C.J. (Charles James) Billson.

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as " the lane of the Soapers " as early as 13 14, and doubtless
the Soapmakers were settled in this quarter long before that date.
Two sons of a member of this trade entered the Guild
Merchant about 1200. The lane does not seem to have been
thickly populated, as the Corpus Christi Guild for some
hundred years owned a garden there, and another large garden
lying in " Soaper Lane in St. Peter's Parish," was divided
up between the members of a family in 1481,

Parchment Lane was the old name of New Bond Street,
nmning North out of the old S winesmarket. The Parchment-
makers were settled in Leicester as members of the Guild
Merchant at the beginning of the 13th century, and the " vicus
parcamenorum," or " Parchmentmakers' way," is described in
a deed of 1303. Lord de Grey owned four houses and six other
tenements, gardens or crofts there, and the Corpus Christi Guild
in the 15th and i6th centuries possessed a barn there, which had
once belonged to the Grange of the Abbot of Crowland. Four
gardens in St. Peter's Parish were described in 1478 as " stretch-
ing to the lane called Parchment Lane to the West as far as the
wall of the town," i.e., they lay between Parchment Lane and
the East Wall by Churchgate. At the division of the Wards
made in 1484, the sixth Ward ran " from the East Gate on both
sides the street to Pexsall corner " {i.e., Pexsall's house) " with
Parchment Lane." In 1524 it was resolved at a common hall
" that the Swinesmarket shall be kept from this day forth in the

Parchment Lane, and no more in the High Street and in the
East Gate." The street subsequently acquired the name of the
Swinesmarket, and is so called, as late as 1828, in Cockshaw's
map. The change was not made, however, until long after
1524, for in the Borough rental of 1594 it was still described as
Parchment Lane.

The Swinesmarket, the present High Street, running from
the High Cross to the East Gate, was throughout the Middle
Ages, a very populous and important thoroughfare, and gave its
name to the district. Here once stood the King's Horse Mill.
About midway down the street on the north side was the large
dwelling house purchased by the Earl of Huntingdon in 1569
for £100, and thenceforth known as " Lord's Place." When
Parchment Lane became the place of the market for pigs in the
1 6th century, the old Swinesmarket was rechristened High
Street, as it appears in Speed's map of 16 10, the former High
Street then becoming High Cross Street. It will be remembered
that the Swinesmarket was always one of the four " high streets "
of the town. It was described, in 1523, as " the Hy Street which
is in the Est yate," and in 1587 it was called " High Street, ahas


The greater part of the land in this quarter of the town was
occupied by the Saturday Market, which lay at the South-eastern
corner, bounded by the town walls, and by the Monastery of
the Grey Friars, whose house stood south of Peacock Lane, and
whose grounds extended, according to Throsby, from the upper
end of the Market Place to the Friar Lane meeting house, that
is, within four chains of the old High Street.

The principal mediaeval thoroughfares were Kirk Gate,
The Sheepmarket, St. Francis Lane, The Cank, Loseby Lane,
and Friar Lane. The road which ran beyond the South wall
was known in the middle of the 15th century by its present name
of Millstone Lane. In Queen Elizabeth's Charter of 1589 this
road, or the Eastern portion of it, is called Horse Fair Lane.


Nichols followed Throsby in identifying Millstone Lane with
Hangman Lane, a name which occurs as early as 1337. But
Hangman Lane would seem rather to correspond with Newarke
Street, as in Combe's plan of 1802. This is indicated by the
terms of the extension of the Cattle Market, in 1783, " down the
South Gate to the Horse Pool, and also along the Welford Road
to St. Mary's Workhouse or across Hangman Lane if necessary."

Kirk Gate is now called Town Hall Lane. In 1354 it was
described as " Venella Martini," " Martin's Lane." In 1458
it appears as " Kirk Lane," in 1478 as " Kirk Gate," in 1483
it is called " the church lane unto the High Street " ; in 1493,
" St, Martin's Church Lane " ; and, in 1505, " Church Lane."
In 1494 the Abbot of Leicester paid rent to the Corpus Christi
Guild for a house which he then occupied, called " The corner
house " in the " Kyrke Lane End." It was also known as Holy
Rood Lane. One of the objects of " squinting Pollard's "
defalcations, in 1670, was a tenement described by Throsby as
being in " Holy Rood Lane, now Town Hall Lane."

The Sheepmarket is the modern Silver Street. It was
described in 1352 as " the lane which leads from the East Gate
to the Church of St. Martin." In the next century it was known
as the Sheepmarket, being so named in 1458. It was afterwards
known as " the lane at the backside of the Lion," because, says
Nichols, " where now is the sign of the King's Arms there was
formerly the sign of the Lion till about 1670." He was, how-
ever, mistaken in identifying it with vicus calidiis, or Hot Gate,
which was the old name of St. Nicholas Street. When the market
for sheep ceased to be held in the old Sheepmarket, at the begin-
ning of the 1 6th century, the street became known as Silver
Street, and is so named in Hall papers of 1587. The name may
have been an old one revived, suggested perhaps by the shops
of silversmiths. There is a Silver Street, as well as a Gold
Street, at Northampton, the latter being the place where the
Goldsmiths worked, and the former, part of the old Jewry, the
locality of the Silversmiths. That silversmiths worked at
Leicester is indicated by the occurrence of the name Silver, or

Silverun, a silverer or silversmith. The name is not so common
as Goldsmith, but John Silver was one of the Town Chamberlains
in 1500, and in the 13th century several Silveruns are mentioned,
who, as might be expected, inter-married with the Aurifabers,
or Goldsmiths.

In the 15th century there was a street leading out of, or
close to, the Sheepmarket, which was known as Gentil Lane.

Saint Francis Lane was described in the Coroner's Pleas
for the year 1300 as " the lane which leads to St. Martin's Church
and towards the Church of the Friars Minors." A house
conveyed in 1368, which had once belonged to the well-known
Leicester merchant, Henry Costeyn, was said to be in the High
Street, " at the corner of the lane leading to the Church of the
Friars Minors," and the property extended from the High Street
to the garden of the Friars Minors. This lane must be the
" St. Francis Lane " referred to by Mr. Carte, the i8th century
antiquarian Vicar of St. Martin's, as lying between Wigston
Hospital and the Grey Friars. It was afterwards called Peacock
Lane, taking its name probably from the piece of land known
as the " Peacock," which lay " at the Red Cross," west of the
old High Street. There was a Peacock Inn in Southgate Street,
from which it might have taken its name, but it seems more
likely that both Inn and Lane were christened after the old
Peacock ground.

The Cank, or Cank Street, which still bears its old name,
was named after the public well, the Cank well, which lay there.
An apple-orchard (pomerium), which was situated in the
" Cank," is mentioned in 1352. On the division of the Wards
in 1484, the ninth Ward was to begin " in the Cank at Thomas
Phelips on both sides the Saturday Market unto the East Gate."
At the division into ten Wards in 1557, the eighth Ward com-
prised " all the market-place, Cank-well, and to the East Gate."
A yearly payment was given in 1563 to St. Martin's Church
" out of an house at the Cankwell." The site of the old well
is still marked on the roadway at the junction of Cank Street
and Hotel Street. The name might possibly be derived from


the old word " canch," which is used in Yorkshire and Norfolk
to denote " a sloping trench, a water channel, cut on a road."
In Leicestershire this word is generally used in the form "kench,"
e.g., to " kench " potatoes is to make a pit for them to lie in, to
camp them. But there seems to be no evidence of an artificial
conduit in the Cank. The conduit in the market-place was not
put up till 1612.

LosEBY Lane, the short street still so called, is said to date
from the 13th century, and to derive its name from John de
Loseby. It is perhaps more likely that it was named after Henry
of Loseby, a Leicester burgess, v/ho held a considerable quantity
of land in the Parish of St. Martin and elsewhere in the Eastern
quarter of Leicester about 1300. Loseby Lane bounded one
of the 1484 Wards. In the days of Throsby and Nichols it was
called the " Pig-market."

Friar Lane, as it is still called, ran east out of the old High
Street, by the south side of the gate and walls of the Grey Friars'
precincts into the Saturday Market. It was so named in 1392,
when a messuage was described as being " at the corner opposite
the gate of the Friars Preachers," and bounded on the north
side by " a lane called Frere Lane." In 1484 it seems to have
been known as the Grey Friars' Lane.


The South quarter of the mediaeval town was bounded on
the North by the Hot Gate and Apple Gate leading to the West
Gate and Bridge ; and on the West by the river. On the East
lay the old High Street, and on the South, until the middle of
the 14th century, the South wall of the town, and after that time
the Newarke.

There were few roads and few houses in this quarter, which
comprised chiefly the Castle and its precincts, with St. Mary's
Church, beyond which lay the 14th century Newarke, the whole
enclosed by strong walls. Here too were butchers' shambles
and bakers' ovens.

1 1

The mediaeval streets were the main intersecting highway,
consisting of the Hot Gate and the Apple Gate, Red Cross Street,
and Soar Lane or St. Mary's Church Lane. The lane running
South of the Newarke from the High Road to the Mill on the
River was called Mill Lane in the middle of the 14th century.

The Hot Gate is mentioned in 1297, when John the Noble
belied his name by committing a burglary there. It was known
as " vicus calidus," or Hot Gate, because the public ovens were
situated in that locality. A conveyance, dated 1362, of a house
in the Hot Gate to a baker, is extant. The memory of the
ovens which once warmed this part of the town is still kept alive
by the name of Bakehouse Lane, or Fosbrooke Bakehouse Lane,
a street which was comprised under the same name in the eleventh
Ward of 1484. In the year 1586 the Hot Gate was described
in a Lease as " Hot Gate, late the lane of the common oven."
Nichols and North erroneously identified it with Silver Street,
but its position is clearly determined by the Ward division of
1484, wherein the tenth Ward began " at the High Cross south-
ward on both sides the street unto the Grey Friars' Lane and
the Soar Lane, the Hot Gate and so forth to the West Bridge."
It is now called St. Nicholas Street.

Applegate, the continuation of Hot Gate towards the West
Bridge, still bears the same name. In the 14th century it was
known as Apple Lane. In 1349 a house in " Apple Lane " was
described as adjoining the bakehouse of the Earl and stretching
from that lane to the Holy Bones. This identifies Apple Lane
with Apple Gate. The same, or another house, described in
1 47 1 as being in the Applegate and adjoining the King's bake-
house, also stretched to the Holy Bones. It would seem that
the street was also known as Shambles Lane, and that the common
shambles of the butchers lay there. There was another Butchers'
Shambles in the Saturday Market, which in time superseded the
x\pplegate. In a i6th century petition the Company of Leicester
Butchers expressed a wish to confine their business to the Satur-
day Market shambles, as the shambles in St. Nicholas Parish
were then " out of the way of trading and remote from the inns
and shopkeepers." In 1594 both butchers and bakers were


tenants of the Borough in Applegate. Throsby says that
Shambles Lane led to the West Bridge, and Nichols identifies
it with Applegate. It has been suggested that the first part of
the name " Applegate " may be the French word " appeller,"
and that it refers to the watchtower on the adjacent Castle Wall,
where the sentinel used to " call " the hour of the night. But
it may be derived, perhaps more naturally, from the former
presence of apple trees.

Red Cross Street, which runs west from the old High
Street, opposite Peacock Lane, still retains its old name. This
is said by some to be derived from Rede, or Rood, quasi Rede
or Rood Cross Street. But the Dean of St. Mary's de Castro
in 1494 occupied a house belonging to the Corpus Christi Guild,
which is described as being " ad rubiam crucem," and from other
entries in the accounts of the Guild it may be inferred that this
Red Cross was in Red Cross Street. It was called Red Cross
Street in 1557, when the second of the ten town Wards was
made to run from the South Gate unto the High Cross with the
Soar Lane and Red Cross Street. In Speed's plan of Leicester
a cross is shown at the junction of Red Cross Street and St.
Mary's Church Lane.

The lane now called Soar Lane, which ran from the North
Bridge to the river, outside the town wall, was in medieeval times
generally called Walker Lane, after the Walkers, or Fullers who
dwelt there. It was named Soar Lane as early as 1458. But
there was, at that time, another Soar Lane, in the South quarter,
and the two were distinguished in the Rental of the Corpus
Christi Guild of that date as " Soar Lane extra portam borialem,"
Soar Lane without the North Gate, and " Soar Lane juxta
Castrum," or " Sorelane que ducit ad Castrum," Soar Lane
near, or leading to, the Castle. The latter street ran out of the
High Street towards Castle and river from a point nearly opposite
to Friar Lane, as we may conclude from the boundaries of the
tenth Ward in 1484. It is the lane mentioned in 1325, when
some brawlers, after a dispute in the High Street, are said to
have gone quarrelling to " the lane which leads to the Castle."

The modern road which answers to this old Soar Lane seems to
be the present Castle Street, " one of the most narrow entrances
of the town " in the time of Throsby, which was formerly known
as St. Mary's Church Lane.


The remaining quarter of the town is that contained by
the Town Wall on the North, the river on the West, the High
Street on the East, and Hot Gate and Applegate on the South.

It comprised the ancient Churches of St. Nicholas and
St. Clement, and the Monastery of the Black Friars, which
occupied i6 acres. There, too, lay the old Blue Boar Inn, and
the earliest halls of the Guild Merchant.

Among the few lanes in this quarter were the Guildhall
Lane, St. Clement's Lane, Friars' Causeway, Deadman's Lane,
Jewry Wall Street, and Talbot Lane.

The Guildhall Lane was described in 1301 as " the lane
which leads from the High Street to the Moothall " ; and in
1341, when it was paved, as " the lane towards the Guildhall."
In the next century it was called " Mayor's Hall Lane." It ran
out of the High Street by the side of the Blue Boar Inn, and has
since been known unto the present day as Blue Boar Lane — a
name said by Hutton to have been at one time corrupted into
" Blubber Lane."

St. Clement's Lane was a long passage running from the
North Gate westward to the Black Friars and St. Clement's
Church, and afterwards turning south, and passing between the
grounds of the Black Friars and the backs of the houses which
stood facing the old High Street opposite All Saints' Church.
It was also known as " The Black Friars Lane." Thus, the
first Town Ward of 1484 beginning at the High Cross extended
to " the Black Friars Lane." Another name was " the lane of
the Friars Preachers." The parcels contained in a deed of
1498 throw some light upon the topography of this quarter.
Four cottages were demised which lay together *' in the lane of


the Friars Preachers, between the land late William Here's on
the East and the said lane on the West, and stretching from the
tenement of Robert Metcalf, butcher, on the South, to the lane
which leads to the house of the Friars on the North." It appears
from this description that the " Lane of the Friars Preachers,"
i.e., St. Clement's Lane, lay at right angles to another lane which
led to the Friars' House, the Friars' Causeway, probably, of the
present day. It is this path from the High Street to the Friars
which was described in 1373 as " the lane leading to the Friars

The Southern portion of St. Clement's Lane became known
in later years as Deadman's Lane, and it is so called in Cock-
shaw's plan of Leicester dated 1828, But in Combes' map of
1802, which was published in Miss Watts' " Walk through
Leicester," the whole of St. Clement's Lane is marked Dead-
man's Lane."

The ground containing the relic of Roman occupation
known as the Jewry Wall, is frequently referred to in the
14th and 15th century Records as the Holy Bones. It is thought
that the district in which it lies was known in the time of the
Norman Earls as Jewry, or Jews' quarter, prior to the Charter
of 1250 which provided that no Jew should remain in Leicester.
Hence the Roman remains were called the Jewry Wall, and the
continuation of Blue Boar Lane which passes it became known
as Jewry Wall Street,

The street still called Talbot Lane, which runs into Apple
Gate from the North, was probably existing in mediaeval times.
The Talbot Inn, from which it may have taken its name, was
standing at the end of the 15th century. Possibly both Lane
and Inn were christened after a piece of ground known as the




BEYOND the North Gate of mediaeval Leicester a suburb
was in existence from very early times. It contained
the Hospital and Church of St. Leonard, and led up
to the great Abbey of St. Mary in the Meadows.

The principal thoroughfares were Northgate, Wood Gate,
Abbey Gate, The Skeyth or Senvey Gate, and Soar Lane or
Walker Lane.

The road lying beyond the North Gate of Leicester, " the
highway which leads to the North Bridge," as it is termed in
several documents, was generally known as the Northgate. The
road so called was outside the walls of the town, for it was parallel
with Buxton Lane, and Buxton Lane is stated to have been
without the North Gate. In 1462 it was described as " the
King's Highway called le Northgate." During the 13th and
14th centuries the district was occupied mainly by dyers and fullers.

After passing over the little North Bridge, the highroad
ran through Frog Island, and crossed the main channel of the
Soar by another bridge, which was generally known as the
North Bridge. Beyond this point the road divided ; one branch
turning westwards to the Forest, and the other north towards
the Abbey. At the point of divergence stood the Church of
St. Leonard. The westward road still retains its old name of
WoODGATE, which it is said to have received because it was the;
way by which wood was brought into the town from the forest ;
and the other road which led to the Abbey was, and still is
called Abbey Gate. About the year 1323 it was described as
" the street of the Abbey of Leicester."

The Skeyth, or Senvey Gate, ran eastward outside the
North Gate under the wall of the town. In 1322 it was called
Le Skeyth, and in 1392 Senvey Gate, and in a late 15th century-
lease it was described as " Le Skeyth alias Senvey Gate." In
the early years of the i8th century it was still known as


A PLAN OF the:

Mediaeval LEiCEsrER^

Senvey Gate, but it would seem that, in the course of that
century, the name was ahered to Sanvy Gate, and it appears as
Sanvy Gate in maps of 1802 and 1828. Nichols rings the
changes on Sanby, Sonvey and " Sanvy, quasi sanda via'' and
endorses the questionable etymology of Bickerstaffe or Carte,
who satisfied themselves that the word was a corruption of
sancta or sacra via, denoting the sacred way by which, in pre-
reformation years, the great reHgious processions used to go
up to St. Margaret's Church. A stone cross, called Senvey
Cross, was standing, in the i6th century, at the end of this road,
near ikt North Gate. It has been suggested that this cross was
one of those erected to mark the stages of Queen Eleanor's
funeral progress, but the evidence seems against this. It is
more likely to have been the Cross which Henry, the third Earl
of Lancaster, is said to have put up for the soul of his brother,
Thomas, " outside the town of Leicester," but this is mere

The Soar Lane " extra portam borialem " ran west, outside
the North Gate, down to the river. It was also called Walker
Lane, or Fullers' Street. In the year 1298 a member of the
important family of Curlevache, when he was " amens et demens
et ebrius," walked outside the North Gate down Fullers' Street
("invico FuUorum ") into the river, and was drowned. In
the 14th century it was still known as Walker Gate, or Walker
Lane, and was so named in 1417, but, in the course of the 15th
century, " Soar Lane " came into use. In 1594 it is referred
to as " Soar Lane, or Walker Lane."

Soar Lane does not seem to have run immediately beside
the town wall and its ditch ; for in 1392 land was conveyed,
which is described as being outside the North Gate in " Walker-
crofts," and lying between the town ditch and the comimon
footpath. The ditch and its environs were used as gardens ;
and part of this land belonged to the Priory of the Black Friars,
whose grounds were intersected by the town wall.

The land in this district was called " Walkercrofts," or
" Crofts." It was divided by ditches, and dykes or raised
paths, such as Acedyke, or Ash-lane, and the path called Benacre,

17 B

both of which seem to have been parallel with Soar Lane, and
to have run down towards the river. There was one large plot
of land in Walkercrofts, bounded by these ditches and dykes,
which lay between the Northgate and the river, known as the
Pingle. Its memory is still preserved by Pingle Street. It was
described by Nichols as " a large close on the side of Northgate
Street, towards the bottom of Soar Lane, edging on the Soar
westward not far from the North Gate," and is marked on most
of the old plans of Leicester. The word was used in the Midland
Counties to denote any small enclosure, and there were other
" pingles " at or near Leicester. One at Nottingham was known
as Friars' Pingle, " Le Frere Pyngile." On the eastern side of
the North Gate in the Parish of St. Margaret, were other lanes
and paths, among which were Buxton Lane, parallel with the
highway, and perhaps corresponding in part with what was
formerly known as Paradise Lane, and a path over a ridge or dyke,
known in the 15th century as " Abbot's balk,"


The East Suburb, which was far the more important of
the two, and was often referred to as " the Suburb," contained
the Church of St. Margaret, which was annexed as a Prebend
to the Cathedral Church of Lincoln, and the populous districts
of Belgravegate and Humbersto negate. Most of the land com-
prised in the Suburb was the fee of the Bishop of Lincoln, whose
Grange lay south of St. Margaret's Church.

The main thoroughfares were Churchgate, Gosewellgate,
Belgravegate, Gallowtreegate, and Humberstonegate. Arch-
deacon Lane, which runs east from Churchgate, a little south
of St. Margaret's Church, is mentioned in 1465 ; and Plowman
Lane, which also led out of Churchgate, is referred to at the
beginning of the 14th century.

Most Churches had a lane of approach, sometimes called
the " churchgate," as St. Martin's Lane was called ; but the
thoroughfare which came to be, and still is known as Church-
gate, par excellence, is the road leading to St. Margaret's Church
from the south outside the East Wall. A deed of the year 1478



relates to land in St. Margaret's Parish, which lay on the west
side of " the street called Kyrkegate " ; and that the name was
established at the beginning of the i6th century is shown by
a benevolence roll of that time, in which the fourth Ward is
defined as " Belgravegate on both sides street to the corner fore
agaynste Berehill crosse with the Kyrkegate to St. Margaret's

The name Gosewellgate occurs as early as 1302 ; and in
the year 1305 a messuage was granted which stood " outside the
East Gate in Gosewellgate." In the Leicester Hearth Tax Roll
of 1664, Alderman Palmer's Ward is described as comprising

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