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The History of London

Sir Walter Besant

Book Overview: 

Walter Besant was a novelist and historian, and his topographical and historical writings, ranging from prehistoric times to the nineteenth century, were probably best known through the detailed 10-volume Survey of London published after his death.

This earlier single volume covers, in less depth, the whole period from prehistory until the 19th century. The book appears originally to have been written for boys, and, indeed, the chapters are called “Lessons”. However, it is a very readable history and provides a fascinating insight into both London’s past and the government of the City at the time the book was written.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . . but of its rebuilding on each occasion we have no details at all.

Most fortunately, there exists a document priceless and unique, short as it is and meagre in many of its details, which describes London as it was in the reign of Henry II. It is written by one FitzStephen, Chaplain to Thomas Becket. He was present at the murder of the Archbishop and wrote his life, to which this account is an introduction.

(From the Bayeux Tapestry.)

He says, first of all, that the City contained thirteen larger conventual churches and a hundred and twenty-six parish churches. He writes only fifty years after the Great Fire, so that it is not likely that new parishes had been erected. All the churches which had been destroyed{47} were rebuilt. Most of them were very small parishes, with, doubtless, very small churches. We shall return presently to the question of the churches.

(F. . . Read More

Community Reviews

Besant was famous during his time - wrote Revolt of Men. Now very much out fashion and out of print. This book however is enjoyable to read and provides a good short history of London, a city I absolutely love.

It was apparently called Augusta during Roman times but after 410 AD fell in to ruin and w

This was an incredible book. Took a long time to read but it was written in I think it was 1898 and it was very informative. There were some memorable lines summed up at the end of the book by Besant:

"Never, if you can help it, suffer an old monument to be pulled down and destroyed ... You will be

Good overview of London history

Gives you a little taste of the history of London., well written, very enjoyable read, leaves you wanting to delve further into the history of London.

London by Walter Besant
Published by Chatto and Windus 1904 Fine paper

This is the next book on London that I inherited
that I've read and a fine old edition it is
written in 1892 it is Sir Walter Besants attempt
to tell the complete history if London up until
the end of George the Seconds r

Interesting to see how history shaped right under my feet.

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