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What’s in a name? (part 2)

Just a quick adjunct from the post of the same name posted a couple of days ago.

Remember Nicholas”If-Jesus-Christ-had-not-died-for-thee-thou-hadst-been-damned” Barebon? You may recall that he switched his interests to property developing following the Great Fire of 1666.

Nicholas Barebon

One such development was the Villiers Estate that today sits next to Charing Cross railway station. The land belonged to George Villiers, the second Duke of Buckingham who in 1670 decided to sell the land to the developer Nicholas Barebon. During the negotiations Villiers told Barebon he could do whatever he wanted with the land, but if he was going to set out a new system of streets, then Villiers wanted them all to be named after himself. This seems to have been agreed and the deal was done.

Villiers Street was an obvious choice and is so named today. The next street along the Strand is called George Court and there was a further street that was once named George Street. So Barebon seems to have got some mileage out of ‘George Villiers’, and turned his attention to the title ‘Duke of Buckingham’.

George Villiers

On the east side of Villiers Street was Duke Street ( John Adam Street today) while Buckingham Street used to run south from the Strand to the Thames, with a steep incline like Villiers Street. This seems to have used up the words in the title, however Barebon had one street left to name. A short alley that runs east a quarter of the way down Villiers Street. Possibly due to his Puritan upbringing and loathed to waste anything, Barebon named the alley “Of Alley”

And there Of Alley sat for the next 180 years until some officious town planner decided to change the name to York Place. There was a public outcry at the time and to placate the masses the street sign was changed to commemorate it’s earlier name.

York Place, formally “Of Alley”

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