The drowned world

Middlesex shares the fascination in legends like those off Atlantis and other cities, real or mythical, lost under the waves.  At certain tides, supposedly, you can still hear the bells of Dunwich, the coastal city in Suffolk, that fell into the sea. John Betjeman, the poet of Metro-Land, lamenting the loss of the ancient county, compares it to a shoreline with peaks rising above the waves. Middlesex was drowned by a sea of speculatively-built houses, that flooded out from its ancient arterial roads in just two decades between the wars.  Everywhere there are survivals – usually a core with a medieval church and its graveyard, the old village pub and some good old houses from the eighteenth century or earlier.   It may be too soon for us to be able to appreciate the streets of semis, although they’re not reaslly any more monotonous than the nineteenth century terraced houses of London’s inner suburbs. As late as the 1970s these were seen as ripe for demolition. Will Metroland make a similar comeback if only because the supply of affordable inner London houses has run dry ?

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