England travel guide




London Travel Guide

Stuart London

The expansion of London was decisively established in the 17th century. When the preparations for the coronation of the new King James I, Catholic conspirators planned to kill him blowing up the Parliament on November 5, 1605 but the plot was discovered, and a person named Guy Fawkes was discovered in cellars beneath Parliament with kegs of explosives. This called the Gunpowder Plot, is commemorated each year with the celebration of Bonfire Night on November 5.

The successor of James I was Charles I who acceded to the throne in 1625. During his reign aristocrats began to inhabit the West End in large numbers. This was the beginning of the "London season". In the early Stuart years London experimented changes, the architect Inigo Jones, in 1631 designed Covent Garden piazza, the first purpose-built square in the city, Queen's House (Greenwich), Banqueting Hall (Whitehall), and Queen's Chapel.

In the Stuart period there were two disasters, the Great Plague and the Great Fire. In 1665 and 1966 begun the Great Plague and killed around 60,000 people. Brought by ship from Holland, the virulent that sufferers could catch it and die within hours. The Great Plague was immediately followed by another catastrophe. On the Sunday, 2 September 1666 the Great Fire of London broke out at one o'clock in the morning at a house in Pudding Lane in the southern part of the City. Fanned by an eastern wind the fire spread, and efforts to arrest it by pulling down houses to make firebreaks were disorganized to begin with. The fire destroyed about 60% of the City, including Old St Paul's Cathedral, 87 parish churches, 44 livery company halls and the Royal Exchange. However the number of lives lost was surprisingly small.

At this time the London city was becoming the world's leading financial centre, superseding Amsterdam in primacy. The Bank of England was founded in 1694, and the British East India Company was expanding its influence.

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