This 1862 map of London is detailed enough to give a fascinating insight into what’s changed and what’s stayed the same, particularly in the outer edges of the capital: looks like I live in what was then a hedgerow. Interesting that while most of the road names in this part of Brixton have gone – Pleasant Retreat, for example, is now not a completely accurate description – the pub names have remained, though many of their crappy DJ-bar interiors would be a shock to a Victorian gent in search of a pint. (Although there are a couple of pubs at the top of the hill where he’d feel right at home.)
The same site points me in the direction of this collection of London maps, where I learn that north Hackney in 1885 looks a Romantic sort of place, with a hermitage and a Gothic Hall beside the marshes, along with lunatic asylums and other large, forbidding buildings such as Craven Lodge.
The British Library has a whole online exhibition devoted to the subject, although sadly I can’t check it out properly because they’re so up to date what with their Google Map mashups that it causes my browser to quit. Anyone with a computer that’s not suffering from overfeeding and heatstroke may have more luck.