Thursday, May 24, 2012

Missing Air Street, Bear Street, and Rotten Row

I've been home a few days now, but the street names of London still echo in my mind. Air Street and Bear Street. Druid Street, Fleet Street, Chancery Lane.

Photo: Bear Street, London WC 2. CT 2012

Poultry Street and Bread Street were named for the goods sold there in their early days as part of a market organized by product types. On the other hand, Temple Bar is neither a temple nor a bar. It was once a gate to the walled City of London, also known as The Square Mile. According to the City of London, the word temple was related to the adjacent law courts, and the bar may originally have been a chain barring the gate. It was definitely not somewhere to go for a drink.

But how did Bear Street get its name? Or for that matter, Air Street?

Photo left: Air Street is appropriately labelled in an archway that soars into the air. 

Above right: Illustration with history of the area decorates Hyde Park Underground Station. 

No discussion of strange London street names would be complete without a mention of Rotten Row. This became the first road in London, and indeed in England, to get street lights, when in the late seventeenth century, William III had 300 oil lamps installed to enhance safety through illumination. During the Victorian age, to be seen dressed in one's best and riding a beautiful horse along Rotten Row along the edge of Hyde Park was the height of fashion.

This name is a corruption of the French Route du Roi, the King's road.

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