This series will attempt the impossible: to compress almost 2000 years into ten Wednesday afternoons. Beginning on 3 October we will trace the movement of London from the edge of the world map to its centre, its development from a provincial backwater to [briefly] the larg-est, richest city in history and the capital of the largest empire the world has ever seen.

We will begin at the Avenue Club with a series of five informal lectures: a pair of 45-minute sessions each Wednesday, with tea, questions and conversation sandwiched between them. The focus will be on social and cultural rather than political history; with luck, Henry VIII will barely be mentioned. The approach will be illustrative and anecdotal: the big continuities and changes revealed in stories.

After a break, we will then make a series of guided visits to London museums. There we can look at objects which illustrate and exemplify the trends and events we have surveyed.

Starting 3rd October

  • 3 October: Basic geography and chronology/Roman London
  • 10 October: Anglo-Saxon and Viking London/the Normans
  • 24 October: Tudor London/Shakespeare the Entrepreneur
  • 31 October: The terrible 17c/Mercantile London
  • 7 November: The heart of the Empire/The first Modern City
  • 14 November: The terrible 20c/The Post-war, Post-Imperial City
  • 21 November: no session
  • 28 November: A visit to the British Gallery of the Victoria and Albert Museum
  • 5 December: A visit to the Making of the Modern World Gallery of the Science Museum
  • 12 December: The terrible 20c: A visit to the Museum of London in Docklands
  • 19 December: A visit to the Museum of London