Birchin Lane

Birchin Lane was a short street running north-south between Cornhill Street and Lombard Street. The north end of Birchin Lane lay in Cornhill Ward, and the south end in Langbourne Ward. Stow tells us that Birchin Lane was named after Birchover, the first builder and owner thereof, now corruptly called Birchin lane (Stow 1:198–199). However, Eilert Ekwall rejects this etymology. He postulates that the name means lane of the barbers, from an unrecorded Old English word, beardceorfere. He points out that the Middle English cherven (from OE ceorfan), meaning to cut, was used specifically for the cutting of hair (113). His theory is generally accepted (Bebbington 47; Weinreb and Hibbert 66); Smith, however, seems to prefer Stow’s etymology (23).
Kingsford records many variant spellings of the name: Bercherverelane, Bercheners lane, Berchernerelane, Berchenes-lane, and Berchen lane (2:306). Stow shows a preference for Birchouer.
In the Middle Ages, Birchin Lane was famous for Gap in transcription. Reason: Editorial omission for reasons of length or relevance. Use only in quotations in born-digital documents.[…] fripperers, or secondhand clothes merchants, who had their stalls in Birchouer Lane and along the sides of Lombard Street (Smith 23). It became the home of the hosiers sometime before or during the sixteenth century (Stow 1:81). In her Will and Testament, Isabella Whitney leaves hose in Birchin Lane:
I hose do leave in Birchin Lane,
of any kind of size,
For women stitched, for men both trunks
and those of Gascon guise[.]
(Whitney 105–108)
See Bow Lane for more information about the hosiers.
In the seventeenth century, Birchin Lane housed men’s ready-made clothes shops (Weinreb and Hibbert 66), and in the eighteenth century a famous coffee house. David Garrick, the eighteenth-century actor famous for his Shakespearean roles, often visited Tom’s Coffee House (Weinreb and Hibbert 66).
Birchin Lane still survives in modern London, in its original location between Lombard and Cornhill.


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MLA citation

Jenstad, Janelle. Birchin Lane. The Map of Early Modern London, Edition 7.0, edited by Janelle Jenstad, U of Victoria, 05 May 2022,

Chicago citation

Jenstad, Janelle. Birchin Lane. The Map of Early Modern London, Edition 7.0. Ed. Janelle Jenstad. Victoria: University of Victoria. Accessed May 05, 2022.

APA citation

Jenstad, J. 2022. Birchin Lane. In J. Jenstad (Ed), The Map of Early Modern London (Edition 7.0). Victoria: University of Victoria. Retrieved from

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

A1  - Jenstad, Janelle
ED  - Jenstad, Janelle
T1  - Birchin Lane
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  -
UR  -
ER  - 

TEI citation

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