Famed throughout the world for its meat market, the Smithfield area of London has a long and turbulent history. Originally a ‘smooth field’ lying just beyond the City wall, over the years Smithfield has seen riots, public executions and healing. From medieval times it became a centre of industry where tanners, slaughterers, glue-makers and dyers assembled. Largely untouched by either the Great Fire of 1666 or the 1940s Blitz, its streets preserve some of London’s most ancient institutions.
In Smithfield: Past and Present over one hundred illustrations and photographs trace the development of the area from Roman times to the present. The book records the growth of the notorious cattle market, the gaiety of the Bartholomew Fair, the history of the palace of the Bishops of Ely, medieval tournaments, crime and punishment, and the bawdy life of Cock Lane, one of London’s earliest ‘red-light’ districts.
Written by an architect and former town planner, this third edition looks at the people, history and buildings in this vibrant part of London, and considers the inevitable impact of Crossrail.