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London: A Life in Google Maps

3. Sweet and salutary air: London's surrounding villages

Before 1680 the ancient towns and villages now absorbed in Greater London were rarely considered important enough to be mapped in their own right. From the 1680s, as the villages became socially and economically integrated into the London region, this changed. They were shown like stars surrounding the central sun of London, which had previously been depicted only with the villages of Middlesex, north of the Thames. Road surfaces improved considerably from the late 18th century.

Coaches began to run regularly between the centre of town and the outlying villages and it became possible for businessmen to live permanently in their country villas with their families and commute on a daily basis. Nevertheless, despite their increasing integration with London, most villages were still surrounded by fields in 1850.

Click the pins on the Google Map above or follow the links below to view some of the key maps from this period in our Online Gallery.

Survey of the Parish of Islington, 1735
Plan of a proposed Turnpike road from Marylebone to Finchley, 1824
Plan of the Fitz Roy Farm and Highgate Estate, 1840
View of the Highgate Archway Road, 1813
View from Hampstead looking towards London, 1800

Next section:
Out of sight: the East End



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