Greater London: Local History Resources

London is the capital city of England, but it’s actually located in two different counties – Greater London and the City of London – and used to be spread across six counties before a 1965 reorganisation.

This page is about the county of Greater London, although there is much overlap with the City of London county which it surrounds.

Boroughs Of Greater London

5 million people lived in London in 1900, which was 20% of the population of Britain at the time. 

By the mid-twentieth century London was depopulating as people moved out in large numbers to the modern housing estates being built across South East England. Later the same century London’s cultural life attracted young people for work and city living, while the job vacancies arising out of an increasingly wealthy city drew in migrants from all over the world. 

In 2019, over 9 million people now live in London, even as second homes and empty investment properties there are booming. 

According to CityMetric, around one in 20 homes in central and west London is unoccupied, with half of residences in new builds generally lying empty. 

With so many people in one city which grew well beyond the boundary of the County of London into surrounding areas, 1965 saw the introduction of a new definition of London and the counties.

How many boroughs are in Greater London?

On 1 April 1965, the London Government Act 1963 created the City of London, 32 London boroughs and the ceremonial county of Greater London. 

Parts of Essex, Hertfordshire, Kent and Surrey were absorbed into Greater London, while the counties of Middlesex and London were abolished. 

Twelve boroughs in the new county of Greater London were designated Inner London boroughs while the other twenty were designated Outer London boroughs.

Although the City of London is surrounded by the county of Greater London, it is both a city and a county in its own right. Therefore, it is not part of the county of Greater London.

What are the 12 inner London boroughs?

  • Camden 
  • Greenwich 
  • Hackney 
  • Hammersmith and Fulham
  • Islington 
  • Kensington and Chelsea
  • Lambeth 
  • Lewisham 
  • Southwark 
  • Tower Hamlets
  • Wandsworth 
  • Westminster

What are the 20 outer London boroughs?

  • Barking and Dagenham 
  • Barnet 
  • Bexley
  • Brent 
  • Bromley
  • Croydon 
  • Ealing 
  • Enfield
  • Haringey
  • Harrow
  • Havering 
  • Hillingdon 
  • Hounslow 
  • Kingston upon Thames
  • Merton 
  • Newham
  • Redbridge
  • Richmond upon Thames
  • Sutton 
  • Waltham Forest 

London History Facebook Groups

The following Facebook groups share old photos, vintage films, memories and information about the local history of the areas now included in, and surrounding, Greater London:

  • Erith and Belvedere Local History Society
  • London: Old Photos and Films
  • Norwood Society Local History
  • Old Photos of Essex Kent & London
  • R & B Local History Society – Group Space (Rotherhithe & Bermondsey)
  • Richmond Local History Society
  • Rotherhithe & Bermondsey Local History Society
  • Tooting Local History Group
  • Tower Hamlets Local History Library & Archives

Local History Groups And Societies

The following organisations exist to discuss and increase knowledge about local history, archaeology and family history matters in the areas now part of Greater London:

  • Acton History Group
  • Barking & District Historical Society
  • Barnes and Mortlake History Society
  • Barnet & District Local History Society
  • Beckenham Historical Association
  • The Bedford Park Society
  • Berkshire Family History Society
  • Bexley Archaeological Group
  • Bexley Historical Society
  • Borough of Twickenham Local History Society
  • Bourne Society
  • Brentford and Chiswick Local History Society
  • Brentford High Street Project
  • Brentham Heritage Society
  • Brentham Society
  • Brixton Society
  • Bromley Borough Local History Society
  • Buckinghamshire Family History Society
  • Camberwell Society
  • Camden History Society
  • Camden New Town History Group
  • Carshalton and District History and Archaeology Society
  • Centre for Metropolitan History
  • Centre for the History of People, Place and Community
  • The Chelsea Society
  • Chingford Historical Society
  • Chiswick Pier Trust
  • City of London Archaeological Society
  • The Clapham Society
  • Croydon Natural History and Scientific Society
  • Crystal Palace Foundation
  • Docklands History Group
  • Dulwich Society
  • East of London Family History Society
  • East London History Society
  • East Surrey Family History Society
  • Edmonton Hundred Historical Society
  • Enfield Archaeological Society
  • Epsom & Ewell History Explorer
  • Epsom & Ewell History and Archaeology Society
  • Essex Society for Archaeology and History
  • Feltham History Group
  • The Finchley Society
  • Friends of the Old Palace
  • Friern Barnet & District Local History Society
  • Friern Barnet & District Local History Society
  • The Fulham and Hammersmith Historical Society
  • Greater London Industrial Archaeology Society
  • Greenwich Industrial History Society
  • Greenwich Historical Society
  • The Hackney Society
  • Arts & Crafts Hammersmith
  • The Hammersmith and Fulham Historical Buildings Group
  • Hanwell History Society
  • The Hayes and Harlington Local History Society
  • Hendon and District Archaeology Society
  • Hillingdon Family History Society
  • Hornsey Historical Society
  • Hounslow Heritage Guides
  • Hounslow and District History Society
  • Ilford Historical Society
  • The Island History Trust (Isle of Dogs)
  • The Isleworth Society
  • Islington Archaeology & History Society
  • Jewish East End Celebration Society
  • The Kensington Society
  • Lamorbey and Sidcup Local History Society
  • Lewisham Local History Society
  • Leyton & Leytonstone Historical Society
  • Little Ealing History
  • London and Middlesex Archaeological Society
  • London Record Society
  • London Topographical Society
  • London, Westminster and Middlesex Family History Society
  • Merton Historical Society
  • Middlesex Heraldry Society
  • The Newham Story
  • North West Kent Family History Society
  • Orpington and District Archaeology Society
  • Pinner Local History Society
  • Port of London Study Group
  • Potters Bar and District Historical Society
  • The Putney Society
  • Richmond Archaeological Society
  • Richmond Local History Society
  • Rotherhithe and Bermonsey Local History Society
  • Ruislip, Northwood & Eastcote Local History Society
  • Southgate District Civic Trust
  • Southwark Heritage Association
  • Stanmore and Harrow Historical Society
  • Streatham Society
  • Sunbury and Shepperton Local History Society
  • Surbiton & District Historical Society
  • Sydenham Society
  • The East London History Society
  • Tooting History Group
  • Twickenham Local History Society
  • Uxbridge Local History Society
  • The Vauxhall Society
  • Waltham Forest Family History Society
  • Walthamstow Historical Society
  • Wandsworth Historical Society
  • Wembley History Society
  • West Drayton & District Local History Society
  • West Middlesex Family History Society
  • West Surrey Family History Society
  • Willesden Local History Society
  • The Wimbledon Society
  • Woolwich and District Family History Society

Museums In Greater London

Greater London has literally hundreds of museums, art galleries and exhibitions on offer. We’ve picked out the ones which offer some insight into the lives of the area’s past residents or look at the buildings and architecture which were part of the local environment. Others offer an insight into the trades and services which people worked in over the past centuries. 

Most of the museums listed have standard opening hours. But some restrict access with a few requiring an appointment for entry.

National museums are free entry because they are mostly funded from state sources. But many of the museums on this list require an entrance fee from visitors in order to cover their running costs.

  • 2 Willow Road
  • 7 Hammersmith Terrace
  • 18 Stafford Terrace
  • 575 Wandsworth Road
  • All Hallows-by-the-Tower Crypt Museum
  • Anaesthesia Heritage Centre
  • Apsley House
  • Arsenal Football Club Museum
  • Baden-Powell House Exhibition
  • Bank of England Museum
  • Banqueting House, Whitehall
  • Barnet Museum
  • Battle of Britain Bunker
  • Benjamin Franklin House
  • Bentley Priory Museum
  • Black Cultural Archives
  • Bethlem Museum of the Mind
  • Borough Road Gallery
  • Boston Manor House
  • Brent Museum
  • British Airways Heritage Centre
  • British Dental Association Museum
  • British Library
  • British Museum
  • British Optical Association Museum
  • British Postal Museum and Archive
  • British Red Cross Museum and Archives
  • Brixton Windmill
  • Bromley Museum
  • Bruce Castle Museum
  • Brunel Museum
  • Buckingham Palace
  • Burgh House & Hampstead Museum
  • Campbell Works
  • Carlyle’s House
  • Cartoon Museum
  • Charles Dickens Museum
  • Chelsea Physic Garden
  • Chisenhale Gallery
  • Chiswick House
  • Churchill War Rooms
  • City of London Police Museum
  • Cinema Museum
  • Clarence House
  • Clink Prison Museum
  • Crofton Roman Villa
  • Crossness Pumping Station
  • Crystal Palace Museum
  • Cutty Sark Museum
  • Danson House
  • Dennis Severs’ House
  • Dr Johnson’s House
  • Dorich House
  • Down House
  • Eastbury Manor House
  • Eltham Palace
  • Enfield Museum
  • Fan Museum
  • Faraday Museum
  • Fashion and Textile Museum
  • Fenton House
  • Fleming Museum
  • Florence Nightingale Museum
  • Forty Hall Museum
  • Foundling Museum
  • Francis Skaryna Belarusian Library and Museum
  • Freud Museum
  • Fulham Palace
  • Fusiliers Museum
  • Galton Collection
  • Garden Museum
  • Garrick’s Temple to Shakespeare
  • Geffrye Museum
  • Goldsmiths’ Centre
  • Golden Hinde
  • Gordon Museum of Pathology
  • Greenwich Visitor Centre
  • Guards Museum
  • Guildhall Art Gallery
  • Gunnersbury Park Museum
  • Hackney Museum
  • Hall Place
  • Ham House
  • Hampton Court Palace
  • Handel & Hendrix in London
  • Harrow Museum
  • Havering Museum
  • HMS Belfast
  • Hogarth’s House
  • Honeywood Museum
  • Honourable Artillery Company Museum
  • Horniman Museum
  • Household Cavalry Museum
  • House Mill
  • Hunterian Museum
  • ICANDO (Formerly the Girl Guide Heritage Centre)
  • Imperial War Museum London
  • Inns of Court & City Yeomanry Museum
  • Institute of Archaeology Collections
  • Islington Museum
  • Jack the Ripper Museum
  • Jewel Tower
  • Jewish Museum London
  • Keats House
  • Kelmscott House Museum
  • Kensington Palace
  • Kenwood House
  • Kew Gardens
  • Kew Palace
  • Kingston Museum
  • Kirkaldy Testing Museum
  • Lambeth Palace
  • Langdon Down Museum of Learning Disability
  • Leighton House Museum
  • Library and Museum of Freemasonry
  • Little Holland House
  • London Canal Museum
  • London Film Museum
  • London Fire Brigade Museum
  • London Mithraeum
  • London Motorcycle Museum
  • London Museum of Water & Steam
  • London Sewing Machine Museum
  • London Transport Museum
  • London Transport Museum Depot
  • Magic Circle Museum
  • Mansion House
  • Marble Hill House
  • Markfield Beam Engine and Museum
  • MCC Museum
  • Merton Heritage Centre
  • Museum of Army Music
  • Museum of Asian Music
  • Museum of Brands, Packaging and Advertising
  • Museum of Comedy
  • Museum of Croydon
  • Museum of Domestic Design and Architecture
  • Museum of Immigration and Diversity
  • Museum of Life Sciences
  • Museum of London
  • Museum of London Docklands
  • Museum of Richmond
  • Museum of the Order of St John
  • Museum of Wimbledon
  • Musical Museum
  • National Army Museum
  • National Gallery
  • National Maritime Museum
  • National Portrait Gallery
  • Old Operating Theatre Museum and Herb Garret
  • Old Royal Naval College
  • Old Speech Room Gallery and Museum, Harrow School
  • Osterley Park and House
  • Pitzhanger Manor
  • Polish Institute and Sikorski Museum
  • Pollock’s Toy Museum
  • Pushkin House
  • Queen Charlotte’s Cottage
  • Queen Elizabeth’s Hunting Lodge
  • Queen’s House
  • Ragged School Museum
  • Rainham Hall
  • Ranger’s House (Wernher Collection)
  • Red House
  • Red Mansion Foundation
  • Redbridge Museum
  • Royal College of Music (RCM) Museum of Music
  • Rose Theatre Exhibition
  • Royal Academy of Arts
  • Royal Air Force Museum London
  • Royal Armouries, Tower of London
  • Royal College of Physicians Museum
  • Royal Hospital Chelsea Museum
  • Royal London Hospital Archives and Museum
  • Royal Mews
  • Royal Observatory, Greenwich
  • Royal Pharmaceutical Society Museum
  • St Bartholomew’s Hospital Museum
  • St Paul’s Cathedral
  • Science Gallery London
  • Science Museum
  • Shirley Windmill
  • Sir John Soane’s Museum
  • Soseki Museum in London
  • Southside House
  • Spencer House
  • Stephens Collection
  • Strawberry Hill
  • Sutton House
  • Syon House
  • Tower Bridge
  • Tower of London
  • Twinings Museum
  • Twickenham Museum
  • Type Museum
  • Upminster Tithe Barn Museum of Nostalgia
  • Upminster Windmill
  • Valence House Museum
  • Valentines Mansion
  • Vestry House Museum
  • Victoria and Albert Museum
  • The Viktor Wynd Museum of Curiosities, Fine Art & Natural History
  • V&A Museum of Childhood
  • Walthamstow Pumphouse Museum
  • Wandle Industrial Museum
  • Wandsworth Museum
  • Wellcome Collection
  • Wellington Arch
  • Wesley’s Chapel, Museum of Methodism and John Wesley’s House
  • Westminster Abbey Museum
  • Westminster Dragoons Museum
  • White Lodge Museum and Ballet Resource Centre
  • Whitehall, Cheam 
  • Whitewebbs Museum of Transport
  • William Morris Gallery
  • Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Museum
  • Wimbledon Windmill Museum
  • World Rugby Museum

In addition, we have a separate page listing many of the national UK local history resources.

Back to Local History Videos Home page.

Thanks to Jonathan Wilkins for use of the image shown at the top of this page.