With a history spanning over 2,000 years, one would think that every corner, street and neighbourhood in London would be littered in history. Unfortunately, however, The Great Fire of London in 1666 destroyed the majority of London’s historic buildings, and in recent years, with London becoming a glittery metropolis, many of its historic areas have long since been forgotten.
But luckily for history geeks, some parts of London still feel as if they’re trapped in time, and just strolling around these neighbourhoods will allow you to drink in London’s rich and diverse history. Here are the best neighbourhoods in London known for their history:
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see why Westminster is considered one of the most beautiful historical neighbourhoods in London; but the neighbourhood actually predates some of its most famous sites like Westminster Abbey and the Houses of Parliament.
The area we now know as Westminster was actually once an island which was separated from the rest of London, and some experts believe there may have even been a Christian church on Thorney Island since as far back as 604 AD.Historical places to visit in Westminster: Westminster Abbey, Churchill War Rooms, Big Ben, Houses of Parliament
Today it may be known for its thriving street art culture, (and during the Victorian ages, for Jack The Ripper), but Whitechapel remains to be one of the oldest neighbourhoods in London. As a matter of fact, Whitechapel High Street and Whitechapel Road were once part of the ancient Roman road between London and Colchester!Historical places to visit in Whitechapel: Tower of London, Christ Church Spitafields, Whitechapel Bell Foundry, Tower Bridge
Southwark is considered to be London’s most historic borough as it hit its peak during the Tudor era. Not only is it home to London’s oldest market (The Borough Market), some believe that there was once a bear pit located close to where Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre was originally as well.Historical places to visit in Southwark: London Bridge, Imperial War Museum, Shakespeare’s Globe, The London Dungeon
Just strolling up and down Fleet Street will make you feel as if you’ve been transported back in time to the Sweeney Todd days, but Temple’s history steeps well past the Victorian era. The Temple area is perhaps best known for its church (Temple Church) which was named after the Knights Templar (circa 12th century), and the Temple Bar was once used at the ceremonial entrance to the City of London from the City of Westminster.Historical places to visit in the City of London: Temple Church, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Temple Bar, Monument to the Great Fire of London
The area now known as Islington was once called “Isledon” in the 17th century, and by this time had grown into a village which went along Upper Street and Lower Road (later Essex Road). During the Middle Ages, most of Islington belonged to various religious institutions, but after the dissolution of monasteries in the 1500s, much of the land was then given to friends of the Tudor monarchs. By the 18th century, Islington was also packed full of dairy herds which helped supply butter, cream and milk to the population of London.Historical places to visit in Islington: St. Paul’s Church, The Union Chapel, St. Mary’s Church
The boroughs of Kensington and Chelsea can be dated back to the Saxon times, and believe it or not, both areas were actually mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086. During the Middle Ages, Chelsea was a very small village, with a cluster of buildings near the marshes, and was a popular place to live amongst London’s elite.Historical places to visit in Kensington and Chelsea: Kensington Palace, Hyde Park, Natural History Museum, Royal Albert Hall
It may not be as beautiful as Westminster or the City of London, but Stepney’s history is just as rich as any other neighbourhood in London. The first community in Stepney developed around a church of St. Dunstan’s in 923, and although the area was mostly marshland, its population started to expand during the 19th century thanks to the development of London’s many railways and docks.Things to do in Stepney: Visit St. Dunstan’s Church, check out the Stepney City Farm
The super-rich have called Belgravia (a district in the City of Westminster) home for decades, and with gorgeous, sprawling Georgian architecture, it’s easy to see why. Although Belgravia isn’t as old as some of London’s other districts (it was developed during the 1860s), many of its original Italian-style white stucco terraces can still be seen today.Historical places to visit in Belgravia: Buckingham Palace, Wellington Arch, St. Peter’s Church
In the Doomsday Book of 1086, it was reported that there was an area in what we now know as London which consisted of vineyards and “wood for 100 pigs;” but it wasn’t until 1201 when that area was named Bloomsbury. Jane Austen even wrote about Bloomsbury in her book Emma, and during the first half of the 20th century the neighbourhood was a popular hangout for the likes of Virginia Woolf, Maynard Keynes and Lytton Strachey (known as the “Bloomsbury Group”)Historical places to visit in Bloomsbury: Charles Dickens Museum, St. Pancras Church, Russell Square