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London is a place that needs no introductions. It is one of the largest cities in Europe, a world centre for trade, and home to Buckingham Palace. There is, of course, lots more that is yet to be discovered in London.
A Brief History of London
With a recorded history that stretches back more than 2000 years, encapsulating the history of London is no small feat. In short terms London, or Londinium, as it was known back then, was founded in 43AD when the Romans invaded the British Isles and built a small civilian settlement close to the river Thames. Two thousand years later London has grown to cover a huge amount of space, swallowing up outer lying towns in the process.
In slightly more recent history Angola-Saxon settlers began to make the city their own in the 6th century AD. London settlers went on to battle some Danish Vikings in order to hold onto their city over the next couple of centuries. But lo and behold, the French Normans came over in the 11th century and started to do their own thing. Though the animosity between the French and the British has never quite been put to rest the English have got them to thank for London landmarks like The Tower of London, and the Palace of Westminster.
During the Middle Ages, half of London's population disappeared as a result of the Black Death during the Plague of the 14th Century. It’s still possible to understand how medieval London lived by visiting the narrow streets of Soho and Seven Dials.
The London we know today started its journey during the 18th century when it became a major trade and industrial hub in Western Europe. The British Empire was growing, merchants were importing desirable commodities, and no one was attacking the British Isles.
During the 19th century, London cleaned up its act, dealt with sanitation issues, welcomed Irish refugees affected by the Great Potato Famine, and built a few more landmarks including Trafalgar Square, and the Royal Albert Hall. For the larger part of the century London remained the largest and most important city in the world.
The past century has brought London its famous Underground trains, a couple of wars, a large Jewish population, Punks, Britpop, loads of new museums, a few royal weddings, and some very tall buildings.
Make like a Local
There really is no such thing as a typical Londoner but there are plenty of customs that have been around for longer than many communities. Get in the habit of following these two main customs in London and you should get along quite fine.
Always join the end of a queue if you see one. It doesn’t matter what everyone is queuing for, just join it anyway. Never push to the front of the beloved queue, and don’t refer to it as a line.
Custom two refers to the Great British Art of Tea. It is unforgivably impolite to refuse the offer of tea from a British a person. Being invited to join someone for High Tea or Afternoon Tea shows that they hold you in the highest regard.
It is also customary when visiting London to spend at least one afternoon in the old English institution, The Pub. This is best kept for a Sunday when you can enjoy a spiffing Roast Beef Dinner with Yorkshire Puddings.
The city and its tourist’s spots stretch far and wide but luckily the handy London Underground gets visitors around in record time, if it’s working. It’s such an exciting city to explore with institutions like the British Library, Hyde Park, the winding streets of Soho, and shopping around Oxford Street. Then there are the more up and coming areas like creative hubs in the East, and Brixton in the south.