The History of England

from Celts through 20th century

The history of London

Category: Land + People

London is the capital of Great Britain or the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. It is an old city, its history counts more than two thousand years. London is both the capital oi the country and a huge port. London is situated upon both banks of the Thames, about forty miles from the mouth and is divided into two parts by the river: north and south. There are 17 bridges that cross the river. The population of London is more than 9 million people.

The history of London goes back to Roman times. Due to favourable geographical position, soon after the Roman conquest, a small town became an important trade centre. Actually, London can be divided into several parts: the City or Downtown of London, Westminster, the West End and the East End. The City is the oldest part of London with narrow streets and pavements. There are many offices, companies and banks in this part of London. The City of London is the financial centre of the United Kingdom. Only a few thousand people live there, but in the day-time it is full of people: as about half a million people come to work there. The biggest Banks and offices are concentrated in the City. The West End is the centre of London. It is full of richest hotels, largest supermarkets, best cinemas and concerthalls. There are a lot of beautiful houses and gardens. Only well-to-do people can live there.

Another important district of London is Westminster, where most of Government buildings are situated. Westminster Palace is the seat of the British Parliament. Westminster Palace was founded in 1050. It is situated in the centre of London. Many great Englishmen were buried in the Abbey: Newton, Darwin and others.
The Towers of the Houses of Parliament stand high above the city. On the highest tower there is the largest clock in the country which is known to the whole world as Big Ben. One can hear Big Ben strike every quarter of an hour. The clock «Big Ben» came into service in 1859. Big Ben is the biggest clock bell in Britain. The official London residence of the Queen is Buckingham Palace. It was built in the 18th century.

There are many nice squares in London. Trafalgar Square is one of them and it is in the centre of the West End. One can see a statue of Lord Nelson in the middle of this square. There are many museums, libraries and galleries in London. The Tate Gallery is one of the well-known galleries in London. Henry Tate was a sugar manufacturer. He was fond of paintings and collected many pictures. The British Museum is a very interesting place in London. It was founded in 1753. The library of this museum has lots of books.

The East End of London is the industrial area and the place where the working people live. There are many factories, workshops and docks there. The East End, lying eastwards from the City is very large and crowded. There are many cars and buses in London. There is the Tube (an underground) in London too. The underground, constructed in London, was the first underground in the World.

London is traditionally divided into several parts: the City, the Westminster, the East End and the West End.

The Westminster lies on the northern bank of the river Thames. The heart of it is the Westminster Palace, where the Houses of Parliament, Victoria Tower, as well as the clock tower with Big Ben are located. The Houses of Parliament consists of two chambers: the House of Lords and the House of Commons. On the Parliament Square lies Westminster Abbey. It was built by Edward the Confessor and opened in 1065. In 1066, it saw its first coronation, that of William the Conqueror. Since then, nearly every king and queen has been crowned there. Besides, Westminster Abbey is also famous for its Poet’s corner, where lots of English writers were buried. Among them are Charles Dickens, Rudyard Kipling and Thomas Hardy. Here are memorials to William Shakespeare, Walter Scott, Byron and some others.

Trafalgar Square is considered to be the geographical center of London and one of the city’s most vibrant places. At the middle of the square stands a tall column, a monument in honor to Lord Nelson. Nowadays a wide range of activities, including demonstrations, special events and celebrations like the Royal Wedding and St. Patrick’s Day, are held there.

London’s West End is famous for its great range of theatres, tourist attractions, shopping and entertainment centers. The most popular and famous of them are Piccadilly Circus, Covent Garden and Madame Tussaud’s. Let us consider all these sights in turn. Piccadilly Circus is a busy square in the heart of London, which is famous for its Shaftesbury memorial fountain built in commemoration of Lord Shaftesbury, a philanthropist known for his support of the poor. This fountain has a shape of Eros, the Greek god of love. Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum displays a great collection of replicas of famous people. Besides, the museum includes the Chamber of Horrors and a taxi ride for a journey through history. Covent Garden, which used to be a floral market in the past, is now the area of many open-air cafes, restaurants, pubs, shopping and leisure centers. It is also known for its street performers who entertain numerous of tourists and city-dwellers.

The East End is the part where most enterprises and factories are situated. Those Londoners who live in this part of the city are often called Cockneys. They have a peculiar accent and a dialect. The East End used to be famous for its slums and poverty. However, after the ravages of the Second World War it was completely reconstructed and modernized. Among the first and most prominent authors who depicted the East End in fiction was Charles Dickens. Let us remember his well-known novel “Oliver Twist”, where Dickens portrays working class people and the horrible living conditions of the London slums. So, no matter how hard the London’s authorities tried to improve this part of the city, the East End still has a reputation of a poor, working class district.

The City of London is the financial and business center of Great Britain. One of its main attractions is probably the Tower of London. It was previously used as a fortress, a palace, a state prison and even a royal zoo. At present the Tower of London, one of the main symbols of Great Britain, is best known for its Crown Jewels and the historic collection of Arms and Armor.

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