London

Jul. 8th, 2010 10:05 am
malsperanza: (Default)
[personal profile] malsperanza
Reposting this, hopefully with the effing image links working. If they don't, I'll try again, with apologies to my flist. I give up trying to figure out why LJ sometimes likes embedded images and sometimes hates them. (They all showed up just fine in the preview. *sigh*)

So I was in London for a couple of weeks & it was really fun. The Greenwich and Docklands Festival was on, as was the Festival of Architecture, with great programming and exhibitions. I was going to do more of that stuff, but ended up mostly walking around on my own. And a lot of theater, and friends.

It'is ungodly hot in New York and I'm wondering why I didn't stay for another couple of weeks. Cats look at me resentfully, as we lie about panting. I should water the plants. I should unpack. I should answer mail and pay bills.



Dull would he be of soul who could pass by / A sight so touching in its majesty.

Every time I go to London I like it more. It has changed so much since my first visit, 35 years ago. It has become such a lively place, and multicultural to an almost wacky degree--and I speak as a New Yorker, not unused to urban minestrone. I used to be struck by the range of English accents one hears on the underground--South African, Aussie, Canadian, Usian, Indian: all the Englishes of the Empire-as-was. But now on the tube it's not just accents; it's every imaginable language.

I was staying in Isle of Dogs, down directly on the river, in an apartment lent to me by friends--a former warehouse, like so much of the Docklands. The area is not as trendy as one would think--it's still mostly council housing and few amenities, though the riverfront flats are increasingly posh. This is an area that 25 years ago would have been fish-and-chips to the core. Now the cooking smells seeping from kitchen windows at noon are of garlic and cumin, palm oil and coriander, and the population is a broad mix of white, West African, South Asian, Caribbean, and Chinese. Nary an eel shop in sight, and only two Historic Pubs within spitting distance, but both of those historic indeed, with the soot and sweat of dockers and lightermen, ironmongers and sugar haulers deep in the grain of the wood.

The river was magical. I live right on the Hudson in Manhattan, and I love it, but a park and a highway separate me from the water. In London, the houses run directly down to the water and hang over it. The first thing that struck me was how little river traffic there is--how completely the Port of London has vanished. The Thames commuter boats, and at night the party boats, and occasionally a police boat or pleasure craft are virtually the only shipping left on the river, so that at night it is serene and tranquil, a sweet Thames flowing softly, as if in some rural reach, or about 5 centuries back. Which is especially striking because of the particular importance in literature and history of Thames shipping. Here it is in 1880.

And today.


* * *

Quod non fecerunt barbari fecerunt barberini

What the barbarians did not accomplish, the Barberini did. In the 1600s the cultured and art-loving Pope Urban VIII Barberini stripped the bronze beams from the Pantheon--which had survived 1500 years of violent Roman history--to provide metal for his army's canon and also for Bernini to make his splendid baldacchino for St. Peter's. Tastes change.

But the if the old slums of the East End are long gone--and good riddance to be sure--the new sites of urban poverty of this great capital city are much harder to see, more invisible, even when they are in the same place they always were. Chunks of Hackney and Bethnal Green are lively centers of café society, but the council estates that replaced the dank dark Dickensian East End are a different kind of grim (Stratford, Shadwell). And the postwar approach to ghettos nearly everywhere in Europe has been to relegate them to the peripheries, beyond the ring road, to the bleak tower blocks that were heralded in 1950 as the advance guard of a sparkling postwar modernism.

"Tower blocks were introduced in Britain in the 1960s and were an instant success. People loved the sense of social alienation, entrapment, and the stench of urine in the lifts." (Tom Baker, 2003--I came across this on someone else's blog. I don't know who Tom Baker is, though I assume not the same fellow who wore a 16 ft. scarf as the Fourth Doctor Who.)

* * *

Walking through the vast chunks of the city that were formerly the industrial port, one can see how thoroughly that history too has been erased--first by the Blitz, and later, what was left, by urban renewal and development. I've long wanted to walk through the East End, and I finally had the time on this trip--though scarcely scratching the surface. But now I regret that in 1973, when I was first in London, I didn't walk through Wapping, Docklands, Deptford, Spitalfields. In those days, even Whitechapel and Limehouse were considered unsafe--or so I was told; perhaps it was bollocks, but I had just grown up in a dangerous inner city, and I knew that being a tourist of other people's poverty is not a good thing. So I didn't go, and I missed my chance to see the wharves and warehouses and tenement streets of old London before they were obliterated--really, evaporated--by the juggernaut of 1980s development. I think the Millennium Dome (closely visible from the little balcony of the flat) is possibly the ugliest work of architecture in London, if it can be called architecture at all. But I'm reminded that this is what it replaced. (That website notes that a London smog lasting 4 days in 1952 killed 4,000 people. When Wordsworth wrote "All bright and glittering in the smokeless air," in 1802, he was about to be proved very wrong indeed.) In 1973 industrial London would have been on its uppers--the foundries and docks closed and derelict, the wharves hollow, the tenements miserable and desperate places.

This time, in between work stuff, I took many long walks, mostly from the City eastward, and saw a lot of things that have long been on my List, including the outsides of nearly all the Hawksmoor churches and some others. I'll write more later, but here's a smattering.

In Hackney, on a little alley called Garner Street, stands this small blue house, designed by FAT architects (another view here). It's not so visible in the photos, but among the charms of this very self-conscious work are that the staircase from the ground floor can be seen in outline within the entry doorway, and the cloud on the fence at right matches the cutout shape on the left. The windows on the side have blue LED light panels. It has won all the architecture prizes, and I think deservedly, despite its archness. It fits well in its street context ( which I had wanted to see), and its cleverness is not bombastic--in contrast, say, to another building I finally went to view, Vauxhall Cross, the insanely huge and Orwelllian headquarters of MI6. (Yep, that's the really Sekrit one.) It is as lunatic in reality as the photographs suggest. It is huge. It is Joe Stalin's wet dream. It is everything hateworthy about triumphalist postmodern style.

By the Blue House, at the end of Garner Street is a small graffiti of the stenciled kind popular in London and Paris. It is a little cat, who lurks fortuitously near a metal street plate laveled CATV (cable lines).
* * *
The Mother Goose rhyme "Oranges and Lemons" is creepy, mysterious, gnomic, and violent.

Gay go up and gay go down,
To ring the bells of London Town.

Oranges and lemons
Say the bells of St. Clement's.

Bull's eyes and targets,
Say the bells of St. Margaret's.

Brickbats and tiles,
Say the bells of St. Giles'.

Half-pence and farthings,
Say the bells of St. Martin's.

Pancakes and fritters,
Say the bells of St. Peter's.

Two sticks and an apple,
Say the bells of Whitechapel.

Pokers and tongs,
Say the bells of St. John's.

Kettles and pans,
Say the bells of St. Anne's.

Old father baldpate,
Say the slow bells of Aldgate.

You owe me ten shillings,
Say the bells of St. Helen's.

When will you pay me?
Say the bells of Old Bailey.

When I grow rich,
Say the bells of Shoreditch.

Pray when will that be?
Say the bells of Stepney.

I'm sure I don't know,
Says the great bell of Bow.

Here comes a candle to light you to bed,
And here comes a chopper to chop off your head.

Forget Jack the Ripper; here is the original Death Tour of the East End, far older and stranger than a mere Victorian serial killer. Long before I knew that the song was a mnemonic for the churches of the City and East End, I was fascinated by the imagery. Who is Gay the bell-ringer? Or if gay is an adjective, not a name, what does it mean? Ring gaily the bells of doom and retribution? Why two sticks and an apple? What do they have to do with each other? The oranges and lemons, I would guess, refer to one of the imports that came through the port and its warehouses. But some of the sets of rhyming terms seem no more meaningful than other bits of Cockney slang--apples and pears, or syrup of figs. Still, I used to try to sort out why St. John's had the instruments of an ironmonger (or a torturer of saints), while St. Peter's was a good place for brunch.

My childhood copy of this rhyme had wonderful illustrations, in which the strange symbols were embedded in decorative borders like clues in a Kit Williams book:

Gay Go UpGay Go Down

(From Lavender's Blue, which has happily been reissued.)

When I was little, I didn't know what or where London was, and it was only years later that I realized the churches and bells in the song were real places. Still, the image of church spires speaking to one another across the roofs of the city captivated me--the more because their conversation was an acerbic, wry, ironic one, not about worship, God, or salvation, but rather about the dire anxiety of poverty, unassuaged by the sweet pealing of carillons.

The poem predates the Great Fire, and so the illustration is right to picture Gothic spires. But Wren and Hawksmoor did a good job of replacing the old, dark towers with new ones that came with their creepy already built in, readymade. Hawksmoor especially managed to build bell-towers that were topheavy, one-eyed, sometimes grotesquely disproportionate. He took the Palladian principles of an Enlightenment architecture of balance and clarity and mangled them in a peculiarly English way. The churches of St. Anne Limehouse, St. George in the East, Christ Church Spitalfields, and the spire of St. Michael Cornhill all mimic the medieval Gothic and give rise to that strange reinvention of the Gothick for which the Victorians are usually credited (or blamed). There is something heavy, thick, clumsy, and exaggerated about Hawskmoor's architecture, with its oversize Palladian keystones and gaping tower windows, blinded with louvers.

St. Anne Limehouse
St. Anne Limehouse

St. George in the East
St. George in the East

Christ Church Spitalfields
Christ Church Spitalfields

St. Michael Cornhill
St. Michael Cornhill

No wonder Peter Ackroyd and Iain Sinclair latched onto Hawksmoor as a dark satanic Blakian figure. There is something powerful but off-kilter about his work.

St. George in the East has 4 small pepperpot towers that look for all the world like little Daleks:
No doubt they serve an apotropaic function.

But Hawksmoor aside, there are other churches to love, not all of them named in the song. A favorite of Dickens was St. Olave Hart Street, Pepys's church:
St Olave's Church Gate, Hart Street, London

The photo is a detail of the churchyard gate. The skull and crossbones are copied from a Dutch pattern book of 1633. The inscription above the keystone reads: Christus vivere mors mihi lucrum 1658, which translates as “For me to live is Christ and to die is gain" (1 Philippians 21). But since the church is now in the heart of the financial district, I like to think the proper translation, in dog-Latin, would be something like, “Christ, I live and die for lucre.”


Dickens called it St. Ghastly Grim in The Uncommercial Traveller. His description of it carries me back to a time before it was surrounded by the great galleons of finance, the glittering, domineering skyscrapers of the financial district:

“When I think I deserve particularly well of myself, and have earned the right to enjoy a little treat, I stroll from Covent-garden into the City of London, after business-hours there, on a Saturday, or--better yet--on a Sunday, and roam about its deserted nooks and corners. It is necessary to the full enjoyment of these journeys that they should be made in summer-time, for then the retired spots that I love to haunt, are at their idlest and dullest. A gentle fall of rain is not objectionable, and a warm mist sets off my favourite retreats to decided advantage. [...]

One of my best beloved churchyards, I call the churchyard of Saint Ghastly Grim; touching what men in general call it, I have no information. It lies at the heart of the City, and the Blackwall Railway shrieks at it daily. It is a small small churchyard, with a ferocious, strong, spiked iron gate, like a jail. This gate is ornamented with skulls and cross-bones, larger than the life, wrought in stone; but it likewise came into the mind of Saint Ghastly Grim, that to stick iron spikes a-top of the stone skulls, as though they were impaled, would be a pleasant device. Therefore the skulls grin aloft horribly, thrust through and through with iron spears. Hence, there is attraction of repulsion for me in Saint Ghastly Grim, and, having often contemplated it in the daylight and the dark, I once felt drawn towards it in a thunderstorm at midnight. ‘Why not?’ I said, in self-excuse. ‘I have been to see the Colosseum by the light of the moon; is it worse to go to see Saint Ghastly Grim by the light of the lightning?’ I repaired to the Saint in a hackney cab, and found the skulls most effective, having the air of a public execution, and seeming, as the lightning flashed, to wink and grin with the pain of the spikes. Having no other person to whom to impart my satisfaction, I communicated it to the driver. So far from being responsive, he surveyed me - he was naturally a bottled-nosed, red-faced man - with a blanched countenance. And as he drove me back, he ever and again glanced in over his shoulder through the little front window of his carriage, as mistrusting that I was a fare originally from a grave in the churchyard of Saint Ghastly Grim, who might have flitted home again without paying.”


Some of the streets in the general area of this church are named: Crutched Friars, Seething Lane, Savage Gardens, Mincing Lane, Bleeding Heart Yard. (OK, that last one is in Hatton Garden, but still.)

Americans tend to think that writers like Dickens and Shakespeare got their inventive, playful sense of language straight from the gods, but if you walk around any city with medieval roots, you will find that macabre humor and dark wit embedded in the stones. Not for nothing is there a church in Venice consecrated to St. John-with-his-head-cut-off, one to St. Nicholas of the Lettuce, several churches dedicated to Jews (St. Moses, St. Samuel, St. Job), a Big Eye Alley, and an Alley of the Love of Friends; no one really knows the origin of Milan's Bright Flowers Street and Dark Flowers Street. Rome has Big Marble Foot Street, a Baboon Street, and a church of Santo Stefano del Cacco. (Cacco can be translated variously as referring to a monkey, the Egyptian god Thoth, the Greek mythological figure Caccus, or a turd.)

London can compete with any city when it comes to funny and bizarre toponyms:

Churches:

St. Mary Overie (now Southwark Cathedral, and yes, there is a perfectly mundane and uninteresting explanation for this name, which I choose to ignore)
St. Andrew Undershaft (doesn't this sound remarkably Shakespearean?)
St. Andrew-by-the-Wardrobe
St. James Garlickhythe
St. Lawrence Jewry
St. Benet Fink
St. Nicholas Shambles
Allhallows Barking-by-the-Tower
St. Faith under St. Paul

and of course St. Mary Axe (properly pronounced Simmery Axe, and now replaced by that other temple of divine worship, the Gherkin)

And a few that are merely evocative:

St. James in the Wall
St. John Friday Street
St. Giles Cripplegate

* * *

On another day I went farther east, to the Who Store in Barking Road to buy miniature Tardises and Daleks (don't ask; it's an art project, k?)

This took me to deepest East Ham (or Newham, or West Ham; well, there is definitely ham in it). Queen's Market on Green Street is smaller than Brixton market, but nearly as good. It sells cassava, moth beans and gunga peas, and halal meat and Indian sauces and Caribbean spices and sparkly nylon sari fabric in every garish color, and chadours in all shades of plain black, and hair extensions, and fresh eggs. Across the street from this minestrone is a real eel house, Duncan's, offering proper jellied and stewed eels or pie, mash, and eel, with liquor.

Jellied eels

I'm told that Manze's in Southwark is even more authentic. Eating eel pie is easy once you've dined on those great Florentine classics, cibreo and Lampredotto.

Enjoy Green Road's raffish beauty now, while you can; the 2012 Olympics will be blasting through this area soon, and lord knows what will remain.

* * *

Of course I kept tripping over Jack-the-Ripper tour groups as I went on my walks: in Mitre Street, as I was trying to find a way to see the hidden back end and churchyard of St. Katharine Cree (because it has a nice rose window); in Whitechapel Road, as I was leaving the Whitechapel Art Gallery; and again by Altab Ali Park (the former churchyard of the original St. Mary's Whitechapel, destroyed in the Blitz), where for some reason the ghouls were clustered round a 18th century tomb of the Mattock family. At a certain point near Brick Lane, the Jack-the-Ripper tourists cross the Monica Ali/Zadie White tourists. It strikes me that to go on a Ripper tour by daylight is kind of wimpy. Dickens had the right idea.

So, along Whitechapel Road is a place I'd heard of but never seen, the Whitechapel Bell Foundry. One can take a tour, but I hadn't made an appointment, and was mainly doing outside things in any case. But there it is, and has been, since 1570. I first learned of this foundry via one of my favorite Snopes urban legends: Procrastinators Club of America vs. Whitechapel Bell Foundry.

Nearby is a building that used to be a pub (well, there are many, but one I especially like). Judging from the clusters of Jack-the-Ripper tour groups it must be associated with him, but what I like about it is the handsome terracotta work on the facade, with the name and the two heraldic frying pans. This is the former Frying Pan public house.

I like the name. It reminds me of the rhyme in Oranges and Lemons: kettles and pans say the bells of St. Anne's. St. Anne's sounds like a tinkers' hangout.

Plus, it is at the corner of Thrawl Street. There's a legend that this was the original site of the castle of the Belle Dame Sans Merci, but it's untrue.

Some things that will come up in the next installment:

Ibex House, Portsoken Street, 1937
Green Bridge, Mile End Road
Grasshopper! Grasshopper!

and

This insane thing

And moar!

N.b.: I don't usually carry a camera when I walk. The photos here are all from various places on the Web.

Date: 2010-07-08 02:29 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ljgeoff.livejournal.com
That was a great write-up - thanks!

Date: 2010-07-09 12:00 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ooxc.livejournal.com
Gay go up snd gay go down is a reference to the action of the bells - they swing from mouth up to mouth down, and ringing up and ringing down are the terms used for preparing and ending a ring.

Date: 2010-07-09 12:16 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] malsperanza.livejournal.com
Yes, I did grasp the up and down bit. I've even tried my hand at change-ringing. But why "gay"? Is that bell-ringers' cant? If so, what specifically does it mean?

Date: 2010-07-09 01:04 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ooxc.livejournal.com
The gay bit slightly puzzles me too - but it's often associated with bell-ringing in its sense of glad and merry, so I've always assumed that it means gaily ringing up and down

Date: 2010-07-09 02:09 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] malsperanza.livejournal.com
I think that's probably right: Gay(ly) go up and down to ring the bells.

What's striking about this is that after that cheerful invocation at the beginning, the conversation of the bells quickly becomes a gloomy one about debt and disaster. Not by accident is it the Old Bailey who demands, menacingly, "When will you pay me?" Old Bailey isn't a church and never had any bells; it's the court where a debtor would be tried and condemned to the Fleet. The nearest church to it was the grimly named St. Sepulchre-without-Newgate. (Perhaps even Cockneys couldn't come up with a rhyme for Sepulchre that would scan.)

The song is a description not only of the principle parish churches of the eastern half of the city, but also of the poverty of its denizens. The final couplet, tacked on later, completes the underlying sense of crime, punishment, and retribution. Just as ring-around-the-rosy has the story of the Great Plague embedded in it.

So it's hard not to hear a certain irony in the introductory lines: Gay go up, and gay go down: your fate may rise with the upswing of the bell, but it will as surely sink on the downswing.

I also think it's interesting that the foundry that cast so many of London's bells was right there in Whitechapel--not, say, Hammersmith, which presumably also was a district with a forge.

Date: 2010-07-09 07:51 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ooxc.livejournal.com
Might have been irony? There has aleays been mixed opinion about church bells. I lived next door to a church for most of my ife and loved the bells, but there were constant complaints from a neighbouring hospital on bell-ringing nights

Date: 2010-07-09 07:53 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ooxc.livejournal.com
Another thought about gay as ironical - there was also the puritanical approach to bell-ringing - seen as frivolity unbecoming pure religion - wonder if any of that comes into it

Date: 2010-07-09 12:05 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ooxc.livejournal.com
Lovely to see the new Queen's Market - haven't seen it for over ten years!
Yes, Newham is the modern London Borough, created by linking the old areas of East Ham and West Ham.
I think that jham simply means dwelling - as in the hamlets - small villages - of the Chilterns

Date: 2010-07-09 12:29 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] malsperanza.livejournal.com
Oh, but the real answers aren't nearly as much fun. I mean, the church of St. Faith under St. Paul probably doesn't mean what it sounds like it means either. Not to mention St. Mary Staining and St. Mary Magdalene Old Fish Street. Staining merely refers to stone and the street where Mary Magdalene was venerated did not specialize in the sale of old fish, but only in the dull real world.

So I much prefer the idea that the auncient boroughs of London are named after cold cuts. And if I tell you that there is a small alley in Bloomsbury called Cat Mews, who's to say I'm not telling the truth?

Date: 2010-07-09 01:09 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ooxc.livejournal.com
That's lovely - except that a Mews was actually a falconry and then a stables, so i suppose that the cat part is a later joke?
Presumably Old Fish Street means that a fish market moved elsewhere?
And I'm guessing that St Faith's church is at the bottom of the hill where St Paul's stands? Must check that!

Date: 2010-07-09 01:16 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ooxc.livejournal.com
Here it is!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St_Faith_under_St_Paul's

St Faith under St Paul’s in Castle Baynard Ward was a parish within the City of London. It had been physically removed in 1256 to allow for the eastern expansion of the Old St Paul's Cathedral

Date: 2010-07-09 01:56 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] malsperanza.livejournal.com
It's funnier without the possessive. ;-)

There's a church in Rome called Santa Maria Sopra Minerva, which means St. Mary on top of Minerva. It's a medieval church built on top of the ruins of a temple to Minerva--the Christians of Rome took the view that a sacred site is sacred and remains so, and they tended to adapt classical sites to Christian purposes as a means of absorbing paganism into Christianity. Nevertheless, the name of the church has always conjured up the most startling images in my mind.

Date: 2010-07-09 07:47 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ooxc.livejournal.com
Yes - there's also San Clemente, built on top of a temple to Mithras - although some argue that the earliest church, also underneath the later church, was probably shared with Mithras worshippers, ratehr thna superseding the temple

Date: 2010-07-09 02:23 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] malsperanza.livejournal.com
Interesting--I hadn't heard that the early church might have shared space with the Mithraeum. I think about 400 years separate their construction, so it would depend on how long Mithraism endured in Rome. But early Christianity is very syncretic, and a lot of churches were built on pagan temple sites--Naples cathedral, frex.

Date: 2010-07-09 10:19 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ooxc.livejournal.com
I don't own the work that was done on this - but there was a suggestion in the 1980s or thereabouts that the Mithraic altar had been put to some kind of use in the first century - rather than just being incorporated in the early church. I can't be specific abot what the evidence was for this - sorry!

Date: 2010-07-09 01:28 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ooxc.livejournal.com
Thank you so much - I've really enjoyed this!

http://www.hrionline.ac.uk/strype/TransformServlet?page=book3_096


"The Parish Church of St. MARY STAINING.
Then is the small Parish Church of St. Mary, called Staining, because it standeth at the North end of Staining lane. St, Mary Staining.
This Church was repaired and beautified at the Cost of the Parish, in the Year of our Lord 1630."

Date: 2010-07-09 03:46 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] malsperanza.livejournal.com
I suspect that half the etymologies of street names are sheer guesswork. I found the explanation of Staining = stone in a book that I left in London, so I can't check it.

Here's what the Internet turns up: Apparently, the first reference to the church is to "Ecclesia de Staningehage" in 1189 in the Clerkenwell Chartulary.

The word Staining/Staningehage--whether referring to a lane or to the church--may come from an Old English word for stone, or it may refer to a family named Staining or Staines, or it may refer to professional painter stainers, who had a company or guild in the area.

If the church was stone-built, then the name could simply come from the Saxon word "stan, stane," which is stone. Here's William Camden, describing the town of Staines in 1610: "Stanes, in the Saxon tongue Stana, offereth it selfe to our sight, where Tamis hath a wooden bridge over it. This name it tooke of a meere-stone [boundary stone] heere in times past set up to marke out the jurisdiction that the Citie of London hath in the river."

Going back a bit further, to Domesday Book, via www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=22226, we find that Edward the Confessor granted to Westminster Abbey "the manor of Staines, with the land called 'Staeningehaga' within London." So the church, founded about 100 years later, may have taken its name from that earlier manor and its apparently large landholding. The manor, then, was presumably in the area south of London Wall.

Staeningehaga gets Englished as Staininghaw, and haw here means simply the enclosed lands belonging to the manor.

John Stow, in "Survey of London" (1603), says that it was called Staining "because it standeth at the north end of Stayninglane." In turn, Stayning Lane (according to a note to a 1908 reprint of Stow) took its name "due to the fact that it once contained the haws of the men of Staines."

But Henry A. Harben, in "A Dictionary of London" (1918), comments: "But it seems more likely that the lane took its designation from the Church, or that they were both derived from a common source. [...] Could there have been a stone yard in the neighbourhood?"

Gordon Huelin, in "Vanished Churches of the City of London" (London: Guildhall Library, 1996) offers two possibilities: (1) Named after the painter stainers who lived in the area in medieval times; or (2) From the Saxon word for stone.

The painter stainers were (and are) a livery company and their hall was in Trinity Lane (at least, they were there in the 16th c.), near the Mansion House tube station. St. Mary Staining was farther north, just below London Wall in what is now called Oat Lane. Further, the painter stainers' company was founded in 1268, whereas the church seems to be nearly 100 years older than that. So that proposal looks like a bust to me.

A third possibility is that Staining Lane took its name not from stainers nor from stones, but from a family named Staines or Staining who lived in the street, and who perhaps were the church's patrons. (There were several churches in London with names derived from their donors': St. Mary Overie, alas, was not consecrated to the Virgin's reproductive organs, but paid for by one John Overs. St. Benet Fink was consecrated to St. Benet [Benedict], but paid for by a man named Finch, and stood in Threadneedle St. near Finch Lane (named for the family); nevertheless, I prefer to imagine that St. Benet was a rogue.)

So, if there was a family named Staines or Staining, what is the derivation of the name? They may perhaps have come from the town of Staines, which in turn may be a contraction of St. Anne's rather than a reference to stone. (Much speculation there too.)

But I lean toward the idea that the name Staining comes from the manor of Staines or Staininghaw, and that its name (given its pre-Norman date) is Saxon. I suppose it's possible that the manor was named for St. Anne, but isn't it more likely that it took its name either from the stone of which it was built or the stony land of its pastures, or even, perhaps, from a stana, or boundary stone nearby?

So I'm sticking with "stone" as the origin of Staining. Which is too bad, because I quite liked the idea of a church dedicated to St. Mary-who-spills-red-wine-on-her-best-maphorion.

Date: 2010-07-09 07:43 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ooxc.livejournal.com
Yes, i wasn't arguing about it - there must have ben a reason for the name of the Lane!

Date: 2010-07-09 08:00 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ooxc.livejournal.com
As you say - it's often guesswork - but Cat is often short for Catherine. Oxford and Plymouth both have Cat/Catte (originaly Katte) Streets, and Newham and Croydon have Katherine Streets.

Date: 2010-07-09 02:34 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] malsperanza.livejournal.com
It was also a surname, as in Christopher Katte, founder of the Kit-Kat Club, though that surname might also derive from Katharine, whose meaning is obscure. But alas, as far as I know, there is no Cat Mews in London. I wish there were.

Date: 2010-07-09 10:21 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ooxc.livejournal.com
So do I!

Date: 2010-07-09 12:07 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ooxc.livejournal.com
Gosh! it isn't a new market - the old one is stil there! It was about to be dome away with when I used to shop there, but I see from your link that this hasn't happened yet!

Date: 2010-07-09 12:20 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] malsperanza.livejournal.com
There seems to be a struggle to keep it going. I was there twice on weekdays, and it was quite busy and lively, though not all the spaces are rented. But the area seems to be ground zero for the Olympics redevelopment, and no one seems to know if this will mean good things for the area or this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n-wUdetAAlY.

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