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The Growth Of London.


Staff member

I have many London ancestors, and over 60% of the ones I have traced were from the East End area. Spitalfields, Shoreditch, Bethnal Green and Stepney. I have many recent books at home on London and find it amazing that the actual metropolis of say 1800 was a lot, lot smaller than it is today yet was still a very overcrowded city with 1 million inhabitants.

On old maps of London some of the major London parishes overlooked the surrounding countryside. In the 1780s Westminster was surrounded by fields to the south and Spitalfields had fields and countryside to its north east. Often in old drawings of major London streets and Squares you can see that in the distance, at the end of the street and the 4 to 5 storey buildings is the countryside.

Then by 1850, Westminster and Spitalfields were virtually inner London parishes whist Hackney and Hornsey were still full of orchards, market gardens and brick fields with a few houses and streets leading into the main London metropolis.

It is really fascinating.