London’s culinary streets: Hop Gardens to Lime Street

We left off our culinary posts at Honey Lane, about which which one of my readers and helpful critics has commented: “I’ve always been suspicious of Honey Lane’s etymology. Honey just doesn’t seem a sufficiently high volume commodity to name a street after. Bread, Milk, Fish, Wood, Candles and even Poultry would be bought most days by the citizens but honey …? Maybe.

“Ekwall agrees that the honey was made there but this seems unlikely too. Even in medieval times, the area around Cheapside would have yielded slim pickings in terms of wild flowers compared to the countryside just a couple of miles away.”

So I guess I’ll keep looking into the etymology of Honey Lane.

Hop Gardens cropAnother of my ‘systems’ has been upset: I had been considering doing culinary (food) and then bibendiary (drinks) but I’m not sure there are enough of the latter so I’ll include them all in together.

And we start with Hop Gardens, off St Martin’s Lane. According to the Survey of London (as published by the London County Council, not the one written by John Stow), “Prior to 1649 it was known as Jenefer’s Alley from the occupant of a house at the western end, Roland Jenefer.” It was later called Fendalls Alley, and then from 1656 The Flemish Hop Garden, so it was presumably named for a tavern of that name.

This one is cheating big time (as we not only have a brand name but one that is not spelled quite right) and I have covered it a few times before, but I can’t resist at least mentioning Kitcat Terrace. This commemorates the Reverend Henry James Kitcat, rector of St Mary’s Bow from 1904 to 1921. The name derives from Kitcott, a place name in Devon. So it’s nothing to do with the chocolate bar, but there was once a Kit-Kat Club comprised of Whig Patriots dedicated to ensuring that Protestants would continue on the throne after the reign of William III.

Lavender Sweep
Photo courtesy of

Lavender Hill in south London (and I can feel MattF reading over my shoulder as I write this) is so named because of the lavender was grown in the area’s 18th-century market gardens. There are also a Lavender Road, Lavender Sweep, Lavender Terrace, and Lavender Walk nearby. That’s a lot of lavender.

From hops and lavender to limes, but not the edible kind: Lime Street, an ancient street that is serves as the location of headquarters of Lloyd’s of London.

The street was Limestrate in the 12th century, and one of the documents in which it appears also mentions one ‘Ailnoth the limeburner’, so it seems safe to assume that it was a street where lime was burned and sold. (There is also a Limeburner Lane in London, presumably named for similar reasons.)

EAS_4130There is, as ever, a conflicting theory and that is that the name derives from a row of lime trees that ran along it. Possibly, but somehow a row of lime trees does not seem likely in 12th-century London.

In the 17th century there was a famous robbery, and subsequent execution of the thief, one Colonel James Turner, in Lime Street. According to the Newgate Calendar, “There was one Mr Francis Tryon, a great merchant, who lived in Lime Street, whom Colonel Turner knew to be very rich”. Turner and his accomplices bound and gagged Tryon in his bed and stole jewels from the warehouse and cash from the house, all to the tune of five thousand nine hundred and forty-six pounds four shillings and threepence.

It appears that Turner was very charismatic and, though his guilt was proved conclusively, “all who knew him wondered at the fact”.

Samuel Pepys wrote in his diary on the day of Turner’s execution that he sent his wife to his aunt’s house, in the area of Lime Street, to save him a good place for viewing the execution. He estimated that 12,000-14,000 people were in the street to watch.

When the time came, says Pepys, “And there I got for a shilling to stand upon the wheel of a cart, in great pain, above an houre before the execution was done; he delaying the time by long discourses and prayers one after another, in hopes of a reprieve; but none came, and at last was flung off the ladder in his cloake. A comely-looked man he he was, and kept his countenance to the end: I was sorry to see him.”

Not, presumably, sorry enough to have held off watching the execution.

Update on London’s number streets from One Tree Hill to Three Mill Lane

In yesterday’s post I airily dismissed the streets from First to Sixth Avenue in what is known as Queen’s Park Estate in West London. My reasoning was that there wasn’t an interesting story behind those names.

Well, I stand corrected. As reader, fellow blogger and London expert has pointed out: “The ‘Avenues’ as the Queen’s Park estate is known locally, were once provided as dwellings for workers by the Shaftesbury Estate, who have an almost identical development in Battersea. A feature of both areas is that there are no pubs, so as to discourage drunkenness.”

The company behind this laudable, and teetotal, vision of housing was the Artizan’s, Labourers’ and General Dwellings Company, founded in 1867 by an illiterate ex-labourer called William Austin, who began his career as a penny-a-day bird-scarer, gave up drink at the age of 47, and turned to philanthropy instead of alcohol. The company was supported by the philanthropist Lord Shaftesbury, who was also a keen temperance enthusiast and reformer.

The company started with the Shaftesbury Park Estate, just north of Lavender Hill, the first stone of which was laid by Lord Shaftesbury in 1872. The estate was formally opened n 1874 by Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli, who remarked, “Stronger than my sympathy is my surprise at what you have done. I have never in my life been more astonished.”

The Queen’s Park Estate was the next such estate to be built by the company; it was built in a grid design with the north-south streets called First, Second, Third, Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Avenues.

So there you have it: a story behind even the most mundane sounding of street names.

(A sad, and yet strangely humorous, aside to the company’s history is that the Queens Park Estate project suffered serious mismanagement and fraud and was forced to raise its rents. In 1877 three people were found guilty of defrauding the company of close to £10,000. One of those people was the appropriately named company secretary, William Swindlehurst.)

Incidentally, Lord Shaftesbury is the same philanthropist who helped to establish the Ragged Schools to provide free education; the building of one of these schools still stands in Mayfair’s Grotto Passage.

I did it! The MoonWalk London 2014

MoonWalk  medalThis blog has been a bit neglected of late due to my training for an participation in the recent MoonWalk London 2014, organized by Walk the Walk in aid of breast cancer charities.

Apologies for the long gap in communication. However, all will be back to normal soon and in the meantime, here is a photo of me with my finisher’s medal as proof that I did walk all 26.2 miles. The team of ten women (including me)  I walked with managed in it just over 7 hours.

The event was spectacular; apparently there were a few logistical glitches but I was one of the fortunate ones unaffected by that, so from where I stood (strode) it all appeared extremely well organized. Clapham Common was pretty cold between 9pm and midnight, with a brisk wind howling through and keeping us pretty chilly, especially those of us, like me, who didn’t want to end up carrying layers as we warmed up, so were wearing just our decorated bras and a thin jacket.

Thank you to all the supporters who cheered us on along the way, especially the man with the rucksack who appeared at a number of different spots including the finish line, and was our most enthusiastic galvaniser.

Incidentally, Clapham Common (taking its name from the Clapham family) was home to many notable people, including the novelist Graham Greene, and Elizabeth Cook, widow of the explorer Captain James Cook; she lived there for many years following the death of her husband.

And one of the first cool London names our route took us past was Lavender Hill. Yes, that is named because Lavender was once grown there. It is probably best known as the setting for the Ealing comedy The Lavender Hill Mob.

So more on London street names soon, possibly continuing the MoonWalk theme, or maybe just random names that I like. I’m currently reading and enjoying Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch so maybe I’ll look at covering some of the street names that crop up in the book.