Eastcheap Street ran east-west, from Tower Street to St. Martin’s Lane. West of New Fish Street/Gracechurch Street, Eastcheap was known as "Great Eastcheap." The portion of the street to the east of New Fish Street/Gracechurch Street was known as "Little Eastcheap." You will find Little Eastcheap on section C6 of the map; it is the lane mislabelled "S. Margarits Patens," a church that was actually located two blocks to the east (Prockter and Taylor 49).
Eastcheap (Eschepe or Excheapp) was the site of a medieval food market. "C[h]eap" is an Anglo-Saxon verb that means "to barter, buy, and sell; to trade, deal, bargain" (OED "cheap, v." 1).
The neighbourhood of Eastcheap is best known to Shakespeareans as the location of Mistress Quickly’s inn, where Prince Hal drinks with Falstaff. In 1 Henry IV, Hal tells Poins that he has been drinking with the drawers and learning their language. His familiarity with the commoners will ensure their loyalty: "When I am King of England I shall command all the good lads in Eastcheap," Hal predicts (2.5.12–13).
See also: Chalfant 70.
- Chalfant, Fran C. Ben Jonson’s London: A Jacobean Placename Dictionary. Athens, GA: U of Georgia P, 1978. Print.
- Oxford English Dictionary. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2012. Web. Subscr. OED.
- Prockter, Adrian, and Robert Taylor, comps. The A to Z of Elizabethan London. London: Guildhall Library, 1979. Print. [This volume is our primary source for identifying and naming map locations.]
This project is supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council.
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