It’s where the Romans built Londinium, where Dickens wrote novels, where Shakespeare lived, worked and dreamed. Where the first wireless signals were sent, and where code for green tech is written today. Culture and commerce thrive together.
Roman ruins beneath your feet, glass towers above your head. It’s past, present and future all at once.
And there are endless stories around every corner. Heroes, villains, innovators, and creators. Hidden gardens, rooftop bars, ancient streets, the latest restaurants, culture, and unique events. This is where it happened and where it’s happening.
CITY OF LONDON TIMELINE
Romans invaded Britain
Following the footsteps of Julius Caesar, the Emperor Claudius ordered the invasion of Britain, with an army of 40,000.
Founding of London (Londinium)
The Roman Governor of Britain, Ostorius Scapula, calls for the establishment of a permanent base on the north side of the Thames. The city is originally called Londinium.
Londinium destroyed by fire
A fifth of the City is destroyed by flames. Though never discovered, the fire is thought to be accidental.
City wall and gates built
Stretching almost two miles and constructed from 85 thousand tonnes of ragstone, the London Wall is built. Surrounding what would become modern-day City of London, the boundary wall features several important landmarks: Aldgate, Newgate and Ludgate. Cripplegate already leads into a ready established fort in the northwest corner, while Aldersgate isn’t constructed until the fourth century.
London Mint established
Furthering the city’s independence from Roman rule, the Emperor of Britain, Carausius, opens the London Mint. Gold, silver and copper coins washed in silver are issued. The mint is believed to have closed in 326AD.
St Paul’s Cathedral built
Founded during the reign of St. Ethelbert, King of Kent, the original St. Paul’s Cathedral is built by Mellitus, a monk who had accompanied St. Augustine to Britain. The cathedral is destroyed by fire in 675 and again by Danish invaders in 961.
King Alfred recaptures London from the Danes
Alfred, King of Wessex (871-899), faces a notorious Danish army that has already destroyed several kingdoms across England. Following earlier attempts, London is again threatened in 878. The English military repels the Danes through a series of skilful manoeuvres.
Foundation of St Bartholomew’s Hospital
London’s oldest hospital, St. Bartholomew’s, is founded by an Augustinian monk. The monk, Rahere, vows to build a hospital upon his return to London after contracting malaria whilst on a pilgrimage to Rome.
The Weavers’ Company receives its charter
The Weaver’s Company becomes the first chartered craft guild in the City. Still operating today, the guild is one of 112 still active in London.
New London Bridge begun
The construction of the first stone bridge across the Thames begins. Replacing an earlier wooden bridge, the design takes over three decades to complete but lasts until the 19th century.
Incorporation of the City of London Corporation
Around 1189, the City gained the right to have its own mayor, later being advanced to the degree and style of Lord Mayor of London.
Football banned in the City
Following direct orders from the King, City sheriffs enforce a ban on football. People are instead encouraged to practice archery.
Incensed by unjust changes to taxation, peasants from Kent and Essex ransack buildings in the City before beheading the Archbishop of Canterbury. The revolt comes to a bloody end when rebel leader Wat Tyler is slashed by Lord Mayor William Walworth before being stabbed by an esquire of King Richard II.
Dick Whittington becomes Mayor
The wealthy London mercer, Richard Whittington, is appointed Mayor for the first of four occasions. With no heirs, he uses his money to establish several charitable organisations while offering funds to repair Newgate and construct a new library at Guildhall.
Earliest map of London
Flemish artist George Hoefnagel surveys the city for what is to become the earliest printed map of London. The map indicates how far the city has spread beyond the City walls.
Drawing of the first lottery at St Paul’s Churchyard
Taking place in a temporary building adjacent to the cathedral, the first-ever recorded lottery is drawn. 40,000 lots are drawn, with prizes including money, plates and tapestry.
First coffee house
Opening in St. Michael’s Alley, the first coffee house is opened in London. Supposed benefits of coffee are advertised around the City, claiming better digestion, a ‘quickened’ spirit and a remedy against sore eyes.
First cheque issued at a London bank
The first cheque is drawn from a London bank. Londoner Nicholas Vanacker draws a £10 cheque from Messrs Clayton and Morris of Cornhill.
The Great Fire of London
Breaking out in the early hours of September 2nd, the fire doesn’t abate for five days, destroying 13,200 houses, St. Paul’s Cathedral, 87 churches, six chapels, the Guildhall, the Royal Exchange, Custom House, 52 livery company halls, three gates and four stone in the process.
Frost Fair on the Thames
The Thames completely freezes over from December 1683 until February 1684. The river is completely transformed into a series of markets and stalls, with attendees including the Royal Family
New synagogue in Bevis Marks
Needing a new site for worship, London’s Spanish and Portuguese Jewish community erect a new synagogue in the City. Construction is overseen by a Quaker, Joseph Avis. The interior is adorned with Cromwellian and Queen Anne period furniture.
St Paul’s Cathedral completed
The final stone of St. Paul’s Cathedral is laid by the son of Sir Christopher Wren. Taking 36 years and £850,000 to build, the money is raised through a tax on coal imported into the City.
Regulation to keep to the left on London Bridge may have led to the UK driving on the left
The City Corporation introduces a rule requiring traffic to keep to the left. It's hoped the change will reduce congestion on London Bridge and stave off demands for further bridges across the river, impacting London Bridge’s monopoly. The change is officially adopted by government in 1835.
Publication of Dr Johnson’s Dictionary
The author of the Dictionary of the English Language, Dr Samuel Johnson, resides at 17 Gough Square when his celebrated book is published. Taking almost a decade to complete, Johnson’s book becomes the standard for all future dictionaries.
First Lloyd’s Register published
Lloyd's publish the first Register of Shipping, offering ship owners, maritime traders and insurers a factual summary of their vessels, charters and insurance.
Stock Exchange established
A Threadneedle Street building is purchased by a group of brokers for use as a Stock Exchange. A Committee of Proprietors and a Committee for General Purposes are elected to govern activities, with brokers able to use the premises for 6p a day.
Guildhall Library opens
A new Guildhall Library is opened, becoming a major source of historical texts about England and Lonndon, particularly the City, Southwark and Middlesex.
London’s first pillar box
Novelist Anthony Trollope is widely credited for the idea of the pillar box. Before his vision, people would take letters to receiving offices or rely on itinerant collectors. The first pillar box was on the corner of Farringdon and Fleet Streets, with collections happening ten times daily.
Tower Bridge completed
The Prince of Wales opens Tower Bridge, designed by City architect Horace Jones. The Thames remains navigable the entire eight-year construction. Featuring an opening of 200 feet and 135 feet of headroom, the bascule design allows access to almost every vessel to the Pool of London.
Clean Air Act
While ‘Pea-souper’ fog epitomises olde-London in Hollywood films, it is still very much a feature of life in the City well into the 20th century. Over 12,000 Londoners perish in the Great London Smog of 1952 due to the lethal combination of fog and smoke from coal fires. A Clean Air Act is introduced to help curb domestic smoke pollution.
Millennium Bridge opens
The first new bridge in over a century is constructed over the Thames.
Bloomberg opens new European HQ
The City’s commitment to sustainability is firmed with an incredible design from Foster + Partners. Achieving the highest design-stage BREEAM score ever by any development of a major workspace worldwide, the building becomes home to 4,000 employees, three plazas and a stunning civic space.
First woman bishop enthroned in St Paul's Cathedral
Sarah Mullally was the first woman to be appointed as Bishop of London and was enthroned in St Paul's Cathedral.
City of London Corporation Climate Action Strategy
The City Corporation commits to achieving net zero emissions by 2027 while supporting the entire Square Mile in doing the same by 2040. Investments into the next six years of this commitment exceed £68m.
in the City.