Hanging Sword Alley, EC4Y

Place Name

Named after a sign mentioned in 1574 that was on a large Tudor House, which could have been used as an inn or shop. Gillian Bebbington in London Street Names says: “It may have been a fencing school – Whitefriars was the quarter of the fencing masters.” John Stow in his Survey of London from 1598 described it thus: “Then is Water Lane, running down, by the west side of a house called the Hanging Sword, to the Thames.” His remarks can certainly be traced back to the 1560s and the Alley was probably here long before that, when it was known as Ouldwood Alley and formed part of the Bishop of Salisbury’s estate. It was later known as Blood Bowl Alley thought to be after a charmingly named tavern but actually a corruption of Ouldwood.




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