The Origins of London’s Street Names
Stocksigns has been manufacturing street name plates for many years. Over this time we have seen not only the style of signs change but also some of the roads’ actual names change. So we thought we would take a look at how some streets have gained their names.
According to the BBC, The City of London contains no roads. There are plenty of streets, squares and alleys, but traditionally not a single road. The reason for the historic anomaly is because the word ‘road’ was not coined until the late 16th Century, after nearly all the thoroughfares in the ancient City had already been named.
Before the 19th century, street names were typically generic and descriptive, usually named after the goods sold in them e.g. Bread Street. After this it became commonplace for streets to bear the name of renowned figures from British history. But while it is obvious where some streets derive their names, others have been corrupted over the centuries and have altogether less obvious roots. Just for fun we have listed some of the London road names and their origins. To find out more about London’s historic roads visit http://www.londononline.co.uk/streetorigins/.
Godliman Street, (EC4)
It is not easy to account for the origin of the name as applied to this street, but “Godelmynges” were a kind of cordwain made from the skin of a young animal, this name being apparently derived from Godalming, where the trade of tanning is still carried on (Lib. Albus, I. 231, and III. 323).
From: ‘Globe Yard – Gofairlane’, A Dictionary of London (1918). URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=63143
Cannon Street, (EC4)
A corruption of Canwick, or Candlewick Street, which took its name from being the abode of candle-makers. In this street also, many weavers of woollen cloth were settled in business, having been brought from Flanders by Edward III, and their meetings were held in the churchyard of St. Lawrence Poultney. (Reference: Smith’s Streets of London, p. 381)
Leadenhall Street, (EC3)
So called from “Leaden Hall,” a large and ponderous-looking mansion inhabited about the year 1309 by Sir Hugh Neville. In 1408 it was purchased by Whittington, Lord Mayor of London, who presented it to the Corporation. (Reference: Jesse’s London, vol. II, p. 341)
Downing Street, (SW1)
Derives its name from Sir George Downing, Secretary to the Treasury in the reign of Charles II. Here stands the official residence of the First Lord of the Treasury, conferred by George II on his favourite minister, Sir Robert Walpole, and on his successors in that high office for ever. (Reference: Jesse’s London, vol. I, p. 165)
Stocksigns manufactures high quality street nameplates for many councils and boroughs. Signs can be manufactured using a variety of materials and techniques. Using traditional sign making techniques such as die pressed metal or vitreous enamel, not only look good, but are often the most long lasting solutions. Contact our Sales Team for more information.