London Place Names

The Book of London Place Names, by Caroline TaggartHave you ever wondered where the sheep in Shepherd Market are, or who were the knights of Knightsbridge? Or how about the birds in Birdcage Walk?

If you feel there may be some gaps in your toponymic knowledge of London then look no further than September’s book of the month, The Book of London Place Names  by Caroline Taggart.

Whether you wish to meet forgotten residents whose names survive in the places where they lived, or uncover tales from London’s murkier past, this conveniently sized book is a useful and quick reference for those keen to discover the people, events and stories that have shaped the capital. Taking the reader on a journey through the cobbled streets, narrow lanes and crowded markets of London, it provides an enjoyable read and leisurely guide for any budding local historian.

Paddington is better known for its magnificent railway station than for its Saxon namesake. Image property of Westminster City Archives.

Paddington is better known for its magnificent railway station than for its Saxon namesake. Image property of Westminster City Archives.

From North to South and everywhere in between, there is much to discover about the City of Westminster, with a generous 70 pages dedicated to it. The place names of our City bear witness to a long and complex history. Arrive at PADDINGTON and you are in a place named after a long forgotten Saxon; come to GREEK STREET and you are where a seventeenth century Greek community set up the first Greek Orthodox Church in London; go to COVENT GARDEN and you are on the site of what was a “convent garden” belonging to Westminster Abbey, where monks grew and ate apples, plums and pears, and cultivated barley for brewing purposes.

Covent Garden market in the early 19th century. Image property of Westminster City Archives.

Covent Garden market in the early 19th century. Image property of Westminster City Archives.

Westminster’s place names act as direct links to the city’s past, and with The Book of London Place Names it is now possible for anyone to decode the hidden histories that lie behind them. You can uncover more about the history of Westminster’s highways and byways with a visit to the City of Westminster Archives Centre. Take a look at our extensive collections of maps and photographs to see how our streets have changed over the centuries, or delve into our historic directories to find out who used to live and work in a street near you.

[Georgina]

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