Episode 21: London Area Names- Animal Edition

What’s in a name?

Join London tour guides Hazel Baker and Ian McDiarmid as they discuss the animal-related names of parts of London.

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Show notes:

Hazel Baker: Hello and welcome to our London History Podcast where we share our love of London, its people, places, and history in 20 minute espresso shot episodes served with a dash of personality. I am Hazel Baker, London Tour Guide and CEO of London Guided Walks, providing private tours, treasure hunts, and live London quizzes to Londoners and visitors alike.

To accompany this podcast we also have hundreds of London history blog posts for you to enjoy absolutely free. And also we've launched The Daily London, providing you with daily inspiration for things to do in London. You can listen on iTunes, Spotify, or even add it to your Alexa flash briefings, and you can check it all out on our website londonguidedwalks.co.uk/flash.

Joining me in the studio today is city of London tour guide Ian McDiarmid.

We're going to be looking at names of London that are derived from animals.

What we discussed:

Hazel Baker:  Yeah, it's something that's really quite popular when we're on our walks, isn't it? People want to know about where a name comes from. So, it would be good to get to the bottom of some of them.

Ian McDiarmid: Yeah. But am I right in saying that there's no hard and fast answers on this?

Hazel Baker: No, it's funny, isn't it? With language, it's not like we have a lot of evidence of when names became the names that we know them now. It's just how language has changed over time. But we'll have a look and see what we can work out, whether we can actually believe the stories that have been told. The popular reasons for names coming into existence. And we can have a chat about it if you want.

Ian McDiarmid: Okay. Well, I drew up a list of names from places in London, which have this animal theme to them. So I'm going to pick them at random and throw them at you, Hazel, putting you on the spot. So are you ready for this? No pressure.

Ian McDiarmid: Okay, well, let's begin with one I actually knew about, I think. Houndsditch.

Well now I'm going to pick another one from this list and I I'm guessing, I think, fairly safely here that we're going to carry on this theme. The Isle of Dogs.

Anyway, let's go on, let's ask you another one. I'm going to pick this one up cause it's the same area. And so we're moving away from the canine theme though. Canary Wharf. What's the origin of that one, Hazel?

Now we've spoken about dogs. What about Catford? How does that come to be named as Catford?

Ian McDiarmid: I find stories of cruelty to cats bit sad. Anyway, we should explain that Catford is just near Lewisham isn't it. South of Lewisham.

Ian McDiarmid: What about then Hazel, Ravenscourt Park?

Hazel Baker: Oh yeah. So Ravenscourt Park. Now there was in the 1600s, a Manor house bill 1650, actually. And then in 1747, so nearly coming down to a hundred years old. The house was bought by Thomas Corbett and he named it Ravenscourt. So what is Ravenscourt got to do with anything with Thomas Corbett? Well, ravens were in his coat of arms and Corbeau is raven in French. And of course we say Corbett, but I bet his original name was Thomas Corbeau. You know, making the link and putting his stamp on the history there.

And whereabouts is Ravenscourt?

What has Shepherd's Bush got to do with animals?

I don't think that many of these is going to be a happy stories, are they?

Now, we were talking about dogs earlier, what about the name Barking? Anything to do with dogs?

But if I'm being critical, that's got absolutely nothing to do with animals, has it?

What about Woolwich?

Now another one was a sort of sheepy kind of name is Lambeth. Is that right? Is that to do with lamb?

So you have sheep in Woolwich and you have Lambs in Lambeth!

Ian McDiarmid: Now here's one that doesn't necessarily shout animals at you, but I think you're going to tell me it is, Mayfair.

What about Elephant and castle?

Falconwood Park is in Bexley. I'm going to guess that's got something to do with Falcons?

Ian McDiarmid: Vauxhall?

Ian McDiarmid: Hmm. Okay. Now I know an urban myth about Vauxhall. I say it's a great story, but I'm a bit reluctant to say it cause I'm fairly sure it's a load of rubbish.

I'm just thinking medieval street names. Yeah.

Hazel Baker: So if anybody has a street name that they really want to get to the bottom of, and then send us a request via email, voice message on our website, text us or on Instagram or Twitter, we're everywhere. So you'll be able to find us and put in your request for London street names.

And we have had a request from Gita as well for the history of department stores. And, you know, I did that Mr. Selfridge and retail therapy talk many moons ago now. So this will be good to dive back into that, Ian.

Yeah, I like that. Well, you still do it don't you?

Yeah. Just not as a public one, you know, I've got so many on the go. Gita, thank you very much for that one. We'll be adding a podcast on that subject.

That's all we've got time for now. Don't forget. We have history related blog posts for this episode and others on all webpage londonguidedwalks.co.uk/podcast. Check out our Daily London, giving you daily inspiration for things to do in London.

And also we have our 20% off September promotion for all private tours if you book by the end of September. And if you haven't already, a review would be very much appreciated.

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