Grape Street, WC1A

Place Name

It may be hard to imagine now but Holborn was once a fertile area. It is mentioned in the Domesday Book (an early census commissioned by the new Norman king to assess his English dominions in 1086) for its vines – the Normans preferring wine to beer or ale were extra careful to note the location of English vineyards or any new vines planted. This name probably references the vineyards attached to the former leper colony of St Giles which was established here on the outskirts of the city in the early 12thCentury, a time when leprosy was becoming so widespread that the first isolation hospitals were being built. The hospital took care of 14 lepers, and was run like a small monastery, with living quarters, a chapel, a Master’s House, and various outbuildings and orchards. All of which was seized by Henry VIII during his land grab against the church, the monastery was dissolved and the land given to Lord Lisle in 1548. Though it has since been rebuilt, the chapel survived as the parish church of St Giles in-the-Fields. There was also a property called Le Vyne attached to the hospital, which stood on High Holborn from at least the time of Henry VIII. In 1746 this was Vine Street and it ran north via the section today called Stedham Place and Willoughby Street, to Great Russell Street. It was bisected by New Oxford Street in the 1840s.

 

 

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