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The London Borough

Of Tower Hamlets

Tower Hamlets - A very brief history.

The LondTower Hamlets logoon Borough of Tower Hamlets as it is known today came into being in 1965. It was the result of merging three smaller boroughs; Bethnal Green, Poplar, and Stepney into one larger unit.

There have been people living in the area for centuries, long before the Romans came and founded the City of London, which is just a short distance away. It is not known for sure whether this was a permanent stone age settlement or not. The soil though, would have been ideal for farming and so makes it more than likely that they were actually the first local residents.

City trivia spot

Before the Romans

Christianity slowly became the dominant religion over the years and the church started to become rich as well as powerful. As the wealth of the church grew so did the areas of land in it’s possession. The manor that included present day Tower Hamlets and Hackney came under possession of the church in the form of the Bishops of London.

 In 1078 William the Conqueror started the beginnings of the Tower of London with the construction of the White Tower to keep an eye on the City. In later years it was the settlements, or hamlets around the Tower that provided the soldiers to man the fortress. These ‘Tower Hamlets’ covered the area of today’s borough and a part of Hackney.

There is obviously no written history for this period in time and very little archaeological evidence has survived or been found. It is, according to Kevin Kerrigan in his ‘History of Tower Hamlets’, a fact that around 200 years prior to the Roman invasion of 43 AD the area was part of the territory captured by the Belgic tribes. They had invaded in the second century BC.

When the Romans came they chased these tribes to their capital town of Catuvellauni (now Colchester) where they defeated them. The town later became a colony for veteran Roman legionnaires who stayed here.