The seat of her majesty the Queen, and of her ancestors from the period of the Conquest. Eton College also is within a short distance.
Which we intend shall include, irrespective of position, whatever characteristics give London its individuality.
Its Size is 14 miles long, 10 broad, 48 round, and although Nineveh was rather larger in circumference; although Babylon was 50 miles within the walls, Thebes 27 miles round, Carthage 29, Athens 25, and Rome 13 miles, yet London, in population (3,000,000) greatly exceeds these ancient cities. In sixty years London has trebled its population, and in ninety years more the population will be, it is estimated, 14,000,000 at the present rate of increase, namely from 2,362,236 in 1851, to 2,803,989 in 1861. Compared with modern cities, London contains nearly twice as many inhabitants as Paris; it multiplies Berlin by 5, St. Petersburgh by 5, Vienna by 5, Constantinople by 6, Naples by 7, Lisbon by 10, and Rome by 14. In England the following are, in the order written, the fifteen largest towns: Liverpool, Manchester, Birmingham, Leeds, Sheffield, Bristol, Wolverhampton, Newcastle, Plymouth, Bradford, Portsmouth, Stoke-upon-Trent, Hull, Oldham, and Sunderland; and yet their joint population is less by 25,000 souls than London. This population occupies 359,421 houses, on an area of 78,029 statute acres. Five births occur every hour, and in one week a village of 900 inhabitants may be said to be added to the metropolis. The cost of food is reckoned at £150,000 a day, or £55,000,000 per annum.
Its Health permits us to call London the best managed capital in Europe, for certainly the climate is not the best. Out of every 1,000 inhabitants, 23.6 die annually, whilst only twenty-five years ago the figures were 25.1, and this improvement is life to 4,500 people. In Berlin, out of every 1,000 inhabitants, 25 die annually, Turin 26, Paris 28, Hamburgh 36, Moscow 38, St. Petersburgh 41, Vienna 49, or more than double the mortality of London.
Churches.–These are very numerous, and in the present day well kept. Perhaps the best known after St. Paul’s Cathedral and Westminster Abbey, are the Temple, built after the model of the Holy Sepulchre; St. Stephen’s Walbrook, and St. Dunstan’s, in Tower Street (the two last the best of Sir C. Wren’s); St. Mary’s, in the Strand, and St. Martin’s, In Trafalgar Square (by Gibbs); St. Mary-le-Bow, Cheapside, and the modern ones erected within the last few years, including St. Margaret’s, near Cavendish Square. Of all, St. Saviour’s Church, in the borough, is the most remarkable for size, antiquity, and beauty, and yet, of the whole number, 500! within the London 10 miles circuit, there are few that are not interesting, and, in some points, worthy of the antiquarian’s visit. Of the Roman Catholic Cathedrals, St. George’s (cost £100,000, and designed by Pugin), and St. Mary’s, Moorfields, are the two largest of the thirty in the metropolitan district. The Jews have 10 synagogues; the Quakers 7 meeting-houses; the French Protestants a church in St. Martins-le-Grand, and another in Endell Street; the Dutch have a church in Austin Friars; the Greeks at London Wall; and the Scottish Churches count 16. The preachers in all these churches are now, as a rule, first-class men, and some are eminent throughout the Christian world. There are nearly as many Dissenting Chapels as Established Churches. One of these, Spurgeon’s Tabernacle, ranks above all the others in its size, beauty, and convenience, holding nearly 5,000 persons. Notwithstanding all the present accommodation, the places of worship are far from sufficient for the inhabitants of London.
Cemeteries.–These have been established within the last few years under the Burial Acts, which compel the several metropolitan districts to provide suitable spaces for the interment of the dead. Besides the parochial cemeteries, there are public ones, of which Kensall Green is the best known. Here are buried the Duke of Sussex, Sydney Smith, Thomas Hood, Listen, Madame Vestris, Callcott and Mulready, the painters; Win. Makepeace Thackeray, John Leach, the well-known artistical delineator of Punch, Cardinal Wiseman, John Cassell, etc., – indeed, Kensall Green may now be called the God’s Acre of London celebrities: a character that is divided with the cemetery at Norwood (near the Crystal Palace), in which lovely spot (situate at the foot of the Surrey hills) rests the remains of Justice Talfourd, Douglas Jerrold, Angus Reach, Laman Blanchard, Sir Wm. Cubitt (the celebrated engineer), Sharon Turner, the historian, Sir Win. P. Napier, the historian of the Peninsular war, James Win. Gilbart the founder of the London and Westminster Bank, Frederick Robson, the comedian, and others well remembered by the living, repose from their busy and useful lives. Kensall Green was opened in 1832, Norwood in 1839, and Highgate, Abney Park, and Nunhead are also large cemeteries, laid out with taste, and with beautifully kept gardens.
Government Buildings.–Of these we have only space for a list, which, however, may prevent the visitor passing over, the Houses of Parliament, Westminster Hall, the Tower, Somerset House, the Horse Guards, the General Post Office, the Bank, the Royal Exchange, the Mint, Trinity House, the Custom House, and the Offices in Whitehall.
Hospitals.–Of these and the Medical Schools in connection with them, London justly boasts. Besides 66 special Hospitals and Infirmaries, there are 14 general hospitals, of which the following are the principal – St. Bartholomew’s, St. Thomas’s, Westminster, Guy’s, St. George’s, London, Middlesex, Charing Cross, Royal Free. King’s College, University College, St. Mary’s, &c. The annual income from property and voluntary subscriptions is over £180,000.
Railway Termini.–These are at London Bridge (vast and convenient); Waterloo Bridge Road, South Western (convenient); Victoria, Pimlico (very large, handsome, and in two styles, the Brighton having a pointed roof; the Chatham and Dover (arched roofs, of imposing span); the Great Western (large, well arranged, and handsome); the London and North Western (the noblest terminus in the world); the Great Northern (remarkable for its enormous brick archways); the Fenchurch Street (comparatively small); the Great Eastern, Shoreditch (with a handsome facade); the Charing Cross (which, as noticed elsewhere, is as simple and light in appearance as the Crystal Palace transept, whilst its extent and fine proportions are as yet unsurpassed). Ludgate Hill and Blackfriars, of the London, Chatham, and Dover Company, are fine, convenient, and commodious termini, tastefully ornamented with colored brick. The splendid terminus of the South Eastern, in Cannon Street, in the very heart of the city, is rapidly progressing and will undoubtedly be the most extensive in London.
Bridges.–Until lately, our capital only boasted of three of its bridges – the Suspension, Waterloo, and London Bridge; Southwark Bridge, with its enormous span, was satisfactory – the rest were unsatisfactory: the last few years, however, have given us one of the best and handsomest bridges in the world, Westminster; a pretty one the Chelsea Suspension; two handsome and satisfactory ones, the Victoria and Cremorne iron railway bridges; a Titanic work in Hungerford; The Lanbeth Suspension Bridge. The New Alexandra, of the London, Chatham, and Dover, at Blackfriars. The New Railway Bridge of the South Eastern, from Bankside, Southwark, to the Grand Terminus, in Cannon Street, whilst the New Blackfriars Bridge, now progressing, will be without a rival in the world.
Palaces and Mansions.–Royalty has a fine house in Buckingham Palace; it is very large, without being impressive. Kensington Palace is of old-fashioned cosy red brick, a mansion in a park, whilst the third, St. James’s Palace, although small and inconvenient, low and unpretending, is yet picturesque. Lord Ellesmere’s House, Apsley House, Stafford House, Marlborough House, the Duke of Buccleuch’s mansion beside the river at Whitehall, and the Marquis of Lansdowne’s town house, are the best known mansions, apart from the squares, and either of them are worth a visit.
Picture Galleries.–These are not as yet worthy of the capital of England; some of the grandest works in the world however, are lodged in the National Gallery, Trafalgar Square; the South Kensington Museum, and in the pleasant Cabinet Gallery of Dulwich, and in the mean rooms of the National Portrait Gallery, Great George Street. London may refer with just pride to its Picture Exhibitions; these open for some three or four months, and are the Royal Academy Exhibition, British Institution, Society of Painters in Water Colours, Institute of Painters in Water Colours, Society of British Artists, Society of Female Artists, and the French Exhibition. The long gallery of the Crystal Palace is open all the year round, but the walls are constantly brightened with fresh pictures, as purchasers carry off the old ones.
Clubs and Squares.–These distinguish London from every other capital. Every visitor must see them, or he will not have seen London. The architecture of the Club Houses about Pall Mall, and of the mansions in the principal squares, is, as a mass, the finest domestic architecture in any country, and, in extent (now that Tyburnia is populous with
palaces), is surprising to those who judge London by other cities.
Museums.–On this ground we stand about level with other countries. The British Museum, in Great Russell Street, as a building, and for the treasures it contains, worthily represents the nation. Its reading-room is under a dome, nearly as large as that of St. Peter’s. The popular Museum of South Kensington, with its collection of patents and stores of art and industrial objects, is of great metropolitan value. The East India Museum, the United Service Museum, and the Geological Museum, are each in their departments first-class, whilst several special museums, like Soane’s, that of the College of Physicians, &c., supply every professional student with ample opportunities of study.
Learned Societies.–From the Royal Society, to that last established, the Anthropological Society, all sections of science and of philosophic inquiry are represented; astronomical, antiquarian, archaeological, botanical, entomological, geographical, statistical, and zoological. Many of these are royal, and, with the Society of Arts, all may be reckoned Museums of Thought, in which scientific facts and theories are stored for the world’s use and enlightenment.
Schools.–London is rather a place for men than boys, and education therefore has not here its finest seats. The London University, Westminster School, Christ’s Hospital, the Charterhouse, and St. Paul’s Schools are the largest and most known of metropolitan schools. Those of the Merchant Tailors’ and the City of London are also celebrated for the special objects for which they were founded.
Docks.–These at the East End of London cannot be omitted in a summary that groups together the characteristics of our metropolis. They are the storehouses of the widest commerce in the world, and their extent, skillful and economical arrangement, will serve as a suggestive index of the merchandise brought from all parts of the world. A busy army of 20,000 workmen are employed here in loading, unloading, and storing a mass of wealth that in its aggregate may be estimated as greater than can be found elsewhere in an equal space.
Exchanges and Markets.–The London Stock Exchange (our Money Market), is merely a large room, entered from Throgmorton Street. The Royal Exchange, in which money dealers and brokers transact business at a later hour than at the Stock Exchange, is a fine public building, which, from its situation, near the Bank, is sure to attract the visitor’s notice. The Corn Exchange, in Mark Lane, occupies considerable space, and has its roof supported with handsome stone pillars, around which the factors display their samples; crowds of buyers and sellers on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, animate the building which is appropriately simple. The Coal Exchange, in Lower Thames Street (Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays), has a circular area, over which is a glazed dome; three galleries, at different stages, run round the building, which is handsome and convenient. Billingsgate Fish Market, opposite, has always a busy scene to repay a visit; an auction takes place every morning at an hour when most Londoners are asleep – four o’clock. London has only one fruit and flower market of considerable size. Covent Garden; here the shops and stalls are supplied with all vegetables, &c., in season. The Borough Market, on the Southwark side of London Bridge, is largely supplied with vegetables, some fruit, and scantily with common flowers. There are two or three smaller markets in London, and in some districts stores of greengrocery are shown on street stalls. In Mincing Lane, tea dealers and grocers congregate at the Commercial Sale Rooms, and large firms have sample rooms, where customers buy what is now politely called “Colonial produce.” Leadenhall Market is for butcher’s meat and poultry, and a few vegetables; adjacent is the Skin Market, for hides. Newgate Market is still a large market for meat and poultry, although the Metropolitan Cattle Market, Caledonian Road, has been established for the sale of live stock. This latter, opened in 1855, occupies 30 acres of space, with its pens, sheds, and various buildings. The Market-Days are Monday and Thursday; for horses, on Friday. There are also in London some three or four Horse Auctions weekly, those at Tattersall’s, Hyde Park Corner, and at Aldridge’s Repository, St. Martin’s Lane, being the largest.
Breweries.–These vast establishments are peculiar to London, and on that account should be visited. The largest of the fifteen large firms is Barclay and Perkins’ Brewery, in the Borough, which covers 10 acres, and includes the site of Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre; one porter vat contains 3,000 barrels. The economy and discipline in these immense establishments are signs of British character.
Barracks.–London manages to do without soldiers. The few who have quarters here are accommodated at the Tower, St. George’s, Knightsbridge, and two or three smaller barracks. Under this head, however, we may gladly notice the large and handsome row of buildings at Chelsea Bridge Road, which, as the Guards’ New Barracks, form a picturesque frontage, whilst inside the soldiers’ convenience and health has been studied as was never before. In the Vauxhall Road, is a Model Lodging House for married soldiers.
Prisons.–The largest are Newgate, Millbank, Pentonville, Holloway, Horsemonger Lane. (See Bradshaw’s Alphabetical London Guide.) Those recently erected have been arranged to suit the modem systems and discipline, and, architecturally, are successful buildings.
Workhouses.–Most of these are new buildings, and as shewing the economical arrangement of space for large numbers of persons, are well worth visiting by philanthropists, politicians, and others. The facades of some, of them rather indicate them
as palaces of the rich then as refuges of the poor.
Charities start up in every quarter of London. Almshouses, Asylums, Needlewomens’ and Servants’ Homes abound – a catalogue of them fills a volume (“Low’s Charities of London”), which every Englishman must read with pride and satisfaction. The buildings in connection with the larger charities are mostly a short distance from London; the Foundling Hospital, in Guildford Street, is one of the most interesting.
Banks and Insurance Offices.–As buildings, all the old banks are more imposing within than without. The new Joint Stock Banks and Insurance Offices now add an important feature to our London streets, and are evidences of the architectural taste which is converting London into a capital as handsome as it is large.
Inns of Court.–These are among the most interesting spots in our capital, with their curious old buildings, pleasant gardens, and literary and historical memorials. They are the Inner and Middle Temple, Lincoln’s Inn and Gray’s Inn, Furnival’s, Staple, Thavies, and Barnard Inns; Clifford’s, Lyon’s, and New Inns are attached to these three.
Municipal Halls.–Of the eighty London Companies about forty have halls, quaint old buildings, with quaint old pictures on their walls. Those which have been rebuilt in recent years, as the Goldsmiths’, Fishmongers’, &c., are imposing structures. The twelve principal companies are the Mercers’, Grocers’, Drapers’, Fishmongers’, Goldsmiths’, Skinners’ Merchant Tailors’, Haberdashers’, Salters’. Ironmongers’, Vintners’, and Clothworkers’. Guildhall, the grand city dining room, is rightly considered one of the principal public buildings of London.
Boards of Works Offices.–These, the latest of our public buildings, are also, as a series, the best we have to shew in the Metropolis. By recent legislation, every District Board of Works was directed to erect suitable offices for the transaction of its business, and it is not too much to assert, that these Board Houses are such as may serve as models for the districts in which they are built; they form a part of the New London, which each year is occupying the dingy, square-built, old erections of the last century. Modern London, as well as Mediaeval London, will be picturesque. The age of bare utility is over; it did not pay.
Theatres and Music Halls.–In London now there are the Italian and English Opera Houses; twenty Theatres, which are nightly crowded, and several Halls, where popular music is excellently performed, the latter are commonly thronged to hear the comic singing, which relieves the instrumental music. The Music Halls lately built, are some of the finest rooms in London; the Oxford, in Oxford Street, Canterbury Hall, Weston’s Rooms, and last of all, the handsome Strand Music Hall, with its pretty campanile, are spacious, elegant, and luxurious. The London Pavilion, Raglan, Highbury Barn, South London, Eastern, National Assembly Rooms, Islington Philharmonic, Evans’, Winchester, Excelsior, Wilton’s, and Westbourne Halls, are all large and handsome buildings.
Concert Rooms and Exhibitions.–The names of those where the highest class of music is given are the St. James’ Hall, Exeter Hall, Hanover Square Rooms, and the concert room of the Crystal Palace. The Gallery of Illustration, Egyptian Hall, Polygraphic Hall, and St. James’s Hall, are also well known as the head quarters of those various clever artistes who give “Entertainments.” Quite at the west end of London are three places of special entertainment:– The Polytechnic, the Colosseum, and Tussaud’s Wax-Work Models, are undoubtedly three of the most popular sights of London. The Polytechnic, under the management of Professor Pepper, has attained the height of popularity through its scientific and dramatic illusion of “The Ghost” which every visitor to London goes to see as a matter of course.
Crystal Palace and Muswell Hill Palace.–The former is only referred to as a London attraction now nearly as well known as London itself. It is deservedly the boast of the Metropolis. A second Palace to the north of London is now being erected from the materials of the International Exhibition building, and promises to add another splendid holiday feature to our Capital.
Botanic and Zoological Gardens.–In Regent’s Park, are the nurseries of their respective sciences, they are the delight of children, the fashionable resort of men and women, and as national collections, worthy of England.
Fountains.–London is without fountains, with the indifferent exception of those in Trafalgar Square; there, are, however, about 100 drinking fountains, which for their utility (and some three or four for their beauty), add a fresh feature to our streets. The Fountains at the Crystal Palace are the finest in the world, thus private enterprise makes up for public neglect.
Cricket Grounds and Running Grounds.–Either of these are characteristic of England’s London. Cricket on Lord’s ground, Marylebone; at the Oval, Kennington; in Victoria and Battersea Parks, is, as visitors must remark, truly a national game. Running grounds at Hackney Wick, Brompton, and Wandsworth, where walking and running matches take place, add a feature to London life.
Streets and Shops.–Either of these are not particularly remarkable. Piccadilly is perhaps the grandest street frontage, with its long line of mansions facing the Green Park; Oxford Street, two miles long, has some splendid shops: Regent Street, however, is London’s fashionable street, for the shops here altogether being more of a Parisian character, and makes it a shopping market, whither ladies resort in fine carriages and in astonishing numbers; the Strand, Fleet Street, and Cheapside, enjoy a great and deserved celebrity for their business character, through them London pulsates, and the visitor there has his hand on the great heart of the metropolis, and feels its mighty strength and life. All the numerous streets in the City are crowded, beyond which they have no marked characteristics, if we except New Cannon Street, where the warehouses and offices lately built shew in one view the vast improvement in building, which in other places is only shewn in separate erections. This street is a sample of what future London is likely to be, and balances the group of fine club-houses which makes Pall Mall at the West End celebrated. Lombard Street for bankers, Cornhill for jewellers, and Paternoster Row for booksellers; Moorgate Street, Broad Street, and Austin Friars, for the offices of public companies, have a special character, but the majority of London streets have not; yet, in all of them, and in all quarters of the Metropolis, the observer will remark here and there single buildings, or in blocks, which give the street a feature, and in almost every instance he will find these buildings are those lately erected. These in the mass are considerable (see our Alphabetical Guide), and if at present they start up only singly and wide apart, they are an earnest of what London is becoming – growing year after year – a capital of palaces, for the new hotels, shops, public offices, and warehouses, in their size and ornamentation warrant such a title; and, what is perhaps of greater importance, these new buildings are so economically arranged, so nearly fire-proof, and so healthily ventilated, that the owners of all old house property take the first opportunity afforded of rebuilding their premises.
Rotten Row.–Amongst the English aristocracy (this word now includes wealth as well as rank), are the finest men and handsomest women, and most beautiful horses in the nation, and to display them all, this mile-long ride has been specially retained by the decree of fashion. It is to London what the Pyramids are to Egypt, or Vesuvius to Naples, and let every visitor go and see it at five o’clock any fine afternoon in May; it is then in full bloom.
District Telegraph Company.–Every important district of London is now connected by this Company’s wires, which from house-top to house-top, across the bridges, and indeed in all ways are fixed to convey the message which law, commerce, or pleasure dictates. Many private firms have a special wire for their particular use.
Bazaars.–This little continental feature is not very prominent. We have the Lowther Arcade; the Burlington Arcade; the Pantheon, Oxford Street; the Soho Bazaar, and the London Crystal Palace, in Oxford Street, where knick-knacks, gloves, toys, and perfumery, fancy jewellery, and bijouterie, attract children and ladies.
Underground Railway.–This important work, from Farringdon Street to Paddington, is one to be visited – it has suggested similar undertakings in other countries, and since its cost has been moderate, the traffic brings to the shareholders a good dividend. Like the Thames Tunnel, this railway adds another feature which makes London different from other cities.
Railway Circle.–This is not yet complete, but is likely soon to be, the system is to connect with, the North London Railway such short lines as will make it possible for the inhabitants of London to travel entirely round the Metropolis, a result that will enable passengers to reach any district as quickly and more conveniently than going direct through crowded streets by cab or omnibus.
In conclusion of this summary we may remark, that, as a city, London may well be compared to the English constitution. A conglomeration, glorious in its parts, and not inconvenient as a whole; whilst, if one has its Magna Charta elevated above the commoner events of its history, the metropolis has, also, the dome of St. Paul’s as its chief and glorious characteristic. Cities are the dress of nations, and countries may be judged by their capitals, as are individuals by their coats. In this point of view London may truly be regarded as the Great Seal of England; the sign-manual of an enterprising, industrious, free, and order-loving people. It is not a regular city like autocratic St. Petersburg; a beautiful city like Paris or
Florence; or a stuccoed city like same in Germany.
It is London, as Rome is Rome, and must be judged by itself. Here again a likeness will be found to the English Constitution; the more one is studied, and the longer the other visited and explored, the first feelings of contempt or dislike are lessened, until at last, all shortcomings are pardoned in admiration for what has been achieved – whether in building up the British constitution or capital. The poet fittingly concludes our summary:–
London, I love thee; for thy many men;
Thou art the greatest thing on the Earth’s face
That man hath made.
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This ancient borough town, having been a British town before the Roman invasion, stands in a rich vale on the banks of the Medway.
Nature has eminently favoured this town by the salubrity of its air, the potency of its mineral springs, and the adjacent appendages of romantic and agreeable scenery.