Establishing a visiting professorship in the History of London will allow the IHR to benefit from working with distinguished academics in the field, from around the world. Moreover, the position will fulfil a long-standing need in the UK by promoting the study and appreciation of London’s character and development from its beginnings to the present day. Indeed, there is no equivalent in any university, despite the global importance of London and its rich history. This new position affords a unique opportunity to shape the field and future work on the history of the metropolis.
Since Roman times London has been one of the leading European cities and for the last 300 years it has been a metropolis on a world scale. Its history and development as a great centre of population, trade, finance, society and political power are recorded in a rich store of documentary, graphic and materials remains, unparalleled for any other city.
Its institutions are likewise testimony to this development, from the City of London Corporation and the various forms of city-wide government, to the parish churches, the livery companies and the modern financial and legal institutions of the City. As a metropolis London is characterised by its complexity, whether in terms of government, infrastructure or its changing social and cultural characteristics. It has long been a vibrant cultural centre, an inspiration for writers, architects and scientists, and a place of learning, innovation and debate. Its influence has always extended well beyond its historic boundaries, ensuring a place for it in our national life as well as creating links with other cities, regions and nations.
A long and vigorous tradition of study continues to illuminate many aspects of London’s past, providing a firm foundation for furthering wider understanding of the city and its history and culture. London is of unique importance for the study of urban affairs in the UK and more widely. It offers the opportunity of setting our knowledge and experience of metropolitan life today in the context of two thousand years of continuous development.
The new visiting chair would strengthen the IHR’s commitment to promoting the history of London and spearhead research, PhD study, and public engagement with the city’s history in all its many forms: as a port, a financial centre, a capital, a place of pleasure and enlightenment, vice and piety, and a world metropolis with a reach and meaning far beyond its city limits.