The History of London — £ 2.99
Sir Walter Besant is one of London's best-known historians. He wrote or edited dozens of books on the subject, including the 10-volume Survey of London and the Fascination of London series. This one is in chronological order, from the legendary founding in 1108 B.C. to the reign of George II., with ample illustrations.
Written in the form of 63 'lessons' for older children it is no less carefully researched and informative than the others. If you want to know about the history of London, this is a very good place to start.
This eBook version contains the entire text and all 75 illustrations, as published in 1909. Please see the extract below for a list of the contents and the first few sections.
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I have done my best to restore the cover of my original, but it is still a bit scuffed and stained.
The text and any images below are identical to the eBook; however, depending on the typeface, etc., that you select, they may not display here exactly as they do on your eReader. Also, pages turn as normal, rather than the scrolling effect seen here.
1. The Foundation of London (I)
List of Illustrations
1. The New Houses of Parliament, 1852
2. Early British Pottery
3. Roman London
4. Remains of a Viking Ship, from a Cairn at Gokstad
5. Martyrdom of St. Edmund by the Danes
6. Saxon Horsemen
7. Saxon Church at Bradford-on-Avon, Wilts
8. City Gates
9. Remains of the Wall
10. Part of the Roman Wall at Leicester
11. Tower in the Earlier Style. Church at Earl's Barton
12. A Norman Ship
13. Building a Church in the later Style
14. Lay Costumes in the Twelfth Century
15. Costume of Shepherds in the Twelfth Century
16. Ecclesiastical Costume in the Twelfth Century
17. Royal Arms of England from Richard I to Edward II
18. Old London Bridge
19. The Tower of London
20. The Tower of London
21. A Bed in the Reign of Henry II
22. Interior of the Hall at Penshurst, Kent
23. The Upper Chamber or Solar at Sutton Courtenay Manor-house
24. The Lepers Begging
25. London before the Spire of St. Paul's was burned
26. Old St. Paul's, from the East
27. Old St. Paul's on Fire
28. West Front of St. Paul's Cathedral Church
29. Paul's Cross
30. Bermondsey Abbey
31. Ruins of Gateway of Bermondsey Abbey
32. Christ's Hospital
33. Chepe in the Seventeenth Century
34. Large Ship and Boat of the Fifteenth Century
35. A Sea-Fight
36. Durham, Salisbury, and Worcester Houses
38. Shooting at the Butts with the Long-bow
39. Tomb of Edward II in Westminster Abbey
40. The Embarkation of Henry VIII from Dover, 1520
41. Coaches in the Reign of Elizabeth
42. The City from Southwark
43. South-east Part of London in the Fifteenth Century
44. King Edward VI
45. Sir Thomas Gresham
46. First Royal Exchange
47. Shipping in the Thames
48. Sir Francis Drake, in his Forty-third Year
49. The Globe Theatre
50. Civil Costume about 1620
51. Costume of a Lawyer
Ordinary Civil Costumes; temp Charles I
55. Citizen's Wife
All from Speed's map of 1646
58. Lud-gate on Fire
59. Paul Pindar's House
60. London, as Rebuilt after the Fire
61. Coach of the latter half of the Seventeenth Century
62. Waggon of the second half of the Seventeenth Century
63. Ordinary Dress of Gentlemen in 1675
64. Dress of Ladies of Quality
65. Ordinary Attire of Women of the Lower Classes
66. Group showing Costumes and Sedan Chair, about 1720
67. Temple Bar, London
68. Fleet Street and Temple Bar
69. A Coach of the Middle of the Seventeenth Century
70. View of School connected with Bunyan's Meeting House
71. Grenadier in the time of the Peninsular War
72. Uniform of Sailors, about 1790
73. Costumes of Gentlefolk, about 1784
74. Vessels unloading at the Customs House
75. The Old Houses of Parliament and Westminster Abbey, 1803
1. THE FOUNDATION OF LONDON
"In the year 1108 B.C. Brutus, a descendant of Æneas, who was the son of Venus, came to England with his companions, after the taking of Troy, and founded the City of Troynovant, which is now called London. After a thousand years, during which the City grew and flourished exceedingly, one Lud became its king. He built walls and towers, and, among other things, the famous gate whose name still survives in the street called Ludgate. King Lud was succeeded by his brother Cassivelaunus, in whose time happened the invasion of the Romans under Julius Cæsar. Troynovant, or London, then became a Roman city. It was newly fortified by Helena, mother of Constantine the Great."
Let us consider this question as regards London. Look at the map called Roman London You will there see flowing into the river Thames two little streams, one called Walbrook, and the other called the Fleet River. You will see a steep slope, or cliff, indicated along the river side. Anciently, before any buildings stood along the bank, this cliff, about 30 feet high, rose over an immense marsh which covered all the ground on the south, the east, and the west. The cliff receded from the river on the east and on the west at this point: on either side of the Walbrook it rose out of the marsh at the very edge of the river at high tide. There was thus a double hill, one on the east with the Walbrook on one side of it, the Thames on a second side, and a marsh on a third side, and the Fleet River on the west. It was thus bounded on east, south, and west, by streams. On the north was a wild moor (hence the name Moorfields) and beyond the moor stretched away northwards a vast forest, afterwards called the Middlesex forest. This forest covered, indeed, the greater part of the island, save where marshes and stagnant lakes lay extended, the haunt of countless wild birds. You may see portions and fragments of this forest even now; some of it lies in Ken Wood, Hampstead; some in the last bit left of Hainault Forest; some at Epping.
2. THE FOUNDATION OF LONDON
On these low hillocks marked on the map London was first founded. The site had many advantages: it was raised above the malarious marsh, it overlooked the river, which here was at its narrowest, it was protected by two other streams and by the steepness of the cliff, and it was over the little port formed by the fall of one stream into the river. Here, on the western hill, the Britons formed their first settlement; there were as yet no ships on the silent river where they fished; there was no ferry, no bridge, no communication with the outer world; the woods provided the first Londoners with game and skins; the river gave them fish; they lived in round huts formed of clay and branches with thatched roofs. If you desire to understand how the Britons fortified themselves, you may see an excellent example not very far from London. It is the place called St. George's Hill, near Weybridge. They wanted a hill – the steeper the side the better: they made it steeper by entrenching it; they sometimes surrounded it with a high earthwork and sometimes with a stockade: the great thing being to put the assailing force under the disadvantage of having to climb. The three river sides of the London fort presented a perpendicular cliff surmounted by a stockade, the other side, on which lay the forest, probably had an earthwork also surmounted by a stockade. There were no buildings and there was no trade; the people belonged to a tribe and had to go out and fight when war was carried on with another tribe.
3. ROMAN LONDON
The Romans, when they resolved to settle in England, established themselves on the opposite hillock, the eastern bank of the Walbrook. The situation was not so strong as that of the British town, because it was protected by cliff and river on two sides only instead of three. But the Romans depended on their walls and their arms rather than the position of their town. As was their habit they erected here a strong fortress or a stationary camp, such as others which remain in the country. Perhaps the Roman building which most resembles this fort is the walled enclosure called Porchester, which stands at the head of Portsmouth Harbour. This is rectangular in shape and is contained by a high wall built of rubble stone and narrow bricks, with round, hollow bastions at intervals. One may also see such a stationary camp at Richborough, near Sandwich; and at Pevensey, in Sussex; and at Silchester, near Reading, but the two latter are not rectangular. One end of this fort was on the top of the Walbrook bank and the other, if you look in your map, on the site of Mincing Lane. This gives a length of about 700 yards by a breadth of 350, which means an enclosure of about 50 acres. This is a large area: it was at once the barrack, the arsenal, and the treasury of the station; it contained the residences of the officers, the offices of the station, the law court and tribunals, and the prisons; it was the official residence. Outside the fort on the north was the burial place. If we desire to know the character of the buildings we may assure ourselves that they were not mean or ignoble by visiting the Roman town of Silchester. Here we find that the great Hall of Justice was a hall more spacious than Westminster Hall, though doubtless not so lofty or so fine. Attached to this hall were other smaller rooms for the administration of justice; on one side was an open court with a cloister or corridor running all round it and shops at the back for the sale of everything. This was the centre of the city: here the courts were held; this was the Exchange; here were the baths; this was the place where the people resorted in the morning and lounged about to hear the news; here the jugglers and the minstrels and the acrobats came to perform; it was the very centre of the life of the city – as was Silchester so was London.
Outside the Citadel the rude British town – if it was still a rude town – disappeared rapidly. The security of the place, strongly garrisoned, the extension of Roman manners, the introduction of Roman customs, dress, and luxuries gave a great impetus to the development of the City. The little ports of the rivers Walbrook and Fleet no longer sufficed for the shipping which now came up the river; if there were as yet no quays or embankments they were begun to be erected; behind them rose warehouses and wharves. The cliff began to be cut away; a steep slope took its place; its very existence was forgotten. The same thing has happened at Brighton, where, almost within the memory of living man, a low cliff ran along the beach. This embankment extended east and west – as far as the Fleet River, which is now Blackfriars, on the west, and what is now Tower Hill on the east. Then, the trade still increasing, the belt of ground behind the embankment became filled with a dense population of riverside people – boatmen, sailors, boat-builders, store-keepers, bargemen, stevedores, porters – all the people who belong to a busy mercantile port. As for the better sort, they lived round the Citadel, protected by its presence, in villas, remains of which have been found in many places.
4. ROMAN LONDON
We must think of Roman London as of a small stronghold on a low hill rising out of the river. It is a strongly-walled place, within which is a garrison of soldiers; outside its walls stretch gardens and villas, many of them rich and beautiful, filled with costly things. Below the fort is a long river wall or quay covered with warehouses, bales of goods, and a busy multitude of men at work. Some are slaves – perhaps all. Would you like to know what a Roman villa was like? It was in plan a small, square court, surrounded on three sides by a cloister or corridor with pillars, and behind the cloister the rooms of the house; the middle part of the court was a garden, and in front was another and a larger garden. The house was of one storey, the number and size of the rooms varying according to the size of the house. On one side were the winter divisions, on the other were the summer rooms. The former part was kept warm by means of a furnace constructed below the house, which supplied hot-air pipes running up all the walls. At the back of the house were the kitchen, stables, and sleeping quarters of the servants. Tesselated pavements, statues, pictures, carvings, hangings, pillows, and fine glass adorned the house. There was not in London the enormous wealth which enabled some of the Romans to live in palaces, but there was comparative wealth – the wealth which enables a man to procure for himself in reason all the things that he desires.
Æneas: a Trojan prince who escaped from Troy when it was destroyed by the Greeks.
Venus, the Roman Goddess of Love and Beauty, was the mother of Æneas.
Troy: a famous city in the north-west corner of Asia Minor. It was destroyed by Greek invaders about 1,000 years before Christ, and the stories connected with it form one of the chief subjects of Greek and Latin poets.
Troynovant means New Troy.
Constantine the Great was Emperor of Rome, that is, of all the then known world from 305 to 337 A.D. He was the first Roman Emperor to adopt and favour Christianity. Constantinople is named after him, and was made by him the capital of the Empire.
Geoffrey of Monmouth was a British historian of the twelfth century. He was made Bishop of St. Asaph in 1152. His 'histories' are largely made up of stories, such as that about Brutus, which nobody believes now.
historical document: a piece of writing that can be used to prove some event in the history of past times.
architecture: the art of building; the style in which houses are built.
Cornhill: a street in the City of London running west to east from the Royal Exchange into Leadenhall Street. It was probably named after a family of that name, and not from any corn market on the site.
bastion: a strong turret or tower at the corner of a fortified building.
Walbrook: a small stream that crossed the City from north to south. It flowed near where the Mansion House now stands (Walbrook is a street at the side of the Mansion House), and fell into the Thames at Dowgate, near where Cannon Street Railway Station now stands.
Fleet River: a small stream which fell into the Thames near where Blackfriars Railway Station now stands.
Moorfields was a piece of moor land lying to the north of the City, outside the walls. The City gate which led to this district was the Moorgate, a name which still survives in Moorgate Street.
Ken Wood, in Hampstead, Hainault Forest, a small piece of wood in Essex, about eight miles north-east of London, and Epping Forest, a larger portion, also in Essex, to the west of Hainault Forest, are all remaining portions of a great forest that once stretched away from London far into the country.
Chelsea, Bermondsey: in all such words ea or ey is an old word for island. In this way are formed Winchelsea, Battersea, &c.; Thorney (where Westminster is now) is the Island of Thorns; and Jersey, Cæsar's Island.
Southwark: a district of London opposite the City, on the south side of the Thames. It was the South work, or fort, and is spoken of as a village as late as 1327, the accession of Edward III.
Malarious: causing the air to be bad, and so giving rise to fevers; unhealthy. (Latin malus, bad; aer, air.)
Weybridge, in Surrey, near where the river Wey, after flowing past Godalming and Guildford, falls into the Thames.
entrenching: making a trench or ditch. The earth dug out was formed into a mound. The mound and ditch, together with the stockade, protected the place.
stockade: a barrier made of stakes stuck in the ground.
Gaul: the old name for the country now called France – the land of the Galli, or Celts. Gaelic is the language still spoken by the Celts in Scotland.
Thanet: a district in the north-east of Kent, containing Ramsgate, Margate, and Broadstairs. The river Stour parts it from the rest of Kent, so that it is still an 'island,' though the channel was formerly much wider and deeper.
Captain Cook: a famous sailor born 1728, murdered in the Sandwich Islands 1779. He was among the first to visit Australia and New Zealand, and made many discoveries in the Pacific.
Polynesians: the natives of Polynesia, or the smaller islands in the South Pacific. They are brown-skinned, and akin in race to the Maories of New Zealand and the Malays.
Brythonic: that portion of the Celts whose descendants are now the Welsh, Bretons: (in Bretagne, on the west coast of France), and Cornishmen.
Basques: the natives of a part of northern Spain, near the Pyrenees. Their language is unconnected with any other, except perhaps that of the Finns. The Province and Bay of Biscay is named after them.
Finns: the natives of Finland in Russia. Like the Basques, they are the remains of a nation which once spread over all Europe, and has now nearly disappeared.
barrow: a mound raised over a grave.
Verulam: an old British, and then a Roman town, on the site of which is now St. Albans, in Hertfordshire.
Stationary camp: a fixed or permanent camp; a fort. A Roman army on the march constructed a camp if it only spent one night in a place. Such camps were not stationary.
Porchester: a small town on the north side of Portsmouth Harbour. Chester is the Latin castra, a camp, and occurs in Leicester, Colchester, Chester, Silchester, &c.
rubble: small rough stones often used inside piles of masonry.
Silchester: a place near Reading at which remains of old Roman buildings have been dug out.
Mincing Lane: a narrow street in the east part of the City.
tribunal: the place where judges sit to administer justice.
Exchange: the place where merchants meet and carry on their business.
stevedores: those engaged in the work of loading and unloading ships.
Tesselated: formed of small pieces of stone or tile of various colours arranged to form a pattern, like mosaic work.
Diana: the Roman Goddess of Hunting; also of the Moon.
Apollo: the Roman God of Poetry, Music, and Prophecy.
Guildhall: the hall of the Guild or Corporation of the City of London, near Cheapside.
usurper: one who by force seizes and holds a position which does not belong to him.
Picts: wild savages from the country which we call Scotland; Scots, also savage men, who, though they afterwards gave their name to Scotland, at that time came from Ireland.
Hong Kong: an island off the coast of China; Singapore, a large British seaport on an island of the same name off the south end of the Malay Peninsula; West Indies, a number of islands to the east of Central America in the Atlantic: of those belonging to Great Britain Jamaica is the largest.