Nutmeg Lane, E14

Place Name

Located close to each other over the former East India Company’s Import Dock, this fragrant network of streets were named after the types of herbs and spices that were once stored in large warehouses in the area. Nutmeg was vitally important to the success of the company in its earliest days and, it has been argued, was the catalyst for what was to become the British Empire. In 1603 traders arrived on the island of Pulo Run in the Banda Islands at the eastern end of the Indonesian archipelago. It was on this tiny island that the Myristica fragrant grew in abundance – more commonly known as the nutmeg tree it was highly prized in kitchens across Europe. It was here that ten pounds of nutmeg cost less than half a penny and the same amount of mace, less than five pence. Back in Europe the same amounts would cost £1.60 and £16, an appreciation of 32,000 per cent. Owing no allegiance to a local power, when the residents of Run were menaced by the Dutch it was to the British they turned, swearing allegiance to the English, and presented a valuable nutmeg seedling as a token off thanks. After a blockade and more than 60 years of Dutch pressure, the English finally ceded all rights to the little island. This area was developed in the early 1990s. See also: Clove Crescent, Coriander Avenue, Oregano Drive, Rosemary Drive, Saffron Avenue, and Sorrel Lane.

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