A Dictionary of London. Originally published by H Jenkins LTD, London, 1918.
This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.
Eagle and Child Alley
Eagle and Child Alley, St. Katherine's
Eagle and Child Court
East Harding Street
East India Avenue
East India Chambers
East India House
The original edifice only occupied the western portion of the area eventually covered by the House, and is shown on O. and M. map, 1677, at some little distance from Lime Street corner. Strype says the house was formerly Sir William Craven's, "with spacious rooms, very commodious for such a Publick Concern," and was let to the East India Co. by the Earl of Craven at a yearly rent (ed. 1720, I. ii. 88 and 89). It is shown in the same position on Strype's maps as on O. and M. and also on Rocque's map, 1764. Rebuilt 1726.
A district lying just outside the walls of London, east of the Tower, stretching south to the Thames, and east to Nightingale Lane, while to the north it extended itself into the parish of Whitechapel.
In early days it constituted a Manor and was the property of the Prior and Convent of the Holy Trinity, but was originally included within the limits of the ward of Portsoken (q.v.). In course of time, owing to the establishment of religious foundations within its bounds and to the privileges accorded to them, much of the district became alienated from the ward and from the jurisdiction of the City. (This question is discussed at length in the notice of Portsoken Ward (q.v.)).
Down to the middle of the 16th century the district remained for the most part open country, and in Agas' map, c. 1570, there are but few houses and buildings to be seen, except those connected with the religious houses which had stood there.
But the succeeding years, as Stow complains (ed. 1603, p. 425), saw a rapid increase in the population and buildings in the district, so that by the middle of the 17th century it seemed to contain almost as thick a network of courts and alleys as the City within the walls.
The earliest forms of the name are : "Smethefel extra Alegate" (Chancery Inq. p.m. 18 Ed. I.). "Estsmethefeud " I Ed. I. (Anc. Deeds, A. 7830-1). "Estsmethefeld" (56. H. III., ib. A. 1512 and 21 Ed. I. Chanc. I. p.m.) ; the latter being the most usual form of the name and in use down to a late period.
The word "Smithfield" is generally interpreted as "Smoothfield," the "campus planus re et nomine" of Fitzstephen (quoted by Stow, ed. 1603, p. 573), lying outside the City walls, the designation "East" being added to it to distinguish it from a district similarly named outside the western walls of the City.
East Smithfield Double Passage
East Smithfield School
From the early allusions to St. Michael Crooked Lane as "St. Michael Candlewick Street," or "near Candlewick Street," it seems probable that in the 12th and 13th centuries at any rate, the street at least as far as Crooked Lane was known as Candlewick Street, and that the designation "Eastcheap" for the western portion of the street to Clement's Lane did not come into use until a later date, probably about the 14th century.
In Leake's map, 1666, the eastern portion of the street extending from Tower Street to St. Mary Hill is unnamed, the portion from St. Mary Hill west to Botolph Lane is named "Smithers Lane," from Botolph Lane west to Fish Street Hill "Little Eastcheap," and from Fish Street Hill to St. Clement's Lane, "Great Eastcheap."
In connection with this name "Smithers Lane" it is interesting to note that in a London I. p.m. 6 Eliz. mention is made of messuages in Smyth Lane and Philpott Lane and otherwise described as "near little Estchep," and the context suggests that the portion of Eastcheap designated by Leake "Smithers Lane," may in 1564 have been called "Smyth Lane."
In O. and M. 1677 and Rocque, 1746 the name "Smithers Lane" has entirely disappeared and the various portions of the street are designated respectively Little Tower Street, Little Eastcheap and Great Eastcheap, the eastern end from Tower Street to St. Mary Hill being called "Little Tower Street," the portion extending from St. Mary Hill to Fish Street Hill "Little Eastcheap," and the western end from Fish Street Hill to St. Martin's Lane "Great Eastcheap."
In 1799, in Horwood's map, the only change to be noted is at the western end, Great Eastcheap not extending as far west as in the earlier maps, but ending at Crooked Lane, which agrees with the description given by Lockie in 1810.
Some few years later, as shown in Greenwood's map, 1827, the name Great Eastcheap has disappeared and has given place to "Eastcheap," extending west as formerly to Clement's Lane, the eastern portion from Fish Street Hill remaining unaltered in extent and designation.
Soon after this date, however, namely about 1831, the extent of the street at its western end underwent considerable curtailment, and a great portion of it was swept away for the formation of the approaches to the New London Bridge. The western end indeed ceased to exist, and the eastern portions were known respectively as Eastcheap and Little Tower Street, "Eastcheap" extending from Fish Street Hill to St. Mary Hill, and Little Tower Street from St. Mary Hill to Great Tower Street as shown in the O. S. 1848-80.
In 1884 the whole street was widened under the Metropolitan and District Railways (City Lines and Extensions) Act, 1882, and all subsidiary designations being abolished, the whole extent of the street became known once more as "Eastcheap" as at the present time.
The dates of these various designations may be given approximately as follows : "Eastcheap" temp. H. III. to the 16th century, and again from 1827 to the present time. "Great Eastcheap" occurs 1569-1827, "Little Eastcheap " 1564-1831, "Little Tower Street" 1677-1884, "Smithers Lane" 1666, "Smyth Lane" 1564.
From the early records it appears that Eastcheap was one of the places in the City specially set apart for the butchers, and that they had their shops and stalls here, and it is to be noted that in these early records the name is perhaps more often used to denote the "macellum" or " butchery" than the street. Indeed the earliest reference given above relates to rent from a stall at the butcher's market (apud macellum), Estchep, and shows that the butchers sold meat here as early as the reign of King John.
During the excavations in 1831 for the formation of the approaches to the New London Bridge there were found at the north-east corner of Eastcheap two Roman wells and remains of some Roman building, coarse tesserae, vessels, etc. (Gent. Mag. Lib. XV. p. 41).
Roman relics of various kinds found near the end of Clement's Lane in the course of excavations in 1834 (Arch. XXVI. 462). A raised bank of gravel 6 ft. deep and 18 ft. wide, 5 ft. below the surface of the modern pavement (ib. 192). A tessellated pavement was found in 1834, 12 ft. below the present surface, adjoining the church of St. Clement (ib. XXVII. 141).
A Roman road was found across the end of Great Eastcheap to Gracechurch Street at a depth of 3 ft. made of concrete gravel resting on a bed of loam (1 ft. thick) at a depth of 10 ft. 6 in., the gravel below extending to a depth of 20 ft. The road tended from Cannon Street towards Little Eastcheap (Hist. St. Michael's Crooked Lane, p. 21).
Other forms : "Ebegate," 1295-6 (Ct. H.W. I. 124). "Ebbergate," 1363 (Cal. P.R. Ed. III. 1361-4, p. 347). "Ebgate," alias Oystergate, 3 H. V. (Cal. L. Bk. I. p. 138). But in 1312 they were enumerated separately (L. Bk. D. fo. cxlii., quoted in Riley's Mem., p. 95).