Victorian London

I’ll be adding links to some useful sources on Victorian history here.


Georeferenced maps of London from the National Library of Scotland. Amazing resources. You can overlay a range of old maps over London. Fantastic detail.

Booth’s Poverty Maps on the LSE website. Victorian anti-poverty campaigners mapped out the socio-economic features of London districts and streets.

1884 London Underground railway map

London Picture map. This allows you to search for old pictures of locations around London.

Victorian institutions

Work-houses and Poor Law Unions. This is a terrific site with background on the work-house system, poor relief, as well as information about individual work-houses.


John Thomson’s Victorian London Street Life in Historic Photographs. A brilliant source.

Lee Jackson’s Dictionary of Victorian London – a terrific website of original sources

The Gentle Author’s Spitalfieldslife is a terrific, ever-changing site. Brilliant collections of old and new pictures and features about the social history of London.

Thames River Police Museum – a small museum in Wapping Police Station. You have to book with the curator to get in here but it’s full of fascinating things.

Linley Sambourne House – the home of the Sambourne family from 1875 – many of its Victorian features are preserved

Oldest footage ever taken of London (from the Evening Standard).

Historical Thesaurus from the OED. Invaluable for writers of historical fiction.

Article on prostitution by Judith Flanders.

Article on Victorian Christmas by Judith Flanders.

Walking Trails with Old Maps – I went on the trail around The Borough in South London. It was brilliant. Ken, the ‘old map man’, knows all about the hidden history in London’s streets.

London Metropolitan Archives – amazing collection of historical records. Free to use.

British Library Newspaper Collection – free to register as a reader – newspapers from the Victoran age.

London Docklands Museum – a wonderful exhibition if you’re interested in the history of the working Thames

Derelict London tours – these sell out really fast – they are great!

Victorian London in photographs – from the London picture archive

Museum of Cambridge – set out as a series of rooms including a pub – lots of Victorian objects.

Museum of London – this has a mock Victorian street with a range of shops, as well as great, small sections on social history and the suffragettes. The bookshops has a good collection relating to Victorian London.

Foundling Museum – founded in 1739, the Foundling Hospital took in children whose parents couldn’t look after them. Covering the 1700s to the 1900s, this museum shows you what life was like in the Hospital. There’s a heart-breaking display of the ‘tokens’ that parents left when they their children were taken in. These tokens, many of which were home-made, were then used to identify the children if the parents ever returned to collect them.

Elizabeth Garrett Anderson Gallery – the first woman ever to qualify as a doctor in Britain in 1865. She was also one of the founders of the New Hospital for Women and Children, and the London School of Medicine for Women. This is a small but informative exhibition.

Victorian beauty treatments – article by Natalie Zarrelli in Atlas Obsura

A bookshelf full of books about the history of London. And a short list from me about poverty in Victorian England.