Stew Lane, EC4V

Place Name

The City was very quick to crack down on prostitution within the City during the medieval period but a thriving trade took place just across the water on Bankside where some 20 stews as brothels were then known to have set up shop. Of course while licentious acts were banned from taking place within the Walls, there was nothing to stop the women from plying their trade. It was here that the woman and her client would take a boat across to Southwark on the south side of the River Thames. In Alan Stapleton’s London’s Alleys, Byways and Courts (1924), he writes: “Stew Lane… had the unsavoury reputation of being the embarking place for the ladies (who, in the reign of Edward III, were ordered to “wear striped hoods of party colours and their garments the wrong side outwards”) on their passage across the river to the ‘Bordello’ or ‘Stews’.” It was first recorded as Stew Lane sometime around 1600.

 

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