Undergraduate student contribution

Maiden Lane (Wood Street)

There were as many as four streets in early modern London called Maiden Lane (Ekwall 122). The lane labelled Maidenhed lane on Agas, located in Bread Street ward, ran east-west and was actually called Great Distaff Street. According to Stow, Distaff was a corruption of Distar Lane, which Stow says he read in record of a brewhouse, called the Lamb in Distar lane, the sixteenth of [Henry] the sixt (Stow 1:351). However, Harben and others have found this to be an error as the earliest form of Distaff was Distaue, not Distar (Stow 1633, sig. 2L6r; Harben Great Distaff Lane). Stow says that the street likely came to be called Maiden Lane from a sign located there, though he does not elaborate. Perhaps it referred to a tavern or store with a maiden as its sign. There was a need for an alternate name for the street because another street, also called Distaff or Distar Lane, ran south from Great Distaff Street or Maiden Lane (Stow 1:351-352).
Maiden Lane (Wood Street), the lane to which this page refers, was shared between Cripplegate Ward, Aldersgate Ward, and Farringdon Within. It ran west from Wood Street, to St. Martin’s Lane and originated as a trackway across the Covent Garden (Bebbington 210). Stow offers no explanation of the street’s name, though he mentions that it was once called Ingenelane, or Inglane, which he also spells as Engain Lane (Stow 1:298, 303). Isaac D’Israeli, an English author and the father of nineteenth-century British writer and prime minister Benjamin D’Israeli tried to explain the name by postulating a statue of the Virgin here; a less genteel but more probable explanation would be midden heaps (Bebbington 210; see also Weinreb and Hibbert 505).
Important sites located in Maiden Lane (Wood Street) were St. Michael’s Church, the Waxchandlers’ Hall on the south side of the street, and the Haberdashers’ Hall on the north side. The Haberdashers Company was confirmed by Henrie the seaventh, the 17. of his raigne, the Cappers and Hat Marchantes or Hurrers being one Company of Haberdashers (Stow 1:298).
Though Maiden Lane (Wood Street) was once a cul-de-sac, it was extended to link with Southampton Street in Victorian times so that the queen’s carriage would not have to turn around after leaving her at the Adelphi Theatre (Weinreb and Hibbert 505).


Cite this page

MLA citation

Campbell, James. Maiden Lane (Wood Street). The Map of Early Modern London, Edition 7.0, edited by Janelle Jenstad, U of Victoria, 05 May 2022, mapoflondon.uvic.ca/edition/7.0/MAID1.htm.

Chicago citation

Campbell, James. Maiden Lane (Wood Street). The Map of Early Modern London, Edition 7.0. Ed. Janelle Jenstad. Victoria: University of Victoria. Accessed May 05, 2022. mapoflondon.uvic.ca/edition/7.0/MAID1.htm.

APA citation

Campbell, J. 2022. Maiden Lane (Wood Street). In J. Jenstad (Ed), The Map of Early Modern London (Edition 7.0). Victoria: University of Victoria. Retrieved from https://mapoflondon.uvic.ca/editions/7.0/MAID1.htm.

RIS file (for RefMan, RefWorks, EndNote etc.)

Provider: University of Victoria
Database: The Map of Early Modern London
Content: text/plain; charset="utf-8"

A1  - Campbell, James
ED  - Jenstad, Janelle
T1  - Maiden Lane (Wood Street)
T2  - The Map of Early Modern London
ET  - 7.0
PY  - 2022
DA  - 2022/05/05
CY  - Victoria
PB  - University of Victoria
LA  - English
UR  - https://mapoflondon.uvic.ca/edition/7.0/MAID1.htm
UR  - https://mapoflondon.uvic.ca/edition/7.0/xml/standalone/MAID1.xml
ER  - 

TEI citation

<bibl type="mla"><author><name ref="#CAMP1"><surname>Campbell</surname>, <forename>James</forename></name></author>. <title level="a">Maiden Lane (Wood Street)</title>. <title level="m">The Map of Early Modern London</title>, Edition <edition>7.0</edition>, edited by <editor><name ref="#JENS1"><forename>Janelle</forename> <surname>Jenstad</surname></name></editor>, <publisher>U of Victoria</publisher>, <date when="2022-05-05">05 May 2022</date>, <ref target="https://mapoflondon.uvic.ca/edition/7.0/MAID1.htm">mapoflondon.uvic.ca/edition/7.0/MAID1.htm</ref>.</bibl>

Documents relating to Great Distaff Street




    Variant spellings