Housing environments and health in early modern London 1550-1750

Housing, Health and Environments Image

This project, undertaken in partnership with Birkbeck and the University of Cambridge, builds upon the work of the ‘People in Place: families, households and housing in early modern London’ project. Employing the People in Place research team, led by Professor Vanessa Harding (Birkbeck) and co-directed by Professor Matthew Davies (CMH) and Professor Richard Smith (Cambridge Group for the History of Population), it examines the extent to which environmental factors and the social characteristics of individual, family and locality determined the disease and mortality profile of the pre-industrial city.

The project tests the supposition that variation in mortality experience (infant, seasonal, epidemic, etc) across the early modern city correlates broadly with geographical variations in social and environmental character. Although such comparisons have usually taken place at ward- or parish-level, by drawing upon and enhancing the large database already compiled by the People in Place project - which contains a wide range of information on families, households, properties and buildings in three contrasting areas of the city (Cheapside, St Botolph Aldgate and Clerkenwell) – it is possible to identify a range of variations in mortality and social/environmental characteristics at the ‘micro-level’ of precinct, street and even clusters of houses. Utilising mapping techniques to illuminate and analyse health and mortality patterns within the populations of the selected areas, this ‘micro-geographical study’ sharpens and refines our understanding of the relationship between mortality and environment.

Information on this project is also available on the University of Cambridge's Housing, environment and health in early modern London webpage. See also the research team's new project 'Life in the suburbs: health, domesticity an status in early modern London', which focuses on St Botolph Aldgate parish.


CMH Annual Report 2006-7; End of Award Report

Project details

Directors: Professor Vanessa Harding, M.A., Ph.D., Professor Matthew Davies, M.A., D.Phil., Professor Richard Smith, B.A., M.A., Ph.D., FBA
Researchers (CMH): Mark Merry, B.A., M.A., Ph.D.; Philip Baker, B.A., M.A.; (Cambridge): Gill Newton, B.A., M.A.
Funded by: The Wellcome Trust (Ref: 079574/Z/06/Z) (26 October 2006-25 April 2008)
Amount Awarded: £197,539