London is a city which is incredibly rich in history and it is possible to explore many of the different eras which contributed to London becoming the great capital city it now is. From its Roman beginnings right through to the present day, there are lots of attractions and landmarks which will allow you to delve deeper into the history of the city and discover something new during your visit.
In 43 AD the Romans invaded Britain and founded Londinium (which would later become London). 100 years later they built a defensive wall around the city and it is still possible to see what remains of that original wall next to the Museum of London. Within the museum itself you can also discover lots of artefacts which have been uncovered from Roman London. The original border of Londinium is roughly the area around the modern day Square Mile and although the boundary was eventually extended as the city grew, if you take a walk around this part of London you can spot evidence of the defensive wall which once stood here. Three churches within the city can also claim evidence of Roman remains; St Bride’s has a Roman pavement within its crypt, All Hallows by the Tower has a tessellated Roman floor and St Magnus the Martyr can boast a timber which was most likely from the Roman’s version of London Bridge. Possibly the most impressive Roman remains to be discovered in the city however are those found at the Guildhall Art Gallery; stand in Guildhall Yard and you can see the perimeter marked in grey paving of what is believed to have been a Roman amphitheatre.
Despite the damage done during the Great Fire of London in 1666, there are still a number of Tudor landmarks to be found in the city, and some of the best attractions will offer you the chance to discover more about this chapter in London’s past. Hampton Court Palace was seized by Henry VIII in 1514 and was said to be his favourite London residence; it is possible to see some of Henry’s favoured artwork, a reconstructed Tudor kitchen and Tudor gardens at the Palace today. Although built before the Tudor Period, you can still discover the history at the Tower of London, which was also the execution place for Henry VIII’s second wife, Anne Boleyn. Southwark Cathedral and Lambeth Palace are also worth a visit if you have an interest in Tudor London and many of the Royal parks of London including Richmond Park, Hyde Park and Regent’s Park were royal hunting grounds in Tudor times. Hyde Park is a particularly convenient choice if you are booked to stay at The Shaftesbury Premier London Paddington Hotel.
It can be tricky to keep up with the different eras in the UK’s history but the Georgian period is typically between 1714 and 1830 when George I, George II, George III and George IV reigned as Kings of Great Britain. There was great social change during the Georgian period and evidence can be found of this all across the city. You can see architecture by the likes of John Nash, who designed Buckingham Palace, and Robert Adam who designed Syon House and Osterley Park or works of art by Georgian artists such as J.M.W.Turner and John Constable hanging in Tate Britain. A number of squares in the city are also surrounded by pretty Georgian houses including Canonbury Square and Bedford Square. Another popular street which may be of interest is Little Green Street; a cobbled street in Camden which is home to 10 Grade II listed houses, built in the 1780s. It is officially one of the oldest streets in London and amazingly, the buildings all survived damage during the Blitz of the Second World War. It is worthwhile keeping your eyes open whilst you visit London, perhaps by taking advantage of one of the London hotel special offers to see what Georgian architecture you can spot.
The reign of Queen Victoria was probably one of the most significant in London’s history, particularly when it comes to the construction of landmark buildings. Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament, Tower Bridge and Trafalgar Square were all erected during the Victorian period. You can discover more about the life of Queen Victoria in a special exhibition which is at Kensington Palace and follows Victoria’s early life and her reign as Queen. The Victoria Revealed exhibition contains a number of impressive artefacts including some personal correspondence and items. The Victoria & Albert Museum and the Royal Albert Hall also take their names from this former Monarch and her husband, Prince Albert. Further out you can visit the life-sized dinosaur sculptures which were created in the Victorian era and which now sit in Crystal Palace Park.
Other top historical attractions
Of course this is just a small section of London’s history and there are a number of other worthwhile historical attractions you could add into your sightseeing if you wished. These include St Paul’s Cathedral, any of the museums in Greenwich, the National Gallery and the Natural History Museum, the Monument to the Great Fire of London, HMS Belfast and Cutty Sark and the London Dungeon attraction which takes you through centuries of London’s murkiest history. Even with all of these attractions added in there is still so much more than you could see and do in London, and that’s before you begin to consider heading out of Central London to attractions and landmarks located in the Greater London area. You may even simply want to factor in time to wander around the City of London and see what buildings, landmarks and hidden gems you can stumble across; we would bet they almost definitely have some rich historical significance in the city’s diverse past.