Welcome to our Ancient Street Names history section. You can skip to subsequent pages using the links below or simply continue reading to start at the beginning.
Many of the City street names are ancient, and their origin extracted from the Corporation archives and other contemporary records throws an interesting light on details of London history.
Cheapside, the ancient "chepe" or market place in the Middle Ages mostly called the West Chepe to distinguish it from the East Chepe is flanked by Bread street, Wood street, Milk street, Honey lane, and Ironmonger lane, representing the centres of those trades seven centuries ago and more.
Old Change was the moneyers' quarter; and across the Chepe was the Goldsmithery, where now are Goldsmiths street and Hall. The Poultry was the Poletria, the poultry market; and Cornhill, at a very early date, was the City wheat centre.
The eastern part of Cannon (formerly Candlewick and still earlier Candelwrith ) street was the candlemakers' quarter: and Budge row that of the dealers in budge, or lambs' "furre."
The adjacent little street, Tower Royal, anciently "the street called La Ryole," marks the part of the Vintry occupied in the thirteenth century by a colony of wine merchants from "la Reole," Bordeaux, wherein a century later a "Great Wardrobe" was erected for Queen Philippa which became known as the "toure of the Ryall."
Lombard Street derives from the Longobards (literally, longbeards) or Lombards in London in the thirteenth century carried on their banking business in Longbord.
Lime street represents the medieval lime burners; Billiter street the belyeters, or beilfounders; Gracechurch street the Grass Church at the pre Conquest Grass Market; Eastcheap the eastern market, where butchers and cooks centred; and Fish street hill the Fish Market.
At Crutched Friars " le Crouched frere strete" were the "Friars of the Holy Cross," from 1298 onwards; the Minories marks the house of the Franciscan Minoresses, or Poor Clares; and we owe "Mincing" lane to the fact that the minchens, or nuns, of St. Helen's had property therein.
Queen street and King street, Cheapside, were renamed after the Great Fire (1666), apparently from Catherine of Portugal and Charles II., Queen street replacing the ancient "Sopers lane," originally the soapmakers' quarter, and later that of the pepperers, or grocers.