London is a city of incomers, and has been since its foundation by the Romans nearly two millennia ago. The way Londoners speak, eat, the trades they have practiced and the way they dress have been formed by the crucial additions to the population which have given the city its character.
The walk will be in Spitalfields and nearby, home successively to Huguenots, Jews and Bangladeshis
London is a city conceived for trade. Sited at the lowest easily bridgeable part of the Thames, a conduit leading to the Continent. From Roman times the Port of London was vital to the prosperity of the country at large, and at one stage the Port was the largest in the world. Other forms of trade have also flourished, with London established as a financial centre from the 13th century onwards.
The walk will be in the City and close to the Thames
Architects, like no others, have of course shaped the way the city looks. The history of their interactions is a complex one: from Wren to Seifert, politics has often determined who should build, and what they should build, as much as competence, aesthetics or need.
The walk will be around Lincoln’s Inn
The law and its execution have provided some of the city’s great dramas. The practitioners of the law, with their own enclave of London, preserve rituals of behaviour (and especially dress) which have lasted centuries.
The walk will be near the Royal Courts of Justice
Engineers, often overlooked in favour of more obviously glamourous professions, have made the city operate – the first underground railway, a pioneering sewerage system and a succession of fabulous bridges. London, sitting on clay rather than a bed of rock has provided as many challenges as opportunities in its construction.
The walk will be along the South Bank of the Thames
Love of London, repulsion by London, and often a mixture of the two have inspired much great literature. Writers – whether novelists, poets or journalists – have shaped our view of the city, marking out territories which often in the popular imagination have more to do with the fictional version than what survives on the ground.
The walk will be in Borough and Southwark
As a subject and as place of work, London has long been a centre for artists: it became so, however, at a comparatively late date, in the 18th century. Since that time London has had a central place in the artistic imagination, not least as a great marketplace for the world’s artistic output. It has also provided a setting for many, often competing, cliques of artists.
The walk will be in Chelsea
Actors have provided glamour and gossip in the city for four centuries. The growth (and continued success) of a compact area for theatres has affected the social geography of the city, creating an (occasionally scandalous) zone which has also seen great artistic triumph.
Through London’s Theatreland
Unlike some major cities, Paris for example, London was late in getting its own university. This did not mean that the capital was intellectually inactive, as it was home to the various learned societies. Since the 19th century universities have multiplied, and of the world’s capitals, London probably boasts the largest concentration of centres of academic excellence.
The walk will be north and south of the Euston Road
Cities – any concentration of people – bring disease, but also the resources to deal with disease. This lecture will discuss some of the great health crises of the city, and the establishment of institutions to deal with poverty and illness.
The walk will be in South Kensington and Chelsea