From Farm Street to Haymarket: Hay-related London names

I’m off to the first day of the Hay Festival tonight; it is digital this year, so I am unsure what to expect other than some famous names reading Wordsworth.

(In all the years I’ve lived about an hour from Hay I’ve never been to the festival. One year, as a birthday treat for the husband and myself, I booked (pun unintended) the festival with glamping. However, a newish puppy and being let down by the kennel owner who promised to board him and our older dog meant we had to cancel. It wasn’t to be, I decided, and have never tried to book since. Until now. But I digress.)

That gave me a number of ideas for the next post theme: the last post was sex-related, so I thought perhaps it would be a nice idea to move from the baser instincts to the intellect and look at book-related streets. After all, books are what Hay is all about.

Which I may do at some point. But, first, hay-related street names.

Farm Street in Mayfair is where building in the area began, around the 1740s, and it takes its name from a nearby farm called Hay Hill Farm. An appropriate name for a farm, you might think, but the name was a corruption of Ayehill, from the nearby Aye brook. The area also boasts a Hay Hill, Hay’s Mews, and Hill Street nearby. Tallulah Bankhead once owned a house in Farm Street.

From farms to wharfs; Hay’s Galleria in Southwark, named after a merchant, Alexander Hay, who bought what was then a brewhouse in 1651. Nearly two centuries later it was converted to a dock and named Hay’s Wharf. (I have yet to discover what it was named before.) The wharf itself was closed in 1970 and was brought back to life as an upmarket mixed use building in the 1980s when the Docklands was the bright star of the London property market. There is a Hay’s Lane, also named for Alexander.

But what about Haymarket? That really is hay-related. And market-related. It was the site of a market for hay and straw that flourished from Elizabethan times until the 18th century. In 1697 the street was paved, each cartload of hay contributing to the expense.

In 1708 Haymarket was described by Edward Hatton, surveyor for a fire insurance company in London, as a “a very spacious and public street, in length 340 yards, where is a great market for hay and straw”.

In 1720 an enterprising carpenter named John Potter built a small playhouse in the Haymarket. The small playhouse was later called the Hay Market and then the Little Theatre in the Hay. According to London historian Edward Walford, “The cost of the building was £1,000, and Potter further expended £500 in decorations, scenery, and dresses. He leased the theatre, immediately after its completion, to a company of French actors, who were at that time much favoured by the English aristocracy.”

In 1729 Henry Fielding started what might today be called a string of hits in the theatre, starting with a burlesque and ending with a political satire that so enraged the prime minister, Robert Walpole, that he introduced what became unprecedented censorship powers that effectively closed the theatre for several years.

In 1807 Haymarket was described by James Peller Malcolm, a topographer and engraver, as “an excellent street, 1,020 feet in length, of considerable breadth, and remarkably dry, occasioned by the descent from Piccadilly”. 

However, a few years later, the Prince Regent, later King George IV, thought that London was looking tired and old and he instructed John Nash to enhance the appearance of the city. One enhancement tackled the Little Theatre in the Hay; it became the Theatre Royal Haymarket, which opened in 1821 with a production of Sheridan’s ‘The Rivals’. The theatre is now the UK’s third oldest playhouse still in use.

Cardinal Cap Alley to Pall Mall: bishops, brothels, and London’s sex-related streets

Once again, without wanting to trivialise anything to do with the virus, I recently saw a TV report on the effect of the virus on the sex industry, particularly sex workers. Even in countries where it is a legal profession and sex workers pay their tax, apparently they are not entitled to any government financial aid. 

Apart from making me think about something that hadn’t occurred to me before, it also put me in mind of the oldest profession and the key role it has played in the history and naming of London’s streets. There is a natural link between the last post, which focused on prison-related streets (of which there are many, so there will be another, or another few, similarly themed post in the future) and this one.

The link is the Bishops of Winchester. Just to remind you, the mention ran thus: “The contradictorily named Liberty of the Clink was attached to the manor of the Bishops of Winchester who occupied much of the land on the south bank of the Thames”.

The Bishops also rented out the brothels, also known as ‘stews’, on their land: from the 12th century to the 17th, the banks of the Thames, primarily the south bank, teemed with such establishments and the women who worked within them were known as ‘Winchester Geese’.

The stews were licensed and regulated by the government to prevent any debauchery of the respectable wives and daughters of London and, says London historian John Stow, “for the repair of incontinent men to the like women”. Those who failed to comply with the regulations could be sent to the Clink.

Some of the regulations governing the stews were that they could not be opened on holidays; that women of religion or married women could not work there; that men could not be enticed into them; that no woman could be “kept against her will that would leave her sin”; and that a woman could not “take money to lie with any man, but she lie with him all night till the morrow”.

The women of the stews were not allowed the rites of the church, and were not permitted Christian burial; they had their own plot of land, called the Single Woman’s churchyard, a respectable distance from the parish church.

On the south bank is Cardinal Cap Alley, which takes its name from the Cardinal Cap, or Cardinal’s Hat, one of the licensed brothels of Bankside that flourished for centuries until the time of Henry VIII and had their names painted on the walls rather than on a hanging sign.

On the other side of the Tate Modern from Cardinal Cap Alley is Holland Street, which has nothing to do with the more respectable Holland connections in the Kensington area, which take their names from land owned by Sir Henry Rich, Baron of Kensington and first Earl of Holland.

This Holland Street was named for a notorious procuress – the self-proclaimed Donna Britannia Hollandia. Mother Holland, as she was known, rented a moated manor house once owned by the Knights Templar, and ran a brothel frequented by James I and his court, including George Villiers who features quite a lot in this blog and who is due another appearance soon.

Photo courtesy of streatsoflondon

Mother Holland was a force to be reckoned with: when, during Charles I’s reign, there was an attempt by soldiers to storm the house, she waited until they were on the bridge before drawing it up and depositing the soldiers in the unpleasant waters of the moat.

Let us now head north of the Thames to Stew Lane, which probably takes its name from one of the few early brothels on that side of the river. According to one source, the lane led down to the waterside embarkation point for women working in the Bankside brothels. 

From Stew Lane we move on to the eminently respectable Pall Mall, which takes its name from a French game, paille-maille, mentioned as early as the reign of James I, who recommended the game for his eldest son, Prince Henry. The game was similar to croquet and Pall Mall was supposedly constructed by Charles II especially for the playing of this game.

Pall Mall has sex and brothel connections in high places. Charles II’s mistress, Eleanor (Nell) Gwynne, whose mother ran a brothel, spent the last 16 years of her life in a house in Pall Mall. Nell’s bed in the house was solid silver and situated in a room lined with mirrors.

This bed may have been the inspiration for a quirky 18th-century quack by the name of James Graham, who ran a ‘Temple of Health and Hymen’ in Pall Mall, at Schomberg House. It was, essentially, an 18th-century sex therapy clinic and fertility centre, and one of Graham’s early assistants was a young girl known as Vestina, Goddess of Health. Vestina was born Emy Lyon and later became Lady Hamilton, mistress of Admiral Nelson and the mother of his child.

The centrepiece of this temple of Hymen was the Grand Celestial Bed, guaranteed to induce conception for even the most infertile of couples. The bed was supported by forty glass pillars and surmounted by a mirror-lined dome.

From Clink Street to Giltspur street: prison-related London streets

View of Clink Street

Well, it’s been a while, and thank you to all my faithful readers who have continued to visit this blog despite the lack of new material for a few months.

The last post I put up on the website was about watery names, prompted by our near miss of flood water in October. We were not so lucky when Storm Dennis raged through in February and so we are seeing out lockdown, and probably the rest of the year, in a rented house. No more water-related posts just yet.

But, speaking of lockdown, I am not making light of anything that has been happening this year, but a while ago I saw some unfortunate comments from celebrities with Hollywood mansions talking about lockdown similar to being in prison, so I did turn my thoughts to prison-related streets, of which there are many.

Today, let’s look at three of them, starting with Clink Street in Southwark. I used to work just round the corner, in the days long before Borough Market, when what became a bustling, trendy, foodie hang out was somewhere you didn’t like to walk through even during the day.

The street takes its name from the Clink Prison, now a museum. The first prison on this site, dating back to 1144, was a cellar in the Palace of the Bishop of Winchester. The contradictorily named Liberty of the Clink was attached to the manor of the Bishops of Winchester who occupied much of the land on the south bank of the Thames.

A popular theory for the derivation of the name is that ‘clink’ was the sound made when the blacksmith’s hammer secured the irons around the wrists or ankles of the prisoners.

Another theory is that the Flemish word ‘klink’ means ‘latch’, and may have referred to the latch on the door of the prison.

The Clink prison was destroyed in the Gordon Riots of 1780 and never rebuilt. Much of the rest of the area was also destroyed in the blitz during World War II; when the damage was being cleared up, part of the west wall and the 14th-century rose window of the Bishop’s palace was discovered and preserved.

Today, in addition to the Clink Prison museum, Clink Street leads to the replica of the Golden Hind – Sir Francis Drake’s galleon. 

The Clink Museum

We now move north of the river to Coldbath Square, which takes its name from a spring discovered in 1697 by Walter Baynes and converted to a bath, which was said to be a great cure for nervous illnesses. A famous 18th-century strong man, Thomas Topham, had a pub in the Coldbath Fields area, called the Apple Tree, but the area was, however, far more notorious for its prison.

The Coldbath Fields Prison was built in 1794 with 280 cells for individual confinement; soon there were nearly a thousand prisoners. It was built on swampy ground and the over-crowding and unhealthy air were responsible for prisoners dying off at an alarming rate. There was a great deal of rioting and the troops were often called in. The prison was closed in 1877 and demolished in 1889.

Samuel Taylor Coleridge mentions the prison in his poem ‘The Devil’s Thoughts’:

As he went through the Cold-Bath Fields he saw
A solitary cell;
And the Devil was pleased, for it gave him a hint
For improving his prisons in hell.

The area once covered by the prison is now the site of the Mount Pleasant Post Office. 

Not so very far away is Giltspur Street, which takes its name from the spurs worn by the knights who would ride through the street to reach jousting tournaments at the nearby Smooth Field. (That field gave its name to Smithfield, and I used to work around the corner from the meat market, again, many years ago when it a very un-trendy area.)

Spurs were an essential part of the knight’s life in medieval times; the expression ‘to win one’s spurs’ – to prove oneself – comes from the fact that originally it meant to obtain knighthood. (The word ‘spur’ itself derives from the Anglo-Saxon spura, to kick.) Gilt spurs, therefore, would have been a real mark of oneupmanship.

Giltspur Street later became far less glamorous: it was the site of the Giltspur Street Compter, a debtors’ prison, built at the end of the 18th century.

The street also formed part of the route from Newgate Prison to Tyburn, leading into the steep ascent of Holborn Hill, sometimes called Heavy Hill. As prisoners on that journey rode backwards, the expressions ‘to ride up Heavy Hill’ or ‘to ride backwards up Holborn Hill’ indicated that someone was on their last journey.

The expression ‘going west’, unlike the ‘go west’ of American pioneering times, referred to that last journey towards Tyburn.

From Beer Street to Hog Lane: Hogarth-related streets

I recently had the pleasure of a long-overdue visit to one of my favourite museums – the Sir John Soane museum, which owns the ‘Rake’s Progress’ and ‘The Humours of an Election’ series of paintings by William Hogarth. By happy coincidence, my visit fell at the time when all of Hogarth’s other series of paintings and engravings series had been brought together at the museum in an exhibition called ‘Hogarth: Place and Progress’.

The bulk of Hogarth’s work is set in London, so naturally I had a look for Hogarth-themed streets, of which there are quite a few, from fictional to real by way of some streets that are no longer in existence.

Beer Street and Gin Lane feature in engravings that Hogarth produced in support of the Sale of Spirits Act 1750, also known as the Gin Act 1751. (I have checked and can find no Beer or Gin streets, lanes, or otherwise in London, which is a shame.)

The Gin Act came about because of concerns about the amount of alcohol being consumed In 18th-century London. Alcoholism was widespread amongst the poor in the 1700s, and a ‘gin craze’ held sway in the city. 

That gin craze was nothing like the modern thirst for expensive and exotically flavoured drinks paired elegantly with similarly exotic mixers. Then, gin referred to any grain-based spirit and it was cheap and potent, helping people to escape the misery of their lives.

In 1726 Daniel Defoe commented: “the Distillers have found out a way to hit the palate of the Poor, by their new fashion’d compound Waters called Geneva, so that the common People seem not to value the French-brandy as usual, and even not to desire it”. It was the introduction of Dutch ‘genever’ to the UK that had led to the production of gin.

By the 1730s, over 6,000 houses (‘dram shops’) in London were openly selling gin to the general public. The spirit was available in street markets, grocers, chandlers, barbers and brothels, and workmen were often given their wages in cheap gin.

In an effort to combat this gin craze, the government introduced the Gin Act of 1736, which imposed hefty fines on licences for drinking houses. People, however, still wanted their gin and the legislation led to rioting. The act seemed to have served little purpose as, by the 1740s, gin consumption in Britain had reached an annual average of over six gallons per person. 

The act was repealed in 1743 and then, in 1750, the Gin Act effectively restricted the distribution of gin. Other methods of attempting to curb gin drinking were to smooth the passage of the import of tea, which, along with coffee, was still beyond the means of most people; and encourage people to drink beer, which was less potent than gin and safer than the unhygienic drinking water of London.

Hogarth issued the engravings Beer Street and Gin Lane in 1751 to support the Gin Act. The prints were designed to be viewed alongside each other, depicting the evils of the consumption of gin, which encouraged drunkenness and led to a rise in crime, in contrast to the merits of drinking beer.

Although they don’t exist, the streets were set in recognisable areas of London: Gin Lane, depicting a drunken mother allowing her child to fall to its death, was set in what is now New Oxford Street but then was a notorious slum area. Nearby is a gin shop sign with the inscription, “Drunk for a penny. Dead drunk for two pence. Clean straw for nothing.”

Beer Street, by contrast, was set in a more prosperous area near to the church of St Martin’s-in-the-Fields. There is bustling industry and commerce with prosperous men merrily quaffing beer from tankards.

Even the use of ‘street’ and ‘lane’ are significant: a street was originally a well-made, paved way, from the Roman ‘via strata’ or ‘paved way’. A lane, by contrast, was narrow and winding and, at one point, had only to be wide enough for two men to roll a barrel along it.

From fictional to extinct names: Hog Lane in Soho features in ‘Noon’ of the Hogarth series ‘The Four Times of Day’. Well-dressed French Hugenouts leave their church while nearby there is a bit of scuffle where, and I quote the catalogue here, “The other side shows a sequence that begins with a black boy grabbing a servant maid’s breasts, causing her to drop something off her tray; this smashes a plate of food held by a little boy, casing the contents to fall on the ground where they are grabbed by another child, all of these occurrences following from an act of unrestrained lust.”

Hog Lane was later called Crown Street and then became part of what is now Charing Cross road. It formed the boundary between the parishes of St Martin in the Fields on the west and St Giles in the Fields on the east. Hog Lane was once a relatively common street name in London, generally signifying that hogs were kept there. The Crown Street name came from the Crown Tavern, one of many inns on the street.

Another lost name is Grub Street, now Milton Street, which is considered to feature in ‘A Harlot’s Progress’, at the end of the sequence when the unfortunate protagonist of the series lies dying in a miserable garret and then is shown in her coffin. surrounded by uncaring onlookers.

Grub Street was known as ‘Grubbestrete’ in the 13th century and could have meant ‘street infested with maggots’, or it could have taken its name from ‘grube’, a ditch or drain, or from a personal name, as Grub was not uncommon in those days. Towards the end of the 17th century, the street became the haunt of poor and hack writers and the poet, Andrew Marvell, coined the phrase ‘Grub Street’, which became a generic term for sub-standard literary achievements.

The name was changed in 1830 in an effort to associate the street with a rather higher standard of literary achievement.

Bob Marley, Oakley Street and the Welsh connection

I see that a blue plaque commemorating Bob Marley has been unveiled today; it marks where Marley lived with his band the Wailers in 1977 at 42 Oakley Street, in Chelsea. The album contains some of his Marley’s best-known songs, like Three Little Birds, Jamming, and One Love. I wonder how many plaques, as this one was reported to be, have been delayed because the person they were honouring lied about where they lived. Apparently it took a while to finalise this plaque because, apart from the fact that Marley was not registered in phone directories or electoral registers, he gave a different address during an arrest for cannabis possession in 1977 to prevent the police from searching the house in Oakley Street.

Naturally I went to my various sources to find out about Oakley Street and the name and I discovered that this street could have featured in my Welsh connections street names, the text of which you can read here. (But first, I should say I completed the Wye Valley Mighty Hike in aid of Macmillan, and I did so in 9 hours and 12 minutes. Thank you again to everyone who sponsored me as I raised nearly £1,600. My fundraising page is still open so if anyone wants to sponsor me, they can do so here:

It seems that the 9th-century Welshman Elystan Glodrydd, founder of the fifth Royal Tribe of Wales, was also the father of Cadwgan ap Elystan. He, in turn, was the ancestor of the Cadogan family, owners for centuries of much of Chelsea. The Cadogan connection comes from the daughter of Sir Hans Sloane: Sir Hans bought the Manor of Chelsea in 1712 and divided it between his two daughters, Sarah and Elizabeth, and their heirs. Many of the street names in the area are from the family’s names, such as Oakley Street from Lord Cadogan of Oakley, who married Elizabeth.

Sir Hans, who gives his name to Sloane Square, was a member of the Royal Society, and a fellow of the College of Physicians. The British Museum was founded with his collection, which he had spent much of his life accumulating, and he was responsible for introducing cocoa to England. You can read more about Sir Hans in a post about some of his London connections here.

But back to Chelsea; the name of which has vexed various people over the years. The area was once an Anglo-Saxon settlement, and that’s where most people cease to agree. Variations on what it was once called include Chealchythe. Or Caelic hythe. Or Chelchith. In which case the ‘hythe’ ending indicates a wharf or a landing place. Chealchythe is taken to mean ‘chalk landing place’: as in, where chalk was delivered, not a landing place made out of chalk. Caelic hythe means ‘cup-shaped landing place’, while Chelchith could mean ‘cold landing place’.

Finally, it could be from Chesil ea, which means ‘isle of shingle’, and is thought to be the same etymology as Chesil Beach in Dorset.

Maiden Lane and other London street connections with Lillie Langtry,

Lillie Langtry was known as The Jersey Lily

My recent absence from this blog has been due to a sojourn in the Channel Islands. Naturally, as ever, I wondered what connections I could draw with London and its street names. This may be cheating slightly, as we didn’t go to Jersey (our island-hopping took in the Isle of Wight, Alderney, Guernsey and Herm Island) but I know that Lillie (or) Lily Langtry, who was born on Jersey, has London connections. I have written about her before on this blog but that was a while ago, so I’ll revisit that particular post, which was inspired by hearing The Who’s song ‘Pictures of Lily’ on the radio.

Lillie, born Emilie Charlotte Le Breton, was an actress and socialite and, perhaps most famously, the mistress of the Prince of Wales, Albert Edward (Bertie), later Edward VII. They would dine privately upstairs in Rules restaurant in Maiden Lane, the oldest restaurant in London.

Maiden Lane, says Isaac Disraeli in his book Curiosities of Literature, takes its name from a statue of the Virgin Mary which once stood on the corner of the lane. Far more probable, albeit less glamorous, is that the name actually derives from the ‘middens’ – dung heaps – that proliferated in the area.

A plaque in Maiden Lane commemorating JMW Turner

There are many literary and artistic connections with the lane. The poet Andrew Marvell lived here in 1677; Voltaire, the French poet and satirist, lived here for a year and the artist JMW Turner was born here where his father had a barber shop. Rules has also had an impressive list of famous literary clients over the years, including Charles Dickens, William Makepeace Thackeray, John Galsworthy and H G Wells. Many actors of stage and screen have also graced the tables here, such as Henry Irving and Laurence Olivier, Clark Gable and Charlie Chaplin, and it has appeared in many a novel.

More gruesomely, a celebrated actor of the 19th century, William Terriss, was murdered as he was entering the Adelphi Theatre through the stage door in located in Maiden Lane. His killer was a mentally unstable actor, Richard Archer Prince, who bore a grudge against Terriss for having him dismissed. Prince was found guilty but not responsible for his actions and was sent to Broadmoor Criminal Lunatic Asylum where he lived the rest of his life.

Pont Street and Inverness Terrace also have Lillie connections: she lived at number 21 Pont Street, now the Cadogan Hotel, for five years from 1892 to 1897. The building became a hotel in 1895 but she always stayed in her former bedroom. The hotel was also where, shortly after it opened, Oscar Wilde was arrested. Pont Street features in John Betjeman’s poem, ‘The Arrest of Oscar Wilde at the Cadogan Hotel’:

To the right and before him Pont Street
Did tower in her new built red,
As hard as the morning gaslight
That shone on his unmade bed,

Pont Street takes its name from the word pont, the French for bridge; the street was built to bridge the river Westbourne. This river formed the Serpentine in Hyde Park after Queen Caroline (George II’s wife) suggested it be dammed up to form a 40-acre lake. People have offered up the theory that Bridge Street might not have sounded upmarket enough to properly developers.

There is also a hotel in Inverness Terrace, off Bayswater Road, where Lillie is supposed to have performed in a theatre when she was the mistress of the Prince of Wales, later Edward VII. However, the Theatres Trust, a National Advisory Public Body for Theatres in the UK, declares icily that:

“There is a persistent tradition that the theatre was created for Lillie Langtry by her Royal patron. Their affair was notorious twenty years earlier when he was Prince of Wales but by 1905 he was king. No evidence has been found to support the story but without positive disproof it is likely to go on running.”

Boot Street to Mincing Lane: London’s shoe-related streets

Following on from the recent post about sewing-related London street names, there’s one more street that relates not just to sewing but also to fashion in footwear and fiction: Mincing Lane, home to Minster Court. This complex of three office buildings made a cameo appearance, renamed Munster Court, in Disney’s 101 Dalmatians as the exterior of Cruella De Vil’s fashion house.

The lane is nothing to do with mincing in any form: the word derives from Old English feminine of ‘monk’, and the name dates back to the 12th century. John Stow tells us it was once “Mincheon lane, so called of tenements there sometime pertaining to the Minchuns or nuns of St Helens in Bishopsgate.”

In the 15th century the land was sold to the Shearmen, a body that would later join with the Fullers to form the Clothworkers Company. Founded by Royal Charter in 1528, the original purpose of The Clothworkers’ Company was to protect its members and promote the craft of cloth-finishing within the City of London.

The company has had its hall in Mincing Lane since then, though it has had to be rebuilt a few times. The current building is the sixth hall; the fourth was destroyed in the Great Fire of 1666 and the fifth during bombing in World War II.

The Cordwainers, shoemakers who make “fine soft leather shoes and other luxury footwear articles”, also make their home in the Clothworkers’ Hall. To use the full and lovely name, the Worshipful Company of Cordwainers dates back to at least 1272, making it one of the oldest Liveries in the City.

The company takes its name from the soft leather, or cordwain, that its members used; this originated from Cordoba in Spain. The leather makers eventually formed their own guilds, but the shoemakers retained the cordwainer name. (Jimmy Choo is a member of the Company and here’s a confession: when I very first heard his name I didn’t realise it referred to a person; I thought it was some kind of rhyming slang.)

Speaking of leather, there is Leather Lane, which is now home to a multi-faceted weekday market, but once did house leather sellers. The market, according to the Friends of Leather Lane Market, was born of yet another of Charles II’s bad debts (see the previous post for more detail). Charles II, upon his return from exile, owed £500 on a gambling debt; instead of repayment, the man to whom he owed the money asked for a charter to set up a market and one penny on each customer.

However, the naming of this lane may be nothing to do with leather sellers. As early as 1233 the name appeared as ‘Le Vrunelane’; later forms of the name were Loverone Lane, Lither Lane, and Liver Lane.

There are a number of theories as to how the lane got its original name. One is that it is from the Old French ‘leveroun’, a greyhound. The greyhound (a heraldic reference of the Dukes of Newcastle) was a common tavern sign. Another theory is that it derives from ‘Leofrun’, which was an Old English girl’s name, and yet another is that it was the name of a local merchant whose last name was some form of ‘Leofrun’. 

Or it could be that, at the time the lane was formed and named, there was a landowner of Flemish extraction in the area. The Flemish ‘Vroon’ means a manor and so ‘le Vrunelane’ was a lane that led to the nearby manor of Portpool.

Continuing the theme of footwear, let’s return to Shoe Lane, which I mentioned in passing last time. The name, unfortunately, doesn’t really come from a dropped shoe. An early reference to it as ‘Scholanda’ (Show-land) is taken to mean that the lane was once a place for the setting out and showing of water-borne merchandise to tax collectors and customers. Scholanda could also, however, have meant ‘land shaped like a shoe’; the lane itself is not shoe-shaped but it may have led to a piece of land that was. Alternatively, it could have taken its name from an ancient well – Showelle – at the north end of the lane.

There’s also a Boot Street in Islington, about which I have little information other than the fact that it appears in the movie The Crying Game. The exterior of the Metro Pub, where Dil sings the title song, was an empty property behind the pub on the corner of Coronet Street and Boot Street.