London - LEISURED CITY 1: Aristocratic Capitalism

Season 3, Ep. 1

In this episode, we explore the basic economics of the West End, seeing how a single estate was built up through speculative development.

We walk from St Martin-in-the-Fields to Bedford Square, almost all of it, at one time, part of the Bedford Estate. Before the aristocrats came to town, we’d have been in the countryside, much of it owned by Westminster Abbey. But, in the mid-16th century, the Earl of Bedford gets his hands on Covent Garden. Then, in the early 17th century, his descendants begin to build up the estate. Fifty years later, they marry well and acquire Bloomsbury, where another aristocrat has come up with a template, which determines the subsequent history of the West End: long leases, tall terraces, and garden squares. The fortunes of the estate have waxed and waned over the years. Covent Garden and Bloomsbury have diverged. Still, though, the basic pattern is clear.

You can follow the walk on this map: bit.ly/3WxJ98o 

And you can find the full transcript here: bit.ly/3I6AzJR

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PRODUCER: Jelena Sofronijevic

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