The suburb became truly sub-urban rather than sub-rural in the second half of the century. Prior to 1850, the ideal of isolation from the city was still possible. The fi rst middle-class suburbs were actually small, pre-existing villages, like Richmond, Stoke Newington or Herne Hill. These havens had long been valued as an escape from those problems peculiar to city living, which included deadly communicable diseases. London was also thought to carry various “miasmas” and consumptions in its damp, stale air and smutty fogs. For example, Victorian London experienced several cholera epidemics before 1875, when the Public Health Act was passed, and none were limited to poverty-stricken districts-everyone in London’s urban environment was at risk, rich or poor. It seemed advisable, then, to get as far as possible from the city when epidemics struck to avoid contagion. As long as one could escape to a place with plenty of space, air and light, one was safe.