A General View of London and Westminster; 1777
4 5 c m
actual image size: 48cm x 5cm

A General View of London and Westminster; 1777

J. Bennett

© Museum of London

Full image caption

A General View of London and Westminster.
This is part of a panorama of London, seen from the south bank of the Thames, which dates to the mid 1700s. It gives a sense of what London looked like once it was rebuilt after the fire. It is still a crowded city but the style of the houses is very different. They are made from brick, instead of wood and of a uniform structure, as set out in the Rebuilding Act of 1667. The spires of the churches and the dome of St Paul's Cathedral, all designed by Christopher Wren, dominate the skyline. The quayside has been straightened, and the Fleet River has been turned into a canal - all works specified in the Rebuilding Act. The Act hoped to introduce 'uniformity and gracefulness' to the buildings and 'that great and outrageous fires may be reasonably prevented'. In these aims it was successful.
Samuel and Nathaniel Buck travelled the British Isles making drawings, or 'prospects', of major towns, cities and archaeological sites, which were then published as engravings in London. Their drawing of Westminster and the City of London, made up of five sheets, was first printed in 1749. However, this particular print is a re-issue, published 1777. It has been updated to include major new features such as Blackfriars Bridge and the widened London Bridge, which has also had the houses removed.

Although the brothers have flattened the perspective - the meanders of the Thames have been straightened, for instance - the print is, nevertheless, astonishing in its accuracy. Comparison shows the image fits consistently with mid 18th century maps.




1777 AD - 1777 AD

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