Over the years London has grown from where it started as the small City of London to a huge 1,569 square kilometre city and suburbs – equivalent to 187 football pitches – area in the South East of England.
During this expansion it in took in areas that were once considered to be Kent, Essex and Surrey, as well as totally absorbed the place once known as Middlesex – although some people do still consider this a place it its own right.
So which areas of now Greater London were once part of the Home Counties, and when and why were they ‘stolen’ by London?
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Look at North East London and you’ll struggle to find a place that wasn’t once part of Essex. These are some of the main ones, as first reported by Essex Live.
Hornchurch was an agricultural town in the west of Essex, until the industrial East End of London started changing the town. It’s now part of the London Borough of Havering.
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Lots of people will still think of this historic market town as being part of Essex, but it’s in the London Borough of Havering so it’s ours.
Romford underwent a period of population growth prior to World War Two, meaning it got largely engulfed by London suburbia.
The suburban expansion of London also saw Ilford claimed from Essex.
It had been part of Essex until 1965, until it became part of the London Borough of Redbridge.
The majority of Loughton’s residential area currently sits within the historical district of Epping Forest.
Although Loughton still comes under the jurisdiction of Epping Forest District, it is also part of the Greater London Urban Area and has a London Underground Tube station.
An ancient parish which straddled the River Roding, Barking was once a sleepy Essex village focused on fishing and farming.
That all changed with the arrival of the London Underground back in 1908, which saw Barking develop into a more industrial landscape and it’s now part of the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham.
Dagenham was a mostly undeveloped and tranquil parish in Essex until 1921, when the London County Council began constructing the Becontree Estate.
The population skyrocketed from just over 9,000 to nearly 90,000 between 1921 and 1931, and it’s now part of London suburbia.
This is one that a lot of people won’t realise was once Essex thanks to the big London football club.
West Ham grew rapidly in the 1840s to become a large Victorian manufacturing area and by 1901, it was the ninth most-populous district in the country and was the most western point governed by Essex County Council, but now it’s now overseen by the London Borough of Newham.
So many towns have been lost to London, Kent Live reports.
These are just a few of the most major ones that have been incorporated into the capital.
Woolwich became part of the London Metropolitan Area in the mid-19th century, though it was officially still in Kent at the time – it became officially part of London in 1889 when London County Council was formed.
A vital part of the First World War, the Royal Arsenal Munitions Factory employed thousands of women to work on the assembly line.
Home to some of the grandest houses in London, Greenwich was part of Kent until 1889, again absorbed into London when the London County Council was formed.
After the Battle of Hastings in 1066, William the Conqueror gifted Plumstead to his brother, whom he also titled Earl of Kent.
This town jumped on the London bandwagon in the mid 19th century.
Known for the Belvedere explosion of 1864, Belvedere is also one of the many districts that London has added to the growing city when it became part of the London Borough of Bexley.
Home to the famous air show, Biggin Hill was an ancient parish in Kent but became a municipal borough in 1935. By 1965, London County Council was replaced by Greater London Council and Biggin Hill became part of South London.
Also formerly part of Kent, Beckenham used to be a tiny village, with the vast majority of its land being rural.
Timber merchant John Cator and his family began to build villas which resulted in a rapid increase in its population between 1850 and 1900, from just 2,000 to 26,000.
Most of Petts Wood was built in the early 20th century as a high quality estate in an extremely rural setting, and rapidly changed when the railway was built, making the location just a short trip from the big city.
It’s now in our beloved Bromley.
After the London Government Act, Erith became part of the London Borough of Bexley.
During the demolition process, many of the original Victorian buildings were lost, but some of the original townscape remains – clearly clinging on to every last bit of Kentish history.
Bexleyheath was another of the towns that was scooped up by London in the London Government act and placed in the borough of Bexley.
The ancient district allegedly had its name derived from Cetecopp, meaning “seat shaped or flat-topped hill.”
Sidcup parish formed the Sidcup Urban District of Kent from 1908 but as part of the suburban growth of London in the 20th century, Bexley increased in population, becoming a municipal borough in 1935 and has formed part of Greater London since 1965.
Eltham was a civil parish of Kent until 1889 when it became part of the county of London and from 1900 formed part of the metropolitan borough of Woolwich.
A former market town, Bromley now has a huge range of shops and to many still feels more like its own town than as part of London.
You won’t be shocked to hear that the town of Bromley is in the borough of Bromley.
Right on the south eastern outskirts of London, Orpington is now part of the borough of Bromley.
You can’t get much closer to being in Kent without being in Kent.
So much of what we now consider to be South London actually once formed part of Surrey, and as they don’t have SW or SE postcodes some consider them still to be Surrey.
In 1965 the district was officially absorbed into London and was called the London Borough of Croydon within Greater London.
The Royal Mail still places many addresses in Croydon within Surrey which just adds to the confusion.
One of the parts of Croydon where many residents will argue until their dying breath that it remains part of Surrey.
It is, though, within the borough of Croydon. Sorry folks!
Right at the south of Greater London this is another part of Croydon that many residents will still see as being in Surrey.
One survey suggested that six in 10 Croydon residents still say they live in Surrey rather than Croydon.
Kingston upon Thames
From 1893 to 1965, Kingston was actually part of Surrey before it became one of the 32 London boroughs of Greater London.
Given many areas in Surrey have a Kingston postcode we can understand the confusion.
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Although Merton is a borough in South West London, this wasn’t always the case.
The borough was formed in 1965 by merging together the municipal boroughs of Mitcham and Wimbledon, and the Merton and Morden urban district, all formerly within Surrey.
When Sutton was connected to Central London by rail in 1847, it began to grow into a town, and it expanded further in the 20th century.
It became a municipal borough with Cheam in 1934, and became part of Greater London in 1965.
Do you live in one of these places? Do you consider yourself a Londoner? Let us know in the comments!