Space and urban identities
in The social world of early modern Westminster
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This chapter shows the use of land and space in Westminster involved a constant series of negotiations between shifting interest groups and individuals. By the sixteenth century, open fields within Westminster began to be used for brickmaking, a smoky process which disfigured the landscape. Although these suburban activities continued to flourish into the seventeenth century, their coexistence with aristocratic urban development became increasingly problematic. The chapter examines the Crown's direct impact on the use of space. The Crown intervened in Westminster as part of its broader policy towards new building and the expansion of the capital. The building of new houses suitable for the gentry and aristocracy was undoubtedly one of the most significant developments to take place in modern Westminster. The role of parishes is a particularly important one, because disputes over the deployment of space gave rise to claims about the nature of the community and local society.

The social world of early modern Westminster

Abbey, court and community 1525–1640

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