Pearl-and-gold cage pendants, known as “wirework jewels” in the 17th century, found in the Cheapside Hoard.

London's underground treasures reveal lifestyles of the rich and English

Beneath the U.K. capital, archaeologists are finding remnants of the city’s luxurious past including a long-lost Tudor pleasure palace and a trove of 17th-century gold and jewels.

Pearl-and-gold cage pendants, known as “wirework jewels” in the 17th century, found in the Cheapside Hoard. Pendants like these were stitched onto clothing as embellishments.
Photograph by PA Images / Alamy Stock Photo

London, the center of England’s commercial power and home to a lengthy line of monarchs, has long been a place for high society to enjoy a privileged lifestyle graced with unimaginable riches. Their elaborate palaces and jeweled belongings were so precious, though, that little ended up lost and abandoned in the capital’s soils. The rare snapshots of ancient wealthy citizens teased out of hidden London by dedicated archaeologists are all the more valuable. Here are three ancient treasures that have emerged from London’s depths that provide a glimpse into the champagne lifestyles of Londoners of the past.

(London’s big dig reveals amazing layers of history.)

The southeast London district of Greenwich, down­river from central London, is not just known for being the beating heart of Britain’s maritime empire in the 18th and 19th centuries. Long before, the Palace of Placentia—Pleasure Palace—was first a royal playground, hosting every indulgence and vice for two centuries of royals, between 1485 and 1660.

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