Two Huggin Lanes, two churches of St Michael….


Huggin Lane, Upper Thames Street in 1851, with St Michael Queenhithe in the background – from

The 14th-century story of John of Gaunt enjoying dinner in a friend’s house (including oysters, I understand) in the city of London when rebels ransacked his palace of the Savoy in the hope of laying hands upon him. He escaped, but not before cracking his shin (or some such part of his anatomy) on a bench.

Well, a few years after this (1387/8) there was a similar incident concerning the mayor, Nicholas Brembre, who was being entertained at a friend’s house “in St Michael Hoggenlane” (also in the city)  when his rival and enemy John of Northampton assembled 500 men against him.  

St Michael Hoggenlane proved elusive. I found St Michael’s churches and lanes called Hog Lane, but not together. Well, thinking it was a Hog Lane was my first mistake. To begin with all instances of that name seem to be on the outskirts of the city, whereas Hoggenlane was definitely in the city itself. And it was a place of desirable town residences, not fields.

Then I found a Huggin Lane, and at the foot of it, in Thames Street, was St Michael Queenhithe (the church is listed as such in the Agas map). Perhaps in the 14th century it was St Michael Hoggenlane?

According to this site : “….Huggin Lane was known in the days of Edward VI. as “Hogan Alias Sporran Lane” – perhaps from Ralph Sporoun, who had property in the district, or possibly from the spurriers who worked there. It is also called in different documents Haggene or Hugging Lane. There is another alley of the same name off Wood Street. In the distance is the spire-in Bread Street-of the beautiful parish church of St. Mildred and St. Margaret Moses, where Shelley married Mary Godwin on December 30, 1816. There has been a church on the site since 1170….”

So I looked more at the Map of London site and found the following:

“….Huggin Lane ran north-south between Thame Street and Knightrider Street. Although Stow mentions them separately, Stow’s descriptions of the positions of Huggin Lane and Pyellane suggest that they are the same street (Stow 1598, sig. T7v, U1v). Harben also lists Pyellane as a probable variant (Harben)….”

The source is given as Harben, Henry A. A Dictionary of London. London: Herbert Jenkins, 1918. [Available digitally from British History Online]

So, it might also have been known as Sporran Lane and Pyellane? Anyway, as Huggin Hill it’s still there, just, and the picture below has been taken from Google Maps.

Oh dear. This is poor old Huggin Lane (now called Huggin Hill) as it is today. The red circle is around the street name, which can be read clearly online, and the square, rather dingy entrance is what remains of the old lane itself.  The great raised building over Thames Street now covers the site of St Michael’s Queenhithe. Such vandalism! I doubt if anyone from the past would recognise the area now.

But wait! Just as I’m triumphant about running my prey to ground, I discover there’s another Huggin Lane with a St Michael’s church, this time north of Cheapside, off Wood Street. See Agas map below.

The Map of London site has the following to say about this other Huggin Lane:-

“….Huggin Lane, Wood Street ran east-west connecting Wood Street in the east to Gutter Lane in the west. It ran parallel between Cheapside in the south and Maiden Lane (Wood Street) in the north. It was in Cripplegate Ward. It is labelled as Hoggyn la on the Agas map.

“….Stow tells us that Huggin Lane is named after one Hugan, that of olde time dwelled there: hee was called Hugan in the lane as I have read (Stow 1:297). Huggin Lane ran past the south side of St Michael, Wood Street church which was situated at the Lane’s corner with Wood Street. While the only door to St Michael, Wood Street formerly opened onto Huggin Lane, in 1627 Parishioners made a new Door to this Church […] into Woodstreet (Strype).

“….Huggin Lane, Wood Street no longer exists in modern London. Instead, the street connecting Gutter Lane to Wood Street is Goldsmith Street, presumably named after the Goldsmiths’ Hall located nearby….”

Apparently it can be found identified as Hoggyn la | Hugan Lane | Hugen lane | Huggen lane | Huggin Lane | Huggin Lane (Wood Street) | Huggin Lane, Wood Street | Hugon Lane | Hugon lane | Hugonlane | Lane

The original source given for the above information is Stow, JohnA Survey of London. Reprinted from the Text of 1603. Ed. Charles Lethbridge Kingsford. 2 vols. Oxford: Clarendon, 1908. See also the digital transcription of this edition at British History Online.

As it says above, St Michael, Wood Street no longer exists, but you can read about it here. It now counts as a lost Wren church.

Well, as you can see, like Houston, I have a problem. Two Huggin Lanes and two St Michaels, both in the city of London. In which one was Nicholas Brembre on that fateful night? Come to my rescue, ladies and gentlemen, please!


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