Silver Street was a small but historically significant street that ran east-west, emerging out of Noble Street in the west and merging into Addle Street in the east. Monkwell Street (labelled Silver Street and seems to have marked its westernmost point, and Little Wood Street, also to the north, marked its easternmost point. Silver Street ran through Cripplegate Ward and Farringdon Ward Within. It is labelled as
Syluer Str.on the Agas map and is drawn correctly.
The name Silver Street comes from the Old English Selvernestrate meaning
of silverand, indeed, Stow remarks that Silver Street is so named because
of siluer smithes dwelling there(Ekwall 76; Stow 1:299). The connection between Silver Street and the metal silver seems to have been well known to early modern Londoners. For example, Ben Jonson’s The Staple of News cites Silver Street as
the region of money, a good seat for a usurer(Jonson 3.Int.1-4). Important sites on Silver Street included Windsor House, a
great house builded of stone and timber,and St Olave, Silver Street church, a
small thing, and without any noteworthy monuments(Stow 1:315; 1:306). Perhaps the most noteworthy historical fact about Silver Street is that it was the location of a house in which William Shakespeare dwelled during his time in London.
Shakespeare lived in one of what Stow calls the
diuers fayre houseson the street (Stow 1:299), in particular, above the Mountjoys’ head-dress shop. The Mountjoys’ business was nestled, as Charles Nicholl argues, on the eastern corner of Monkwell Street and Silver Street1 (ShaLT; Nicholl 47). Depositions from the Bellott-Mountjoy Dowry Lawsuit of 1612 indicate that Shakespeare
laye in the houseof the Mountjoys, a French Huguenot family whom he had known for
the space of tenne yeres or thereaboutes(Nicholl 288-89). Shakespeare’s deposition from 11 May 1612 affords us two remarkable historical artifacts: a transcription of words known to have been spoken by
one Mr. Shakespeare,and one of the few surviving examples of his signature.
Silver Street no longer exist in modern London. While many sites, including the Mountjoys’ shop and St. Olave, Silver Street, were decimated by the Great Fire of London in 1666, Silver Street itself was
dealt a final death-blowduring the expansion of the
busy traffic-road called London Wallin the early 1960s (Nicholl 49-50; Weinreb, Hibbert, Keay, and Keay 838).
- Ekwall, Eilert. Street-Names of the City of London. Oxford: Clarendon, 1965.
- Nicholl, Charles. The Lodger Shakespeare: His Life on Silver Street. New York: Viking, 2007.
- 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.]
- Weinreb, Ben, Christopher Hibbert, Julia Keay, and John Keay. The London Encyclopaedia. 3rd ed. Photography by Matthew Weinreb. London: Macmillan, 2008.
Last modification: 2016-06-21 10:05:08 -0700 (Tue, 21 Jun 2016) (mholmes)