Bread Street

Bread Street ran north-south from the Standard (Cheapside) to Knightrider Street, crossing Watling Street. It lay wholly in the ward of Bread Street, to which it gave its name.
Stow tells us that Bread Street was so called of bread in old time there sold: for it appeareth by recordes, that in the yeare 1302 Gap in transcription. Reason: Editorial omission for reasons of length or relevance. Use only in quotations in born-digital documents.[…] the Bakers of London were bounden to sell no bread in their shops or houses, but in the market (Stow 1:344). By the late sixteenth century, Bread Street had become a residential quarter for wealthy citizens (Kingsford 2:338). Stow notes that Bread Street is now wholy inhabited by rich Marchants, and diuers faire Innes bee there, for good receipt of Carriers, and other trauellers to the city (Stow 1:346). One of these citizens, in the process of enlarging his house, was responsible for an inadvertent archeological discovery in 1595. Quoting a friend’s note almost verbatim (Kingsford 351), Stow tells us that
at Breadstreet corner the north East end, 1595. of Thomas Tomlinson [a skinner (Kingsford 351)] causing in the high street of Cheape a Vaulte to be digged, and made, there was found at fifteene foote deepe, a fayre pauement like vnto that aboue ground, and at the further end of the chanell, was founde a tree sawed in fiue steppes, which was to steppeouer some brooke running out of the west towards Walbrooke, and vpon the edge of the saide Brooke, as it seemeth, there were found lying along the bodies of two great trees, the endes whereof were then sawed off, and firme timber as at the first when they fell, parte of the sayde trees remayne yet in the ground vndigged. It was all forced ground, vntill they went past the trees afore sayde, which was about seuenteene foote deepe, or better, thus much hath the grounde of this Cittie in that place beene raysed from the mayne. (Stow 1:345)
It seems likely that Tomlinson’s workmen had dug down to the level of the Roman pavement. They may even have uncovered the remains of trees covered by mud in some kind of cataclysm from a much earlier period. No doubt part of Stow’s interest in this discovery derived from the parallels between literal excavation and his own historiographical method: his walk along the horizontal axis of London’s streets is punctuated by periodic forays down the vertical axis of the past.
Bread Street survives in modern London, between Queen Victoria Street and Cheapside Street, crossing Cannon and Watling.
See also: Chalfant 47.


Cite this page

MLA citation

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

Chicago citation

Jenstad, Janelle. Bread Street. 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. Bread Street. In J. Jenstad (Ed), The Map of Early Modern London (Edition 7.0). Victoria: University of Victoria. Retrieved from

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  - Jenstad, Janelle
ED  - Jenstad, Janelle
T1  - Bread 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  -
UR  -
ER  - 

TEI citation

<bibl type="mla"><author><name ref="#JENS1"><surname>Jenstad</surname>, <forename>Janelle</forename></name></author>. <title level="a">Bread 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=""></ref>.</bibl>



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