In the 16th century the number living within the city walls doubled to around one hundred thousand. Due to the great pressure on space the River Walbrook that ran through the middle of the city was covered over and new suburbs began to appear outside the walls where previously there had been meadows.
The 16th century was a time of innovation in house building that resulted in the English ‘Tudor’ style, known then as ‘frames’, which became popular because they were quick and relatively easy to assemble and, if necessary, disassemble and move elsewhere.
The growth in London’s population was largely due to ‘strangers’ arriving from around the country. As immigrants to the city, and therefore without the safety-net of support from a parish, those who came without work or fell upon hard times often ended up on the streets where, during the reign of Henry VIII, they joined many who had been ejected from the care of the monasteries. A result was that crime, unchecked by an effective police force, began to rise.
Edward VI asked the City to solve the problem of so many children living rough on the streets, resulting in the opening of Christ’s Hospital school to care for them. From 1572 until the early 19th century a series of Acts of Parliament formed the ‘poor laws’ dealing with the relief of the poor and the punishment of vagabonds. From 1576 Overseers of the Poor were appointed. Together with Justices of the Peace they were required to register the needy and aged parishioners and those unable to work in their district and to find some kind of housing for them.
Christ’s Hospital became a major source of basic education and welfare for children in London. A number of other schools were either founded or re-founded in and around London during the late-Tudor period, some of which continue as grammar schools today. Those at St.Paul’s Cathedral and Westminster Abbey rose to become the most prestigious such institutions in the London area. Almost all middle- and working-class young men continued their education in the form of an apprenticeship. After the death of Thomas Gresham income from the Royal Exchange was used to fund a college at his former home, from where professors lectured on scientific subjects.