Mobsters, executions and mayhem: London in the 1700s
The first problem in talking about London is deciding where it begins or ends. In 1907, Clarence Rook tried to walk across it, but gave up at nightfall in Wanstead Flats, where he could still see houses stretching "all the way to Romford". It was about 17 miles across at the time. A century earlier it spanned only five miles, but the fringes were such a no-man's land of rubbish, shanties, animal-traders, brick ovens and heaps of cinders and hop-husks that one could hardly say whether this was London or not.