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City Communities

Maps are important sources of historical evidence. They can show how crowded an area was and how wide the streets were. This tells us about people's living conditions. If you look at old maps of an area and compare them to a modern map you can see how much an area has changed over the centuries. Sometimes important buildings are shown on maps. These might be market places or large warehouses or churches. These important buildings also tell us about what was important to the community. Street names can also give information. For example Poultry, Buckler's (buckle maker's) Bury and Ironmonger Lane tell us what business was carried out in the street. On some of the maps the wards or voting areas are marked. Bread Ward and Vintry (wine merchant) Ward are also connected to the old trade areas of the City.

The maps in this section show the development of the City of London from Roman times to 1828.

A Map of Roman London, drawn circa 1750 A Map of Roman London, drawn circa 1750

In the eighteenth century there was a great interest in history. Many people explored the past through archaeology and by looking closely at the evidence around them. The walls of London were first built by the Romans. These defensive structures defined the shape of the City for centuries. Lots of Roman pottery and other finds were discovered as the foundations for new buildings were dug. After the Fire of London in 1666 a lot of Roman remains were discovered. The history of Roman London is of great importance to the City. Modern day Guildhall is built on the site of the Roman Amphitheatre. A fuller history of the amphitheatre and Roman London can be found at www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/leisure and heritage

You can find out more about Roman London by visiting the Museum of London www.museumoflondon.org.uk. Look under 'Collections'.

Meanwhile compare the shape of Roman London to later maps of the City.
Sketch Map of London under Henry II, circa 1190

Sketch Map of London under Henry II, circa 1190

This sketch map was actually drawn around 1890. This copy was made in 1933. The map sets out to show the City of London around 1190. The creator of this map has marked the churches very clearly.  Evidence suggests that churches were sometimes associated with one particular group of tradesmen. For example, some guilds show their connection to a church in their title, such as the Company of Armourers, who were known as the "Fraternity of Gild of St George of the Men of the Mystery of Armourers of the City of London".  We also know that the Fishmongers' used St Magnus The Martyr, and that the Vintners, or wine merchants, used St Martin Vintry.

Click here for an index to the map.

London and Westminster in the Reign of Queen Elizabeth I, 1563

London and Westminster in the Reign of Queen Elizabeth I, 1563

This map was published around 1820 and attempts to show aspects of Elizabethan London. It is particularly useful as its shows landmarks around the City which would have been familiar to the people who lived there then. Such large and significant monuments show how wealthy the City was. The walls of London are clearly shown. These would have been built in medieval times to defend the City from attack. Defences like these show that the City was a wealthy place and could afford to build the walls it needed for protection. Gates, such as Aldgate, Cripplegate and Ludgate, were defended entries into the City. Look for these features on the map.

Map of London by Agas, 1572

Map of London by Agas, 1572

London has started to expand beyond the medieval city walls, reflecting its growing wealth and influence. The spread of buildings and moorings down the banks of the Thames shows how trade continued to grow during the sixteenth century.

The City of London , 1645

The City of London, 1645

This map shows London before the Great Fire of 1666. You can clearly see the outlines of houses and other buildings including the Tower of London. The Fire of London destroyed most of the medieval city. This map gives us a strong impression of what it would have been like to live in the City at that time. You may want to compare this map with more recent maps to see how the City was rebuilt after 1666.

Map of the City of London , 1736

Map of the City of London, 1736

On this map you can see the wards of the City. Wards are areas where those who have the right to vote elect Members to direct the affairs of the Corporation of London. Today the area of the Square Mile is divided into 25 wards and the number of Members for each ward depends on the size of the electorate. Each ward can elect one Alderman and between four and twelve Common Councilmen. Once elected the Members sit in the Court of Aldermen or the Court of Common Council. Find out more at www.cityoflondon.gov.uk. By clicking on 'About Us'.

Bowle's Map of London, 1786 Bowle's Map of London, 1786

This map shows London 'three miles round' from St Paul 's Cathedral. It has been dedicated to the Lord Mayor, the Aldermen and the Common Council of the City of London. From this map it is possible to see how places like Camberwell, Stockwell and Islington are still villages in the eighteenth century. However, the expansion of London has absorbed places like Hoxton and Paddington.
Cross's New Plan of London , 1828

Cross's New Plan of London , 1828

London has grown even more. This map shows the great changes brought to London through the Industrial Revolution and expanding trade. The Regent's Canal stretches from Camden, through Hoxton and down to the river. Canals were vital to the moving of goods and heavy raw materials such as coal. St Katherine's Dock, London Dock and Surrey Dock have been built to process the thousands of ships importing and exporting goods from all over the world

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