The impetus for the westward expansion of Stuart London came from grandees seeking easy access to the royal palaces of St James and Whitehall, and to the parliament at Westminster. The architect Inigo Jones was commissioned to create the suburb of Covent Garden in the 1630s; Bloomsbury, St James’s and Soho were developed as aristocratic initiatives. Where the aristocrats went, merchants and professionals followed: Piccadilly Hall was built as the residence of Robert Baker, who made his fortune from selling fashionable ‘picadil’ collars. The destruction wrought by the Great Fire instigated a building boom, which extended to the creation of new planned estates of aristocratic boltholes in Mayfair and St James, and large estates of middle-class homes in suburbs such as Marylebone. Until the mid-18th century north Lambeth was marshland, and development south of the river only began to gain momentum with the opening of Westminster Bridge (1750) and Blackfriars Bridge (1769). By the mid-18th century the population of London exceeded half a million, and accounted for 10 per cent of the British population.
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