Little slices of London's history

Dogs, garters, and spices in London street names

Bear GdnsIt’s World Animal day today and – no surprise – London streets are full of various animals, as described in our post entitled ‘I’ve never met an animal I didn’t like’, which looks at some of the fauna streets, such as Bear Gardens, Cock Lane, and Houndsditch. Speaking of hounds, here’s another dog street: Dog Lane in Neasden, northwest London. (Entertainingly, there is a Baskerville Gardens in Dog Lane.)

cock laneThe lane takes its name from the Old Spotted Dog pub that once stood at the end of the lane. Many streets take their name from signs, and those signs were often given nicknames that reflected public opinion on the merits (or representational accuracy) of the painter. In this case, the spotted dog may have been a leopard from from a family coat of arms.

Horseferry RoadOther amusing examples include one proud shopkeeper who had a sign painted, showing a human leg with a garter and a star (possibly to reflect the fact that he had received the Order of the Garter). To his chagrin it was not long before he discovered that his sign was referred to as the Leg and Star.

HoundsditchA common change in signs was the Swan and Harp, which was generally reduced to the Goose and Gridiron, which then became a sign in its own right. There was once a Goose and Gridiron near St Paul’s, where a feast was held in 1717 to commemorate the first Grand Lodge of Freemasons.

Camomile Street EC3Today is also Cinnamon Roll Day, according to the Party Excuses website, so let’s revisit Cinnamon Street – a photo of which can be found on the excellent food sign website of The street first appeared at the end of the 17th century and probably takes its name from the fact that the spice was sold there. Our earlier blog post on Cinnamon Street explains its street’s grisly connection to Ratcliff Highway Murders, while our culinary post looks at some of the edible street names of London.

Garlick Hill cropThere are many other spice streets in London, including Camomile Street, Garlick Hill, and Saffron Hill.

EAS_3920Incidentally, PD James (the brilliant crime writer and creator of poet-policeman Adam Dalgliesh), co-wrote a book about the murders: The Maul and the Pear Tree: The Ratcliffe Highway Murders, 1811.

3 responses to “Dogs, garters, and spices in London street names”

  1. After due consideration, I can say that I have walked in all of these streets, roads, or lanes at one time or another over the years.
    I feel compelled to offer two more animal named London streets, in honour of the day.
    Elephant Lane, SE16, and Cat Hill, Barnet,
    Thanks for the great memories!
    Best wishes, Pete.

    1. Thanks, Pete, you obviously have an amazing depth and breadth of London experience. There is of course also Elephant and Castle and a particular favourite, Cat and Mutton Bridge.

      1. Oh yes, the Elephant and Castle. Once a shopping area of my youth, now an unattractive roundabout in South London. An area also named after a pub, I believe, like so many places in London.
        Very best wishes, Pete.

About Me (and my Obsession)

My obsession with London street names began in the early 90s when I worked in the Smithfield area and happened upon Bleeding Heart Yard. In my wanderings around London, I kept adding to my store of weird and wonderful street names. Eventually it was time to share – hence my blog. I hope you enjoy these names as much as I do.
– Elizabeth


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