Monday 10 May 2010

Shambles, Pawn Brokers, Hay Market, & Portobello .. evolving street names ...

A shambles is a mess, or a disorder, or a mixup .. or is it? We use it regularly in this context and I know of one family who live in a house called “The Shambles” .. appropriate I thought! Then recently someone advised me regarding a business based in a building called "The Shambles", but qualified it with ‘only in the historical sense’ – so what do I do .. look further.

Now that I’ve started looking my brain is a little shambled too, probably scrambled as well – but in this instance brains is probably more appropriate .. though I hope mine will not be in shambles.

The Shambles is an old street in York (seen here on the right), here in England, with overhanging timber-framed buildings, some dating back as far as the 14th century. It was once known as The Great Flesh Shambles, probably from the Anglo-Saxon “Fleshhammels” (literally ‘flesh-shelves’), where butchers would display their meat.

As recently as 1872 there were twenty-five butchers’ shops in the street – now there are none, although there are meat-hooks hanging outside, and, below them, shelves on which meat would have been displayed. Interestingly the shops now comprise a mixture of eateries and souvenir shops, as well as a bookshop and a baker?!

Shambles is an obsolete term for an open-air slaughterhouse and meat market ... then there were no hygiene laws as exist today, and guts, offal etc were thrown into a runnel or street gutter down the middle of the street or open space where the butchering was carried out. By extension, any scene of disorganisation and mess is now referred to as “a shambles” – makes sense, n’est pas?

One of the Snickelways: The entrance to Lady Peckett's Yard, leading through the buildings to the right of the shop.

Off this flesh spot .. is another interesting area – a recently coined neologism named Snickelways; these are defined as “narrow places to walk along, leading from somewhere to somewhere else” – good thing otherwise presumably they’d be dead ends .. leading to a shambles?

York has many such paths, mostly mediaeval, with quirky names such as Mad Alice Lane, Hornpot Lane Nether and Finkle Street (formerly Mucky Peg Lane) – while snickelways are called “Opes” in Plymouth, “Chares” in north-east England towns, “Jiggers” in Liverpool and “Twittens” here in Sussex.

This portmanteau of a name, "Snickelway” comes from snicket (a passageway between walls or fences), ginnel (a narrow passageway between or through buildings) and alleyway (a narrow street or lane, often called alley).

Names fascinate me .. sometimes they are so obvious: Eastbourne .. the east bourne, (bourne from the Anglo Saxon word for a stream); Smith Street, Pottery Lane or Haymarket – streets where trades were carried out .. blacksmithying , tile and brick making or a street market for animal fodder dating from Elizabethan times; or after people: Denyer Street after Elizabeth Denyer, daughter of John Denyer, a collector of Bibles and missals, founded one of the Chelsea Charities.

Hogarth (1697 - 17 64) print, showing what is believed to be Portobello Lane.

In the 1740s, Green Lane, was renamed, as was the farmstead it served, as Portobello Lane (Road) from the popular victory during the War of Jenkins’ Ear, when Puerto Bello (Portobelo in modern day Panama) was captured from the Spanish.

Pudding Lane, where the Great Fire of London began in 1666, you would have thought baked dessert puddings as we know them today – but no .. like shambles .. ‘puddings’ is the medieval word for entrails and organs, which would fall off the carts coming down the Lane from the butchers in Eastcheap as they headed for the waste barges on the Thames.

Eastcheap surprisingly derives its name from cheap, market, with the prefix “East” distinguishing it from other markets. In medieval times Eastcheap was the City’s main meat market, with butchers' stalls lining both sides of the street. Falstaff Boar’s Head Inn, which features in Shakespeare’s Henry IV, Part One and Part Two, was located here.

Ludgate in flames during the Great Fire of London, with St. Paul's Cathedral in the distance (square tower without the spire) now catching flames. Oil painting by anonymous artist, ca. 1670. (Ludgate – the western most gate in London Wall)

Lombard Street was named for the goldsmiths from the Lombardy region of Italy, who were originally associated with the street. As the street developed to become the home of London’s money lenders, the name “Lombard Street” came to be associated with the financial industry – pawn brokers in the Middle Ages.

Several cities in the United States, including San Francisco, Baltimore and Philadelphia have a Lombard Street named after the one in London – are they money centres now? I see that Lombard Street in San Francisco is famous for having a steep, one-block section that consists of tight hairpin turns.
Lombard Street, San Francisco

Streets and towns with ‘castle’ in their names .. Castleford named after 'castle' as in a fort, and 'ford', a low crossing point through a river, dating from Roman times. Castlebar in Ireland is named after the settlement around the de Barry castle, built by a Norman adventurer in 1235.

Castle Acre in Norfolk – perhaps should have an acre of castles? Or a number of castles built on an area of land tillable by one man behind an ox in one day. Acre comes from Old English for an “open field”. It has a castle and a priory amongst its earlier settlements.

Castle is derived from the Latin word castellum, which is a diminutive of the word castrum, meaning fortified place The Old English castel, French chateau, Spanish castillo, Italian castello and a number of other words in other languages also derive from castellum.

The word Castle was introduced into English shortly before the Norman Conquest to denote this type of building, which was then new to England. Although they appear to derive from the same root, there are distinctions .. for example the French chateau is used to describe a grand country house at the heart of an estate, regardless of the presence of fortifications.

Castle Acre, The Priory

So in its simplest term, the accepted definition of a castle is “a private fortified residence”. So guess what post comes next .. castles ... – has anyone any preferences .. or shall I just take some pot shots over the summer – and cover a range of castles and their locations?

Dear Mr Postman .. I don’t know about you – but it is still jolly cold – they were saying the temperature is more suited to early March and they’re having snow in Scotland. Mum and I watched the VE Day Service at the Cenotaph, with Prince Charles in attendance, on Saturday, but because she can’t hear .. I couldn’t really explain to her what she was watching!

Just spotted an interesting snippet that I didn’t know courtesy of The Times Online: The Dutch Royal Family annually sends 10,000 tulip bulbs to Ottawa, as a demonstration of the nation’s gratitude, for the sacrifices the Canadians made by their forces during the liberation of the Netherlands in 1945.

To bring us all down to earth – we watched a little of the Spanish Grand Prix on Sunday, Mum used to enjoy watching these .. it makes a change – but she fell asleep & I came home!

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories


Tess said...

Hi Hillary,
Castles in Scottland interest me. My sister visited there a few years back and visited the castles. I found her photos amazing and felt like I missed out by not making the trip with her.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Tess .. first come first serve .. wasn't quite where I was going .. but why worry! We don't have a government, might as well go north! So Scotland it will be.

I'll try and liven it up a bit .. as I know little about Scottish castle should be interesting .. better start working!

Thanks for popping by .. have a great week - Hilary

Blue Bunny said...

deere hillree!!

im heer! im heere!

but i needs to go git my dickshunarry and looks up yor werd portmanteau.

then go takes my bath.

and eets my pizza.

and brush my 3 teeths.

and to to bedd.

see yoo soons.


BK said...

Hilary, thank you for your kind comment always. I appreciate you always taking the time to visit.

After reading what you have written here, the last thing I would hope to hear is for my bedroom to be called a shambles. :)

Names are fascinating indeed, some really make you wonder about the names in the first place.

Wilma Ham said...

How about a photo of the 'kasteel' (dutch for castle) you were born in? :)
Yes, the Dutch royals have a connection with Canada, the Dutch royal family moved there during the WWII. While you are at it, is there a chance to put a Dutch kasteel in your post if you can find one. I do not think New Zealand has a castle, too young a country for that kind of thing of the past. Interesting as always and great that your Ma is enjoying snippets of television. xox Wilma

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Blue Bunny .. U R where?! Here - I don’t seez U. Wot a buzee day ... dickshunarry .. I tought neologism wud worries U .. but it eez port-man-teau = a man carrying a toe .. ???

Hopes UR bath waz good & U be cleansed for de week. Pizza .. wiv karrits? Hay – how do U eets karrits wiv three teeths? Sleeps well Blue Bunny .. seez U later on .. bye & hugs from us xoxox

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi BK .. – pleasure I enjoy commenting across the sites and visiting others – it’s good to see peoples’ ideas and thoughts and meeting new friends.

Me too .. I’ll be thinking of the word ‘shambles’ in future .. as I look at various messes I create – and the only flushing away I can do .. is sort it myself! Don't create it ... I think is the best ...

Unravelling where names came from describes the ‘route’ that that object, that place, that subject evolved to .. they direct us to the past & show us our development, the European changes and interestingly the influence of the Indo-European roots .. as well as Anglo-Saxon, Germanic, Latin, Greek, Old English ... et al! & that’s just here. Making me think ...

Good to see you – and thanks for your thoughts – have a great day .. Hilary

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Wilma .. my castle has long gone .. not swallowed by Heathrow, or the Motorway 3 fortunately .. but somewhat far from here!

I’d forgotten the Dutch Royals went over to Canada .. yes I’ve found a castle I like .. from its name .. anon!! I expect NZ has some fortifications but not castles as such .. perhaps a modern magnate’s castle? Castle Hill .. looks beautiful and just like an ancient castle.

So Dutch kasteel coming up sometime soon .. where am I going?! We’ll see.

Yes – it gives Mum something different to do .. fortunately she’s ‘happy’ in her own thoughts – always has been, which has been a blessing in this situation. Thanks for your thoughts – xox Hilary

Anonymous said...

interesting post. I like to research why things are named the way they are. I did not know this about Lombard streets and financial districts. You learn something new every day. Thanks, and have a great week.

Stephen Tremp

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Stephen .. yes - it could have gone in all directions. I came up with loads of ideas - but they'll cogitate for another day - some quite complicated!!

I was interested about Lombard streets - northern Italy - the area of the Lombards - benefited from the trade north, east, west and south .. and they turned that benefit into the entrepreneurial spirit of money lending to other communes, traders, enterprises etc .. spreading their wings as such around the western world. (see Wiki - Lombardy: they do a better job of explaining it!)

Thanks - something to incorporate into your next book perhaps? Interesting area - Lombardy, seemingly.

Enjoy your week - you've got lots of interesting things going on .. have fun - Hilary

Patricia said...

What a fun post and it reminded me of my trip last August to see the motherland! We saw those black and white buildings in York on a wet and rainy day. I wish I had read this post before I went a tripping, but good to catch up.

Watching TV a bit sounds good...connecting still.

Thinking of you and wishing you well

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Tess .. thanks for taking time out and coming over here .. and I'm glad it reminded you of your time over here .. I expect you explored a fair amount - I know you went to 'see Shakespeare' .. Stratford-on-Avon.

Was it wet and rainy .. nothing's settled weatherwise now - it's freezing again - frost everywhere apparently & still some snow in Scotland ..

We've had some very good documentaries on the BBC & Channel 4 - very interesting to hear about all sorts of subjects .. but with Mum - I've always tried to be there, with her, to watch things that would interest her - & cerebral things don't feature! The tennis is coming up - and she enjoys some of that .. probably not a lot this year.

Hope you have a sunny day today & start to feel better .. Hilary

Mark said...

Love the origin of names of things. Looking forward to your thoughts on castles. One of my favorite castles is Cardiff Castle in Wales.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Mark .. - thanks .. they're interesting aren't they - telling us where we came from.

Ok .. castles .. I'd better measure up! Cardiff - yes I'd like to know more about that .. looks like Wales will feature too!

Scotland, Holland, Wales .. better do England .. - so many!

Thanks - good to see you here .. Hilary

Paul C said...

My wife and I love to weave our way through medieval streets and soak up its architecture and now quaint shops. Thanks for the interesting tour complete with etymologies. Yes, in Canada we are reminded annually of the Dutch gratitude for the Canadian help in liberation. What a wonderful gesture to provide gifts of tulip bulbs.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Paul .. yes you certain travel around - which is always interesting to read about. The little lanes twisting along old alleyways, perhaps following footsteps from long long ago - wondering who is with us as we journey?

Glad you enjoyed the tour and etymologies .. I gave my father a book on the subject and sadly it had disappeared when he died - & I cannot find it - I keep looking!

The tulip bulbs I thought are a lovely gesture to continue on with .. must make the parklands look beautiful in Spring .. and provide a reminder for Canadians and visiting friends and family.

Thanks - good to see you - Hilary

Sara said...

Hilary -- I love how you inform me about where words and names come from. It's absolutely fascinating and yet, when you explain it, it makes so much sense!

I would have never guessed the history of Pudding Lane or Lombard Street.

One of my favorite generic terms in the States is what's called a "strip mall." I used to think this was the "red light" district, but actually it's just a group of stores on a small strip of land:~)

I enjoyed this post very much:~)

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Sara – many thanks .. just glad you’re interested to hear some of our root words etc .. as you say it is fascinating and really brings to life the context of each word.

I remember Pudding Lane – but then I forget that in those days pies were mostly savoury .. the twists and turns of life. When I was looking up Lombardy – I was thinking of Lombardy pines – I’d always thought they were French?! Now I know!

Strip Mall .. it could logically have been red light! .. We had ribbon development – along the railway lines .. so a village would be a little way away, but as soon as the railway turned up – development started around the stop point & then spread up and down and on both sides! Before the whole became amalgamated into a town as such. The village centre point changing to the new focus of the railway station.

Thanks – good to see you back from your refreshing holiday !! - Hilary

Unknown said...

Hi Hilary,

Reading your article, I felt walking in York, England with you. Such a great article. San Francisco does not have so many English street names, but Lombard was one of them. I appreciate your telling me what was the origin of San Francisco Lombard Street.

Great post! Thank you for your sharing.

Shaw Funami
Fill the Missing Link

Chris Edgar said...

Hi Hilary -- on any subject you cover, your erudition never ceases to dazzle. I think you could write a really entertaining and engrossing encyclopedia! :)

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Shaw ... many thanks .. did you visit York when you were here? I must say I haven’t visited yet – I think I’d better go ... !?

San Francisco – I guess has many Spanish names too .. but I think you might be surprised at the origins of some of your street names .. very European too I would think. Lombard Street – looked a really interesting road to visit – I shall remember whenever I get to SF!

Glad you enjoyed it & good to see you here .. thanks - Hilary

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Chris .. thanks so much .. that’s so kind and I really appreciate it – especially coming from a lawyer and now journalist! I’m working my way towards ‘doing something’ .. but I need time space & my Ma takes quite a lot of my energies .. the thought processes are working towards the future.

Encyclopedia ... yay .. I feel a little daunted .. I now have my uncle’s 1926 Encyclopedia Britannica .. and it has 23 volumes, the 24th being an atlas and index! I’ll aim somewhere in between coming up for 250 posts and 24 volumes I think .. !!

Really appreciate the comment though – many thanks - Hilary

Evita said...

Hi Hilary

Wow - such interesting history! You know so much about all this and even street names that correspond in the US? WOW!

It is amazing that all these little shops that would supply each food naturally and separately have almost all been replaced today by big corporations. I think we are missing out on a very special and particular way of life. We didn't need to stay in some "archaic" way, but it would have been nice to keep the old, in an efficient modern way...

And yes, reading your stuff Hilary, does make one feel like they are on a historical tour - so thank you! What a great guide you are!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Evita .. thanks .. amazingly I find history so interesting now – long ago I couldn’t work out history or English .. so something’s happened in the intervening years. Thinking of my reading customers makes me ensure that I include you (Canada) – from the States, and I try to remember other nationalities around the world – Aus and NZ, Canada, Europe, Japan etc ...

Yes – the local trader, who needed a place to trade .. but without health and safety issues .. mind you thank goodness for some introduction of cleanliness! Are we not changing our thoughts – slowly granted – to buying locally? I think we are here in the UK.

Unfortunately a lot of education is required – people need to wake up .. we tend to think of only self .. and not other aspects, that may be more important.

Farmers markets and trading shops are coming back here – while Europe hasn’t lost theirs .. it’s that camaraderie of community supporting their local suppliers in the village shops .. whereas ours have closed.

Delighted that you feel you’re on a trip through history, learning as you go .. and enjoying it – many thanks Evita – great to see you here .. Hilary

Davina said...

Hi Hilary.
At the very beginning of your post... the picture of The Shambles, the old street in York; reminds me of a street I saw in the Harry Potter movies. Did you see any of those movies, or read the books? JK Rowling sure had a knack for dreaming up names.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Davina .. thanks for that - locations for film sets is another area I could cover - especially as I was looking and found "Harry Potter's house". I have seen one or two of the movies .. in tv scan form! Not fully sat and watched .. and scanned the books .. I'm sure that's sacrilegious to some people!

Certainly her imagination is very creative - good planning and prepar-ed-ness!

I have other ideas too .. I'd better do some interspersing with some 'shambolic' posts .. otherwise everyone will be sick of castles, estates, noble houses, towers, etc etc .. or add a creative light to the posts.

Thanks - have a lovely day .. Hilary

Paul Maurice Martin said...

Nice tour...

Changes in language interest me too. Strange to think how several centuries from now the words we use will sound as archaic as Elizabethan English to other ears...

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Paul - thank you. Yes - in a few centuries .. what will we be speaking .. and how will it have evolved.

I hope we don't lose our language skills .. and people will be able to write properly etc. How the law develops and other regulatory positions are written.

It's writing and thinking things through .. again we need to keep the capacity for these skills .. but life is going along so fast!

Nice to hear from you - thanks for the visit .. Hilary

Mandy Allen said...

Hi Hilary, nice to see a pic of Castle Acre. I have just had an American friend here, her first visit to the UK, and we spent a day at Castle Acre (only a few miles from me). If anyone else visits there the pub, The Ostrich, does incredible food!

Enjoy the journey.


Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Mandy .. I wondered if you'd spot Castle Acre .. as I remembered it's only a few miles away from you.

Fantastic being able to show your American friend round .. I bet she was amazed at what she saw in this little land of ours.

The pub sounds wonderful .. I'll be up - Ostrich .. have you got farmers with ostriches up there - I know they're around now-a-days in England?

Thank you - I hope everyone will enjoy their tours with the Castles and other eclectic postings! Have a great week - Hilary

Mandy Allen said...

Yes, Hilary, ostrich farms, but the biggest difference I have found lately is the amount of Alpacca farms that have sprung up locally. Amazing animals too, such sweet, sweet faces.

Enjoy the journey.


Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Mandy - thanks for coming back to me .. I don't think I've seen ostrich farms down here - but we do have Alpacca and Llama farms .. and I know the meats on offer in places.

I brought ostrich feather dusters back from SA .. and the egg is quite strong to eat - 22 hens eggs in one ostrich egg! But they make beautiful ornaments .. especially the painted ones - I don't have!

Thank you - good to have a reply .. have a fun week .. Hilary

Liara Covert said...

Its curious to notice the associations we adopt for certain place names. For instance, the word 'portobello' tends to trigger images of edible forest fungus in my mind. Psychological associations are wonderful teachers. Take a word and write down what word or image immediately comes to mind. A person can open to learn much about the self, beliefs, conditioning, judgment and the key to detach from it all and reconnect with what exists beyond.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Liara .. thanks for the added association re portobello mushrooms .. I hadn't realised that .. but just looked it up.

That exercise of hearing a word, then writing down an associated word (or image - can't draw .. so that was hopeless!) I've come across .. and now you telling me why it's used: interesting .. thank you - Hilary

Chase March said...

Hi Hilary,

Names really are fascinating, aren't they?

It's pretty interesting how this post ties into the one you wrote last week.

I like the word shambles. Great history lesson there too.


Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Chase .. thanks for taking me up on my offer via another post & coming over here ... for names etc . .. I always try and bring the etymology of names in etc .. as you say it is fascinating. Hence the different posts will tie in somehow via the historical aspect, if nothing else.

Me too – shambles – rings so much truer now-a-days .. interesting where the name came from & how it has been adapted over time ..

Good to see you .. and glad you enjoyed it .. Hilary

Bob Scotney said...

Hilary, thanks for pointing this out to me. Fascinating stuff. I know York and the Shambles well as we live within easy reach of it. Fascinating stuff about street/place names.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Bob .. thanks for coming over from my prompt .. it's amazing what we can learn .. I love your historical posts and pictures, as well as your stamp ones .. fascinating.

Glad you enjoyed the post - cheers Hilary