A History of London–From Imperial Outpost to World City: A Four-Part Course with Don Brown

A History of London–From Imperial Outpost to World City: A Four-Part Course with Don Brown


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Discover how one of the truly great cities of the world started as a Roman trading post, grew to be the biggest city the world had ever seen, and then reinvented itself for a post-imperial age.

This is a story of London, capital of the United Kingdom, the former principal city for the world's biggest empire, and a place full of history and culture. We'll trace London's history from its formation by the Romans to the present day and how it survived invasions, wars, plagues, fires, and worse. We'll look at the trade, industry, and people that made it rich, and examine the forces that shaped its growth; meet the men and women who made the city great, the architects and builders who gave it its look, and the immigrants - from the rest of the British Isles and around the globe - that made it the most dynamic city in the world. For those of you planning future visits, we'll also point out historic locations and 'must-see' sites that still exist.

Led by an expert on London's history, Don Brown, the Director of the London Society, this course will provide insights into the growth of one of the world's greatest cities. Designed to inform curiosity as well as future travels, participants will come away knowing much more about the history of the UK's capital and the reasons why it still captivates visitors.

 

Lecture 1: Londinium and Lundenwic–Up until the Norman Conquest

Our first lecture will examine the early history of the city, from its formation by the Romans (many of whose works still exist in the modern city), through decline and regrowth under the Anglo-Saxons, to the building of the first Westminster Abbey and the invasion of William of Normandy in 1066.

Lecture 2: The Medieval City–From William to Elizabeth I

During the second lecture, we’ll delve into the era from the Normans to the Tudors. We'll look at the growth of the city and its trade, and the building of many of the structures we still associate with the place - London Bridge, the Tower, St Paul's, the Palace of Westminster, and more.

Lecture 3:The Great Wen–The Birth of the Imperial City

Despite revolutions, the Great Fire, the Plague, and civil strife, London in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries become richer, more important, and bigger. In the third lecture, we'll look at what made London a center for the trade of the world, and which spawned both extreme wealth and extreme poverty.

Lecture 4: Apotheosis, Decline, and Rebirth

Our final lecture will take us from the city’s explosive expansion under Queen Victoria when it was the capital of the world's biggest ever empire, through the shocks of two world wars and 20th-century decline, to London's emergence as a 'world city'.

Don Brown is a London Blue Badge Guide, the Director of the London Society and a graduate of Oxford University. He previously worked in publishing, for publications as diverse as History Today, The Spectator and The Guardian. His interests and specialisms encompass history - from the Romans to the present day, politics, WW2, and ‘60s and ‘70s popular music, and as director of the London Society he has a professional interest in architecture (contemporary and historical), planning and urbanism.

 

How does it work?

This is a four-part series held weekly and hosted on Zoom. Please check the schedule for the specific dates and times for each lecture.

Is there a reading list in advance?

Though the course is open to participants with no background on London’s history, there are suggested readings for further investigation. You will receive this soon after course registration.

How long are the lectures?

Each lecture is 90 minutes long with time for Q&A.

How much is the course?

The course is $140 for four lectures.

Is a recording available?

In general, our courses are not recorded. However, if you need to miss a lecture please let us know in advance and we can arrange for a recording for that session on an individual basis.

This course is suitable for all ages

90 minutes, including a 30 minute Q&A.

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