Stories behind Street Names

Have you ever noticed the name of a street and wondered where on earth it got its name from?!  There are so many unusual ones in and around London, and with London’s rich history it’s quite fascinating discovering where certain street names originated from.  Historically streets were often named after the goods that were being sold in that area – Bread Street, Poultry to name but two, other were named after the destination of a particular road.

As Estate Agents in W1, we are often running around the streets of the West End on viewings and have expert knowledge on the area, so thought we’d share the origins of some of our local street names with you.

Starting with Oxford Street – one of the largest shopping streets in the world, was so named in 1725 because – as you might guess – it was the road to Oxford; however, up until 1725 it was known as Tyburn Road which rather gruesomely led to the Tyburn Hanging Tree!

Piccadilly – another large shopping street in London’s West End, was named after a wide, decorated collar named the piccadill; this fashion item of the time made the fortune of a tailor called Robert Baker, and with that fortune he built himself a large property in the area and named it Piccadilly House.

Goodge Street was named after John Goodge – a carpenter.  His nephews developed what was Crab Tree Fields into a large road in 1740, and named it after their favourite Uncle John!

Romilly Street – a small side turning running behind Shaftsbury Avenue, takes it’s name from Samuel Romilly who successfully campaigned in the abolition of the death penalty for petty crimes in 1810.  A small side-street maybe, but what historical event!

Tottenham Court Road – so called because it was the road to Toten Hall – the court house of the area at the time, which was situated at the North West end of the road.

Charing Cross Road – a street famed for it’s bookshops, is named after the Queen Eleanor Memorial cross which stood on the site that was once the hamlet of Charing.  The site is now occupied by a statue of King Charles I riding a horse; it faces down Whitehall towards Banqueting House which was his place of execution.

And finally we have Hanway Street, Fitzrovia – it’s rumoured to have been named after the Portsmouth-born traveller who braved ridicule by first championing the use of an umbrella!  I can imagine that he must have looked a little unusual with this new contraption which protected from the rain, but with our British weather I’m very thankful he did!

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