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London is not characterised by any particular architectural style, having accumulated its buildings over a long period of time. Few structures predate the Great Fire of 1666, notable exceptions including the Tower of London, Westminster Abbey, Banqueting House and several scattered Tudor survivors in the City of London. In itself, the City contains a wide variety of styles, progressing through Wren’s late 17th-century churches and the financial institutions of the 18th and 19th century such as the Royal Exchange and the Bank of England, to the early 20th century Old Bailey (England and Wales’ central criminal court) and the 1960s Barbican Estate. Notable recent buildings are the 1980s skyscraper Tower 42, the Lloyd’s building with services running along the outside of the structure, and the 2004 Swiss Re building, known as the “Gherkin”. London’s generally low-rise nature makes these skyscrapers and others such as One Canada Square and its neighbours at Canary Wharf and the BT Tower in Fitzrovia very noticeable from a distance. High-rise development is restricted at certain sites if it would obstruct protected views of St. Paul’s Cathedral. Nevertheless, there are plans for more skyscrapers in central London (see Tall buildings in London), including the 72-storey “Shard of Glass”, which is now completed and is currently the tallest building in the European Union.. Other notable modern buildings include City Hall in Southwark with its distinctive ovular shape, the British Library in Somers Town, the Great Court of the British Museum, and the striking Millennium Dome next to the Thames east of Canary Wharf. The 1933 Battersea Power Station by the river in the southwest is a local landmark, whilst some railway termini are excellent examples of Victorian architecture, most notably St Pancras and Paddington. London County Council was responsible for public housing projects such as the Edwardian Bourne Estate in Holborn.

Several monuments pay homage to people and events in the city. The Monument in the City of London provides views of the surrounding area whilst commemorating the Great Fire of London which originated nearby. Marble Arch and Wellington Arch, at the north and south ends of Park Lane respectively, have royal connections, as do the Albert Memorial and Royal Albert Hall in Kensington. Nelson’s Column is a nationally recognised monument in Trafalgar Square, providing a focal point for the whole central area.. The exhibition will look at how the physical fabric – the buildings, the streets and public spaces – have defined the City over the centuries and responded to changes in how we live and work. It will also look ahead to 2050, presenting a series of visions of the City of the future, examining how its built form may adapt in response to the systemic changes we currently face. The Square Mile has been a centre of mercantile trade for 800 years. It has survived pestilence, fires, the Blitz and IRA bombings. Each shift in activity and associated regulation has had a significant impact on the buildings that house the City’s businesses and the streets and spaces that create its character. Yet despite the fact that large sections of the City have been regularly rebuilt, the area still retains its medieval street pattern that reflects its rich history. As bankers face reform, so the City of London and Canary Wharf, which plays a key role in the financial market, will need to adapt their buildings to accommodate these structural changes as well as very different types of business.

The exhibition will look at the growth of the City since Roman times, the development of the medieval City, The Great Fire, Wren’s and Evelyn’s plans for rebuilding, the Victorian infrastructure boom, the Blitz, post-war reconstruction, Big Bang and the development of Canary Wharf. It will examine the modern city, development planned for the next decade and the role of planning and property in accommodating the requirements of the markets, as well as an investigation of current and future occupier needs. It will also look to the future, unveiling visionary images of the City of London in 2050 in response to a series of drivers of change, including governance, climate change, and banking regulation. Three teams of architects and property professionals including John Robertson Architects, Arup, Woods Bagot, Hilson Moran and Gensler will present their visions of the City in 40 years time.


This, coupled with the founding by Royal Charter of the Bank of England in 1694, was the catalyst for the development of the City as a financial centre. In 1631, the residential population of the City was put at 130,163; by 1901, it had dwindled to 26,923 with people moving out to make way for the influx of office buildings that still dominate.

Londinium (as the Romans called this place) was ideally located for business. Situated on the north bank of the Thames, it soon became a bustling port and trade thrived. As business increased, tradesmen came together to form livery companies or ‘guilds’ – bodies that regulated their respective professions to protect both customers and their members. Many of the City’s street names such as Milk Street, Bread Street, Ironmonger Lane, Poultry, Cloth Fair and Mason’s Avenue mark the sites where the companies began. Ultimately, the guilds came to yield great There’s nowhere quite like the City. Not only is power and influence and the City developed it the oldest, most historic part of London, it a reputation as an important centre for is the world’s leading international financial commerce. By the early 17th century (when and business centre with the unusual ratio of exploration began to open up the world and 33 times more workers than residents; it also new markets were there for the picking) many has its own unique system of administration guilds invested money in setting up Merchant and is not classified as a “borough”, but is a Venturer Companies. Seeking exclusive rights of small district at the heart of the capital. The trade with different parts of the world, the short video above helps explain how history most famous of these companies was the East has made it this way. India Company whose power lasted until well into the 19th century. Established in around AD50, seven years after the Romans invaded Britain, the City, or Square Also in the 17th century, the coffee house arMile as it has become known, is the place rived and they soon became the place to pick from which modern-day London grew. up news and gossip. Different houses began to attract different occupations and some But it’s not just the Roman remains and medihouses became the makeshift offices of the eval structures that make the City’s buildings trades they served, giving birth to some of the so unique; it is their juxtaposition with conworld’s greatest financial institutions: the temporary architecture designed to house London Stock Exchange started in Jonathan’s the global business giants that have located Coffee House in Change Alley and Lloyd’s of here. This is where ancient and modern sit side London takes its name from Edward Lloyd, a by side. coffee house proprietor in Tower Street.

Such a unique area needs a unique system of administration and it is the City of London Corporation that provides it. With its constitution rooted in the ancient rights and privileges enjoyed by its citizens before the Norman Conquest, the City developed a form of government which finally emerged as the frst independent local authority in Britain. The first recorded Mayor of London was Henry Fitz-Ailwyn 1189. Since then, some 700 men and one woman have over the centuries held the position of head of the City of London. Lord Mayors are elected for one-year terms; today by custom they do not serve more than once. Numerous individuals have served multiple terms in office, but the last to do so was Robert Fowler (1883 and 1885). The title ‘Lord Mayor’ is of great age. In the Latin of the thirteenth century ‘dominus major’ is found, and in English ‘Lord Mair’ in 1414. By the sixteenth century the prefix ‘Right Honourable’ was in use. Through history, though many have considered it an honour to become Lord Mayor or take other civic office as Alderman or Sheriff, others fought to avoid it because of the expense of these unpaid positions: and many preferred to pay fines rather than take office. Some unfortunate Lord Mayors even ended up in debtors’ prisons. Some distinguished themselves greatly, such as Dick Whittington and William Hardel, who played a part in Magna Carta; others were less fortunate, like the hapless Sir Thomas Bludworth, Mayor during the Great Fire of London.


Its constitution rooted in the ancient rights and privileges enjoyed by citizens before the Norman Conquest in 1066, the City of London developed a unique form of government which finally emerged as the first independent local authority in Britain. The right of the City to run its own affairs was gradually won as concessions were gained from the Crown. London’s importance as a centre of trade, population and wealth secured it rights and liberties earlier than other towns and cities. From medieval to Stuart times the City was the major source of financial loans to monarchs, who sought funds to support their policies at home and abroad. That London enjoyed certain freedoms and had a form of civic administration before the Norman conquest, can be seen in the Charter granted by William the Conqueror in 1067, in which he promised to recognise the rights, privileges and laws that the City had enjoyed since the time of Edward the Confessor (1042-66).

London, like other cities, was subject to the authority of the Crown through its Sheriff - the Shirereeve or Portreeve. But in the 12th century, as a move towards civic independence, an association of citizens under oath - the commune - was established. At the same time the office of Mayor was created with Henry FitzAilwyn taking office in 1189 (whether by appointment or election is unclear). In 1191, the commune was officially recognised by Prince John, while his brother Richard the Lionheart was away at the Crusades, and in 1199 John, now King, granted the citizens of London the right to elect their own Sheriffs - a particularly significant right as the Sheriff was the King’s representative through whom the City was governed. The citizens’ right to elect a Mayor annually was granted by King John in a charter of 1215.

The commune may have been the origins of the development of another element of local government in the City. Gradually, Aldermen began to summon “wise and discreet” citizens from their wards to their meetings for consultation on particular matters. In 1285, a group of 40 citizens, between one and four from each Ward, was to consult with the Aldermen on the common affairs of the City. From 1376, this assembly had regular meetings and was known as the Common Council. It gradually assumed greater responsibilities and the business of the Court of Aldermen declined.


London, like other cities, was subject to the authority of the Crown through its Sheriff - the Shirereeve or Portreeve. But in the 12th century, as a move towards civic independence, an association of citizens under oath - the commune - was established. At the same time the office of Mayor was created with Henry FitzAilwyn taking office in 1189 (whether by appointment or election is unclear). In 1191, the commune was officially recognised by Prince John, while his brother Richard the Lionheart was away at the Crusades, and in 1199 John, now King, granted the citizens of London the right to elect their own Sheriffs - a particularly significant right as the Sheriff was the King’s representative through whom the City was governed. The citizens’ right to elect a Mayor annually was granted by King John in a charter of 1215. The commune may have been the ori-

gins of the development of another element of local government in the City. Gradually, Aldermen began to summon “wise and discreet” citizens from their wards to their meetings for consultation on particular matters. In 1285, a group of 40 citizens, between one and four from each Ward, was to consult with the Aldermen on the common affairs of the City. From 1376, this assembly had regular meetings and was known as the Common Council. It gradually assumed greater responsibilities and the business of the Court of Aldermen declined. Today the Court of Common Council

is the ‘town council’ of the City of London. Its work includes both the work of an ordinary local authority council and that arising from its historical status and tradition. It works through


The right of the City to run its own affairs was gradually won as concessions were gained from the Crown. London’s importance as a centre of trade, population and wealth secured it rights and liberties earlier than other towns and cities. From medieval to Stuart times the City was the major source of financial loans to monarchs, who sought funds to support their policies at home and abroad.

In Saxon London and in the medieval period, municipal authority rested principally with Aldermen (‘elder’ men), who met in the City’s ancient Court of Husting - the supreme court of the medieval City, with administrative and judicial functions. There is reliable evidence of its existence in 1032, although it was probably much older, and by the mid-12th century it was held weekly. It is likely that the Court of Aldermen developed from the administrative side of the work of the Court of Husting.

London, like other cities, was subject to the authority of the Crown through its Sheriff - the Shirereeve or Portreeve. But in the 12th century, as a move towards civic independence, an association of citizens under oath - the commune - was established. At the same time the office of Mayor was created with Henry FitzAilwyn taking office in 1189 (whether by appointment or election is unclear).



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