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City Communities
Images  

Images are exciting historical documents. They let us see something of what life was like in the past. Look at these images to build up a clearer picture of life in the City.

Centaur, circa 1280
Centaur, circa 1280
In 1235 Pope Gregory IX sent out a book of letters or 'decretals'. The letters answered questions the Pope had been asked. They would set out the way in which members of the church should behave. The book was decorated and written by hand.

This picture comes from a copy of the book made around 1280. It is of a centaur, a mythical creature which was half man-half horse. Centaurs were thought to be fierce and brave. Sometimes the centaur was used to represent the figure of Christ fighting evil.

No-one knows how the book came to the City of London, but religion would have been central to the lives of the City's medieval community.
Aldermen in Robes circa 1550
Aldermen in Robes, circa 1550
The City has many traditions which go back hundreds of years. It has always been important to wear robes of office. The robes show respect for the job. Today Common Councillors wear robes of blue. Aldermen wear red robes with a fur trim.
A View and Plan of The City of London, circa 1680
The Great Fire of London, circa 1666
The top picture shows London before the fire. In the picture below the damage is clear. St Paul 's Cathedral has no roof. Whole streets are just piles of dust. Sir Christopher Wren drew the plan at the bottom. It was his idea of how London should have been rebuilt.
The Monument and a View of Fish Street Hill, circa 1780.
Monument, circa 1780
The Monument commemorates the Great Fire of London of 1666. It also celebrates the rebuilding of the City. The Monument was finished in 1677. It was designed by Sir Christopher Wren and Dr Robert Hooke. Monument is nearly 62 meters (202 feet) tall.
Cornhill With Royal Exchange, circa 1800.
The Royal Exchange, circa 1800
The Royal Exchange was first opened in 1566 by Sir Thomas Gresham. Traders from all over the world met here. A group of Asian men can be seen at the entrance.
Billingsgate, 1762.
The View and Humours of Billingsgate, 1762
The Market rights of the City of London were granted by Edward III in 1327. Since then Billingsgate has always been a lively place, selling all sorts of goods. It became a fish market in the sixteenth century. In this amusing picture Oyster sellers and fishmongers can be seen.
The Common Council Chamber, Guildhall, 1808.
The Common Council Chamber, Guildhall, 1808
The Court of Common Council is the 'town council' of the City. The members do not represent any political party. The first elections to the Common Council happened in 1384. Today elections take place every December.
The Interior of Guildhall, 1808.
The Great Hall, Guildhall, 1808
Guildhall is a very important building. It is the third largest civic hall in England and has been at the centre of the City community for hundreds of years. Many important events take place here, including state banquets.
Ironmonger's Shop, With Coat of Arms, 1770.
An Ironmonger's Shop, 1777
A woman is looking at an iron fire grate. Another fire grate is on the floor by the counter. There is also a coal scuttle, a garden spade and a heater. The woman has a footman with her which means she is rich.
Ironmonger's Hall and Shops, Fenchurch Street, circa 1775
Fenchurch Street, circa 1775
Ironmongers' Hall can be seen on the left. Above the shops are signs. People would look at the pictures to find out what each shop sold.
Smithfield Market, circa 1800.
Smithfield Market, circa 1800
The stalls for cattle can be clearly seen. Animals would have been herded through the streets of London to get to Smithfield. Names give clues about activities in London in the past. For example Cowcross Street, near Farringdon, is a direct route to Smithfield .
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