Example22 (example22) wrote,
Example22
example22

Sightseeing without sights

Some while ago, when I first started getting interested in the history of London, I came across George Vertue's map of the Civil War defences of London. (Teeny image here.) I live right next to the site of one of the forts, so this map caught my attention.

I've walked around the Roman walls fairly often; it's a pleasant stroll, and there are remnants of the wall to be seen. The Civil War defences are a more substantial walking proposition: from Wapping in the east to Buckingham Palace in the west, from the New River Head in the north to the Imperial War Museum in the south. Not only that, but there's nothing left to see: the defences were torn down almost immediately after the war, and Vertue drew his map nearly a century later.

There are primary sources, of course: Acts of Parliament, for a start, and apparently William Lithgow wrote a contemporary account (although he seems to have been nicknamed "Lying Lithgow", which is hardly encouraging). But who needs primary sources? There are no remains above ground, and I'm not about to start digging, so what difference does it make if I'm a hundred yards out?

At least, that's what I thought. I walked along the defences (ish) last weekend, took photos, and may even upload them eventually -- but now I'm starting to consider buying books about Civil War London. Just to, you know, make sure I was in the right place. This is presumably how OCD starts...
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