Today we start on a new Area of Study. Having spent the last term concentrating on a part of the City of London, we now turn to look at a part of the City of Westminster.
Above: Map showing the outline of the City of Westminster. The four-letter codes represent: PICC — Piccadilly; STJJ — St James’s; STRA — Strand; WEST — Westminster; WHIT — Whitehall. Along the top are: PADD — Paddington; and STMM — St Marylebone.
In January each year, we put the City of London ‘back in the box’ and start to look at other ‘Areas of Study’. They are called ‘Areas of Study’ because they are chosen to be a good size for lecturing and their boundary defines a piece of London. This term we take a look at a part of the City of Westminster. When lecturing on the City of London, the best choice is to pick a City Ward (or two or three combined if they are small) and use it as the basis for an Area of Study. The City of Westminster is far toe large to form the basis of one lecture so it also needs to be divided up into smaller Areas of Study. As it happens Westminster has 12 Wards but they were created artificially by drawing lines on a map and they do not easily relate to its history.
My solution was first to look at the history of the whole of the City of Westminster and then create Areas of Study so that the history was suitably ‘contained’ within each of them. The result is the map shown above, divided into seven Areas of Study. If you want a simple outline map of the City of Westminster then enter ‘City of Westminster London’ into Google Maps and print out a map for yourself.
Above: Slightly enlarged map of Strand (STRA) Area of Study, with a dotted line completing the western side.
This year we look at Strand (STRA) as the Area of Study. The boundary on three sides joins onto the London Borough of Camden; the City of London; and the River Thames. The western boundary has been drawn to include: Leicester Square; Trafalgar Square; and runs SE to the Thames along today’s Northumberland Avenue. The second map shows STRA at a slightly larger scale.
The subject of the Strand — from a historical point of view — is probably the most complex of any part of London, including the City of London. The reason for this is because in most parts of London a piece of land has had only one important historic building standing on it — which means that each piece of the map has a building that was famous for maybe two or three centuries before being demolished. In the case of the Strand, each piece of land has had important buildings erected on it in almost every century, from Norman times onwards. This means that the total history of the Strand is a complex web of a two-dimensional map of locations related to a third ‘dimension’ of the last thousand years of English history.
For subscription members, there is an outline history pack available for the Strand. Many of these blogs for the next few weeks will include interesting items in the Strand Area of Study.