10 unusual street names in London

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Posted on: 04 December 2018 by Morgan Franklin

London is a city with a long and storied past, and while the city is perhaps best known now for its wide array of landmarks, range of bars and restaurants, and iconic buildings, there is plenty of history there too.

London is a city with a long and storied past, and while the city is perhaps best known now for its wide array of landmarks, range of bars and restaurants, and iconic buildings, there is plenty of history there too.

 

Much of this amazing history is reflected in the street names, particularly in the City of London, where some of its streets date back centuries. As a result there are some pretty unusual street names in London. Here are 10 that catch the eye:

 

Knightrider Street

 

Initially recorded as Knyghtriderstrete in 1322, this short street is the remnants of what was once a much longer road knights would take when riding to jousting tournaments at Smithfields.

 

French Ordinary Court

 

A small alleyway tucked away near Fenchurch Street Station, French Ordinary Court served as a sanctuary for French Protestants who were fleeing from Catholic France in the 1600s. The refugees set up shops selling coffees and pastries as well as ‘ordinarys’, a term used to refer to a fixed price meal - with the street eventually bearing this name.

 

Love Lane

 

Love Lane may now be a destination for romantic selfies, but the street was named for the illicit acts that used to take place here. If you were looking to hire a prostitute in the Middle Ages, Love Lane was the place to go.

 

Wardrobe Place

 

Named after King Edward III’s property, which was used to house the royal wardrobe from 1359 onwards, the King’s wardrobe housed fine clothing for years until it was destroyed in the Great Fire of London in 1666.

 

Bleeding Heart Yard

 

A highly unusual street name, which was named after an urban myth concerning a spurned lover who was found dead with a still pumping heart. Bleeding Heart Yard inspired many writers including Charles Dickens, who wrote about the street in Little Dorrit.

 

Hanging Sword Alley

 

A sinister name with a reasonable explanation. During the Tudor era, people didn’t have street numbers so used symbols instead, with one house choosing a hanging sword to identify their home. This unusual street also featured in a Dickens novel, with the writer including it in A Tale of Two Cities.

 

Mincing Lane

 

If you were to take a punt, you’d assume this street was named after a butcher’s shop or a slightly camp walk, but neither are true. In fact, Mincing is derived from the word Mincheon - an Old English name for a nun, with the name referring to the nuns who lived here in the 16th Century.

 

Cock Lane

 

Similar to Love Lane, Cock Lane apparently gets its name from the sex workers who lived on this street. Other versions of the tale also suggest that the name actually refers to a livestock market that used to be situated nearby.

 

Crutched Friars

 

The Crutched Friars were a group of Italian Christians who lived in this area of London in the 13th and 14th Century. The term ‘Crutched’ is said to either be derived from the Latin for cross, or used to refer to the wooden staffs held by the monks, which is depicted in the sculpture on this street.

 

St Mary Axe

 

While St Mary Axe is now home to The Gherkin, it once hosted a church by the name of St Mary the Virgin, St Ursula and the Eleven Thousand Virgins. The latter part of the name refers to an old myth about a King’s daughter whose entourage were decapitated with an axe, which combined with the old church, gives this street it's strange title.

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