It is thought to mean a church on marshy land after a stream called the Lang, giving the ward of Langbourne its name, once ran by here causing the ground to be boggy. However others believe that the fen derives from the Latin faenum, meaning hay. A hay market is known to have operated on the site in earlier centuries. The church element of the name relates to the 12thCentury St Gabriel Fenchurch, no longer here having been destroyed in the Great Fire of 1666. The area was recorded as Fanchurche in 1276, nearby Fenchurch Street was recorded as Fancherchestrate in 1283 and Fancherchestret in 1378. David Mills in A Dictionary of London Place Names writes: “The early spellings with – a – (Fan-), still found alternatively in Pepys’s Diary (1667), represent the usual south-east dialect form (from Old English foenn).” Avenue was a late Victorian addition.
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