Centre for Metropolitan History

The Centre for Metropolitan History (CMH), established by the Institute in 1988, is one of the world’s leading centres for the study of the history of London and other metropolises. It specialises in innovative research projects, covering a wide range of periods, themes and problems in metropolitan history, publishing the results and data online and in print. The Centre runs a seminar, and organises workshops and conferences on many different topics in metropolitan and urban history. Staff at the Centre supervise more than a dozen PhD students and are involved in the Institute’s MA programme.

CMH News

Metropolitan History Seminar 

The Metropolitan History Seminar programme for 2016-17 is available here. The seminar meets on alternate Wednesdays at 5.30 pm in the John S Cohen Room (Room 203), 2nd floor, IHR.  The seminar is free of charge and open to all. No booking necessary. The final seminar for the session will be on 15 March: Erika Hanna (Bristol), 'Making sense of the problem of dereliction in 1980s Dublin'.

Podcasts of previous Metropolitan History seminars are online at: www.history.ac.uk/podcasts/metropolitan-history

New CMH Project: English Furniture Makers Online

Funded by the Furniture History Society, 'The English Furniture Makers Online' project began in early September with Dr Laurie Lindey as Research Officer. The project will create a fully searchable online database. The initial one year phase will digitise the 1986 publication of the Dictionary of English Furniture Makers 1660-1840, edited by Geoffrey Beard and Christopher Gilbert, and integrate this with the records of over 12,000 London furniture tradesmen, 1640–1720. By the end of 2017 the database will be available online and free at access. Subsequent phases of the project will broaden the scope to revise and update the existing data with new research to incorporate furniture makers from across Britain and the Republic of Ireland. The date range may be extended to the years 1600–1900, and conceivably to the present day. The aim of the project is to create an online historical resource with multidisciplinary appeal, which includes ‘traditional’ furniture history and social, economic and cultural history, thereby reflecting the ways in which the historiography of furniture has matured over the years. Blog post

Layers of London project - volunteers needed!

With the appointment of Seif El Rashidi as Project Development Officer and Rebecca Read (Project Administrator), work on the development phase of this new Heritage Lottery Fund project began in May.  With project partners including London Metropolitan Archives, Historic England, Museum of London Archaeology, The British Library, Senate House Library, and The National Archives, and the London Borough of Barking & Dagenham, the project will develop a new interactive online resource in the form of a georeferenced multi-layered map of London containing data from the Roman period through to the present day. You can find out more from the project's new website at: https://layersoflondon.blogs.sas.ac.uk/  and get the latest news by following @layersoflondon on Twitter.

The project will rely heavily on members of the public getting involved and contributing.  We’d particularly like to hear from you if you are interested in contributing to the website’s historical content, or if you’d like to take part in the testing of the online platform. Simply complete the online form at: https://layersoflondon.blogs.sas.ac.uk/get-involved/ and the project team will be in touch.

PASSAGE: writing on walking in London 1550-1950

This new interdisciplinary project - a collaboration between the CMH, Senate House Library and the School of Advanced Study - seeks to understand the process and experience of walking in London through literature published between the sixteenth-century and the early twentieth-century. The project takes as its approach a detailed investigation of a text or type of text (organised into 'Episodes'). Visit the blog at https://passagewalks.blogs.sas.ac.uk/ to explore the first text, A Sunday Ramble (1775).  

PASSAGE is also open to anyone who wishes to contribute an Episode on a particular theme.  

London and the First World War Conference podcasts

Podcasts of nineteen of the papers given at the CMH/IWM conference on London and the First World War (20-21 March 2015) are now available at: www.history.ac.uk/podcasts/london-and-first-world-war. They include the keynote lectures by Adrian Gregory (Pembroke College, Oxford), 'London: a wartime metropolis in comparative perspective', and Jerry White (Birkbeck, University of London), 'London in the First World War: questions of legacy', along with papers from sessions on 'daily life and institutions', 'enemy aliens', 'transport', 'the empire view', 'dissent', 'air war' and 'leisure'.

People, Property and Charity: The Clothworkers’ Company 1500-1688 (http://www.clothworkersproperty.org/)

Arising from a CMH project, funded by The Clothworkers’ Company, with research carried out by Dr Annaleigh Margey, this website was officially launched on 10 October. It provides the first detailed history of the benefactors, property acquisitions and other bequests of The Clothworkers’ Company in the City of London during the late medieval and early modern periods. Focusing specifically on the properties that came to the company through the bequests of several benefactors, it traces the company’s management of these properties and associated charities. The site provides biographies of the most significant property benefactors, as well as listings of benefactors who bequeathed silver, plate, and monies for charity and entertainment purposes, and histories of the properties granted to the Company.

Records of London's Livery Companies Online (ROLLCO) Project

The ROLLCO database has see three recent updates, which have included freedom and apprenticeship records from the Bowyers', Founders, Girdlers', Musicians', Salters', and Tallow Chandlers' Companies, and brings the total number of individuals contained in the database to over 350,000. The database can be searched at londonroll.org. The new records include a number of notable people. To read more about them and the updates, see the the ROLLCO blogs here.

Medieval Merchants and Money conference podcasts

Seventeen papers from our highly successful conference held last November in celebration of the work of Professor Jim Bolton (QMUL) are now online as free podcasts. We are very grateful to the speakers who have given permission to make their papers available.

Locating London's Past wins BSECS prize

We are delighted that Locating London's Past has won the 2014 British Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies (BSECS) Prize for Digital Resources. This prestigious prize, sponsored by Adam Matthew Digital, is awarded annually to the best resource supporting eighteenth-century studies.  Locating London's Past was funded by a grant from the JISC e-content programme 2011, and is a partnership between the CMH, the University of Hertfordshire and the University of Sheffield. Visit the website at: http://www.locatinglondon.org

CMH Publications

A number of our publications can still be purchased online from the University of London's bookstore. Bestsellers include: The Religious Houses of London and Middlesex; Guilds, Society & Economy in London 1450-1800 and London in the 1690s: A Social Atlas. Also available are IHR Conference Series volumes: London and Beyond: Essays in Honour of Derek Keene and A History of the French in London: Liberty, Equality, Opportunity

Mobilising London's Housing Histories Conference Podcasts

Papers from the 'Mobilising London's Housing Histories: The Provision of Homes since 1850' conference, held on 27-28 June, are now available as podcasts on History SPOT

Life in the Suburbs Project

Datasets compiled by the ESRC-funded 'Life in the Suburbs: health, domesticity and status in early modern London' project are now available from the UK Data Archive: Study No 7244: Life in the Suburbs: Health, Domesticity and Status in Early Modern London, 1523-1720

Going Underground Conference Podcasts

The majority of papers given at the recent 'Going Underground: Travel Beneath the Metropolis 1863-2013' conference, marking the 150th Anniversary of the London Underground, are now available as podcasts on History SPOT

Book: London and Beyond: Essays in Honour of Derek Keene (ed. Matthew Davies and James A. Galloway)

The third title in the IHR's new conference series, London and Beyond arose from the CMH's 20th Anniversary conference in 2008, at which Derek Keene was guest of honour. Derek was the founding director of the CMH, from 2001 Leverhulme Professor of Comparative Metropolitan History (also based at the Centre) and, before his retirement in 2008, acting director of the IHR. The papers in this festschrift are written by internationally renowned and long-standing colleagues, postgraduate students, or researchers who began their careers under Derek’s guidance.  Chapters range from the effect of flooding around the Thames in the middle ages to railways in early 20th-century Paris and London. Buy

Book: Cities into Battlefields (ed. Stefan Goebel and Derek Keene)

Arising from the Centre's 2004 'Metropolitan catastrophes' conference on cities' role in warfare, Ashgate have just published Cities into Battlefields: Metropolitan Scenarios, Experiences and Commemorations of Total War.  The volume explores the cultural imprint of military conflict on metropolises world wide in the era of the First and Second World Wars and examines how the emergence of 'total' warfare blurred the boundaries between home and front. With contributions from Susan Grayzel, Peter Stansky, Patrice Higonnet, Eyal Ginio, Maureen Healey, Tim Cole, Antony Beevor, Lisa Yoneyama, Julie Higashi and Jay Winter, it is currently available at the reduced price of £58.50 (normally £65) from the Ashgate website.

Online mapping resource: Locating London's Past

The Locating London's Past website is now available at: www.locatinglondon.org. The website enables users to map information from a vast array of sources, including trial accounts from the Old Bailey, hearth tax, plague deaths and population data and even archaeological records, on to John Rocque’s 1746 map of London, now fully referenced to modern geographical coordinates. This new resource is the result of a collaborative project, funded by JISC, involving the CMH, the Universities of Sheffield and Hertfordshire, and Museum of London Archaeology (see CMH project page for details).

'The Last of the Jobbers'

‘Big Bang’ in 1986 signalled the end of the historic jobbing system of the London Stock Exchange. Jobbers were market-makers who acted as intermediaries between stockbrokers on the floor of the exchange.  Few written records are left of their activities. In 1990 the CMH undertook a series of interviews - predominantly with former jobbers but augmented by those from the point of view of brokers and financial journalists - which now form a rare resource for the history of this distinctive part of the financial life of the City.

The tapes and transcripts of the 42 interviews were originally deposited at the British Library Sound Archive (ref no. C463) for permanent archiving but they are now also available online via the University of London School of Advanced Study’s e-repository, SAS-Space.  To access the collection visit http://www.history.ac.uk/projects/jobbing.

CMH working papers volume: Tides and Floods

The five papers in Tides and floods: new research on London and the tidal Thames from the middle ages to the twentieth century (ed. James A. Galloway; CMH Working papers series no. 4) arise from a conference held in October 2009, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council as part of the London and the tidal Thames 1250-1550 research project. Written by archaeologists, historians and historical geographers, they present up-to-date work on the flood threat from the later middle ages to the 20th century, focusing upon the changing political, institutional and economic response to this environmental challenge. Also included is a preliminary report on the medieval tidal mills recently uncovered at Greenwich and Northfleet and an overview of the multi-faceted work of the Thames Discovery Programme. 80pp (illus); price £5 + £2 postage. Order a copy from the IHR Bookshop.

Gazetteer of Markets and Fairs

Gazetteer of Markets and Fairs screenshot

Want to investigate markets and fairs? Take a look at our Gazetteer of Markets and Fairs in England and Wales to 1516 - the first systematic national survey of the establishment and operation of markets and fairs from c.900. It contains entries for 2,400 places and lists details for more than 2,600 markets and nearly 3,000 fairs.

Register of Research in Progress

The Centre's register of research in progress on the history of London has just been updated with information on theses completed in 2009, along with some thirty new topics currently being studied.  We would like the register to be as comprehensive as possible, so if you are actively researching an aspect of London history and you wish to be added to the list, please email the Centre providing details of your research and indicating whether you are willing for your email address to be included in the entry.


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London and Urban news and events

Call for Papers: Society for Court Studies/Victorian Society 'Courts & Capitals 1815-1914 (V)'

10 November 2018 | Art Workers' Guild, Queen Square, London WC1

The Society for Court Studies will be hosting the fifth one-day conference in its 'Courts & Capitals 1815-1914' series on 10 November 2018 at the Art Workers’ Guild, Queen Square, London WC1N 3AT. Among the cities to be covered at this conference will be Stuttgart, Istanbul, Helsinki and Rio de Janeiro. Proposals for papers on other cities not yet included in the series, such as Belgrade, Florence, Naples, Turin and Cetinje, are invited. Please email any proposals to Dr David Gelber (admin@courtstudies.org) and Dr Philip Mansel (philipmansel@gmail.com).

Archives for London: Seminar series - London Fog: The Biography

Thursday 6 April 2017, 6 pm | London Metropolitan Archives - Huntley Room 40 Northampton Road, London EC1R 0HB

Fogs have plagued London from the early nineteenth century and still have relevance to today’s modern world. They have divided opinion; most Londoners knew they were dangerous but others were ambivalent, seeing them as a sign of London's success and prosperity. Visitors came to London to admire them, and writers and artists were inspired by them. London fogs became a useful metaphorical tool for writers as diverse as Charles Dickens, T S Eliot, Sam Selvon and Lynne Reid Banks. It took until 1956 to pass the Clean Air Act even though many attempts were made before. Dr Christine Corton talks about this exciting story and one that is very relevant to the present pollution problems of today.

Advance booking is essential. Please book your place through Eventbrite http://tinyurl.com/AfLevents or by contacting Louise Harrison 020 7332 3879. Free to all AfL members, non-members £6. Refreshments provided.

Call for Papers: Literary London Conference on 'Fantastic London: Dream, Speculation and Nightmare' (13-14 July 2017)

Proposals are invited for papers, panels and roundtable sessions, which consider any period or genre of literature about, set in, inspired by, or alluding to central and suburban London and its environs, from the city's roots in pre-Roman times to its imagined futures. While the main focus will be on literary texts, interdisciplinary contributions relating to film, architecture, visual arts, topography and theories of urban space are actively encouraged. Papers from postgraduate students are particularly welcome. For full details see http://literarylondon.org/annual-conference/. Abstracts of no more than 500 words should be submitted using the online form at: literarylondon.org/submit-a-paper-proposal/The deadline for abstracts is 17 March 2017.

New interactive website: Histories of Whitechapel

The Survey of London (University College London), has just launched a new webiste dedicated to Whitechapel at https://surveyoflondon.org/.

A map is used to plot information about every building in Whitechapel in 2016, including photographs, stories and research, film clips and audio recordings added by historians, local people and others with an interest in the area. Anyone with information, research, images, or memories of Whitechapel is encouraged to contribute to the site.

Transport Historians?

Interested in joining a discussion group of transport historians working in universities and museums from different fields (social, economic, business, political history etc.) in London (or within travelling distance) to share ideas, contacts and information? Please email David Turner (University of York)

The Foundling Hospital

Are you carrying out research on the Foundling Hospital? If so, you might be interested in joining the Foundling Hospital Research Forum. The forum is open to all those studying the Foundling Hospital archives in depth. Further details.

David Allin's book, The Early Years of the Foundling Hospital 1739/41-1773 is now available in pdf format here

London Metropolitan Archives: News and Events

London Metropolitan Archives is home to an extraordinary range of documents, images, maps, films and books about London. LMA is free to use and open to everyone. Whether you’re tracing your family history or researching the history of your neighbourhood, if you’re interested in London or Londoners, LMA is the place to visit. LMA also has programme of events throughout the year - exhibitions, talks, walks, tours and workshops. Details of these events and news from the archives can be found on LMA's events pages.

New Publication: London's Sailortown, 1600-1800: A Social History of Shadwell and Ratcliff, an early-modern London riverside suburb

by Derek Morris and Ken Cozens

Published December 2014 by The East London History Society; ISBN 978-0-9564779-2-7

The first book to describe this unique area of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century London. Features the rich and the poor, the churches and chapels, the East India Company, Hudson's Bay Company, brewers, coopers, mariners, sailmakers, ship builders, ship chandlers. It also includes extensive indexes to names, places and subjects. Available at £12.60 (plus p&p UK £3.50; Europe £8.35; USA £13.15; Australia £13.90) per copy from Philip Mernick, East London History Society, 42 Campbell Road, London E3 4DT (e: mail@eastlondonhistory.org.uk; www.eastlondonhistory.org.uk).

Historic Hospital Admissions Records Project (HHARP)

This project provides online access to nearly 120,000 individual admission records between 1852 and 1914 for three London children's hospitals: Great Ormond Street Hospital, the Evelina Hospital and the Alexandra Hospital for Children with Hip Disease, as well as the recently added Royal Glasgow Children's Hospital. Website