The City of London constituted most of London from its settlement by the Romans in the 1st century AD to the Middle Ages, but the conurbation has since grown far beyond its borders.
By the beginning of the sixteenth century, St. Paul’s Churchyard was the chief centre of the book trade, not only for London, but for the whole country.
Parts of the cathedral and its surrounding areas had been used as markets since the fourteenth century. By 1597, St. Paul’s was used not only as a church - it had become the bookshop of London.
Booksellers on Paternoster Row
became a source of competition in the latter half of the century, eventually winning the prominent position in London bookselling, but St. Paul’s maintained its supremacy well into the seventeenth century.
The bookshops were populated largely by foreign booksellers in the sixteenth century. England did not have its own printing press until the 1490s, and in 1484 Richard III had passed an Act of exemption to foreign printers, encouraging them to bring their trade to London. The central settling point for these booksellers was St. Paul’s Churchyard.
The Rev. Dr. Croby, in his ’Life of George IV.,’ tells us that Queen Charlotte was in the habit of paying visits, in company with some lady-in-waiting, to Holywell Street and Ludgate Hill
, ’where second-hand books were exposed for sale during the last half of the eighteenth century.’
As the City's boundaries have remained almost unchanged since the Middle Ages, it is now only a tiny part of the metropolis of Greater London, though it remains a notable part of central London. It holds city status in its own right and is also a separate ceremonial county.
It is widely referred to as 'The City' (often written on maps as City
and differentiated from the phrase 'the city of London') or 'the Square Mile' as it is 1.12 square miles in area. These terms are also often used as metonyms for the United Kingdom's financial services industry, which continues a notable history of being largely based in the City.
The local authority for the City, the City of London Corporation, is unique in the UK and has some unusual responsibilities for a local council, such as being the police authority. It also has responsibilities and ownerships beyond the City's boundaries. The Corporation is headed by the Lord Mayor of the City of London, an office separate from (and much older than) the Mayor of London.
The City is a major business and financial centre, ranking as the world's leading centre of global finance. Throughout the 19th century, the City was the world's primary business centre, and continues to be a major meeting point for businesses.
The City had a resident population of about 7000 in 2011 but over 300,000 people commute to it and work there, mainly in the financial services sector. The legal profession forms a major component of the northern and western sides of the City - especially in the Temple and Chancery Lane
areas where the Inns of Court are located, of which two—Inner Temple and Middle Temple - fall within the City of London boundary.