It is likely that the area was originally settled by the Saxons, forming part of the town of Lundenwic (7th to 9th centuries AD), outside the walls of the Roman City. The Strand has been a thoroughfare linking the City and Thorney Island, (later Westminster) since this time, originally running along the river bank. By the 12th century the Strand was lined with several large palaces with gardens running down to the Thames. Arundel House, the palace of the Earl of Arundel, occupied the area around Surrey Street and Arundel Street. The house was demolished in 1678 and these streets were laid out, lined with terraced houses.
At a similar time, part of the Essex Estate to the east, was developed by Dr Nicholas Barbon, a famous early speculative developer. The riverside was lined with wharves until the 19th century when further redevelopment took place. Hotels were built in Surrey Street and Arundel Street. Major change occurred with the construction of the Embankment Wall and Victoria Embankment Gardens in 1864-70 (by Bazalgette).
In the late 19th century much of the area north of the Strand, containing densely packed slum dwellings, was demolished.
From 1862 to 1882 the Law Courts complex was built to designs by G.E.Street. Then, at the turn of the century, the grand thoroughfares of Aldwych and Kingsway were set out and lined with large scale commercial buildings.