Before 4000BCE (Neolithic Age, also called the New Stone Age), when people started farming, The first known Eastenders enjoyed decent meals, according to recent discoveries.

2500BCE:  When Stonehenge was built (that circle of large stones in Wiltshire that you can still visit today) there were settlements in the East London area

800BCE: The Iron Age. Celtic warrior groups (Britons) from Europe came to live here. London and Thames are Celtic originated names.

The Celtic languages spoken in modern days in the British Isles and Brittany, derive from their common tongue


43: The Romans invaded. The Roman invasion was led by Emperor Claudius. The Romans built roads and towns across England (every town with a name ending in ‘cester’, ‘caster’ or ‘chester’ is from Roman times, including Winchester and Dorchester). ROMAN ROAD follows the course a Roman road leading to  the OLD FORD (Lock), which was superseded by the WHITECHAPEL, MILE END, BOW roads after the building of an arched bridge (shaped as a BOW) over the RIVER LEA. Archaeologists made some findings a century ago, around ARMAGH ROAD. Roman rests were found as well in WAPPING.
LONDON was the first military and comercial settlement, but the first capital was COLCHESTER, CAMULODUNUM, for the Romans.  It became known as LONDINIUM (remember, from a Celtic form). The basements of the CITY OF LONDON’ s buildings  contain the rests the majority of the ROMAN public buildings, as it became the capital, after the demise of COLCHESTER.  Visit especially the AMPHITHEATRE, under the GUILDHALL, the TEMPLE OF MITHRAS, open to the public in the BLOOMBERG HEADQUARTERS and the BATHS In BILLINGSGATE. When you walk from the TOWER to as e tyre into the EAST END you will see a couple fragments of the ROMAN and MEDIEVAL WALL.

The THAMES was  baptised TAMESIS. ISIS is a popular name for the river when it crosses OXFORD.

The Romans did not left any place name in the. Greater London area. There are no “chesters” or “casters” or “forums”  in the old village names, but rather  names created in Anglo-Saxon times.


60: Boudicca, queen of a Celtic tribe in east England, fought the Romans, after being vexed by the new occupiers. Over 2 years they destroyed 3 cities, until she was captured after the BATTLE fought, if we believe the legend, around the KING’S CROSS area (of course, long before the CROSS and the STATION!). Beside the approach  of WESTMINSTER BRIDGE stands the MEMORIAL TO BOUDICCA.


410: Romans troops left.  The ROMAN EMPIRE was crumbling.  Celtic kingdoms reappear alongside Roman culture. A Celtic-Roman civilisation emerged. But LONDINIUM declined, in fact, almost disappeared from the map, as a living centre of urban life, as the Anglo-Saxons gradually moved into England: that is  tribes from areas in Germany (ANGLES  and SAXONS), the Netherlands (FRISIANS), and Denmark (JUTES). The would be ENGLISH established LUNDENWIC (around ALDWICH).

The Celtic people were pushed to Wales, Cornwall, Devon, Somerset, Cumbria and Scotland. But by about 800, Cornwall, Devon and Somerset were part of the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Wessex.


597: Christianity became popular in Anglo-Saxon kingdoms. CANTERBURY  preceded LONDON as a cathedral city and bishopspric. Which explains why the Archbishop of CANTERBURY is the primate of the English Church (now, in Protestant times, as it was in Catholic England). Finally, in the 6th c., the former colonial capital gets its first cathedral. We own it to BISHOP MELLITUS, and it was built in the  the same site where you can admire the current WREN’s cathedral, which was—probably--the site of the main Roman temple.


793: Vikings from Scandinavia arrived. Within 100 years the Vikings controlled most of central and north-eastern England, an area called the Danelaw.
The ROMAN WALL, rebuilt by ALFRED THE GREAT, must have had some effect,  and the King fought the Scandinavians along parts of the LEA VALLEY. But finally LUNDENBURG was submitted. However capital status had been restored to London by King Alfred. 

Believe you or not, nobody knows for sure where the royal palace was, in LUNDENBURG. 
Many Englishwords and place names are Scandinavian. That, we know.


925: King Athelstan crowned. He was the first to be king of the area we now call England.


Meanwhile… in 1005: Scotland was being united. Rival northern Celtic groups formed one nation, Scotland.


1066: The Norman Conquest. William, Duke of Normandy, beat King Harold II at the Battle of Hastings. His Norman armies invaded England and most of Wales. William was known as ‘William the Conqueror’. 

Around the same time, the first TOWER OF LONDON began to be constructed. The HAMLETS situated to the East  of the TOWER began contributing to the defence of London.

1086: The Domesday Book. King William I created the Domesday Book, a very detailed record of everyone who owned land or animals. This was so he could tax them. Several copies of the document  still  survive and can be viewed.

With the DB starts English local history. We get to know the MANORS in which the land of England was divided up to the Normans arrived.  To the East of London, the MANOR OF STEPNEY extended up to the LEA VALLEY. That is modern TOWER HAMLETS. Its Southern border was the THAMES. To the North, it comprised a fraction of modern HACKNEY. The hamlet of  STEPNEY  (around ST.DUNSTAN’S CHURCH). was the main population centre, and the church, the only one. Other hamlets were being developed, though. In SAXON times emerged most of the villages in England, as we know them today.

The population thought was minuscule. Fields, pastures, forests… surrounded London.


1135: Times of Anarchy. After King Henry I died, there was a brutal civil war for 19 years. This was because two people wanted the English crown: Henry’s daughter Matilda, and his nephew Stephen of Blois. Eventually Stephen won.

MATILDA, during her reign, had founded ST.KATHARINE’s, East of the TOWER, and had a new BRIDGE built over the LEA.


1171: England invaded Ireland. After the invasion, England ruled the island of Ireland for over 700 years. Although there was some mixing of the English and Irish populations, mostly they lived side by side The impoverishment of Ireland explains the constant migration of the Irish to East London.


1215: King John forced to sign the Magna Carta. King John was a arbitraryruler. His lords became angry and made him sign a document (the Magna Carta) that said he must follow the rules of law of England. It also limited how much the lords could be taxed and gave ‘free men’ the right to a fair trial. This basic and elitist idea of human rights was re-edited in 1688 (GLORIOUS REVOLUTION) and 1776 (AMERICAN REVOLUTION & INDEPENDENCE) and then copied across the world.

1258: almost a third of London population wiped out by a famine, caused by a volcanic eruption. That factor was discovered thanks to archeological rests discovered in SPITALFIELDS.


1284: England took control of Wales. King Edward I fought Welsh prince Llywelyn ap Gruffudd and he was killed in 1282. In 1284, the Statute of Rhuddlan made Wales part of England. England and Wales made a formal union in 1536. All this explains why the  British flag  and the Royal Coat of Arms do not contain any Welsh symbology. On the other hand, , the heir of the throne of that forced Union was given the title of PRINCE OF WALES, tradition that continues in modern times.


1296: Edward I invaded Scotland. A year later, a man called William Wallace tried to fight the English. Scottish king Robert the Bruce defeated the English at the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314. Scotland became independent in 1328.


1315: The Great Famine. Over 7 years, at least 10% of people across Britain died from starvation caused by 2 years of extreme cold weather, caused by the first recorded eruption at Mount Tarawera in 1315 in the Kaharoa eruption. It is believed that the ash thrown from this eruption had an impact on temperatures around the globe, ruining agricultural production. It is also believed to have been the cause of the Great Famine of 1315-17 in Europe.

1337: The Hundred Years’ War begins. It started when King Edward III of England tried to invade France. 116 years later, France won.

1348: The Black Death. Bubonic plague killed 40% of people in one year. Many villages disappeared. But because of a labour shortage, the remaining peasants could suddenly choose who to work for and what to do. There was big social change.


1381: The Peasants’ Revolt. Thousands of peasants protested in London because they wanted equal rights and did not want to pay a new poll tax. Eventually wool exports were taxed instead.

Precisely, king RICHARD met the revolted in MILE END.



1400: The Welsh Revolt: a member of the Welsh royalty, Owain Glyndwr, led the Welsh to revolt against the new English king, Henry IV. At first it seemed like he was successful, but eventually the English took back control.


1450s: The Wars of the Roses. When King Henry VI became too ill to rule, Richard, Duke of York was asked to take over temporarily. However, he didn’t want to stop being ruler even when the king was better. This started a 30-year war between two sides of the English royal Plantagenet family: the House of York (which had a white rose as a symbol) and the House of Lancaster (red rose).

1485: The start of the Tudor dynasty. Henry Tudor of the House of Lancaster won the Battle of Bosworth Field and became King Henry VII. To stop the fighting of the previous 30 years, he married his rival’s niece, Elizabeth of York. Henry then created the House of Tudor (with a red and white rose). England and Wales entered a time of relative peace and growing wealth.


1534: Breaking with the Roman Papacy. King Henry VIII wanted to divorce his wife because she had not provided him with a male heir. But divorce was forbidden by the Pope. So Henry made himself the head of a new church, the Church of England (which would become a Protestant denomination,  which led to many years of Catholic-Protestant fighting.  Henry VIII is famous now for having six wives.

1536: Dissolution of the monasteries. King Henry VIII took the wealth and influence from English  monasteries. You will discover and explore many sights in East London where remains of monasteries can be seen in a few places: STRATFORD, BARKING, WAPPING, BROMLEY-BY-BOW…

The man who supervised the suppression of the monastic orders in England was THOMAS CROMWELL. He had a home STEPNEY, standing roughly where the STEPNEY CITY FARM is now. STEPNEY was in the EAST what CHELSEA was to the WEST. Other wealthy people had houses here.


1555-59. Brief reign of Mary Tudor. She was the daughter of Queen Catherine, hence she was brought up as a very devout Catholic. Protestants were now persecuted, as the country reverted to Catholicism . Some of them were executed in East London (PROTESTANT MARTYRS MEMORIAL, STRATFORD).


1559: Queen Elizabeth I crowned. She was a Protestant queen who ruled for 44 years. It was mostly a time of  wealth and prosperity for the country, although many thousands are made homeless because of changes in land use. They had no other choice that migrating to towns and cities.
She settled for a moderate Protestantism, but Catholicism continued to be banned from the public sphere.

1588: The Armada. A huge fleet  o Spain approached the British Isles and tried to invade England. They were defeated by the weather and thanks to the expertise  of the English seamen and the more advanced English vessels. 
Where those vessels were built?. Where they were repaired?. The LONDON DOCKLANDS played a fenomenal role. The ROYAL NAVY was based in GREENWICH.

The North bank of the Thames, our area, was no less important.


1592: Scotland becomes Presbyterian. This is a type of Protestant Christianity  influenced by the teachings of John Calvin.

1603: The start of the Stuart dynasty. King James VI of Scotland was a close relation of the English Queen Elizabeth I. He was crowned as James I of England after her death because she has no children. It brought the two independent nations together, under one crown

1642: The Civil War started. King Charles I was not a good leader and wanted money for a war with Scotland. Parliament did not want to help him. People who supported the king (Cavaliers) fought people who supported Parliament (Roundheads). About 10% of the population died in the fighting.

1649: Britain became a republic (called ‘the Commonwealth’). King Charles I had his head cut off. His executioner was an Eastender. A military leader called Oliver Cromwell took control. He became a, measured in modern standards, dictator.


1660: The Restoration of the Monarchy. Cromwell died in 1658 and his son Richard took over. He was not a good leader. Charles I’s son was invited back to the country to be King Charles II.


1665: The Great Plague of London. About 20% of London’s population died of bubonic plague.

1666: The Great Fire of London. A fire that started in a bakery destroyed 80% of the city.

BOTH events had an important influence, socially:  the areas around London, received a great influx of population, as Londoners had to flee from those cataclysms. The areas to the West of London, close to the Royal Palace of ST.JAMES’S, became the first wealthy suburbs. To the East, the Port was expanding, thanks to the growth of trade. And the ancillary industries with it. More workers of those industries started  living nearby.

Brickworks to the East of London helped the rebuilding of the old city. Hence the name of the street so famous nowadays for its curry houses, it’s street art, its Sunday market and its bagels.

1689: The Glorious Revolution. King James II (King Charles II’s brother) was unpopular – and Catholic. He fled abroad after William of Orange (the husband of his Protestant daughter Mary) came with an army. Mary and William became joint monarchs, known as William III and Mary. The BILL OF RIGHTS had to be signed by both, putting a boundary to their powers, for the first time in a monarchic country.


1692: The Glencoe Massacre. Catholics in Scotland were told to swear their support of the new king William III (a Protestant) by January 1, 1692. The chief of the MacDonald clan did it too late. In return, 34 men, 2 women and 2 children were killed by soldiers of the Earl of Argyll on the orders of the king.


1707: A Treaty of Union between Scotland and Englan: a United Kingdom of Great Britain was made, with a British parliament in Westminster.

1714: The start of the Georgian era. Queen Anne died and her nearest Protestant relative became the new king, George I. He was from Germany. This was the start of a time of great wealth and colonial expansion. Commerce expanded and with it, the port areas, in East London.

1715: First Jacobite Rebellion. Catholics who wanted James II of England back on the throne (called Jacobites) fought Protestants who supported the new king

George I. The fighting ended when the grandson of James II (known as ‘Bonnie Prince Charlie’) lost the Battle of Culloden in 1746.

1720: South Sea Bubble. Thousands of people went bankrupt and many took their own life when the price of shares in the South Sea Company collapsed.

1780s: The Highland Clearances. Over 100 years, people in Highland Scotland were forced from their villages and farms so the land could be used for sheep. Thousands of people emigrated, many to Ireland or North America.

1798: The Irish Rebellion. Irish people fought against British rule, with support from the French. Nearly 30,000 people died. Eventually, the British won.

1801: The modern UK is created. Because of the Irish rebellion, Britain dissolved the Irish parliament and moved its responsibilities to the British parliament. This created the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.

1825: The first passenger railway is built. It goes between Stockton and Darlington. The line from Londonto Greenwich dates from 1836. Soon there were railways nearly everywhere. Many were shut in the 1960s. 
The EASTERN COUNTIES RAILWAY  CO.  started operating trains to ESSEX, from a station in MILE END OLD TOWN. A few years later, the STATFORD WORKS became the biggest manufacturers of locomotives  and wagons.


1834: Abolishment of slavery. Slave trade was made illegal in 1803, in the whole of the British Empire. Slavery became illegal across most of the British Empire after a new law was passed. There was a transitional period that lasted until 1838. Some areas had to wait until 1843: St Helena, Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) and places in India controlled by the East India Company. A new system of ‘indentured labourers’ was introduced to replace slavery; which means that for many people it was not much better.

The West Indian plantation owners, who had set up the WEST INDIA DOCKS were generously compensated.

QUAKERS residents in East London very influential in the adoption of those measures.  The MUSEUM OF LONDON DOCKLANDS explains this subject awesomely 


1837: The start of the Victorian era. During the reign of Queen Victoria, the British Empire grew until it had a population of over 400 million people. It included countries like India, Australia and much of Africa. Most of these countries are now independent. And many of its people have moved this shores and have become Londoners. 
As trade expanded, the Port of London continued to expand, as did the manufacturing industries in East London.

1845-50: Irish Potato Famine. In the middle of that splendorous period, in a part of the country 1 million people died and about 1 million emigrated when a disease destroyed potatoes, the only food of the poor. During this time, many other foods were grown and sent to Britain. This made Ireland even more determined to become independent.

Those Irish who had to emigrate to London, built the canals and the railways. There has been a sizeable Irish population in East London.


1851: The Great Exhibition. This first international trade fair in London showed 100,000 of the most amazing objects from the British Empire, and from other countries of the world.  It was held in a very big glass building called the ‘Crystal Palace’ and was visited by 6 million people, including Queen Victoria.


1901: The start of the Edwardian era. After Queen Victoria’s death, her son became King Edward  VII. He died in 1910, but the ‘Edwardian era’ is often considered to last until 1914. Britain changed a lot after World War 1, so the Edwardian era marks the last days of the British Empire and the social system of large country houses.

Edwards coronation had to be put off. He was operated of appendicitis in the ROYAL LONDON, by DR. TREVES.


1903: The Suffragettes. For 11 years, women from the Women’s Political and Social Union (called ‘Suffragettes’) fought for women to get the vote, in the same conditions that men, taking into account that the poorest male workers were After World War I, women over 30 who own property are allowed to vote. Finally, in 1928, everyone over 21 was allowed to vote.

For her part, SYLVIA PANKHURST led the EAST LONDON FEDERATION OF SUFFRAGETTES, a movement who fought for the social and political rights of the poorest in society. They were based in BOW.


1914–18: World War 1. The war brought social change because women had to do the jobs until then reserved to men, while those were fighting in the trenches  of Europe. Definitely, men from the East End also helped the  Allied Powers war effort.
What about the suffragettes?


1921: The Catholic southern part of Ireland declared independence from Britain. It became a republic in 1949. Six mainly Protestant counties in the north stayed with Britain and became Northern Ireland (sometimes called ‘Ulster’). Protestants were usually of English or Scottish descent, while Catholics were usually of Irish descent. The impact is still felt today.

1939–45: World War 2. Famous moments included evacuating British soldiers from Dunkirk in France (1940), the Battle of Britain (German air attacks stopped by British pilots, 1940), the Blitz (bombing raids on British cities, 1940-41), and D-Day/Normandy Landings (when the US, Canada and UK invaded German-occupied France, 1944).

The EAST END and the DOCKLANDS were the worst affected areas of the BLITZ and the V bombs.

The LONDON DOCKS contributed to the construction of the MULBERRY DOCKS. 

1948: The Windrush generation. People from the West Indies were invited to help Britain rebuild after the war or work in the NHS. Over the next decades, workers were invited from many other countries (including India, Pakistan and Bangladesh).

Asian people have formed large communities in East London. BRIXTON, South London, has become an iconic place for the WINDRUSH GENERATION and its descendants. Do not miss BRIXTON.

There thou


1951: Festival of Britain. An exhibition in London that celebrated British industry, art and science. POPLAR becomes an open air museum of architecture, as the first buildings of the LANSBURY ESTATE are erected.


1966: Conflich in Northern Ireland. Over 30 years of violence and bombing (known as ‘the Troubles’) start because of tension between Unionists (mostly Protestant, who want Northern Ireland to stay with Britain) and Nationalists/Republicans (mostly Catholic, who want Northern Ireland as part of the Republic of Ireland). A peace deal was signed in 1998, which gave Northern Ireland its own locally-elected government.

The last IRA bomb exploded in the ISLE OF DOGS in 


1966: England wins the football World Cup. They won 4-2 against Germany. Visit the junction of GREEN STREET and BARKING ROAD and you will realise that England owns a lot to WEST HAM UTD FC, and EAST LONDON.

The BEATLES had photo shots taken in the EAST END and filmed in STRATFORD. SMALL FACES was formed in East London, as was IRON MAIDEN.

1972: Bloody Sunday. British troops kill 14 civil rights protestors in Derry, Northern Ireland.

1973: The Three-Day Week. Strikes by coal miners meant there was not enough fuel for power stations. For two months, companies could only use electricity three days a week.

Can you imagine how East London lived though that period?.


1973: Britain joined the EEC. It was an early version of the European Union. 

1978/79: Winter of Discontent. Over 4 million people went on strike, including gravediggers, hospital staff, lorry drivers and rubbish collectors.


1981: Brixton Riots. There were riots in London and some other cities in reponse to racism by police.


1992: The Channel Tunnel opens. It links UK to France by road and rail. EAST LONDON is well served  by the EUROSTAR trains thanks to the STRATFORD CITY station. By the way, HS1 links this station with interesting places to visit in KENT


1997: Death of Princess Diana. The Princess was much loved by the public, so her death at such a young age upset many people.

2005: Civil partnerships became legal. Same-sex couples gained the same rights as married couples.


2012: Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. There were celebrations because Queen Elizabeth had been queen for 60 years. London, also hosted the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Most of the big 2012 sporting events took place in EAST LONDON, mainly in the OLYMPIC PARK. The LEGACY continues.


2016: Brexit vote. 52% of the UK voted to leave the European Union (though in London, Scotland and Northern Ireland most people wanted to stay). LONDONERS voted for staying in the EUROPEAN UNION. Population from the EU in some boroughs of East London:






2020: Britain left the European Union. End of the freedom of movement between the UK and the EU. 

2022: Queen’s Platinum Jubilee and Death of Queen Elizabeth II. National celebrations took place in June to recognise Queen Elizabeth II’s 70 years on the throne. Sadly, she died a few months later, in September. Her son became King Charles III.

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