Gracechurch Street, EC3V

Place name

According to John Stow, the name was derived from a grass or herb market which also gave its name to the parish church of St Bennet, although the name is said to pre-date the market. The church St Bennet Gracechurch, as described by him, was destroyed in the Great Fire of 1666. David Mills in A Dictionary of London Place Names thinks it may have been All Hallows Gracechurch, having been recorded as Gerschereche in an 11thCentury charter. The street itself was first mentioned as far back as the 13thCentury when written in vico de Graschurche (in the lane of Gracechurch) in 1240 and later as Garscherchestrate in 1284. And thanks to the vagaries of medieval spelling it has variously been called Grescherchestrete in 1329; Gressecherchestrete in 1361; Grascherchestrete between 1347-8; Gracechirche strete or Graschirche strete in 1437; then Gracious Street; Graciousstreate (1526); Graces strete in 1558-9; Grasse street or Grasse streete and then Gracechurchstreete in 1636. Eilert Ekwall in the Street Names of the City of London suggests that the church may have been a “primitive early building with a turf roof.” Gillian Bebbington in London Street Names says the origins of the name go back even further to 1054 when St Benet’s was referred to as Gerschereche. Sheila Fairfield in The Streets of London sums its up: “The only thing that emerges with any certainty is that it had both grass and church.” 

 

 

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