Goswell Road, EC1M

Place Name

Holds the title of being the only road in the City of London, all the rest are streets, alleys, squares and hills (a street being a paved thoroughfare within a city), a road led to somewhere. This changed in 1994 when the boundaries were redrawn and this road was included within the City. According to the City of London website: “Until comparatively recent boundary changes, the City had no roads that is to say that none of its highways or byways use the word road within their names. Today there is one (Goswell Road) which runs along a very small part of the City’s boundary line. All other thoroughfares in the City use street, lane, gate, wall or some other word. The reason is thought by some to be that as the old definition of a road was a way between places and the City is at the heart of the capital (and thus our nation) it is not between anywhere but at the start or end of any journey.” It has also been suggested that the word “road” was only introduced into the English lexicon after most of the City had already been named. As to the name Goswell, there is a dispute about its origins. The most common argument is that it comes from the traditional pagan practice of well-worship. As there was many wells in the area and the road was probably built in the 14thCentury by the monks of Charterhouse to lead from their monastery in Clerkenwell to Islington, it may come from God’s Well. The other suggestion is that it is after a nearby garden called Goswelle or Goderell which belonged to Robert de Ufford, 1st Earl of Suffolk called Godewell. In 1561 the street was called Aldersgate Streate, as shown on Ralph Agas’s map of early modern London as it lead directly Alders Gate, one of the gates in the ancient wall around the City. The name Aldersgate is first recorded around 1000 in the form Ealdredesgate meaning gate associated with a man named Ealdred. The gate, erected by the Romans in the 2nd or 3rdCentury, when London Wall was constructed, probably acquired its name in the late Saxon period.




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