From at least the early 14thCentury this steep road was used by pig farmers to herd swine from the higher ground above Highgate down the hill to Smithfield Market. Indeed the thoroughfare is mentioned as far back as the year 1492 as Swayneslane, although it was known locally as Swines Lane well into the 19thCentury. It was one of four parallel routes up the hill to the village, the others being West Hill, Bromwich Walk, and Dartmouth Hill. Bromwich Walk never developed beyond a footpath and disappeared. The use of Swain’s Lane was mainly to provide access to the adjacent farm lands on either side and there were no dwellings in it except at a few yards from the upper end. In 1609 William Gwercie and Everard Gilpin, sold a newly built cottage, a garden and half an acre in Swayns Lane, to a John Wetherley of Highgate, yeoman, and Margaret, his wife. And in his will of November 21, 1631, John Wetherley left his wife “four cottages standing in Swines Lane. It has been spelt as Swains Lane without the apostrophe.
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