Little Britain, EC1A

Place Name

The name to this winding road may conjure up ideas of patriotic fervour but in fact comes from a man’s name – and a French man at that. In 1274 Robert le Bretoun, thought to be from Brittany, inherited a number of properties in the street by St Botolph’s Church. By the following century it was being written as Brettonestrete and later Britten Street and Little Britaine Street. Gillian Bebbington explains the addition of the prefix: “Tudor Londoners assumed that Brettonstrete must have been the ‘street inhabited by people from Brittany’. There were several such enclaves in London… Little was therefore prefixed to the name as a native translation of the Anglo-Norman ‘Petty’.”

 

Cross Key Square after a house or inn called Cross Key that stood here in Tudor times

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