London’s canine streets: from Dog Lane to Soho

HoundsditchOur household has recently increased by one with the addition of an eight-week-old Springer Spaniel puppy, Django. Naturally that made me wonder about dog-related street names; we’ve visited many animal street names before but not specifically dogs. There aren’t very many that I can find, but here’s what I’ve got.

There is a Dog Lane in Neasden (and, entertainingly, it has a Baskerville Gardens), which takes its name from the Old Spotted Dog pub that once stood at the end of the lane. Many streets take their name from tavern 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.

Dog and Duck Yard is almost certainly from an inn sign, which referred either to the more common form of duck hunting with guns and retrievers, or possibly from one of Charles II’s sports, known in 1665 as the ‘Royal Diversion of Duck Hunting’. The fun of this diversion was to throw ducks, often with pinioned wings, into a pond and watch them try to escape from the spaniels that were sent in after them.

There was once a fair, St James’s Fair, which was of a similar nature to Bartholomew Fair (Cloth Fair), and was suppressed for the third and final time in 1764. Duck hunting was a major attraction of the fair, with bets being placed on the first dog to catch a duck. The nearby tavern was, naturally, called, the Dog and Duck.

By the beginning of the 19th century the pleasure of that type of duck hunting had begun to pall and the sport went out of fashion, leaving only the name behind.

Incidentally, there has been a Dog and Duck pub in Bateman Street since 1734 and, at one point – possibly still, though I can longer find any mention of her – the manager was a delightfully appropriately named Ms Hubbard. According to the pub’s website:

“Many famous historical figures have enjoyed the hospitality of The Dog and Duck, including John Constable, Dante Gabriel Rossetti and George Orwell. Our pub was originally built in 1734 on the site of the Duke of Monmouth’s home. The present building was built in 1897, and is considered to have one of London’s most exquisite interiors of the period, characterised by thousands of highly glazed tiles.”

The name of Dog Kennel Hill in Dulwich does derive from an association with kennels. Prince George of Denmark had kennels for his hounds here and Edward Alleyn, the Elizabeth actor, owned much of what was, at the time, the manor of Dulwich and some of the land here was recorded as Kennels, Kennoldes Croft and Kennold’s Acre.

Another theory is that an earlier landowner, one Monsieur de Canel, resided there, and Dog Kennel is a heavily anglicized version of his name.

Houndsditch is supposed (by some, and I’ve been reprimanded for airing this theory that is considered by others to be eyewash) to take its name from a moat that bounded the City wall and, according to John Stow, was where “much filth…especially dead dogs” was dumped.

Another theory about the name is that hounds (from Old English hund) were specifically hunting dogs, whereas dogs were just, well, dogs. The City Kennels, where hunting dogs were kept, were located here.

In the recent post on money-related streets, we had Pound Lane in Willesden, which was the location of a pound for stray animals, and was originally Petticote Stile Lane.

I can’t leave without a tenuous link, so we have Soho. That name is generally accepted to have come from an ancient hunting cry; apparently ‘tally ho!’ is the cry when a fox breaks cover and ‘soho!’ is when huntsmen uncouple the dogs.

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National Puppy Day, leopards, and medicinal waters

Update: how could I forget to mention this? There is a Baskerville Gardens in Dog Lane.

Today is National Puppy Day, so naturally I’ve had to check, and while there’s no puppy street in London, never fear. We do have Dog Lane in Neasden, a Dog and Duck Yard in Bloomsbury, and a Dog Kennel Hill in East Dulwich.

Dog Lane takes its name from the Old Spotted Dog pub that stood at the end of the lane, but it may in fact have had nothing to do with dogs. Centuries ago signs were largely pictorial, to cater for a bit part of the population who may not have been able to read.

Shop and tavern signs were then often given nicknames that reflected public opinion on the merits, or at least representational accuracy, of the painter. For instance, one proud shopkeeper 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.

So in this case, it is likely that the spotted dog may have been a leopard from from a family coat of arms.

Dog and Duck Yard almost certainly takes its name from an inn sign, which referred either to the more common form of duck hunting with guns and retrievers, or possibly from one of Charles II’s sports, known in 1665 as the ‘Royal Diversion of Duck Hunting’. The fun of this diversion was to throw ducks, often with pinioned wings, into a pond and watch them try to escape from the spaniels that were sent in after them.

By the beginning of the 19th century the pleasure of that type of duck hunting had begun to pall and the sport went out of fashion, leaving only the name (and, no doubt, generations of traumatized ducks) behind. There has been a Dog and Duck pub in Soho’s Bateman Street since 1734, built on the site of the Duke of Monmouth’s house, and there was once a notorious Dog and Duck tavern in the St Georges Fields area of Southwark.

At first, this tavern’s claim to fame was the medicinal waters nearby, recommended in 1771 by Dr Johnson.Just a few years later, however, its reputation was in decline and after spending some time as a favoured spot for criminals and prostitutes, it was finally closed permanently by magistrates in 1799.

The Royal Bethlehem Hospital, built on the site in the early 19th century, had associations with a different kind of ‘medicinal waters’. The original hospital, once located near Moorgate, was better known as Bedlam and patients who became violent were, among other carefully considered treatments, ducked in water.

Dog Kennel Hill does (probably) have a real connection with dogs in that Prince George of Denmark had kennels for his hounds here. However, there is also a theory that an earlier landowner (date unknown), one Monsieur de Canel, resided there, and Dog Kennel is a heavily anglicized version of his name.