The book is written throughout with a Huge plum in Walter Besants mouth as he often talks about people of the wrong sort or lower classes. But once you get past the upper class Victorian moralising you get a really good interesting look at Londons development and a good look at what has been lost and destroyed over the centuries. He is particuarly scathing of the Victorian destruction of the Blackfriars area that destroyed many ancient palaces and castles to construct Queen Victoria Street, but this also explains why St Andrews by the Wardrobe is so called as it once stood besides the wardrobes of Baynards castle where Henry the Eighth grew up and now is replaced by the ugliest concrete brutalist block in the city, Baynard House a real travesty.
It also explains how the building that is now the College of Arms had a full third of it demolished to make way for the road. He also sorts out that the Welsh Church St Benets is named after the patron saint of Pig Skinners St Benet who lived and worked in the area a long time ago.
He also puts to shame our current booze britain reputation when he describes the debauched behaviour of our ancestors including the description of a Sunday Holiday in London in the 18th century which was a bender that started at 4am and went through till past midnight and included touring much of the city much drinking and carousing and a visit to church a pleasure gardens crawl and all sorts of other stuff, damn they knew how to party!
The book is a good read and I wonder how easy it is to find this or any of the 50 or so other books listed by him at the front it would be possible to find these days as I think he is mostly forgotten but was obviously a well known name back then. This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. This is one of the best historical non fiction books I've read.
Written in the late 's it is comprised of 63 lessons, so presumably it was intended for students. The writing is clear and very readable, although some prior knowledge of English history would be helpful. Although it's premise is the history of London, it does not confine itself to mere facts about that one city, but explores what life was like for the citizens of London across its long history, and the links between historical This is one of the best historical non fiction books I've read. Although it's premise is the history of London, it does not confine itself to mere facts about that one city, but explores what life was like for the citizens of London across its long history, and the links between historical events, culture and the experiences of Londoners and wider society.
Although it's not a long book, and therefore many details are absent, it still seemed quite comprehensive. I learnt more about life in the Dark and Middle Ages in this book than I have anywhere else. It was also very interesting to read about these times from a Victorian perspective, as well as the author's analysis of his own times. Until I read the final chapter I planned to give this book four stars.
However, the final chapter brought it over the line to five. In this chapter the author draws together the various themes and events together to make two important points. First that we must remember and value the lessons of the past. Second, that we must treasure the many freedoms we experience, such as the right to vote, free speech and a safe and regulated society. I would recommend this to those interested in the history of the western world.
I listened to the Librivox audiobook, which had a fantastic narrator. Interesting to see how history shaped right under my feet. Jul 15, Quinten rated it really liked it. I decided to read this book before my trip to London. It was a fine choice I must say. Sir Walter Besant gives a great account of the city from its humble beginnings to the greatness of the victorian era. This book will teach you the origins of many old buildings and the many transitions these buildings had to suffer.
You will also learn many facts about the different people occupying London throughout the years.
London History - History of England
My walk through London became more exciting after reading this book. Having a base I decided to read this book before my trip to London. Having a base knowledge about a city when walking through it will make a huge difference to your experience. Sir Walter Besant also closes the book with a great lesson. When walking about your city one should know its history and not take the liberties you have for granted. Many ancestors before us have suffered to let these liberties come into existence.
So when someone knows the past, he will at the same time have a better understanding of the present. The big problem is that, the book is very old, It was published in However, I enjoyed it alot. Jan 14, Denise rated it it was amazing. It's hard to explain why I liked this when I've read so many other huge tomes about the subject by such well known authors. Maybe it would bore others, but Besant didn't try to write a definitive history of London.
This is a relatively short work, but it focused on smaller bits of information- much that I'd never been exposed to. I could almost feel my surroundings; why I better hadn't leave the safety of the city walls, and if I did, what I'd find. I read mention of a festival Eve of St. John It's hard to explain why I liked this when I've read so many other huge tomes about the subject by such well known authors. John the Baptist's March of the Watch that used to take place in London hundreds of years ago- who it comprised, what they were doing, what the on-lookers were doing.
I learned that earlier in its history, London was sparkly and colorful with the Lords and their entourage in their splendid garments, only later to become what most of us actually envisioned it to be- dingy, grey, ragged.
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It wasn't until the Lords vacated that it lost its showy atmosphere. There is also some philosophy to be had: "Let us never destroy what has been useful: let us, on the other hand, preserve it, altered to meet changed circumstances. The first thing I do when reading a history book is to look at the date it was written. To me, that is one of the most important things to bear in mind. It gives the book perspective.
Tower of London: Facts & History
This was written in , recent compared to Bede, and for me that was what made it feel so good. The author was our missing link. Modern enough that we can grasp where he is, but still only a few hundred years away from the thick of the action.
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It would be like writing of the Victorian age now. Not unimaginable, and plenty of resources still around to be accurate if we want to be. I think he did a brilliant job, is it obvious? May 10, Val rated it really liked it Shelves: non-fiction. A short book could not give the definitive history of a great city in any detail, so the author has selected those parts he is most interested in to expand upon. He covers the city from foundation to the late nineteenth century when he wrote his book , with particular emphasis on trade, governance and the lives of citizens and traders who have formed the social bedrock of the city through millennia.
It is clear, concise and very readable.
It is also involving; sometimes he addresses the reader a A short book could not give the definitive history of a great city in any detail, so the author has selected those parts he is most interested in to expand upon. It is also involving; sometimes he addresses the reader as if he might get a reply.
I'm not sure whether this was written with children in mind or semi-educated adults, but it is suitable for both. Highly educated adults, especially those who have lived in London, might already know too much of the information contained in this history to find it interesting.
The author's opinions also crop up from time to time and some of them are naive, dated or prejudiced. The book is still worth reading, but we do need to be aware of when it was written when we read it. In , the city was still held inside the ancient walls although large-scale urban planning had already started.
History of London Course
London continued to grow thanks to the foundation of the Bank of England in Most of current London is from the Victorian period. Up until the early years of the nineteenth century, the capital was confined to the boundaries of the original Roman city, as well as Westminster and Mayfair, and was surrounded by fields. Be that as it may, the Industrial Revolution drew millions of people to London , expanding the city. At the end of the nineteenth century, London had become a major international trade and finance capital.
The administrative needs of a city with so much commercial activity led the creation of a new autonomous territorial unit in , the County of London, ruled by the "London county council".