This booklet is intended to be a practical Guide for Lissuns visiting London and wishing to see some of the places mentioned in the text of the Aubrey-Maturin novels. It may also appeal to those who are not visiting London in their corporeal bodies and who might wish to walk the city streets with Stephen or sail the Thames with Jack in their imaginations.
Most of the locations in London mentioned in the novels are listed in an indexed table - just over 100 in all - and I have provided textual descriptions of 48 of them in the preceding section. Those which are not described were either imagined by Patrick O'Brian, or are now non-existent or do not feature strongly in the action of the books. Those which are, have been described as they are today, but the more important sites may also have notes of how they appeared in the late Eighteenth or early Nineteenth Centuries.
The action of the Aubrey-Maturin novels begins in 1800 and ends in about 1816 with the bulk of the action - 12 of the 20 completed novels in the canon - taking place in the "time-warp year" of 1813. Most of the research into London has therefore considered the end of the Georgian era, the last twenty years of the centuries-old Anglo-French hostilities, which we know as the Napoleonic Wars.
This period saw a great deal of change in London, which expanded in every direction. Major buildings were commissioned by the Government, giving the administrative, political and military centre of London its characteristic feel of grandeur. Trading companies centralised their expanding administration into the new style "offices" replacing workrooms in private houses, and many constructed immense warehouses in the major dockland developments to the east of the mediaeval port of London. Speculative builders built new and improved housing for the rising middle classes on the ancient farmland, orchards and large gardens surrounding the two Cities and the many villages which constituted London at that time.
Commerce was expanding, much of it connected with the maritime trade which was the lifeblood of the nation, and supporting the Royal Navy, the country?s biggest employer at this time.