24 July 2009

Things You Probably Didn't Know about London, part 1

This particular edition of "Things you probably didn't know about London" may contain very offensive language. I am sorry, but it's unavoidable.

This particular article could just as easily been named "Something You Probably Didn't Know about York" or any number of English cities. Many location names in England are very literal, even if the nature of what the particular place was named after over the years have changed. For instance, Fleet Street was named after the River Fleet which still flows beneath it, and Pudding Lane, source of the devastating fire in the 17th century, was not named after the baker who made delicious puddings and who started the fire, but the Middle English word for entrails spilled from carts on their way from the butchers on Cheapside.

Of course many English cities have what we now call a red light district. Well, they weren't so much districts as streets. And most weren't so much streets as little lanes were men could poke skirts, visit bordellos, and grope cunts. So, they were named things like "Puppekirty Lane", "Bordhawelane", and "Groppecountelane". The latter eventually evolved to "Grope Cunt Lane" and then onto things a little more polite like "Grope Lane" or "Grape Lane". I suppose it not only confined prostitution to an area to keep it out of the view of those who didn't want to see it, but it served as a way for travellers to know where to head when visiting a new city.

I probably should have written about this when I first found out about it, because, apparantly Wikipedia made Gropecunt Lane a featured article earlier this month. Ah well. It is a pretty cool article:



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