Knightrider Street ran east-west from Dowgate to Addle Hill, crossing College Hill, Garlick Hill, Trinity Lane, Huggin Lane, Bread Street, Old Fish Street Hill, Lambert or Lambeth Hill, St. Peter’s Hill, and Paul’s Chain. The Agas Map labels it
Knyght Ryder ſtreat.
The etymology of the street’s name, first documented in 1322 (Ekwall 82), is obscure. Stow suggests that Knightrider Street was:
so called (as is supposed) of Knights well armed and mounted at the Tower Royall, ryding from thence through that street, west to Creede lane, and so out at Ludgate towards Smithfield, when they were there to turney, iustjoust, or otherwise to shew actiuities before the king and states of the Realme.Ekwall doubts the historical veracity of Stow’s
picturesqueetymology of the street’s name (83).1
The middle section of Knightrider Street was known as Old Fish Street, not to be conflated with the Old Fish Street in Bread Street Ward off Cheapside. Stow is careful to give both names for the street but indicates that Old Fish Street was a local usage:
Knightriders streete, or as they call that part thereof, Old Fishstreet(1.344). His references suggest that Distaff Lane to Bread Street. Ekwall notes that this portion of Knightrider Street was sometimes known as New Fish Street (74), and argues that the other Old Fish Street was the earlier instance of the name (75). It seems clear from twelfth-century references to
Piscaria(74) that a fish market must have operated on this site. Prockter and Taylor identify the church on the north side of Knightrider Street between Old Change and Do Little Lane as 50). This church, numbered 13 on the Agas map, is west of Stow’s most westerly reference to Old Fish Street.
Two significant landmarks in Knightrider Street are the College of Physicians and Doctors’ Commons. The College of Physicans was founded in 1518 in a building known as Stone House, the personal house of Thomas Linacre. The College (now the Royal College of Physicians) indicates on its website that Stone House stood on the site of what is now the Faraday Building, a large complex spanning Knightrider Street, and bounded by Carter Lane, Godliman Street (formerly Paul’s Chain), Queen Victoria Street (formerly Thames Street), and Addle Hill. The College’s website includes pages on the architectural history of its buildings and its institutional history. Stow tells us that a public lecture in
Chirurgerie to be read in the Colledge of Phisitions in Knightriders streetewas founded in 1582. The first lecture took place on 6 May 1584,
to be continued for euer twice euery weeke, on Wednesday, and Fryday(1.75).
Doctors’ Commons was the lodgings and workplace of a society of lawyers, founded in 1511, who practised in the ecclesiastical and admiralty courts. They moved to Knightrider Street in 1570. Prockter and Taylor tentatively identify the location of their commons as the large open space surrounded by buildings south of Knightrider Street between Addle Hill and Paul’s Chain (22). Stow tells us that
[o]n the west side of this streete [Paul’s Chain], is one other great house builded of stone, which belongeth to Powles church, and was somtime letten to the Blunts Lordes Mountioy, but of latter time to a colledge in Cambridge, and from them to the Doctors of the Ciuill law and Arches, who keepe a Commons there, and many of them being there lodged, it is called the Doctors Commons(2.17) . The complex burned in the Great Fire of 1666, was rebuilt shortly thereafter, and was eventually demolished in 1867 (see Smith 113–14; Kent 249). The site is now occupied by the sprawling Faraday Building, which boasts a plaque indicating that the Commons once stood there. (See also Thornbury 281–93.)
Knightrider Street passed through Queenhithe and Castle Baynard Ward. It marked the boundaries between Bread Street and Queenhithe Wards, between Cordwainer and Vintry Wards, and between Cordwainer Street and Downgate Wards. The street is now in EC4 (Smith 113) and, truncated in the east, now runs from Addle Hill to Peter’s Hill. Ekwall suggests that it runs to Queen Victoria Street (82); it no longer does, if it ever did. The street, once a major thoroughfare and ward boundary, is now an insignificant alley between buildings.
- Bebbington, Gillian. London Street Names. London: B.T. Batsford, 1972.
- Ekwall, Eilert. Street-Names of the City of London. Oxford: Clarendon, 1965.
- Kent, William. An Encyclopedia of London. 1937. Rev. Godfrey Thompson. London: J.M. Dent, 1970.
- Prockter, Adrian, and Robert Taylor, comps. The A to Z of Elizabethan London. London: Guildhall Library, 1979. [This volume is our primary source for identifying and naming map locations.]
- Smith, Al. Dictionary of City of London Street Names. New York: Arco, 1970.
- 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.]
- Thornbury, Walter. Old and New London. 6 vols. London, 1878. Reprint. British History Online. Web.
Last modification: 2016-05-27 14:37:29 -0700 (Fri, 27 May 2016) (tlandels)