Twilight London

After 1066

William the Conqueror granted London a charter in 1067 confirming the status that the city had held under the previous Saxon administration. Over time several castles were built along the Thames to ensure the protection of the city against Viking raids. The Tower of London was one of these as was Baynard’s and Monfichet’s Castle, both of which have long since disappeared but would have been in the region of what is now Ludgate Hill.

In the latter part of the 11th century the royal family took up residence in Westminster for the first time, building Westminster Hall and setting in motion the first of the Norman abbeys that would rise around the City of London, such as St Bartholomew-The-Great, the chancel of which can still be seen in West Smithfield.

Also in this period, London Bridge was completely rebuilt, until it became the medieval structure so famous from the Great Fire of 1666. It would remain the only crossing on the River Thames until 1739.

London has not always been the capital city. This was dictated by the location of the royal family at any given time and for many years this was Winchester in the South of England. After 1200, though, London became the capital after government located more permanently to Westminster. This meant that there became two distinct districts in Westminster and the City. One was used to the implementation of rules and laws, whilst the other was concerned primarily with trade and commerce. This is still the case today.

Over the course of the next few centuries, the City’s influence grew along with its population and the traders created guilds that became a ruling cadre. They are still around today along with the Corporation of London, which provides the lord Mayor of London, a ceremonial role.


The Great Fire

The Great Fire changed everything when it destroyed huge chunks of the City along with the northern section of London Bridge. Charles II had plans, along with Sir Christopher Wren, to use these new open spaces to create long boulevards and new districts. Unfortunately the local residents who had lost everything didn’t see things this way and wanted everything back to the way it was. Apparently the small matter of a catastrophic fire destroying their closely packed wooden buildings wasn’t enough to put them off.

One concession that was forced through, however, was that any new building had to be flat fronted. This was because the houses before the fire had floors that jutted out, allowing flames to jump more easily between buildings. It also meant that you were less likely to be covered in something nasty when people threw their waste out of top windows.


The Blitz

For a period of eight months in 1940 and 1941, London came under a sustained bombing campaign by the Nazi Luftwaffe. The result was around 43,00 dead Londoners, 100,00 plus wounded, a brutalised city and a highly hacked off Fuhrer who had been promised the capitulation of London by Hermann Göring, the head of the Luftwaffe.

It’s safe to say Herman was probably not flavour of the month after this.

It took London decades to recover with many bomb sites lasting into the 1970’s or later (we’re still finding unexploded bombs on a fairly regular basis during building and excavation work.)


Modern Day

The city today is a district covered in sky towers of glass and metal. After the big bang of 1986, American banks took up residence in the city, creating one of the world’s leading financial hubs. Today it has to compete with Canary wharf in the east of the city for business but it’s still going strong and showing no signs of slowing down after a millennia of growth.

The Anglo-Saxon Period

For the next four hundred years London fell in to disrepair (mostly, it has to be said, because of the Vikings). That was until it was occupied by Alfred the Great in 886 (much to the Vikings annoyance). Alfred redesigned the street plan and restored the quays before handing it over to his son-in-law Earl Aethelred of Mercia. This period also foreshadows the establishment of the kingdom of England.

Over the next two hundred years the Saxon kings ruled over England first from London then Winchester. All through this time London grew steadily richer as trade and moneylending flourished. That was until William of Normandy decided he wanted in on the action.

Alfred the Great: Better at fighting than he was at cooking.

The Roman City

The City was established in around 47AD by merchants who realised they had a captive audience of Romans crossing the newly built London Bridge and promptly started selling them food and clothing at vastly inflated prices. This is a tradition still in force today as can be seen on any station concourse in London.

The City was also a target many times over this period. In around 60AD Boudicca, the leader of the Iceni tribe from east Anglia laid waste to the City in revenge for the violation of her daughters. Apparently no one thought to build a wall to keep out raiders, a pretty serious oversight all things considered.

This was, however, corrected when the City was rebuilt as a planned settlement shortly after and elements of the old Roman wall can still be seen dotted around the city. From this point the City went from strength to strength. That was until the Romans left the British isles in 410AD. For the hundred years or so before that, the City had been under attack by Saxons, Picts and Scots, all of whom were less than happy with Roman rule and as time went by started to scent blood. After the romans left, the writing was on the wall for London and ultimately it fell to the raiders.

The story is interspersed with chapters from Emma’s past, telling what happened to her sister Lucy on a disastrous night ten years earlier, when Emma grudgingly takes her out for her fifteenth birthday. There is an argument, followed by a car crash and Lucy is killed whilst Taryn is also injured. This is the event that causes Emma to arrive at the twilight world after her death.

The City of London

For the first fifteen hundred years of its existence, the City of London was London. Since then London has expanded so that the City became a small area that still holds city status in its own right.

The city’s southern boundary was always the Southwark end of London Bridge (which was the point at which the fun started for most Londoners as this was where you were allowed to drink, go to theatres such as the Globe, the Swan and the Rose and generally make merry, all things banned by the Corporation of London within the City), hence Emma having to pass over to her old world prior to her arriving at that point.