Chiswell Street, EC1Y

Place Name

This is an old street name, recorded as Chysel Strate as early as 1217 and as Cheselstrete by 1458. There are two suggestions as to what the name signifies, the first is that it means stony or gravelly earth, from the Old English word ceosol meaning flint or pebble. The second is that it was a corruption of Choice Well, denoting a source of clean water. Writing in 1180 William Fitzstephen the monk and City chronicler noted: “There are round London, on the northern side, in the suburbs, excellent wells with sweet, fresh, clear water. gushing with glistening pebbles.” Gillian Bebbington in London Street Names believes the well “was probably the pond at the east end of Chiswell Street shown on Aga’s map circa 1560 railed in on three sides and draining into the roadside ditch on the fourth side.” David Mills in A Dictionary of London Place Names says the well theory is a comparatively modern interpretation since the current spelling of well only dates from the 16thCentury.




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