Little slices of London's history

The author

What’s so funny about Ha Ha Road?

What is so funny about Ha Ha Road, and whose heart bled in Bleeding Heart Yard? Why did Broken Wharf break? Who was unfortunate enough to head off down Wild Goose Drive?

Precious London runs from Agate Road to Diamond Street and Opal Street while culinary London leads from Artichoke Hill to Bunhouse Place and Shoulder of Mutton Alley. Creatures walk, swim, and fly from Antelope Road to Fish Street Hill and Woodpecker road, while plants flourish from Acacia Grove to Gorse Walk and Yew Avenue.

But beware: all is not what it seems: you wouldn’t make wine from the grapes of Grape Street, put the stew of Stew Lane on a menu, or finish off with the pudding from Pudding Lane.

Nothing is what it seems: London streets and their names provide an endless source of entertainment and information mixed in with political intrigue, bloody murder and celebrity scandals.

Come in and sample the wonders of the city’s A-Z: the theories, legends, and the history behind the streets, their names, and their residents.

21 responses to “The author”

  1. Hi, Elizabeth.

    I love the etymology of street names, and was interested in your blog.

    I was rather struck by the “renaming” of Tooley Street, particularly its timing. I’ve always found it very interesting, the close proximity of Tooley Street to the Globe Theatre. The original Globe was built on Maiden Lane (now Park Street) a few hundred yards Westwards…towards Tooley Street.

    Nicholas Tooley was an actor, and executor of Richard Burbage’s will at just about the time of the renaming of the street. Burbage rebuilt and had half-shares in the Globe.

    Tooley was his stage name…his birth name was Wilkinson. I find the synchronicity of his name, given the theatre was yards away from the road, striking. Was Tooley street renamed for the actor…or did the actor take his stage name from the street? Interesting coincidence, either way.

    1. Dear Peter, I’m glad you like my blog and that you share my fascination with the etymology of street names. Thank you also for the interesting information about Nicholas Tooley – I must learn more and add that to the text. All the best.

      1. Hello Elizabeth, I’m a BBC journalist looking at London street names. I’m keen to pick your brain. Could you email me: thank you

  2. Hello Elizabeth,

    I just discovered your great streetnames blog and have enjoyed exploring it today.

    I am researching street names of Westminster in the 1600s-1800s, and I wonder if you can suggest a current-day historian who might help me with a few questions I have.

    Thanks in advance.

    1. Thank you for your kind comments. I’m afraid the historians of my research are more historical themselves, so I am not au fait with current historians. Sorry I couldn’t be of more help.

    2. Hi, again, Al, apologies for the brevity of my last reply. What are you working on? Perhaps we can help each other. If there are any particular street names I can help with, please let me know.

  3. Elizabeth, are you familiar with the book “A Wanderer in London,” by E.V. Lucas (1913)? Starting on page 247 he devotes a few pages to explaining the origin of the names of numerous London streets and neighborhoods. You’d like it.

    1. Thanks for the tip, Al. That’s one I’ve not come across – I’ll see if i can lay my hands on a copy. All the best, Elizabeth

    1. Ooh, thanks, Al – I’m on it! E

  4. Hi Elizabeth. Fascinating to find that we are working on a very similar project (street name histories of London). I have been going down the Amazon self publish route which makes things a lot easier! Not saying I’ve sold any yet though!

    1. It is certainly a fascinating subject – worthy of many books. Good luck with yours!

  5. Hi Elizabeth,

    Further to your ‘Horse and Dolphin’ blog – here is an explanation for the derivation of the tavern name.…

    Connections between OLD PUB SIGNS, the STARS and the SIGNS OF THE ZODIAC.

    Red Lion – Leo
    Bull’s Head – Taurus
    Golden Fleece – Aries
    The Goat Inn – Capricorn
    The Bear, The Plough – Ursa Major
    The Golden Swan – Cygnus
    The Green Dragon – Draco
    The Greyhound – Canis Major
    Fox and Goose – Vulpecula and Anser
    The Punchbowl – Crater
    The Angel – Virgo
    The Ship – Argo Navis
    Robin Hood – Sagittarius (the Archer)
    Eagle and Child – Aquila and Antinous

    The Horse and Dolphin constellations fit into this category and are located next to each other in the star charts.

    See the Equleus and Delphinus star chart (Horse and Dolphin) as depicted by Johannes Hevelius (published 1690)

    I’ve found three historical pubs in London with this name:

    The first is most likely the one in your blog.

    Horse and Dolphin, Maxfield Street, near St. Ann’s, London 1737
    Black Horse and Dolphin, Mansfield Street, Soho, London 1765
    Dolphin and Horseshoe, Lamb’s Conduit Passage, Red Lion Street, Holborn, London,
    England 1765

    Looking forward to reading your blog in more detail now that I’ve found it!




  6. Vicki Pinchin Avatar
    Vicki Pinchin

    Hi Elizabeth;

    Regarding Pinchin Street – It is my name and I was told by family members that Pinchin Street in Whitechapel was named after a great great grandfather who was a doctor who invented a type of penicillin so they named the street after him.
    I was also told that we emigrated from France to England at some point so your comment about the name origin is correct.
    My grandfather then immigrated to Manitoba Canada in the early 1930s or 1940s.

    1. Hi, Vicki, that’s fascinating. I haven’t ‘met’ anyone else whose family has had a street that I’ve mentioned named after them! Thanks for that piece of information. All the best, Elizabeth

  7. Dear Elizabeth, I’m fascinated by your blog and grateful for your research.

  8. Hi Elizabeth

    Every month on CabbieBlog I featured a piece entitled the ‘London Grill’ which gives the same 10 questions appertaining to London to our guest contributor:

    After finding your street names blog I thought that writing for CabbieBlog might interest you.

    If you should so choose to participate, contact me, I will, of course, give full attribution, background information and links with the post.

    1. Hi, Gibson Square. I’m so glad to ‘meet’ a reader of my blog. Now that I have discovered yours I shall follow it with interest. Yes, that sounds fun. I’d be delighted to take part. All the best, Elizabeth

      1. That’s great. Please contact me via my blog at:
        I’ll reply using my personal email address with all the details.

  9. Dear Elitabeth,
    I stumbled over Your very interesting blog while searching about any connections between mermaids and prostitutes. You write that in the 16th century this had been a common naming. Not being a native speaker, could You tell me where to look for some more ethymological evidence? That would be very kind. Thanx,

    1. Dear Jan, thank you for your interest in my blog and your kind remarks. I’m afraid I have no etymological evidence as such, merely historical quotes and references. Here is one example: Sarah Peverley has written extensively on mermaids and some of her articles and essays can be found here: Sorry I can’t be of more help.

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About Me (and my Obsession)

My obsession with London street names began in the early 90s when I worked in the Smithfield area and happened upon Bleeding Heart Yard. In my wanderings around London, kept adding to my store of weird and wonderful street names. Eventually it was time to share – hence my blog. I hope you enjoy these names as much as I do.
– Elizabeth