The area around
Central London and many of its popular tourist attractions
has a history dating back to Roman times. It’s hard
to believe when walking down some of the liveliest high
streets that they’ve been buzzing for thousands
The story of Central London starts in the unlikely lands
of Hamstead Heath. This is where the earliest known
settlement of the Mesolithic Age in around 7,000 BC. This
area was forested for many centuries and it wasn’t
until the Roman era when legions built cities that Hamstead
was extended and Londinium was formed.
The highway that the marching Romans used for daily drills
is now High Holborn and Oxford Street. There
was a major Roman road leading to St Albans, and is now
known as Edgeware Road and Kilburn High Road.
The Saxons followed the Romans and chose to build their
city Ludenwic to the west of Londinium. This area
stretched right from the Thames through Covent Garden
and up to Holborn. High Holborn became known as “the
army street” and it was here that the Saxons marched
their own soldiers.
In 959 King Edgar granted land to Westminster Abbey and most of this was land close to High Holborn including
the old church St Andrew on Holebourne.
Today Bloomsbury is popular for its publishing
connections and visitors flock from around the world to
sample its many bookshops, and it's surprising to discover
that Bloomsbury has always been a fashionable place.
In 1201 the area now known as Bloomsbury, was passed to Willam de Blemund and was named Blemundsbury. This
district began to establish itself but it wasn’t
until it passed into the hands of the Duke of Bedford that it transformed into a series of luxurious streets
and squares where the fashionable and wealthy lived and
socialised. Bedford Square remains as an attractive monument
to this elite society.
Authors and artists including Virginia Woolf later
settled here in the 20th century and become known as The
In the 19th century the village of Tottenham Court was a thriving hub but developments that took place in
the early 20th century have only left the name of this
once prosperous area.
King’s Cross was originally known as Battle
Bridge until 1830, when a monument to George IV was erected
at the junction of Euston, Gray’s Inn and Pentonville
Euston Road was originally known as the New Road
that joined Paddington to Islington and this is where
London’s first by-pass road was opened in 1756.
The area around Euston Road became popular for refugees
from the French Revolution and people fleeing Spanish
ruled lands such as South America. It is now home to the
By the Middle Ages, Charing had established itself
as a trading hub in the heart of London, and by the reign
of Edward I, the site of Charing Cross had become
an important meeting place, due to its location between
the old city of London, the Royal Palace and the Abbey
The name Charing Cross came from a memorial to Queen
Eleanor of Castile (the wife of Edward I).
By comparison to these ancient and Roman streets places
like Buckingham Palace and the Tower of London are relatively
So, next time you’re wandering the streets of Central
London look out for the early signs of a history long