Cloak Lane, EC4R

Place Name

Many believe that this is derived from the Latin word cloaca – which in turn gave us the word cholera – meaning sewer after an ancient open air sewer running into the River Walbrook. But it was first recorded in 1677, long after it had been covered over. John Stow in his Survey of London from 1598 referred to it as Horshew bridge street (Horseshoe Bridge Street), so called after the vaulted shaped crossing which traversed the river. The name Cloak Lane persisted however and was given as the name of the road in John Strype’s Survey of the Cities of London and Westminster in 1720. Caroline Taggart in The Book of London Place Names writes: “Wheatley in the nineteenth century says, ‘it is not likely in later times to have been called Cloak Lane from an ancient sewer’. So maybe someone in the seventeenth century did sell cloaks there. It’s hard to be sure.”

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