Vauxhall Hot-Air Balloon Mural

Above: The brightly coloured mural beside the railway viaduct at Vauxhall Station.

If you know Vauxhall – because you use the railway station or because you use the buses at the enormous bus station – you probably have a fairly low opinion of the area. Walking around the main streets is hardly a pleasant experience with the endless noisy traffic and the overbearing modern blocks of apartments that the developers tell us are really grand with ‘splendid views’.

Vauxhall was not always this way. In the mid-17th century, part of the land was occupied by the New Spring Gardens – a place of recreation for the wealthy – which may have opened before the Restoration of 1660. It was also mentioned by Samuel Pepys in his diary for 1662. From 1785 to 1859 an even larger site was Vauxhall Gardens, a more famous pleasure gardens and one of the leading venues for public entertainment in London at the time. There is now a large open space called ‘Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens (Spring Gardens)’ but although it is on part of the original site, it is more of a recreation ground than anything else.

Getting back to the Victorian pleasure gardens, they became famous for staging just about every form of public entertainment of the day. If something new came along, it was almost certainly exhibited at the Vauxhall site.

A mural painted in July 2020 by the street artist Nerone pays homage to a hot air balloon record trip made from Vauxhall. The mural, with a bright pink background, has been created in partnership between Network Rail, community groups, schools, and artists. It can be seen on the corner of New Spring Gardens Walk and Goding Street. The mural includes a drawing of the famous balloon itself.

Charles Green, a professional balloonist, set off from the Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens, in London, and flew 480 miles (772 km) taking over 18 hours and landing in Nassau, in Germany. Setting off on 7 November 1836 it was the longest ever balloon trip whose distance was not beaten for almost another 80 years – in February 1914. Green was an experienced balloonist who had already completed 220 hot air balloon flights. He had with him two other men – one a writer, who later documented the journey, and the other a lawyer and politician.

The balloon used nearly 2,000 square yards of specially-woven Spitalfields silk which held 85,000 cubic feet of gas within it. The original wicker-work gondola or ‘car’, supported by ten ropes, and draped with purple and crimson velvet, was just 9 feet by 4 feet, decorated at each end with a large gilt eagle’s head.

Behind the mundane, very noisy street area of Vauxhall Cross, there is now a mural to show that this part of London was the scene of something rather grand for its day and something to be proud of for Vauxhall, even in these modern times. The setting of the mural is at the end of a street that is well away from the din of traffic on the main roads and that is as it should be. Once you have found it, you have the peace and the space to reflect on what a great achievement this balloon flight must have been nearly 200 years ago!


Posted in /Lam-Lambeth, /Vauxhall | Leave a comment

Doggett’s Coat and Badge Race

Above: The large sign outside the Doggett’s Coat and Badge pub. It stands next to Blackfriars Bridge. The pub has no connection with the race other than the race passes it on the Thames, on the way to the end-point at Chelsea. The sign is a copy of the badge worn on the sleeve of the coat.

If you search for the word ‘Doggett’ on this Website you will find several articles that mention the famous race. This article will explain some of the details more fully. This year there is a good reason for describing the race for reasons that will become clear later. Doggett’s Coat and Badge is the name for the oldest rowing race in the world.

Sir Thomas Doggett was a famous Irish actor and comedian who became manager of the Theatre Royal, Haymarket, and joint manager of the Drury Lane Theatre. Although there are several theories, there is no known reason why Doggett was so interested in sculling races on the Thames or in the Watermen’s Company. However, Doggett’s enthusiasm was so strong that he organised the race himself until his death in 1721 and he then left a will ensuring the race would continue after his death. The Fishmongers’ Company has faithfully complied with organising the race since his death although they admit that they are not really sure why they got involved when the race was for Watermen who were just ending their apprenticeship – not for Fishmongers.

The race – known as the Doggett’s Wager – is rowed over 4 miles and 7 furlongs (7,400 metres) on the original course chosen by Sir Thomas Doggett in 1715. The start of the race was from the Old Swan Tavern, on the north side of the Thames – just upriver of London Bridge. The end of the race was opposite the Swan Inn, at Chelsea, which also stood on the north side of the Thames. Because the Old Swan Tavern no longer exists, London Bridge has become the starting point. The Swan Inn, Chelsea, was also demolished many years ago and so the finishing point is the nearby Cadogan Pier.

Until 1873, it was a very tough race because the competitors rowed against the tide. There are stories that the race could take over two hours to complete. Since then it has been rowed with the tide and is usually completed in 25 to 30 minutes. Only the fastest launches on the river have the power to keep up with the rowers. The course record is held by Bobby Prentice who completed the course in 1973 taking just 23 minutes and 22 seconds. He is now Bargemaster to the Fishmongers’ Company and Upper Warden of the Company of Watermen and Lightermen.

The competitors are only allowed to take part when they are just ending their apprenticeship and about to become Licensed Waterman. Up to six apprentice watermen of the River Thames compete for this prestigious honour. In earlier times many apprentices took part in heats before the final race. These days so few men apply that only the final race needs to be organised. They row in vessels that are supplied for the race. Originally, it was raced every 1 August against the outgoing (falling or ebb) tide in the boats used by watermen to ferry passengers across the Thames. Today it is raced at a date and time, often in September, that coincides with the incoming (rising or flood) tide in contemporary single sculling boats.

The winner’s prize is the traditional Watermen’s red coat with a large silver badge on the sleeve, displaying a large oval badge displaying the horse of the House of Hanover and the word ‘Liberty’ – in honour of the accession of George I to the throne. In addition, each competitor who completes the course receives a miniature of a Doggett’s Badge for their lapel in a ceremony at Watermen’s Hall. The miniature badge is in silver for the winner and in bronze for the others who take part in the race. Monetary prizes are also awarded by the Fishmongers’ Company to the rowing clubs of those taking part, with £1,000 for the winner’s club, £600 for the second place, £400 for third and £200 for fourth.

In 2014 an extra race of six single sculls was rowed on the incoming tide from Shadwell Basin to London Bridge to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the Watermen’s Company. In 1514 Henry Vlll gave Royal Assent to the first Act of Parliament for regulating watermen, wherry-men and bargemen which resulted in the formation of the Watermen’s Company – more correctly known as the Company of Watermen and Lightermen. The prize for the special autumn race in 2014 was that the winner received a claret colour coat instead of the famous red coat which is awarded after the annual contest.

This year – 2020 – the race had been scheduled for 3 September but current restrictions advised by British Rowing meant that competitors would not have had the chance to train on the Thames. The sculling boats in which they had planned to compete in the race, manufactured by Wintech Racing in China, were not due until August. The date in 2020 has been postponed until 16 March 2021, with a second race to be held the same year, on 8 September 2021. Apprentices will be invited to enter the appropriate race or may even qualify to compete in both.


Posted in /City-Billingsgate, /Ken-Chelsea, /Thames | Leave a comment

A Blog Update

Writing blogs about the history of London is mainly writing about the past and most of that material does not change. However, some of the blogs do go out of date as time passes. One, in particular, is in need of an update and that is what has happened.

The blog is called – London Bridge Station Old Wall

You may like to have a look at it.


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Guildable Manor

Above: Outline map of the Guildable Manor in Southwark (Click on image to enlarge to 1280×800).

If you are a regular reader of this Website, you will have been made aware that Inner London today is made up of the land known as the City of London which has around it 12 Inner London Boroughs. Before 1965, those Inner London Boroughs were in the form of 28 Metropolitan Boroughs. That takes us back to 1900 when the Metropolitan Boroughs were formed and Metropolitan London was created as a county which was administered by the London County Council (LCC).

If that only takes us back to 1900, you may well ask ‘So, what was going on before that?’. The answer is that what we now call Inner London was made up of parish councils – administering their own parish. This not only applied to parishes in London but all over England. That brings us to think about what was happening back in time – like in the days of the Normans and in 1086 when the Domesday Book was published. In fact, we can go back even further, to Saxon times. They also had created administrative areas. They were known as manors, owned and overseen by the Lord of the Manor. Many people believe that it was the Normans who created manors in England but that is not the case. Manors existed long before the Normans. When the Battle of Hastings (1066) took place, William the Conqueror became King of England and removed nearly all the Saxon Lords from their manors and gave them to his French henchmen.

As a reader, you may be struggling with London Boroughs and Metropolitan Boroughs as administrative units. Well, there are essentially two more ‘layers’ to consider – the ancient parishes and the ancient manors. This article describes one of them – the Guildable Manor in Southwark.

If you take a walk from London Bridge down Borough High Street, depending on which side the street you choose to walk, you will pass through the boundaries of three ancient manors. Borough High Street, indeed, has had a complicated history. Its all part of its fascination. Firstly, at the northern end of Borough High Street is the Guildable Manor. Secondly, further south is the King’s Manor which starts near the junction of today’s Southwark Street with Borough High Street and continues SW to include part of the area around Elephant and Castle interchange. Thirdly, the eastern side of Borough High Street – including the part where the George Inn stands – is within the Great Liberty which includes the land beside the Thames going east to where Tower Bridge now stands and also land in Old Kent Road as far east as the old Thomas a Beckett pub.

Out interest in this article is to look at the Guildable Manor. The first thing to make clear is that when the Domesday Book was published (1086) there was no map. This means that many boundaries have been deduced over the centuries only by examining various descriptions. The boundaries are often not very clear and are sometimes open to interpretation. The above map is a ‘best guess’ at where the boundary went.

We do not know how the Guildable Manor was formed or why its boundaries were created. The Guildable Manor is a Court Leet in Southwark under the authority of the City of London, along with the King’s Manor and the Great Liberty. A ‘Court Leet’ was under the control of a baron. The name of ‘Guildable Manor’ was first recorded in 1377, referring to the collection of taxes. It was adopted to distinguish it from the other manors of the Southwark area. Such are the quaint ways of London that it is a preserved limited jurisdiction under the Administration of Justice Act 1977. Although neither a guild nor a livery company, the Guildable Manor does have a permanent organisation, consisting of Officers and Jurors. Putting it very simply, the Guildable Manor is still a sort of administration even today, hence the boundary map.

Within this particular manor is a building that is likely to be demolished before long. It is Colechurch House which is a modern concrete office block beside the southern end of London Bridge. There was a blog about it earlier this year called ‘Southwark and its Relationship with the City’.

See: Southwark and its Relationship with the City

Colechurch House is an unusual building. It stands on the Southwark side of the Thames but the land on which it stands on is part of the City of London. When the first stone London Bridge was built – between 1176 and 1209 – money was donated in wills and land was given forming a fund from which money could be taken in the form of rents. The money was necessary to make repairs to the bridge. It was known as the Bridge House Estates which acted as a trust to hold and administer money that was given and other funds received in rents for their land. It still exists today. Colechurch House stands within the Guildable Manor.

Taking a look at the manor boundary we shall work our way around, starting at the inlet called St Mary Overy Dock. This shared a boundary with the land owned by the Bishop of Winchester (on the west side). The boundary line for the Guildable Manor then follows the river as far as old London Bridge (the one with the houses on it) where the boundary enclosed the southern half of that bridge. The line continues along the river once more as far east as what we now know as Hay’s Galleria. This boundary in medieval times was shared with the London house of the Abbots of Battle Abbey (a religious house in the village of Battle, in Sussex). The boundary then turns southwards, eventually reaching St Thomas Street (which was an ancient street). The boundary follows an arc and reaches Borough High Street where it runs down the middle of the road as far as the George Inn. The reason for the arc is because the land it ran around was once the site of St Thomas’s Hospital before it moved to Lambeth. The final line of the boundary returns northwards, enclosing the precinct of the religious house whose church is now called Southwark Cathedral.


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Milestone, Denmark Hill

Above: Recently revealed milestone on Denmark Hill.

In case you are not familiar with SE London, probably the most helpful thing to say first is that Denmark Hill is in Camberwell with its lower end starting at Camberwell Green. Denmark Hill is where the main entrance to King’s College Hospital used to be and the emergency entrance for ambulances still is.

What is curious about this particular milestone is that it is only since 2019 that anyone has been able to see its inscription for maybe 150-200 years. In the early part of the 20th century, there was a butcher’s shop called ‘J Kennedy’ just two or three doors from where Denmark Hill joins onto Camberwell Green. Immediately beside the doorway of the shop was what appeared to be a lump of stone protruding from the wall. In the 1970s many local historians suspected that it was the side of a milestone that was embedded into the wall of the terrace of shops beside Kennedy’s. The stone only protruded from the wall by about an inch but its surface was smooth and there was no inscription to be seen. Even if you suspect something of being a milestone, you cannot just start scraping away to reveal the evidence because it is private property.

However, in 2019, much to everyone’s delight, the render on the stone was carefully removed, revealing beautifully clear incised letters. The proof that it was a milestone is clear to see and, of course, what it has to say is also of great interest. Several comments were to be found on the Internet in December 2019. This means that yet another piece of history has been unveiled of Camberwell’s history – this time connected with the days of coaching and coaching inns.

As has been said several times on this Website, that Inner London has so few inns that remain from the days of coaching. The only coaching inn still being used as a tavern is the George Inn, Borough High Street. A small part of the ancient galleried inn – when compared how much there was before most of it was torn down – remains on the site. Another coaching inn stands beside Bermondsey Street but that is now privately owned. There are a few more ‘bits and pieces’ around Inner London but these are the only two such premises near Camberwell.

Milestones in Inner London easily reach into double figures but they are not particularly common. A few have already been described on this Website and more will be added as time goes by. This particular one was erected by the Surrey & Sussex turnpike trust in the 19th century.

The lettering on the milestone states ‘3 MILES from the Treasury, Whitehall’ and ‘3 MILES from the Standard, Cornhill’.

Taking the second phrase first, many stagecoach routes started in the City of London. Ths Standard was a water source that once stood at the crossroads formed by Cornhill, Leadenhall Street, Bishopsgate and Gracechurch Street. The water standard no longer exists but there is a City Plaque recording its site. Although few people know of this location, it was at one time extremely well-known.

The first phrase on the milestone relates to the site of the Treasury on the west side of Whitehall. It so happens that the milestone is three miles from each location. Until 1750 only London Bridge crossed the Thames in Central London. In 1750, Westminster Bridge was completed and stagecoaches that had previously left Westminster bound for the south of England no longer had to take the circuitous route along the Strand and over London Bridge, they could take the shorter route over Westminster Bridge and thus reduce journey distances as well as journey times. The text on the stone, therefore, indicates that the stone was made after Westminster Bridge was opened.


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Saxons in London

Above: The Essex Coat of Arms on a footbridge crossing a road in Colchester. The coat of arms shows three seaxes.

The Saxons were a Germanic tribe that originally occupied the region which today is the North Sea coast of the Netherlands, Germany, and Denmark. Their name is derived from the ‘seax’ – a distinct knife popularly used by the tribe. The seax – or rather three of them – is the basis of the Essex coat of arms shown above. One of the earliest historical records about the Saxons that is known comes from Roman writers dealing with the many troubles that affected the northern frontier of the Roman Empire during the 2nd and 3rd centuries.

The attacks on Roman Britain during the late-3rd century forced the authorities to build a network of forts with thick stone walls at coastal locations to repel these attacks. The south coast of England became known as the Saxon Shore frontier. You may know Reculver Towers – in the Thames estuary, on the north Kent coast, not far from Faversham. There is Richborough – also on the Kent coast, near Ramsgate. Finally, there is Burgh Castle – not far from Caister-on-Sea, in Norfolk. All three examples are still standing in part and show what efforts the Romans put into defending Britain against what were effectively pirate raids around the coast.

After the Romans left England, many Saxons settled in England and also what is now the Inner London area. They were farmers, in the main, and their farms started small settlements which have become many of the familiar place-names in Inner London today. For example, here are some names which whose first documented mention were in the 7th, 8th and 9th centuries – Battersea (693), Bermondsey (708), Chelsea (785), Fulham (704), Lewisham (862), Streatham (675) and Wandsworth (693). That is a selection but there are plenty more.

One place that they did not settle in was the City of London. Stone roads and stone buildings are hardly what a farmer needs to till the soil and look after animals. It took until the 1980s before the archaeologists realised that Saxon London would not be in the City of London but just outside. The amazing discovery of evidence for a Saxon settlement came when archaeologists were exploring the site of a relatively small site of a Victorian building in the Covent Garden area. That led to further digs which have taken place all over a large area – from Trafalgar Square in the west to near Fleet Street in the east. In the 40 years since the first evidence was discovered, many finds have been made and the area is generally known as ‘Lundenwic’.

The Saxon settlement probably started in the 7th century and continued until the 9th century. In AD 886 Alfred the Great drove the Vikings out of the walled City of London and re-established the city, laying out new streets with houses and shops. The re-established city is known today as Lundenburgh.

St Paul’s Cathedral was established in AD 604 – also Saxon times. The first one was probably built within the Roman Wall for safety. However, although there may have been some Saxons living within the Roman Wall, the majority of them were living on the banks of the Thames in an area that we now call Aldwych and the Strand. It begs the question of what the first St Paul’s was used for if most of the population was about half a mile away to the west. When Saxon London – Lundenburgh – was established in the City it is likely that St Paul’s played a greater part in everyday life.

To read more blogs about the Saxons, look down the Categories list until you come to ‘PEOPLE’. Under that heading, click on ‘Peop_Saxons in London’ and you will be presented with an up to date list of related blogs.


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Vikings in London

Above: Viking art on a grave marker which is now on show in the Museum of London.

Nearly everyone has heard the term ‘Viking’. Descriptions like ‘marauding invader’, ‘Viking longships’, ‘plunderers’ and many others are almost standard comments when anyone mentions the subject. However, most people have only vague ideas about who the Vikings were or where they came from.

The name Viking is in the English language and also in a similar form in many other languages throughout Europe. In the main, Vikings came from Norway, Denmark and also Sweden. In general, in southern England and London in particular, most of the Vikings attacked these islands were Danish so it is often the case that these people are referred to as ‘Vikings’ and also as ‘Danes’. Typical places that faced attacks by Danes were the north coast of Norfolk – like Sidestrand and Overstrand. Both places have ‘strand’ as their last syllable and that is a Danish word meaning ‘land beside water’. Both the places just mentioned are seaside villages.

Another famous Danish attack came from the Vikings when they landed on the Kent coast. The event was re-enacted in 1949 – 1,500 years after the original event – when a reconstructed long-ship was rowed across the North Sea and landed in what is now Viking Bay in Broadstairs, Kent. The long-ship is preserved in the open air at Pegwell Bay, near Ramsgate, for all to see today. Not only did the Vikings attack the east coast of England but they also moved inland and are known to have eventually settled in what is now the City of London.

For parts of England further north, most of the attacks by the Vikings were by those who came from Norway. For example, if you visit the famous Jorvik Viking Centre in York, you will discover that attacks on the city were made by Vikings from Norway.

The Viking way of life was very different from that in England. They were not Christian and so the gold to be found in English country churches was not sacred to them. For them, the gold was there for the taking. It’s what happened to that gold that is worth thinking about. Some years ago, the British Museum planned a Vikings exhibition, putting on display a vast collection of artefacts from Viking times. It was an exhibition of more Viking artefacts gathered in one place than had ever been staged anywhere before – including Denmark and Norway. One feature that was notable about the exhibition was the exceptional craftsmanship in the gold objects – some of them in the form of large plates. The Vikings that came to our shores may have been the ‘heavy mob’ but, back in their own countries, the Viking craftsmen clearly had skills that far surpassed anything that Saxon Britain could offer at the time.

If you are interested in dates, the first invasion of England by the Danes – also called Vikings or Northmen – was in AD 787.

A well-known date for the City of London is AD 886 when Alfred the Great drove the Vikings out of the walled City of London. He then laid out new streets which had houses and shops and, of course, markets. It was a turning point for the City’s history. Once again London was under Saxon rule and is generally referred to as ‘Lundenburgh’.

That event did not drive the Vikings out of England. In 1012 a further payment of 40,000 pounds of silver was made to the Vikings to avoid further raids on England. It is common knowledge that if you try to pay off an attacker, they will usually be back for more and that is exactly what happened. It is a very long and complicated story, but, in the end, peace was made with the Vikings by merging the kingdoms of England with those from across the North Sea.

To read more blogs about the Vikings, look down the Categories list until you come to ‘PEOPLE’. Under that heading, click on ‘Peop_Vikings in London’ and you will be presented with an up to date list of related blogs. That is a ‘sure-fire’ way to list blogs about the Vikings but you can also go to the same list by another route. If you look at the end of this blog (Note: You must be reading this on the Website!) and you will see the ‘Tags’ listed of which one will be ‘Peop_Vikings in London’ and you just need to click on it. This only works because you are reading a blog that has a ‘Tag’ which is the SAME as the one you are looking for.


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Jews in London

Above: A City plaque recording the site of a synagogue in Old Jewry, in the City of London.

Britain – and London in particular – has been receiving settlers from around the world for centuries. If we start with the known world of 2,000 years ago, one of the earliest settlers in today’s City of  London were the Romans. Four centuries later, the Saxons came to settle in what we now call London. Six centuries after that we had the Norman invasion – ‘1066 And All That’. It was William the Conqueror who became William I and was crowned King of England in Westminster Abbey on Christmas Day, 1066.

You might think this will be a story about the Normans and, of course, many wealthy Normans settled in England (and in London) owning vast amounts of land. However, there is another story to be told which was just as important – the story of the Jews. William I encouraged the Jewish population from Normandy to settle in England – don’t forget that he was Duke of Normandy. In the main, the Jews settled in towns and cities across England but we are concentrating on London. They lived in communities and, in the City of London, they settled in and around streets called Old Jewry and Lothbury. They set up businesses – particularly as moneylenders, as clerks, as scribes and also as physicians. In the areas where they lived, they built synagogues for their religious services.

Relations between the Christian population and the Jewish communities were, in the main, good and continued to flourish until the 12th and 13th centuries. Anti-semitic feelings then started to make themselves felt. The Jews, due to their own efforts lived in better houses than many Christians and were seen to be more prosperous. Local people would throw stones at the houses of the Jews and also at the people. The king – Edward I – fearing that civil unrest would get out of hand, ordered an Edict of Expulsion on 18 July 1290 expelling all Jews from England. Edward advised the sheriffs of all counties that he wanted all Jews expelled by no later than All Saints’ Day (1 November) that year. Clearly, relations had reached an all-time low and the Jews left England not only because it was the law but also because they feared for their lives. The Jews fled to other countries in Europe and tried to rebuild their lives.

It was a long time before Jews would return to England. It was not until the establishment of the Commonwealth, under Oliver Cromwell that negotiations took place in 1655. Sephardic Jews – from Spanish and Portuguese descent – who were experiencing persecution where they came from began to settle in London. Memories of life in London from centuries back were still talked about and the Jews refused to settle where they had been in earlier times. Their old haunts became know as ‘Old Jewry’ and they settled on the east side of the City, in and around Jewry Street. New Synagogues were also built on the eastern side of the City.

Additional Jews arrived from Holland as well as Ashkenazi Jews – who came originally from Germany and later from Eastern Europe. From the 1750s various attempts in Parliament were made to allow Jews to become naturalised but there was plenty of opposition by the public. It was not until 1835 that Jewish immigrants were finally permitted to become naturalised British citizens without taking a Christian oath. It was not until 1858 that a Jewish Member of Parliament was allowed to take a seat in the House of Commons.

Many more Jews were to come to England. Between 1881 and 1914 over 2 million Jewish people left Russia, Poland and the Hapsburg Empire. While the majority went to the United States, around 150,000 settled in Britain, mainly in areas near the docks where they had arrived. In London, they settled in the East End.

In more recent times, fewer people have lived in the City of London. This has been true for all Londoners, including the Jews. Several Jewish communities now live further away from the City. One good example is the large Jewish community in Stamford Hill. This area is at the centre of an Ashkenazi ultra-Orthodox Jewish, and predominantly Hasidic, community estimated to be some 15,000 strong. It is the largest Hasidic community in Europe. Hasidism arose as a spiritual revival movement in Western Ukraine during the 18th century and spread rapidly throughout Eastern Europe.

So much more could be mentioned but, at least, there are a few pointers relating to the Jews in London and how they came to be there. This article acts as an ‘anchor’ for other blogs written about places related to the Jews in London over the centuries. To find an up to date list of places related to the Jews on this Website, look down the Categories list (on the right-hand side of every Webpage) and click on ‘Peop_Jews in London’. You will find it under the Category heading ‘PEOPLE’ (towards the bottom of the Categories list).


Comment – End of the Academic Year

After spending the past five months looking at the three parts of the London Borough of Camden and the two parts of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, it is now time to catch up on other things happening in Inner London. For this month and into September there is a mix of topics on offer which it is hoped will be of interest.


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Progress on Metropolitan London Blogs

Above: A outline map showing the Metropolitan Boroughs (apart from Paddington, St Marylebone and Westminster which are all part of the City of Westminster today).

The final part of the progress report is to look at the old Metropolitan Boroughs that are used as the names for the areas of study in the rest of Inner London. While Nikolaus Pevsner was completing an update to his two-volume work on Inner London around 1965, the Metropolitan Boroughs were being combined into London Boroughs. He wrote in his introduction that the history had not changed as a result of forming the London Boroughs and so he saw no point in reorganising his second volume which had been set up with each chapter having the title of a Metropolitan Borough. If that was good enough for Pevsner, you could say it is good enough for our setting up the areas of study for today. The great advantage of using the old Metropolitan Borough names is that they define a small area of London and studying things in small ‘chunks’ is always an easy way to work.

While publishing these three progress reports, several people have been kind enough to say how much they enjoy the blogs. Thank you to those of you who wrote in for expressing your appreciation of my work. It is good to know that you enjoy what is written.

Metropolitan London consisted of 28 Metropolitan Boroughs and, in addition, there was the City of London which has always been a separate administration. Three of the Metropolitan Boroughs are missing from the list – they are Paddington, St Marylebone and Westminster. In the last blog (on the City of Westminster) it was explained that those three names are now all part of the City of Westminster and so they have already been considered. That leaves 25 Metropolitan Boroughs.

In the list below there are 27 names because two of names were not Metropolitan Boroughs – Clapham and Streatham – but they need to appear in the list. They are the ‘problem children’ when studying Inner London because they are the only two pieces of Inner London which have been moved from one administration to another. When the Metropolitan Boroughs were combined to form London Boroughs, the new London Boroughs were simply formed by combining two or three Metropolitan Boroughs into a larger administration. The only exception was the two names of Clapham and Streatham which had been part of the Metropolitan Borough of Wandsworth. Clapham and Streatham were removed from the Metropolitan Borough of Wandsworth and added to the Metropolitan Borough of Lambeth to form the even larger London Borough of Lambeth. For the areas of study on the Know Your London Website, Clapham and Streatham are treated separately so that the reader knows their origin.

/Cam-Hampstead (14)
/Cam-Holborn (15)
/Cam-St Pancras (16)

/Gre-Greenwich (18)
/Gre-Woolwich (19)

/Hac-Hackney (16)
/Hac-Shoreditch (17)
/Hac-Stoke Newington (12)

/Ham-Fulham (7)
/Ham-Hammersmith (9)

/Isl-Finsbury (11)
/Isl-Islington (7)

/Ken-Chelsea (16)
/Ken-Kensington (16)

/Lam-Clapham (8)
/Lam-Lambeth (35)
/Lam-Streatham (6)

/Lew-Deptford (23)
/Lew-Lewisham (33)

/Sou-Bermondsey (71)
/Sou-Camberwell (29)
/Sou-Southwark (42)

/Tow-Bethnal Green (18)
/Tow-Poplar (39)
/Tow-Stepney (31)

/Wan-Battersea (15)
/Wan-Wandsworth (9)

Scanning down the list, it will be noticed that Bermondsey has 71 items [as of 2020], Southwark comes next with 42, then Poplar with 39, then Lambeth with 35 and then Lewisham with 33. All the other areas of study contain less than 30 blogs, with several areas of study in single figures. As time goes by these numbers will increase. We are working on a six-year cycle. If you want to see the plans for the Metropolitan Boroughs, look down the Categories list for ‘Lon_Metropolitan London’ which is a special category to show each year of the six-year cycle. It will take a year or two but, in the end, all six years will have an explanatory blog with an outline map.

On the above map, all the names underlined in red have an ‘Overview’ blog. To list all the ‘Overview’ blogs, look down the Categories list until you reach ‘LONDON’ and then look for ‘Lon_Overviews’. It will list all Overviews – including those for the City of London, the City of Westminster and Metropolitan Boroughs.

A Final Word on the Categories List

It is only possible to have a single Categories list on this Website. Ideally, it would be convenient if there could be two or three separate Categories lists. Since this is not possible, everything has to done using just the one list. This is why there are names in CAPITAL letters. These will be briefly explained. There are five such categories in CAPITAL letters and each one has additional categories below it.


This Category lists blogs about items which are ‘in common’ with two or more areas of study. Click on ‘COMMON ITEMS’ to obtain a full list. Click on one of the Categories below it for a specialised list. For example ‘Comm-Roman Wall’ lists all the blogs related to the Roman Wall (built around the City of London). Because the wall passes through several areas of study, if there is a blog written, there are details of the wall for each area of study.


These are Categories relating to different aspects of London’s history. For example, ‘Lon_Metropolitan London History’ will take you to blogs written about the background history of how London developed over the centuries.


This Category contains the name of People (not single persons). For example, on the Categories list is ‘Peop_Vikings’ which allows the reader to find out more about the Vikings in London.


This Category in the list contains the names of people who have been important in the history of London. For example ‘Pers_Chaucer, Geoffrey’ will show you blogs relating to Geoffrey Chaucer.


This Category has below it topics like ‘Subj_Canals’ and ‘Subj_Markets’ which list blogs relating to a particular subject’.

The three ‘Progress’ blogs should help regular readers to gain a clearer idea of the structure of the Website and how everything is gradually shaping up. The Website is rather like a ‘building site’ because new blogs continue to be written week by week as the whole of Inner London is gradually being revealed. We a getting near the 1,000th blog. The author estimates that there are about 4,000 to 5,000 topics that should be written to tell the story of Inner London – so, we have quite a way to go yet!


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Progress on City of Westminster Blogs

Above: Outline map of the City of Westminster showing the names of the seven areas of study. Those underlined have an Overview blog which briefly describes the area of study.

This is an opportunity to take stock of how the blogs related to the City of Westminster are developing. There are blogs for the City of Westminster as a whole, of which the list below shows 10 titles. Because Westminster is a complex subject, the City of Westminster is divided into seven areas of study. The names below are taken from the Categories list. For each area of study there are well over 10 blogs – Strand, for example, already has 35 blogs.

/Wes-City of (10)

/Wes-Paddington (18)
/Wes-Piccadilly (29)
/Wes-St James (13)
/Wes-St Marylebone (16)
/Wes-Strand (35)
/Wes-Westminster (12)
/Wes-Whitehall (12)

When the Know Your London Website started, the whole system had not been ‘firmed up’. It has now settled down to a fairly fixed pattern. Each area of study will eventually have an ‘Overview’ blog – to give the reader some idea of what to expect for an area of study. Looking at the above map, you can see that only three areas of study have an Overview (as of July 2020). As time goes by the missing ‘Overview’ blogs will be completed. Of recent years, another heading has been added – the ‘Quick Look Around’ blogs. The difference between an ‘Overview’ and a ‘Quick Look Around’ is that an ‘Overview’ applies to an area of study whereas a ‘Quick Look Around’ is used for a smaller area within it. For example, the area of study called ‘Piccadilly’ now has an ‘Overview’ blog’. Because the area of study can be sub-divided into smaller areas, there is a ‘Quick Look Around’ blog for three smaller areas – ‘Knightsbridge’, ‘Mayfair’ and also ‘Soho’.

One thing to bear in mind when studying the City of Westminster is that it was formed in 1965 from three Metropolitan Boroughs. At the northern end were two Metropolitan Boroughs – Paddington and St Marylebone – which were added to the land to the south of Oxford Street that had previously been known as the City of Westminster which was itself a Metropolitan Borough. That means there was a smaller City of Westminster which, in 1965, was increased in size. For the purposes of studying the old pre-1965 Metropolitan Borough, it has been divided up into five separate areas of study – Piccadilly, St James’s, Strand, Westminster and Whitehall.

If you are looking for a complete list of ‘Overview’ blogs, look down the Categories list (on the Website) until you come to ‘LONDON’ and then look below that Category for the Category ‘Lon-Overviews’. Similarly, with ‘Quick Look Around’ blogs, the Category that groups them all together is called ‘Lon-Quick Look Around’.

Please note that the Categories list can only be seen if you are on the Website. If you are reading this in the email version, just click on the BLUE heading and it will take you the same information which is stored on the Website.


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