London – A Great Historical City

Visiting London is a must, if you like traveling. So let’s take a moment to learn a little about its rich history.

You will begin to sense that, in such an ancient place as this, history surrounds you, without you necessarily realizing it.

In London Town, you’ll be walking in the steps of brigands and knights and empire-builders and great queens! For example:

  • As a living tribute, to a great King, notice the swans on the Thames River. They are not native to England. The first swans were brought to London Town by King Richard I, the Lion-heart (the “good” king in the chronicles of Robin Hood, Lord Locksley). He gathered the graceful birds in Cyprus, when returning from the Crusades in the 1100s!
  • And, William the Conqueror built the Tower of London after he beat the Saxon king, Harold, nearby at the Battle of Hastings, in 1066. Now, you can walk the cobblestones of this ancient, Norman building, and marvel, as you are surrounded by nearly 1,000 years of human triumph and tragedy!
  • But England’s history is much older than this. Julius Caesar walked here in London, in 54 BC, and the Romans established Londinium in 43 CE. Roman artifacts are regularly unearthed in the city. Maybe you’ll find something at the Thames’ edge.
  • Before the Romans, the ancient Celts migrated from the Middle East (and maybe even India), to form the core of the present British people. Even within the city’s boundaries, archeologists have found remains of ancient Celtic communities. London has been inhabited for at least 5,000 years, since Neolithic times, for sure.
  • Marauding Scandinavians ravaged the British coasts, and the Celts were transformed into Anglo-Saxons, by the repeated invasions, pillaging and intermarriage with Angles, Saxons, Danes and Jutes, beginning in the 6th century CE.

London’s present importance is also acknowledged by having 4 World Heritage Sites within her city limits: the Palace of Westminster (now part of the Houses of Parliament), the Tower of London, Maritime Greenwich and the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew. They’re all along the ancient River Thames (which the Romans named Tamesis).  You can also enjoy the river at the following special sites:

  • Come see the source of a childhood classic! On the Thames, near Pangbourne, you can find Mapledurham House, the 1588 model for Toad Hall, written about in “The Wind in the Willows” by author Kenneth Grahame.  As you roam London, guides and guide-books will tell of countless other citizens who made their fame and fortune here.
  • Much has happened in London, or nearby, which changed the world. In that vein, a trip upriver to Runnymede becomes a pilgrimage, for that place is where evil King John was forced to sign the Magna Carta (the Great Charter), from which billions of people now derive their Liberty under Law.

And, in this great urban playground called London, you will be pleasantly surprised at how much nature still surrounds you. Some of it even still ancient and timeless, not just groomed parks.

One third of London is open-space! That’s quite a commitment to nature. Be sure to take a walk on Hampstead Heath and see the remains of the ancient British Forest of Middlesex, at Highgate Wood.

Those great oak trees previously felled there, built the timbered medieval homes after the Great Fire of London and the great ships which took Sir Francis Drake around the world; protected England from the Spanish Armada and carried the colonists to the Americas.

Enjoy your trip to London, and learn much more from our articles. Please take time to meet the local people. And, be sure to check out the city’s preparation for the 2012 Olympics. Then, London will host the world!

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