The City of London is an area of London. The City constituted most of London from its settlement by the Romans in the 1st century AD to the Middle Ages, but the conurbation has since grown far beyond its borders. As the City's boundaries have remained almost unchanged since the Middle Ages, it is now only a tiny part of the metropolis, though it remains a notable part of central London. The City holds city status in its own right, and is also a separate ceremonial county.
It is often referred to as the City (often written on maps as "City") or the Square Mile, as it is just over one square mile in area. These terms are also often used as metonyms for the United Kingdom's financial services industry, which continues a notable history of being based in the City.
The term London now refers to a much larger conurbation roughly corresponding to the London region, which is also known as the Greater London administrative area, of 32 boroughs (including the City of Westminster), in addition to the City of London. The local authority for the City, the City of London Corporation, is unique in the United Kingdom, and has some unusual responsibilities for a local authority in Britain, such as being the police authority for the City. It also has responsibilities and ownerships beyond the City's boundaries. The Corporation is headed by the Lord Mayor of the City of London, an office separate from (and much older than) the Mayor of London.
The City is today a major business and financial centre, ranking as the leading centre of global finance; throughout the 19th century, the City served as the world's primary business centre, and continues to be a major meeting point for businesses to this day. London came top in the Worldwide Centres of Commerce Index, published in 2008. The other major financial district in London is Canary Wharf, to the east.
The City has a resident population of about 7,000 (Census, 2011) but around 316,700 people work there, mainly in the financial services sector. The legal profession forms a major component of the northern and western sides of the City - especially in the Temple and Chancery Lane areas where the Inns of Court are located, of which two—Inner Temple and Middle Temple—fall within the City of London boundary. The insurance industry is focused around the eastern side of the City.
The name "London" is now used for a wider area than just the City of London, which is often known simply as "the City". This usage is documented as far back as the 16th century. "The City" also denotes the trading and financial community based there. In this context it is also colloquially known as the "Square Mile".
It is believed that London was established by merchants as a trading port on the tidal Thames around 47 AD, during the Roman occupation of Britain. The new settlement and port were centred where the shallow valley of the Walbrook meets the Thames. However in CE 60 or 61, little more than ten years after Londinium was founded, it was sacked by the Iceni, led by their queen Boudica. Londinium was rebuilt as a planned settlement (a civitas) soon after and the new town was prosperous and grew to become the largest settlement in Roman Britain by the end of the 1st century. By the beginning of the 2nd century, Londinium had replaced Colchester as the capital of Roman Britain ("Britannia").
At its height, the Roman city had a population of approximately 45,000–60,000 inhabitants. The Romans built the London Wall some time between 190 and 225. The boundaries of the Roman city were similar to those of the City of London today, though Londinium did not extend further west than Ludgate/the River Fleet and the Thames was considerably wider than it is today, thus the shoreline of the city was north of its present position. The Romans built a bridge across the river, as early as 50 AD, near to where London Bridge stands.
A number of Roman sites and artefacts can be seen in the City of London today, including the Temple of Mithras, sections of the London Wall (at the Barbican and near the Tower of London), the London Stone and remains of the amphitheatre beneath the Guildhall. The Museum of London, located in the City, holds many of the Roman finds and has permanent Roman exhibitions, as well as being a source of information on Roman London generally.
By the time of the construction of the London Wall, the city's fortunes were in decline, with problems of plague and fire. The Roman Empire entered a long period of instability and decline, including the Carausian Revolt in Britain. In the 3rd and 4th centuries, the city was under attack from Picts, Scots and Saxon raiders. The decline continued, both for Londinium and the Empire, and in 410 AD the Romans withdrew entirely from Britain. Many of the Roman public buildings in Londinium by this time had fallen into decay and disuse, and gradually after the formal withdrawal the city became almost (if not, at times, entirely) uninhabited. The centre of trade and population moved away from the walled Londinium to Lundenwic ("London market"), a settlement to the west, roughly in the modern day Strand/Aldwych/Covent Garden area.
Alfred the Great, King of Wessex and arguably the first king of the 'English', occupied and began the resettlement of the old Roman walled area, in 886, and appointed his son-in-law Earl Æthelred of Mercia over it as part of their reconquest of the Viking occupied parts of England. The refortified Anglo-Saxon settlement was known as Lundenburh ("London Fort", a borough). The historian Asser stated that "Alfred, king of the Anglo-Saxons, restored the city of London splendidly ... and made it habitable once more." Alfred's "restoration" entailed reoccupying and refurbishing the nearly deserted Roman walled city, building quays along the Thames, and laying a new city street plan.
Alfred's taking of London and the rebuilding of the old Roman city was a marking point in history, not only as the permanent establishment of the City of London, but also as part of a unifying moment in early English history, with Wessex becoming the dominant English kingdom and the repealing (to some degree) of the Viking occupation and raids. Whilst London, and indeed England, afterwards would continue to come under further periods of Viking and Dane raids and occupation, the establishment of the City of London and the Kingdom of England prevailed.
In the 10th century, Athelstan permitted eight mints to be established, compared with six in his capital, Winchester, indicating the wealth of the city. London Bridge, which had fallen into ruin following the Roman evacuation and abandonment of Londinium, was rebuilt by the Saxons, but was periodically destroyed by Viking raids and storms.
As the focus of trade and population was moved back to within the old Roman walls, the older Saxon settlement of Lundenwic was largely abandoned and gained the name of Ealdwic (the "old settlement"). The name survives today as Aldwych (the "old market-place"), now a name given to a street and an area which lies in the City of Westminster between Westminster and the City of London.
Medieval and early modern periods
Following the Battle of Hastings, William the Conqueror marched on London, as far as Southwark, but failed to get across London Bridge or to defeat the Londoners. He eventually crossed the River Thames at Wallingford, pillaging the land as he went. Rather than continuing the war, Edgar the Ætheling, Edwin of Mercia and Morcar of Northumbria surrendered at Berkhamsted. William granted the citizens of London a charter in 1075; the City of London was one of a few examples of the English retaining some authority. The City was not covered by the Domesday Book.
William built three castles nearby, to keep Londoners subdued:
C. 1130, Henry I granted a sheriff to the people of London along with control of the county of Middlesex; this did not mean that the county was a dependency of the City, but rather that the two entities became regarded as one administratively - until the Local Government Act 1888. By 1141 the whole body of the citizenry was considered to constitute a single community. This 'commune' was the origin of the City of London Corporation and the citizens gained the right to appoint, with the king's consent, a Mayor in 1189 - and to directly elect the Mayor from 1215.
The City continues to be composed of 25 ancient wards, each headed by an Alderman, who chairs Wardmotes, which still take place at least annually. A Folkmoot, for the whole of the City held at the outdoor cross of St Paul's Cathedral, was formally also held. Many of the medieval positions and traditions continue to the present day, demonstrating the unique institution which the City, and its Corporation, is.
By the late 16th century, London increasingly became a major centre for banking, international trade and commerce. The Royal Exchange was founded in 1565 by Sir Thomas Gresham to act as a centre of commerce for London's merchants and gained Royal patronage in 1571. Although no longer used for its original purpose, its location at the corner of Cornhill and Threadneedle Street continues to be the geographical centre for the City's core of banking and financial services, with the Bank of England moving to its present site in 1734, opposite the Royal Exchange on Threadneedle Street.
Growth of London
The 18th century was a period of rapid growth for London, reflecting an increasing national population, the early stirrings of the Industrial Revolution, and London's role at the centre of the evolving British Empire. The urban area expanded beyond the borders of the City of London, most notably during this period towards the West End and Westminster.
In 1708 Christopher Wren's masterpiece, St. Paul's Cathedral, was completed on his birthday. However, the first service had been held on 2 December 1697; more than 10 years earlier. This Cathedral replaced the original St. Paul's which had been completely destroyed in the Great Fire of London and is considered to be one of the finest in Britain and a fine example of Baroque architecture.
Expansion continued and became more rapid by the beginning of the 19th century, with London growing in all directions. To the East the Port of London grew rapidly during the century, with the construction of many docks, needed as the Thames at the City could not cope with the volume of trade. The arrival of the railways and the Tube meant that London could expand over a much greater area. By the mid-19th century, with London still rapidly expanding in population and area, the City had already become only a small part of the wider metropolis.
19th & 20th centuries
An attempt was made in 1894 to amalgamate the City and the surrounding County of London, but it did not succeed. The City of London therefore survived, and does so to this day, despite its situation within the London conurbation and numerous local government reforms. Regarding representation to Parliament, the City elected four members to the unreformed House of Commons, which it retained after the Reform Act 1832 and into the 20th century. Today it is included wholly in the Cities of London and Westminster constituency, and statute requires that it not be divided between two neighbouring areas.
The City's population fell rapidly in the 19th century and through most of the 20th century as people moved outwards to London's vast suburbs and many houses were demolished to make way for modern office blocks. The largest residential section of the City today is the Barbican Estate, constructed between 1965 and 1976. Here a major proportion of the City's population now live. The Museum of London is located here, as are a number of other services provided by the Corporation.
The City, like many areas of London and other British cities, fell victim to large scale and highly destructive aerial bombing during World War II, in what is known as The Blitz. Whilst St Paul's Cathedral survived the onslaught, large swathes of the City did not and the particularly heavy raids of late December 1940 led to a firestorm called the Second Great Fire of London. A major rebuilding programme therefore occurred in the decades following the war, in some parts (such as at the Barbican) dramatically altering the City's urban landscape. The destruction of the City's older historic fabric however allowed, and continues to allow, the construction of modern and larger-scale developments in parts of the City, whereas in those parts not so badly affected by bomb damage, the City retains its older character of smaller buildings. The street pattern, which is still largely medieval, was altered slightly in certain places, although there is a more recent trend of reversing some of the post-war modernist changes made, such as at Paternoster Square.
The 1970s saw the construction of tall office buildings including the 600-foot, 47-storey Natwest Tower, which became the first skyscraper in the UK. Office space development has intensified especially in the central, northern and eastern parts of the City, with further skyscrapers being built including 30 St. Mary Axe, Broadgate Tower and the Heron Tower, the tallest in the City. Another, The Pinnacle, is set to begin rising in 2013, and will overtake the Heron Tower to become the tallest building in the City, and the second tallest in Britain after the Shard.
Arms, motto and flag
The Corporation of the City of London has a full achievement of armorial bearings consisting of a shield on which the arms are displayed, a crest displayed on a helm above the shield, supporters on either side and a motto displayed on a scroll beneath the arms.
Arms: Argent a cross gules, in the first quarter a sword in pale point upwards of the last.
The coat of arms of the City is "anciently recorded" at the College of Arms. They were in use in 1381, as they formed part of the design of a new mayoralty seal taken into use on 17 April of that year. These arms consist of a white shield bearing a red cross with a red upright sword in the first quarter. The design combines the emblems of the patron saints of England and London: the Cross of St George with the symbol of the martyrdom of Saint Paul. The 1381 arms replaced an earlier shield, found on a charter of 1319, that depicted St Paul holding a sword. The sword is often erroneously supposed to commemorate the killing of Peasants' Revolt leader Wat Tyler by the Lord Mayor of London William Walworth. However the arms were in use some months before Tyler's death, and the tradition that Walworth's dagger is depicted may date from the late 17th century.
The crest and supporters came into use in the 17th century but were used without authority until 30 April 1957, when they were confirmed and granted by letters patent from the College of Arms.
The crest is a dragon's wing bearing the cross of St George, borne upon a peer's helm. A primitive form of the crest first appeared in 1539 on the reverse of a new common seal. This showed a fan-like object bearing a cross. Over time this evolved into a dragon's wing, and was shown as such in 1633 when it appeared above the city's coat of arms in the frontispiece to the fourth edition of John Stow's Survey of London. It has been speculated that the use of a peer's helmet (rather than that of a gentleman, used in other civic arms) relates to the use of the honorific prefix "The Right Honourable" by the Lord Mayor. The helm was confirmed in 1957. However, there are various representations of the arms being surmounted by a 'Muscovy Hat' as worn by the City Swordbearer over the Stuart and Georgian period most notably as carved on the George Dance Porch of the Guildhall.
On the seal of 1381 two lions were shown supporting the arms. However, by 1609 the present supporters, two white dragons bearing red crosses upon their wings, had been adopted. The dragons were probably suggested by the legend of St George and the Dragon.
The Latin motto of the City of London is "Domine dirige nos", which translates as "Lord, direct (guide) us". It appears to have been adopted in the 17th century, as the earliest record of it is was first recorded in 1633.
A banner of the arms (the design on the shield) is flown as a flag.
The City of London, prior to 1889 was an (independent) city with its own police force and and with poorlaw acting within its own jurisdiction. According to the topographer, John Marius Wilson, who in 1869 in his Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales, implied it was a county. It was not, however, until 1889 when Parliament passed the Local Government Act that it indeed officially became a county. At least 96 parishes lay within the city walls . Another 10 parishes resided just outside the city walls, yet were considered as part of the City of London proper, with 8 precincts and inns of courts under its jurisdiction as well.
The following 106 parishes comprised the City of London, along with its 8 precincts:
St. Alban, Woodstreet Allhallows, Barking Allhallows, Bread-street Allhallows-the-Great Allhallows, Honey-lane Allhallows-the-Less, 79 Allhallows, Lombard-street, 415 Allhallows, London-wall, 1,999 Allhallows, Staining, 358 St. Alphage, Sion-college, 699 St. Andrew, Hubbard, 205 St. Andrew, Undershaft, 1,071 St. Andrew-by-the-Wardrobe, 682 Sts. Ann and Agnes, Aldersgate, 362 St. Anne, Blackfriars, 2,615 St. Antholin, 263 St. Augustine, Watlingstreet, 110 St. Bartholomew-by-the-Royal Exchange, 236 St. Benet, Fink, 213 St. Benet, Gracechurchstreet, 278 St. Benet, Pauls-wharf, 537 St. Benet, Sherehog, 114 St. Botolph, Billingsgate, 222 Christchurch, Newgate-street, 1,975 St. Christopher-le-Stock, 23 St. Clement, Eastcheap, 198 St. Dionis, Backchurch, 534 St. Dunstan-in-the-East, 971 St. Edmundthe-King, 333 St. Ethelburga, 606 St. Faith-theVirgin, 761 St. Gabriel, Fenchurch-street, 178 St. George, Botolph-lane, 217 St. Gregory-by-St. Paul, 1,15 4 St. Helen, Bishopsgate, 558 St. James, Duke'splace, 851 St. James, Garlick-Hythe, 461 St. Johnthe-Baptist, Walbrook, 132 St. John-the-Evangelist, 27 St. John-Zachary, 132 St. Katherine-Coleman, 444 St. Katherine-Cree, 1,794 St. Lawrence, Jewry, 410 St. Lawrence, Pountney, 233 St. Leonard, Eastcheap, 111 St. Leonard, Foster-lane, 297 St. Magnus-theMartyr, 197 St. Margaret, Lothbury, 164 St. Margaret, Moses, 137 St. Margaret, New Fish-street, 317 St. Margaret, Pattens, 103 St. Martin, Ludgate, 1,080 St. Martin, Orgars, 296 St. Martin, Outwich, 165 St. Martin, Pomroy, 185 St. Martin, Vintry, 244 St. Mary, Abchurch, 264 St. Mary, Aldermanbury, 443 St. Mary, Aldermary, 232 St. Mary-le-Bow, 317 St. Mary, Bothaw, 161 St. Mary, Colechurch, 164 St. Mary-at-Hill, 738 St. Mary-Magdalen, Old Fish-street, 732 St. Mary-Magdalen, Milk-street, 125 St. Mary, Mounthaw, 474 St. Mary, Somerset, 271 St. Mary, Staining, 161 St. Mary, Woolchurch-Haw, 102 St. Mary, Woolnoth, 291 St. Matthew, Friday-street, 167 St. Michael, Bassishaw, 501 St. Michael, Cornhill, 371 St. Michael, Crooked-lane, 323 St. Michael-PaternosterRoyal, 169 St. Michael, Queenhithe, 548 St. Michaelle-Quern, 74 St. Michael, Wood-street, 214 St. Mildred, Bread-street, 86 St. Mildred, Poultry, 257 St. Nicholas, Acons, 168 St. Nicholas, Cole-Abbey, 230 St. Nicholas, Olave, 355 St. Olave-Hart-street-with-St. Nicholas-in-the-Shambles, 757 St. Olave, Old Jewry, 143 St. Olave, Silver-street, 527 St. Pancras, Soperlane, 76 St. Peter, Cornhill, 533 St. Peter-near-Paulswharf, 410 St. Peter-le-Poer, Broad-street, 540 St. Peter, Westcheap, 1 48 St. Stephen, Coleman-street, 3,324 St. Stephen, Walbrook, 300 St. Swithin, London Stone, 297 St. Thomas-the-Apostle, 112 Holy Trinity-the-Less, 553 St. Vedast, Foster-lane, 278
The parishes, considered as part of the City but lying without the walls, together with their respective pop. in 1861, are-- St. Andrew-Holborn-below-the-Bars, 6,337 St. Bartholomew-the-Great, 3,426 St. Bartholomew-the-Less, 849 St. Botolphwithout-Aldersgate, 4,744 St. Botolph-without-Aldgate, 9,421 St. Botolph-without-Bishopsgate, 11,569 St. Bride, 5,660 St. Dunstan-in-the-West, 2,511 St. Giles-without-Cripplegate, 13,498 St. Sepulchre-without-Newgate, 7,475 (part of)
Precincts, extra-parochial places, and Inns of Courts: Barnards-Inn, 69 Inner Temple, 148 Bridewell precinct, 410 Furnival's-Inn, (part of) 50 Middle Temple, 81 Inn'-Inn, Fleet-street, 75 Thavies-Inn, 185; Whitefriars' precinct, 1,155;