Bawdy

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GRAPE STREET (aka Grope Lane)

Named from a house that belonged to the leper hospital of St Giles ‘Le Vyne’, which was there by the 16th century. It is possible that a vineyard once stood on this spot as the area was particularly fertile and the vines were mentioned in the Domesday Book. The street was once called Vine Street.

There is another derivation of the name Grape Street, as it relates to a lane, now gone, in the parish of St Pancras. Early, non-euphemistic, forms of the name appear, as early as 1276, as ‘Gropecontelane’ and ‘Groppecountlane’. In Oxford, lanes of this name appeared as early as 1230. The name, says one source tactfully, is “an indecent one’. When it wasn’t changed completely, the name was altered to less drastic forms such as Grope Lane and Grape Lane.

LOVE LANE (telling it like it is)

“So called,” John Stow wrote candidly, “of wantons.” There is not much more that can be said, though some people theorize rather wistfully that it could have been a sort of lovers’ lane where courting couples used to stroll. That could, of course, also be true given that, centuries ago, street names tended to be more unflinching, so a street of wantons could well have been called something less euphemistic than ‘love’. As in Grape Street, above.

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4 thoughts on “Bawdy

  1. Thanks for your amusing blog – you are right, there are many people fascinated by London’s history, not least family history enthusiasts from the antipodes (like me). I have some information to add to your Elbow Lane search (which should probably sit under this title), as it seems that it was associated with prostitution in the past. I am researching an ancestor depicted in a Gillray print, and commentary about the print in 1830 noted he “made himself infamous by constantly associating with the frail ones of Elbow-lane”. Thomas McLean published commentary on many of Gillrays plates.

    1. Thank you for your kind words and I am delighted that you like the blog. I am hoping that one day it will finally be a book and it is comforting to know that I am not the only one who finds these things fascinating and delightful. Thank you also for the information on Elbow Lane and I hope you find more about your interesting-sounding ancestor.

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