London Listen/ˈlʌndən/ is the capital of England and the United Kingdom, and the largest municipality, urban zone and metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its founding by the Romans, who named it Londinium. London's ancient core, the City of London, largely retains its square-mile mediaeval boundaries.
London in John Bartholomew's "Gazetteer of the British Isles" (1887)
London, the capital of England, and the principal town of the British Empire, on river Thames, mostly in Middlesex, but also occupying parts of Surrey, Kent, and Essex, 60 miles (by the river's course) from the sea at the Nore; the centre of the dome of St Paul's is in lat. 500 30' 48" N., and long. 00 5' 48" W. The areas and populations within various divisional boundaries are as follow: - Area. Pop. 1.London within the Registrar -General's Tables of Mortality 75,334 ac. 3,816,483 2. London within the limits of the Metropolis Local Management 75,462 ac. 3,834,354 Act 3. London School Board District 75,462 ac. 3,834,354 4. Metropolitan Parl. Boroughs. 80,126 ac. 3,963,307 5. Central Criminal Court District. 268,391 ac. 4,457,102 6. The "Greater London" of the Registrar-General's Weekly 441,559 ac. 4,776,661 Return, consisting of - (a) Metropolitan Police District 440,891 ac. 4,716,009 (6) City of London within the Municipal and Parliamentary limits 668 ac. 50,652 (The figures for the City represent the night population; during the business hours of the day it rises to over 1,000,000.) The centre of the Government and commerce of the British Empire, London is the greatest city of any age or country. Politically, financially, and commercially, as well as on account of its immense size and population, its progress and pre-eminence form a very remarkable feature in the history of civilisation. Without entering upon the vague traditions which have survived from more obscure eras, we find that as early as A.D). 61 the Lundimum of the Romans was a place of importance; Colonia Augusta being another of its Roman designations. One of the principal evidences, however, of a much earlier existence of the town is found in the etymology of the name, which comes from the Celtic Llyn-Din. Three important events have especial prominence in the pre-Norman history of London; namely, the foundation of the bishopric, supposed to have taken place in A.D. 179; the rebuilding and fortifying of the town by the Romans in 306; and the founding of St Paul's by Ethelbert about the year 597. Coming upon the firmer ground of authentic history, it is seen that in 1079 the Tower was built by William I., who, in the same year, granted the city its first charter, a document which is still extant. A charter granted by King John in 1189 authorised the annual election of a mayor and corporation. Conspicuous landmarks in the subsequent course of the city's history are - Wat Tyler's Rebellion, 1381; Jack Cade's Rebellion, 1450; the foundation of Christ's Hospital, 1533; numerous pestilences, culminating in the Great Plague of 1665; and the Great Fire of 1666. The latter, although in itself a disaster of terrible magnitude, had one good effect, in so far that it swept away the old haunts of disease, and left room for the erection of the present city, the history of which, in a large measure, is the history of the progress of the British nation. Modern London has no clearly defined limits, and the determination of its unofficial boundaries is yearly becoming more difficult through its rapid and wide suburban extension. Roughly speaking, the whole metropolis may be estimated to cover, E. to W., 14 m., and N. to S. 10 m. As the seat of the government of the Empire, the commercial emporium of Britain, the home of British literature, art, and science, and the place of residence, at special seasons, of the wealthier classes from all parts of the country, it is natural that London should abound with interesting, stately, and imposing buildings of all descriptions. Among the greatest of these are the Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace, St James' Palace, St Paul's Cathedral, Lambeth Palace, the Tower of London, the Guildhall, the Mansion House, the Royal Exchange, the Bank of England, the General Post-Office, the British Museum, and the National Gallery. The Government departments, such as the Home and Foreign Offices, the Education Office, Somerset House (Inland Revenue), &c., are also important. There are over 1400 churches and chapels, 45 theatres, and 400 music halls, concert rooms, &c. Thirteen bridges, besides 5 railway bridges, span the Thames; London Bridge being the most easterly, and Hammersmith Bridge the most westerly. The metropolis is singularly fortunate in the possession of public parks, which for extent and beauty are unsurpassed by any open spaces belonging to other large cities. The chief are: - In the W., St James' Park (80 ac.), the Green Park (70 ac.), Hyde Park (390 ac.), and Kensington Gardens (360 ac.); in the N., the Regent's Park (470 ac.), containing the gardens of the Zoological Society and the Botanical Society; in the SW., Battersea Park (180 ac.); and in the E., Victoria Park (300 ac.). In the suburbs, at no great distance, are several extensive commons, such as Hampstead Heath, Blackheath, Clapham Common, Streatham Common, Wandsworth Common, Wormwood Scrubs, and Tooting Common. The chief cemeteries are Kensal Green, Brompton, Hampstead, Highgate, Nunhead, Norwood, and Abney Park. London is the supreme seat of the judicature of the country. The principal courts are concentrated in the magnificent range of buildings known as the New Law Courts. The Inns of Court are to some extent colleges for law students, and include the Inner Temple, Middle Temple, Lincoln's Inn, and Gray's Inn. Altogether the different courts give employment to over 3000 barristers and 5000 solicitors. Exclusive of the Mansion House and Guildhall, in the City, there are 13 police courts in various parts of the metropolis, and the whole police force is about 14,000. All the military affairs of the country are managed from the War Office and Horse Guards; the actual garrison of the metropolis mostly consisting of the Household Cavalry and the various regiments of Foot Guards. Knightsbridge barracks are set aside for cavalry, and Chelsea and Wellington barracks for infantry. The chief offices of the Admiralty, the Customs, and the mercantile marine service, are like-wise situated in London. Education is represented by many well-known institutions. London University is purely an examining body for conferring degrees, the tests being open to all comers, and certificates are obtainable by women. Of the colleges, University College and King's College are the principal, but there are also a number of others; notably the denominational institutions for the training of school teachers. Medical education, at the head of which stand the Royal College of Physicians and the Royal College of Surgeons, is actively carried on in the hospitals, especially at Bartholomew's, St Thomas', Guy's, St George's, and the Middlesex Hospital. In all there are about 35 general hospitals and infirmaries in the metropolis, besides a very large number of kindred institutions for the treatment of special diseases. The chief public schools are Westminster, St Paul's, Christ Church (Blue-coat), Merchant Taylors' (Charterhouse), City of London Schools, and University College Schools. The School Board has in operation 368 schools, accommodating 334,309 children. The water-supply of the town is drawn, and after filtration distributed, from the Thames and the New River. The gas-supply is in the hands of joint-stock companies. Markets exist for almost every commodity that has a sufficient mercantile importance; those for food' supplies being chiefly the London Central Market (meat and poultry), Smithfield, Leadenhall Market (poultry and game), Billingsgate Market (fish), Covent Garden Market (fruit and vegetables), Borough Market (fruit and vegetables), Columbia Market (fish and general). A distinguished feature in metropolitan enterprise is the number and variety of means adopted for the conveyance of passengers and goods. It is impossible to describe the labyrinth of the railway system; but some conception of its intricacy and extent may be formed from the fact that the greater railway lines have 11 termini. The Metropolitan and the Metropolitan District Railways, popularly known as the "Underground," are the most convenient, and convey about 136 millions of passengers every year. The "Inner Circle," which completed the circuit, was opened in 1884. A gigantic traffic is also sustained by an immense number of omnibuses, tramway cars, and cabs. Of the latter it is estimated that there are about 10,000, while the cab-drivers number about 13,000. Hundreds of steamers ply upon the river, and a large goods traffic is carried on upon the Regent, Grand Junction, and other canals. The trade of London comprises every department of active commercial enterprise that is usually associated with a great city. More particularly, however, it is known as the headquarters of finance, and the greatest emporium for merchandise in the world, rather than as a place of special manufacturing industry. Financial interests have their chief centre in the Bank of England, which in November 1884 had notes to the value of £24,795,670 in circulation; at the same time, unemployed notes amounted to the sum of £9,741,690, and gold and silver in all the branches to £19,752,916. The number of private and joint-stock banks in London is about 160. Their inter-official accounts are adjusted and settled through the medium of the Bankers' Clearing House, a splendidly organised establishment, dealing with enormous transactions, which average #1,000,000 a week, and which for the year ending April 1884 represented an aggregate sum of £5,838,158,000. The great centre of business is the Royal Exchange, which was founded by Sir Thomas Gresham in 1570. Other great exchanges, for special purposes, are the Corn Exchange, the Wool Exchange, the Coal Exchange, and an exchange for landed property. In its purely mercantile aspects London shows an excess of imports over exports. This is due to the circumstance of its being a market for all descriptions of produce from every quarter of the globe; its especial trade with the East Indies and China almost amounting to a monopoly. To meet the exigencies of this multifarious traffic, a vast amount of dock accommodation has been provided. The chief docks are, the East and West India Docks, Blackwall; the London Docks, East Smithfield; Millwall Docks, Isle of Dogs; St Katherine's Docks, East Smithfield; Surrey and Commercial Docks, Kotherhithe; Regent Dock, Limehouse; and the Royal Victoria and Albert Docks, North Woolwich. The new docks at Tilbury, constructed under the auspices of the East and West India Dock Company, have a water space of nearly 80 acres, with 12,000 ft. of quay room. With the completion of its railway system, this will be one of the most important undertakings connected with London shipping. (For shipping statistics, see Appendix.) Brewing is, perhaps, the leading industry of London, which, however, may be said to carry on, more or less, nearly every mfr. known in the kingdom. Its potteries, glass works, tanneries, and chemical works are well known. Ship-building, which at one time showed a remarkable degree of industrial vitality, has seriously declined; the work now conducted on the Thames being almost confined to the construction of boats, barges, and yachts. London has long been the great seat of the British publishing trade. Many of the book-publishing offices are situated in the neighbourhoods of Paternoster Row and Covent Garden, while newspaper offices are nearly all concentrated in Fleet Street and its vicinity. The number of newspapers published in London in 1884 was over 400, of which 24 were daily papers, morning and evening. The City of London is divided into 28 wards (including Bridge Ward Without). It is governed by a Lord Mayor, 26 Aldermen, and 206 Common Councilmen, and some share in its management is vested in the Livery Companies. The title of Lord Mayor was first conferred by Edward III. in 1354; Aldermen were first appointed as early as 1242. An administrative body known as the Metropolitan Board of Works has control over the whole metropolis except the City of London. The board was constituted by the Metropolis Management Act of 1855. Its functions, broadly speaking, comprise the management of building and sanitation. It superintends the formation of streets, buildings, and drainage works, regulates the supply of gas and water, takes charge of the organisation of the fire brigade, and protects open spaces, commons, &c. Well-known examples of its successful labours are the construction of the great main drainage works and the Victoria, Albert, and Chelsea embankments, the freeing of the Thames bridges, the erection of artisans buildings, and the acquisition of various open spaces for public recreation-grounds. The members of the board are chosen by the vestries and district boards of the metropolis, and 3 members are elected by the corporation of the City of London. London returns 61 members to Parliament (London City, 2; Battersea and Clapham, 2; Bethnal Green, 2; Camberwell, 3; Chelsea, 1; Deptford, 1; Finsbury, 3; Fulham, 1; Greenwich, 1; Hackney, 3; Hammersmith, 1; Hampstead, 1; Islington, 4; Kensington, 2; Lambeth, 4; Lewisham, 1; Marylebone, 2; Newington, 2; Paddington, 2; St Pancras, 4;Shoreditch, 2; Southwark, 3; Tower Hamlets, 7; Wandsworth, 1; West Ham, 2; Westminster, 3; Woolwich, 1); previous to 1885 it returned 22 members (London City, 4; Chelsea, 2; Finsbury, 2; Greenwich, 2; Hackney, 2; Lambeth, 2; Marylebone, 2; Southwark, 2; Tower Hamlets, 2; Westminster, 2); with the exception of London City, all the boroughs returning more than 1 member are divided - 1 member for each division. London University returns 1 member.