The Garden Guide

Book: London and Its Environs, 1927
Chapter: 19 From Charing Cross To St Paul's Cathedral

The Strand

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19. FROM CHARING CROSS TO ST. PAUL'S CATHEDRAL. STATIONS : Stations at Charing Cross. � Aldwych, on the Piccadilly Tube. OMNIBUSES traverse the whole line of thoroughfare in constant Succession. The Strand, beginning at the south-east corner of Trafalgar Square and running thence towards the east or north-east for a distance of a little more than + mile, is one of the busiest and most important streets in London, forming a main thoroughfare between the West End and the City and containing (besides many shops) numerous theatres, music halls, hotels, and newspaper offices. Its name is derived from the fact that it skirts the river Thames, now of course concealed by intervening buildings. With its prolongation, Fleet St.. it has probably witnessed more important pageants and processions than any other thoroughfare in London, and its historical and literary associations are endless. Peter of Savoy, who received a grant of land in 1246 �extra muros nostr� Londini� in vico qui vocatur la Straunde,� may be described as the first resident of the Strand. It was not, however, till about 1350 that we hear of any number of houses here, and not till nearly two centuries later (1532) that it became a paved and continuous street. Somerset House and the other palaces of the nobles and ecclesiastics which lay here, with gardens stretching on the one side into the country and on the other down to the river, were erected mainly between 1550 and 1600. Their sites are still commemorated in the names of side-streets and alleys. Names like Ivy Bridge Lane refer to the fact that down to the middle of the 17th century the Strand was crossed by a number of rivulets on their way to the Thames, necessitating frequent foot-bridges. In Wyngaerde's map of 1543 we find few house on the north side of the street, out the two churches of St. Mary and St. Clement are shown in their present positions. It was not till about 1900 that any important change took place in its contours.