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Martin Holmes

In 1569, Richard Grafton, an enterprising London printer completed the first attempt to provide a critical history of England. Martin Holmes describes the process.

Ludgate in flames, with St. Paul's Cathedral in the distance (square tower without the spire) now catching flames. Oil painting by anonymous artist, ca. 1670.

In 1666, writes Martin Holmes, much of the ancient City of London went up in what Samuel Pepys described as a ‘most horrid malicious bloody flame’.

Martin Holmes describes how, when Henry VIII was aged twenty-six, the Easter sermons of 1517 provoked riots in London against the wealth and power of aliens at Court.

Seven hundred years ago King Henry III was defeated at Lewes by Simon de Montfort; their abiding joint memorial is Edward the Confessor’s Abbey which Henry III refounded. By Martin Holmes.

An engraving by Claes Visscher showing Old London Bridge in 1616, with what is now Southwark Cathedral in the foreground. The spiked heads of executed criminals can be seen above the Southwark gatehouse.

Most of Shakespeare’s working life was spent in or around the City of London. By the time he retired, Greater London – a residential as well as a commercial metropolis – was beginning to spring up beyond its ancient limits.