An impressively thorough exploration of the changing functions, character and experience of English towns in a key age of transition which includes smaller communities as well as the larger industrialising towns. Among the issues examined are demography, social stratification, manners, religion, gender, dissent, amenities and entertainment, and the resilience of provincial culture in the face of the growing influence of London. At its heart is an authoritative study of urban politics: the structures of authority, the realities of civic administration, and the general movement for reform that climaxed in the Municipal Corporations Act of 1835.

chapter Chapter One|25 pages


chapter Chapter Two|47 pages

The Structures of Authority

chapter Chapter Three|40 pages

Urban Administration

chapter Chapter Four|25 pages

The Divided Society

chapter Chapter Five|21 pages

Urban Government and the Movement for Reform

chapter Chapter Six|56 pages

Social Structure and Social Experience

chapter Chapter Seven|37 pages

Urban Culture and the Urban Renaissance

chapter Chapter Eight|10 pages

Conclusion: Metropolitan Influence or Provincial Identity?