This ancient path was once a trackway leading from the City, where it ran through Cripplegate, Aldersgate and Farringdon Within wards and across the convent garden. John Stow offers no explanation of the street’s name, though he says that it was once called Ingenelane, or Inglane, which, confusingly, he also spells as Engain Lane. Isaac D’Israeli suggested that it was so-called because there was
a statue of the Virgin Mary situated on the lane. Others, perhaps using the explanation of nearby Maiden Lanes (there were at one stage four in and around London), say that it was named after a shop or inn. The name itself dates from around 1636, not long after housing development started in 1631 and which continued until 1728. As usual Gillian Bebbington in London Street Names gives the most likely reason, saying that it was probably a reference to midden heaps (dung and rubbish dumps that proliferated across the capital and anywhere else there was human habitation).
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