1 Who and what occupied the land between London and Westminster in 1500? How did this change over the next 200 years? Why was this area attractive for these people and institutions?
London is a strange city. This is very evident in the development of the area between the two progenitor cities of Westminster and the City of London. Sparsely developed before the 1500s, this area would become the chosen living area of the wealthy aristocrats who would come from outside of London. The area itself has no readily apparent redeeming features, other than it’s convenient location between the two seats of English power with easy access to both via road and the much more comfortable and sanitary mode of travel, the riverboat. The Strand was certainly a wealthy suburb, at least when it was first built up. The initial buildings set up in the area were set up along the river, and they were almost all houses of prominent aristocrats from around England who needed a place of residence near Westminster. Notable examples would include Somerset House, which has since been rebuilt. With the City of London close by, living downstream from Westminster and not upstream of it the residents could pursue both their political and cultural needs by travelling up the river, and their business and financial endeavors by traveling down it. The area burnt down in the great fire, but not before the local aristocrats had moved out into the West End. Their impetus for living in the Strand was access to the river for travel, but the increasing quality of roads in and around London meant that travel by land was no longer as problematic as it had previously been. Of course, the pungent smell of the Thames river at that time most probably played a role in that decision. The buildings that were built there after 1666 were mostly middle class houses made of brick, most probably occupied by workers in the government establishments that now resided there, notably the census and tax offices in...
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