On London site The Great Wen there’s a host of fascinating articles ranging from London’s crappest ghost (a plucked chicken) to why London terraces all look the same, no matter how much the houses are chopped about.
The answer to this is that the Imperial system of weights and measures meant that neighbourhoods were laid out by surveyors who used acres, furlongs, rods and chains – measurements which had been in common usage for marking out arable land since the ninth century.
Looking into the subject a bit more, I found that the terraced rooms and gardens are all percentages of those measurements, making everything look neat and tidy even when it’s not – but now, you can see it’s a struggle some areas are losing, as anyone who has been down the arse-end of the Holloway Road can testify.
The only other place I’ve been to with similar terraced homes is in Belgium, where rows of elegant 1920s houses look remarkably like parts of Chiswick.
Related book: A Lust for Window Sills: A Lover’s Guide to British Buildings from Portcullis to Pebble Dash by Harry Mount