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City of London

The City of London is England’s smallest ceremonial county, Britain’s second smallest city and the ancient core of our capital. It has been administered as a separate entity since 886, and is run by the only completely autonomous local authority in the capital, the City of London (formerly known as the Corporation of London). The authority is headed by a Lord Mayor who is elected annually to preside over the City’s governing bodies, the Court of the Common Council and the Court of Aldermen

In the medieval period, the City was London, whilst Westminster was simply a neighbouring village. As the metropolis grew outside the City’s boundaries, the surrounding villages were enveloped and Greater London was formed.

The City used to have a significantly larger population, standing at some 208 000 in the early 1700s. However many of the City’s residential buildings have since been converted or knocked down to make way for commercial offices, and the City has developed into a major business centre, housing the London Stock Exchange and many of the world’s biggest global finance companies. As a result, fewer than 10 000 people live in the City, and whilst the area bustles with workers during the week, at the weekends it can become so quiet that many of the shops shut.

Did you know?

Famous pantomime character, Dick Whittington, was based on real life Lord Mayor of London, Richard Whittington. Richard Whittington was elected Mayor four times (in 1397, 1398, 1406 and 1419). However, there is no evidence to show that the real Whittington had a cat!

The UK’s first skyscraper was built in the City. It was named the Natwest Tower (since renamed Tower 42) and is 600ft high. It was Britain’s tallest building for ten years until Canary Wharf’s One Canada Square was constructed.

The Great Fire of London in 1666 destroyed many of the buildings in the City, including St Paul’s Cathedral and the homes of an estimated 70 000 residents. Following the fire, Charles II commissioned a monument to be built near where the fire started to commemorate the event. It was designed by Christopher Wren, and is known as ‘The Monument’ after which the nearby tube station is named.