Distaff Lane was in Bread Street Ward. There is some discrepancy between the Agas Map and the information in Stow. On the Agas Map, Distaff Lane (labelled
Diſtaf la.) appears to run south off Maiden Lane, terminating before it reaches Knightrider Street. Stow tells us, in his delineation of the bounds of Bread Street Ward, that Distaff Lane
runneth downe to Knightriders street, or olde Fishstreete(1.345). Our map truncates Distaff Lane before Knightrider Street.
Stow’s Survey also suggests some ambiguity about which street was properly known as Distaff Lane:
In this Fryday streete on the west side thereof is a Lane, commonly called Mayden Lane, or Distaffe Lane, corruptly for Distar Lane, which runneth west into the old Exchange: and in this lane is also one other lane, on the south side thereof, likewise called Distar Lane(1:345). Slightly later in his description of Bread Street Ward, Stow reiterates and augments this information:
On the west side of this Fryday Street, is Mayden lane, so named of such a signe, or Distaffe lane, for Distar lane, as I reade in record of a brewhouse, called the Lamb in Distar lane, the sixteenth of H. the sixt [1437 or 1438]. In this Distar lane, on the north side thereof, is the Cordwayners or Shoomakers hall(1.351). Kingsford’s note on this passage explains that Stow misread
Distarlane.Kingsford also notes mentions of
Distavlanein wills of 1260 and 1295. After 1301, the spelling was consistently
On the south side of Knightrider Street, opposite Distaff Lane, stood the church of St. Nicholas Cole Abbey. According to Stow, in 1396 or 1397 (20 Richard II),
Thomas Barnarde-Castle, clearke, Iohn Sonderash Clearke, and Iohn Nouncy, gaue to the Parson and Churchwardens of the saide church and theyr successors, one messuage and one shoppe with the appurtenances in Distaffe lane and olde Fishstreete, for the reparation of the body of the saide church, the Belfrey or steeple, and ornamentes(2.3).
See also: Chalfant 67.
- Chalfant, Fran C. Ben Jonson’s London: A Jacobean Placename Dictionary. Athens: U of Georgia P, 1978.
- Stow, John. A Survey of London. Reprinted from the Text of 1603. Ed. Charles Lethbridge Kingsford. 2 vols. Oxford: Clarendon, 1908. [Also available as a reprint from Elibron Classics (2001). Articles written before 2011 cite from the print edition by volume and page number.]
Last modification: 2016-05-27 14:37:29 -0700 (Fri, 27 May 2016) (tlandels)