Ancient Topography of London containing not only views of buildings which in many instances no longer exist and for the most part were never before published but some account of of places and customs either unknown or overlooked by the London Historians by John Thomas Smith, 1815.


This book has a title as rambling as the ruined piles celebrated in Smith's etchings. He shows us decrepitude, crumbling, tilting, collapsed and pitted brickwork that makes Samuel Prout's buildings look like Barrett Homes . The plates of this book, drawn and etched by Smith, are above all a celebration of planks of wood which lie all over the city in piles or propped up against walls. I own one original plate, the Bedlam etching , that hints at another game Smith is playing, mysterious, even puckish figures who often peer secretly at us from behind casements, or, in extreme cases, stand stock still with their backs turned to us.