Plum Pudding Day, Noel Street, and North Pole Road

Christmas in February: 12 February is, it seems, Plum Pudding Day – the traditional British Christmas dessert. So in the spirit of Christmas, here are a couple of seasonal London street names which have nothing to do with Christmas.

Noel Street, just south of Oxford Street, was named for Lady Elizabeth Noel, daughter-in-law of Hans Bentinck, Duke of Portland and a friend of William III. The king gave a great deal of land in Soho to Bentinck; in the 1730s it was Lady Elizabeth who was responsible for developing much of the property, and the nearby Marylebone area abounds with street names from the Bentinck family.

Noel Road, further north in Islington, is famous, or infamous, for having been where the playwright Joe Orton and his lover Kenneth Halliwell lived, and where they died. They were living here when they were sentenced to a six-month jail sentence for stealing and defacing library books (now proudly displayed in the same library’s Orton archives). In 1967 Halliwell battered Orton to death with a hammer and then committed suicide.

There is also a North Pole Road, named from a 19th-century tavern of that replaced an earlier inn called the Globe. North Pole was a relatively common pub name in Victorian London, so the name predates any expedition to the pole. For some time Robert Edwin Peary was considered to have been the first person to reach the North Pole but that was disputed and the official first explorers reached there in 1969.

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