stow – the man who wrote the first history of the City – which was last published by him in 1605. In fact, apart from very minor alterations, the boundaries date in the main from Norman times. Some of them may go back to the days of the Saxons.
After all those centuries of remaining unaltered, in 2003 the City of London Corporation decided to have a major reorganisation of ward boundaries and even changed the boundary of the City of London in some places. The changes are, no doubt, necessary for the administration of the City but, for historic purposes, the old boundaries are far more useful and so they are reproduced in these blogs.
This academic year there are five wards under consideration which form two areas of study – (1) The first area of study – called ‘/City-Broad Street’ – is formed from Broad Street Ward and Colemen Street Ward. The outer ward of the two is Coleman Street which forms part of the City boundary. That has been changed since 2003. (2) The second area of study – called ‘/City-Cripplegate’ – is formed from Cheap Ward, Bassishaw Ward and Cripplegate Ward. Cripplegate Ward is by far the largest of the three and also forms part of the City boundary. This too has been altered since 2003.
If the ward names mean little to you, it might be worth mentioning that the Broad Street area of study has Tower 42 within its boundary. Built as the Nat West Tower, it was for many years the tallest office block in the City. For the Cripplegate area of study, the ‘key feature’ is the Guildhall, not because of its size but because it is the ’seat of power’ in the City and also because if its great age. The Guildhall has survived the Great Fire and bombing during the Second World War.
We cannot possibly include all the places of historic interest during the two months that have been allocated to looking at the two areas of study. However, 12 items from each have been selected for which there will be blogs during October and November.