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). Hugh Alley sketched Eastcheap Market in A Caveatt for the Citty of London (see Folger Digital Image Collection).
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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