Arne Street, WC2E

Place Name

Originally Dirty Lane and later Charles Street. Dr Thomas Augustine Arne (March 12, 1710 – March 5, 1778), was a composer  who was born near here. While his name may not be familiar, his music almost certainly is, among his works are the patriotic anthem Rule, Britannia, and the tune to the popular children’s nursery rhyme A-Hunting We Will Go (originally for the Beggar’s Opera). He came from a family of upholsterers who lived at 31 King Street, a large house in Covent Garden, where Thomas. Although Arne was sent to Eton his family’s finances were up and down, and his father would have to take on part-time jobs to makes ends meet. The father had high hopes of his son becoming a lawyer, but young Thomas had other ideas, smuggling a spinet (a small type of harpsichord) into his bedroom to practice secretly at night. The story goes that he would muffle the strings with a handkerchief. All this paid off, his talent had won him many backers and his father was persuaded to allow his son to take up music full-time. He later became the official composer of the Covent Garden Theatre. He was buried at the nearby St Paul’s Church.


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