For over two centuries London has been the richest and most important trading city in the world. Since Norman times it has also been Britain’s administrative and political centre.

The National Archives’ London images show London’s rise and continued importance. They include the architectural plans of Buckingham Palace and St James’s Park, as well as drawings of St Paul’s Cathedral, the Tower of London and London Bridge which hold a simple nostalgic charm.

Hundreds of our postcards, drawings and photographs show the chaotic London traffic through history. The artist Grace Golden depicts a vibrant vision of post-Second World War London scenes.

London has always been a place of celebration too. Our extensive collection of photos, drawings and posters honour London exhibitions including The Great Exhibition of 1851 in Hyde Park and the Festival of Britain held on the South Bank a century later.

The 2012 Olympics confirms that London remains the world city. The images at The National Archives reveal how it got there.

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  • Houses of Parliament, 1899


    Catalogue reference: COPY1/441

  • Royal Exchange and Cornhill, London, 1877


    Catalogue reference: COPY1/37 f380

  • Rail terminus, by artist Grace Golden, 1939-1945


    Catalogue reference: INF3/1740

  • Buckingham Palace gardens and lake plans, 1855


    Catalogue reference: WORK34/501

  • Tower of London illustration by Tom Browne, 1903


    Catalogue reference: COPY1/208A (182d)

  • Fleet Street, 1891


    Catalogue reference: COPY1/406 (46)

  • Carnaby Street, London, 1969


    Catalogue reference: INF14/147

  • Oxford Street, by artist Grace Golden, 1939-1946


    Catalogue reference: INF3/1738

  • Elevation of clock dial for Big Ben tower, Houses of Parliament, 1857


    Catalogue reference: WORK29/3284

  • Festival of Empire pageant of London, Crystal Palace, 1910


    Catalogue reference: COPY1/293(i) (312)

  • Great Exhibition building in winter 1873


    Catalogue reference: COPY 1/21

  • Great Exhibition building south front, 1851


    Catalogue reference: WORK25/195

  • St James's Palace plans, 1658. Catalogue reference: CRES2/1648

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