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A Glimpse of London

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Это первый из серии текстов о Лондоне для изучающих страноведение Англии.
A Glimpse of London's Past.
More than two thousand years ago the early Britons established a settlement on the north bank of the Thames. The site had many advantages. It was defended on two sides by rivers. It lay in the centre of the most fertile region. The old Britons gave the town its name, Llindin, which means a lonely port.
In the first century Britain was conquered, and for 400 years remained a Roman province. Llindin became Londinium. The Romans built long straight roads, good streets, beautiful palaces and shops. In 1066 came William the Conqueror. He settled in Londinium which now became London - the capital of Norman Britain. For 500 years the Normans were masters of Britain. They went everywhere about the country building new palaces and churches. The ideas were Norman, the labour was British. Wesminster Abbey was finished and William was the first king to be crowned there. By the 17th century London has become a busy, rich and crowded city. more than 400 000 people lived within the London walls. The old city looked very picturesque with its tall houses of wood. Lots of ships came to London daily. On one of them, together with some goods, the Great Plague had arrived in London. People fell ill one after another, and in a few days died. Whole families died. By the end of summer there were not enough people alive to bury the dead. In a few months nearly 100 000 died, about 1/5 of the population. But poor London! A year after the Plague another misfortune came down. It was the Great Fire. A young and careless baker left a small bundle of wood at night near a very hot oven. In a few hours big flames were seen all along the narrow street. All the houses made of wood soon were burning like paper and three thousand houses were in flames. Soon the wind changed, stopped blowing and a heavy rain fell. London was saved. The fire cleared away the old and dirty houses. It cleared away the Plague for ever. And a new London of stone and bricks with better houses, wider streets and squares was built. In 1829 the London buses first came on the streets of the city. Those were horse-drawn omnibuses. Seven years later the first railway came to London. In 1870 the first Tube Railway in the world opened. The total length of modern underground in London is 250 miles.
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