It is hard to imagine that the busy townscape of South London was once a great wood, stretching almost seven miles from Croydon to Deptford or that, scattered through the suburbs, from Dulwich to Norwood, a number of oak woodlands have survived since before the Norman Conquest. These woods were intensively managed for a thousand years, providing timber for construction, furniture and shipbuilding, and charcoal for London's blacksmiths, kilns and bakeries. Now they afford important green space, a vital habitat for small mammals, birds and insects.
Drawing on a wealth of documents, historic maps and environmental evidence, The Wood that Built London charts the fortunes of the North Wood from its earliest times: its ecology, ownership, management, and the gradual encroachment of the metropolis.
C.J. Schüler is the author of three illustrated histories of cartography: Mapping the World, Mapping the City and Mapping the Sea and Stars and co-author of the best-selling Traveller's Atlas. Writers, Lovers, Soldiers, Spies: A History of the Authors Club of London, 1891-2016 was published in November 2016, and Along the Amber Route (Sandstone) in 2020. He has also written on literature, travel and the arts for The Independent, The Independent on Sunday, The Tablet, The Financial Times and the New Statesman. He was chairman of the Authors Club from 2008 to 2015.
"In this meticulously researched yet accessible work, historian C J Schüler brings to life a largely forgotten slice of the capital's topography."
– Geographical Magazine
"A gentle and beautifully produced book [...] Skilfully alternates between pastoral and archival archaeology."
– Sebastian Milbank, The Tablet
– Paul Wood, author of London's Street Trees
"Timely and informative."
– Travis Elborough, author of A Walk In the Park
"An engaging reflection on what we've already lost; but more importantly, it's a vital reminder of what we still have alongside us."
– Julian Hoffman, author of Irreplaceable
"Meticulously researched and hugely enjoyable."
– Tiffany Francis-Baker, author of Dark Skies
"A fascinating geographical history."
– Lev Parikian, author of Into the Tangled Bank
"A beautifully illustrated and richly researched exploration of the relationship of humanity and nature."
– S. G. MacLean, Historia magazine
"Magnificent [...] Will be the defining work on the Great North Wood for a long time to come."