Something completely different: from Suck Stone to Stoney Street 

The Suck Stone in the Forest of Dean

For those of you who read this blog just for London street names, there are some of those but first, a little self-indulgence about my training walk on Monday.

I set off early Monday morning in search of the Forest of Dean’s Suck Stone (or Suckstone) – yes, that is its name, though I have yet to discover the origin of the name. The stone is one of many that surrounds the village of Staunton, near the England/Wales border, and is, says Wikipedia, “The largest piece of detached conglomerate or puddingstone rock in England and Wales and has been estimated to weigh maybe 14,000 tons.”

According to local myth, those who climb the Suckstone are visited by the mischievous and capricious Fairy of the Rock, who will grant certain visitors superhuman powers. Notable people who have encountered this woodland spirit are said to include the artist JMW Turner, who visited the area when he was a boy, and playwright Dennis Potter, who was a Forest of Dean man.

All of which is nothing (yet) to do with London street names, although JMW Turner did spend his last days in Cheyne Walk, which featured in the most recent post on this blog and can be read here.

I did find the Suck Stone, which is more impressive than it looks in the photo, and is not the most famous stone in the area: that distinction goes to the Buck Stone, or Buckstone, so named because it used to rock back and forth on its base. When Lord Nelson and Lady Hamilton visited the nearby Welsh town of Monmouth, it was painted white in their honour.

For a London street name connection, there is an earlier post on Pall Mall, which features Lady Hamilton in her younger and more daring days, and you can read that here.

In 1885, a part of travelling actors who had partaken too much of fine wines in Monmouth and managed to dislodge the stone. It crashed downhill and split into several pieces. It was hauled back up the hill and cemented in place to prevent further vandalism, so it no longer rocks.

Snow Hill is the site of another example of drunken mischief from earlier centuries, and you can read more about that here. 

Before we leave today’s multi-region post, the village of Staunton takes its name in part from an Old English word stane, meaning stone, so I thought it only right to point out that Stoney Street in Southwark takes its name from the fact that, unusually for its time, it was paved with stone rather than having a surface comprised mainly of mud. Stones End Street, also in Southwark was so named, presumably, because that’s where the stone paving ended. 

Stonecutter Street off Farringdon Street, however, takes its name from the fact that cargoes of stone were brought to this point along the once-navigable Fleet River. Stonecutters would then have been centred in the area.

There is a Stonefield Street in Islington, named because, well, it was a stony field. 

(As I may have mentioned once or twice before, in September I am taking part in the Wye Valley Mighty Hike: a 26-mile hike along the River Wye, with a few hills here and there. That means I may be blogging a bit less and throwing in more of the occasional post about walk landmarks, but I will try to be less neglectful than of late.)