Lecture Royal London and the Crown Estate
The Crown Estate has its roots in the Norman Conquest. From 1066, William the Conqueror took over a huge swathe of England’s land. Even today, the Crown Estate owns 356,000 acres in Britain and large parts of London – including most of Regent Street and nearly half the buildings in St James’s. Its tentacles also reach into Victoria Park in the East End and Chancery Lane. The Royal Parks remain hereditary possessions of the Crown. Between them, the eight parks – Regent’s, St James’s, Green, Richmond, Kensington, Hyde, Greenwich and Bushy - cover 4,900 acres of London. Add in the royal palaces – St James’s, Buckingham Palace and the Tower of London, Hampton Court, Kensington and Kew – and you see quite how extensive Royal London still is, more than 950 years after the Norman Conquest.
The walk will remain within Regent Street and the southern fringes of Regent’s Park.
Lecture The City of London Corporation
The City of London Corporation is nearly as ancient as the Crown Estate. It was given its charter by William the Conqueror in 1067. For nearly 1,000 years it has owned and shaped the City. Even today, it owns the Old Bailey, the Guildhall, Leadenhall Market, Mansion House, the Monument, Prince Henry’s Room, Smithfield Market, Temple Bar and the Thames bridges. Over the years, the Corporation has grown so rich that it has expanded beyond the City to own 10,000 acres of land, including Hampstead Heath, Epping Forest and Highgate Woods.
The walk will remain within the City, taking in Mansion House, the Monument, the Guildhall and the City Churches.
Lecture The Duchy of Cornwall
The Duchy of Cornwall was created in 1337 and still, today, the Duke of Cornwall – Prince Charles – owns land in 23 counties. The Manor of Kennington was part of the original Duchy charter in 1337. Over the years, much of its landholding in south London has been sold, but the Duchy still owns the Oval Cricket Ground, Lambeth County Court and houses and commercial property across the borough.
The walk will remain within Kennington.
Lecture The Church of England
Before the Reformation, the Catholic Church used to own a great deal of London. Even after it, the Church of England still owns hundreds of churches, Lambeth Palace, Westminster Abbey and the surrounding land. It also owns a Hyde Park residential estate and, until recently, a lot of Mayfair. It is through churches, too, that you can see the ancient heart of the villages that form the constituent parts of London.
The walk through Westminster and Lambeth take in the ancient lands owned by Westminster Abbey and Lambeth Palace.
Lecture The Aristocratic Estates
From the 16th to the 18th century, four great aristocratic families developed much of London, filling their fields with streets, circuses, squares and crescents. Still, today, much of that gilt-edged land is in the hands of their descendants: Earl Cadogan in Chelsea; the Duke of Westminster in Westminster and Pimlico; Lady Howard de Walden and Viscount Portman in Marylebone. It is these great urban estates which allowed such long, snaking, uniform terraces to be built, stretching over acres of land owned by single individuals. This land-owning pattern also led to speculative building. Builders would take a lease off the grand landowners and build the terraces. They would erect a pub first, to feed and house their labourers, and to pay for the rest of the terrace to be built that’s why pubs are so often found on corner sites.
The walk will remain within Belgravia.
Lecture The Outlying Estates
Charities and private landowners bought and developed further flung parts of London, from the 17th until the 20th century. Each owner brought their own distinctive architectural style to their estate. The Lloyd Baker Estate bought much of Islington in the 17th century, and built their terraces and squares in a distinctive, pared back classical style. Much of Borough was bought by the Newington Trust Estate in the 17th century. And, still today, the Peabody Trust, set up in 1862, owns 19,000 houses across 30 boroughs. Most distinctive of all is Hampstead Garden Suburb, created in 1907 by Dame Henrietta Barnett. A social visionary, Dame Henrietta was determined to create a democratic rus in urbe, with arts and crafts houses separated by hedges rather than fences, and an extremely low housing density.
The walk will remain within Hampstead Garden Suburb.
Lecture The London Councils
Council housing only began in the late Victorian period, with blocks of red-brick flats in Holborn and the East End. In the inter-war period, council house provision boomed – with art deco blocks of flats in inner London, and mock Tudor semis in the suburbs. After the Second World War, the council legacy was less admirable, in the form of the 1960-80s tower blocks. Still, the municipal contribution to London can be magnificent, from the Carnegie Libraries to the thwacking great Victorian town halls.
The walk will remain within Shoreditch.