Defining the Boundaries of London: Perambulation and the City in the Long Eighteenth Century

McKellar, Elizabeth (2014). Defining the Boundaries of London: Perambulation and the City in the Long Eighteenth Century. In: Investigating and Writing Architectural History: Subjects, Methodologies and Frontiers Papers from the Third EAHN International Meeting (Rosso, Michela ed.), pp. 437–447.

URL: https://eahn.org/app/uploads/2015/07/EAHN2014proce...

Abstract

This paper explores how London was defined by the new interest in walking in the long eighteenth century. As Michel de Certeau famously wrote central to understanding the ‘practices of everyday life’ which create the urban milieu was the act of walking. However, such a notion can traced back beyond the modern flâneur to the eighteenth-century when perambulation was also seen as an important mode in the comprehension and experience of the city. This paper focuses on the periphery of the capital to consider how the outer London landscapes were understood by contemporaries through the act of strolling in their green spaces. It draws on a large body of urban literature and visual evidence, in the form of topographical prints, is also used to establish the significance of this new leisure activity in contributing to the character and culture of the outskirts and its architecture as a distinct metropolitan zone spatially and metaphorically. This was a landscape created by movement and its accessibility from the centre, by a variety of means of transport, among which pedestrianism was of crucial importance.

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