Thinking allowed — 15 April 2014
Smutty Streets

It is reputedly the talk around the table of every Islington dinner party – house prices.

That might be so but the residents of one N1 street are probably less willing to discuss their good fortune.

According to Cumming Street flats sell for £66,000 less than nearby Britannia Street, and according to a recent survey the reason is the name.

The English are apparently still a reserved lot when it comes to – how can I put it? – smutty street names. A survey of 2,000 found the embarrassing truth that 31 per cent would be put off buying a house when they would have to tell strangers they lived in Minge Lane, Upton-upon-Severn.


Cock Lane near Smithfield fared little better with 6 per cent being adverse to living there. Once known as Cokkes Lane’, it made its name as a hotbed of legal brothels. Today its popularity probably not helped by having a naked boy at one end marking the spot where the Great Fire of London was finally halted. The statue is supposed to depict the sin if gluttony (apparently one of the causes of the conflagration), but to modern Londoner’s he is using his appendage to direct the flow dousing the flames.

Other London streets shy buyers might like to avoid are:

Nuding Close SE13

Balls Pond Road N1

Slagrove Place SE13

Clitterhouse Road NW2

Beaver Close SE20

Bottom Lane WD3

Hookers Road, E17

Bonar Road SE15

Laycock Street N1

Back Passage EC1

While these might produce a smirk, some of London’s most embarrassing streets have been renamed. Pity the poor medieval estate agent trying to sell a property in Grope C**t Lane. It was after all a haunt of prostitutes. Now its been renamed to the more prosaic Milton Street EC2.

With compacted shit, entrails and rotting food what better name can you give to a street than Shiteburn Lane? This what mediaeval locals called modern Sherborne Lane EC4.

Picture: Street sign




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(3) Readers Comments

  1. When we were in Whitby we would have breakfast in a cafe in Grape Lane – an obvious renaming of a sexually explicit original.

    Then there is Passing Alley leading of St John Street in Clerkenwell. It doesn’t take much imagination to think what its original name, and unofficial purpose, was.

    People in the past were not nearly as prudish as we became in the Victorian and post-Victorian eras and were readier to call a spade a spade. The tide does seem to be turning, however, and everyday speech – including speech in the media – has recovered a level of freedom that would have been unthinkable a couple of decades ago.

    In one sense, this is all to the good but it does have one disadvantage: we’re running out of swear words!

    • I suppose now if your sexual advances are thwarted now in Grape Lane it should be the Grapes of Wrath.

  2. He may not be as cute as the Mannekin Pis, but it wouldn’t bother me to have him as my lane marker if it meant I could afford to live in London (!)

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