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London History

London History For a city as internationally famous as London it perhaps comes as something of a shock to discover that the city actually has no known founder.

Myth and legend speak of a King Lud, after whom Ludgate Hill and Ludgate Circus are named. A statue of the monarch who historians believe to be imagined can be located beside the church of St Dunstan, Fleet Street.

There is no specific foundation date for London either. Shortly after the Roman conquest of 43 AD invaders grasped the strategic significance of the river Thames and named it Londinium.

By the 5th century Londinium was left to become a wasteland after the Roman empire fell. The invading Anglo-Saxons were mostly farmers and neglected city life, so they moved out into the villages surrounding the city and founded some of London’s most famous suburbs including Fulham, Mitcham, Ealing and Barking.

London was gradually revived and became a hub of business and enterprise but suffered – as did much of Europe – by the epidemic of the bubonic plague in 1348-9. Otherwise known as the Black Death, this plague devastated London and led to the deaths of thousands of people in the city and surrounding areas.

London thrived after this period and became known as an international business player but life in Victorian London during the 1800s was harsh and dirty. Victorian London found its perfect chronicler in Charles Dickens, whose home in Doughty Street survives as his museum.

The World Exhibition of 1865 introduced a change in London life and gave London’s finest artists and businessmen a world showcase to promote their talents. Many prominent buildings were built during this time including the impressive Crystal Palace.

By the time Edward VII ascended the throne in 1901 London was the largest city in the world, with a population of more than six million.
London was on the up during the first quarter of the 20th century but suffered when the World War I sacrificed many of the cities’ most influential young men.

The World War II devastated much of London and the bombing of Central London became known as “The Blitz”. Huge loss of life and destruction of many beautiful buildings knocked the capital for six and it wouldn’t be until the 1960s that the rebuilding programme was to be fully implemented.

The 1960s saw London swinging to the sounds of Abbey Records as the nation descended on Carnaby Street and The Kings Road to celebrate the birth of pop radio and the freedom of the teenager. It was during this time that local lads like The Rolling Stones became the centre of attention and the once prominent royalty took a back seat.

Fashion reigned over London and in the 1970s the youths of London yet again turned their back on both the government and the royal family with the uprising of the punk movement. The music, the safety pins and the Mohican hairstyles were born on the Kings Road and the shop that Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm Maclaren owned called Sex became the hub of the universe to young punks. Malcolm was also responsible for forming and managing The Sex Pistols.

Celebrations to mark the new millennium included The Millennium Bridge and the London Eye wheel, which has brought a new lease of life to tourism in the area.

From its very beginning, London remains the biggest city in Europe and continues to lead the way in commerce, business and fashion where the rest of the UK follows.


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