London: from rural patchwork to urban sprawl



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    A Bassett of Hammersmith's survey and plan of the processional boundaries and parish of Ealing, 1777. Printed. Coloured (52x46cm)

    Ealing, 1777

    Alex Werner, senior curator, Museum of London: ‘Every year, a map was commissioned to confirm the boundaries of the different parishes. They still do this in some places today, where they walk around and literally beat the boundary to reconfirm the rights.

    ‘Ealing would have been a rural area, but with a lot of wealthy people. It was beginning to get developed, as the rich of London spread along the Thames. Ealing would be a little village surrounded by big mansions owned by aristocrats and merchants. Most of them would be rich enough to own carriages, so they’d be about an hour’s journey from London. As the map suggests, a lot of this area was farmland and as a farmer, your connection to London would be providing fresh produce to the city every day – every morning carts would head from here to Covent Garden. There was also exotic food grown in this area in hothouses, fertilised by the waste from the city. It was an interesting synergy. But this map is about establishing the area, our empire. It would be commissioned by the parish vestry, largely consisting of local landowners who administered the parish.’

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