‘Ladies of the night’ street name deeds to be sold

Photo of deedImage copyright Dominic Winter Auctioneers
Image caption The deed was written in Latin on vellum and is mounted on a wooden board

An 800-year-old deed featuring a rude street name where “ladies of the night plied their trade” is to be sold.

The name of the street in Bristol – now called Nelson Street – is believed to refer to prostitution which took place there hundreds of years ago.

Historian Maurice Fells said it was “not unusual” for street names to reflect the trades carried out there.

The deed is dated 1240 and is being sold at auction later this month after the owner passed away.

Mr Fells said: “In medieval days most towns had street names which we today consider to be unusual, funny, or even rude.

“Many of the names simply reflected various trades carried on in the area…

“This was said to be the street where ‘ladies of the night’ plied their trade.”


Other unusual Bristol street names

There and Back Again Lane is thought to be inspired by J.R.R Tolkien’s book, The Hobbit.

Image caption There and Back Again Lane is inspired by J.R.R Tolkien’s The Hobbit

Zed Alley‘s unusual name has become the moniker of an underground club nearby.

There are many other unusual street names in England, including Whip-Ma-Whop-Ma-Gate in York, Backside Lane in Oxfordshire, Cock-A-Dobby in Sandhurst and Bell End in the Black Country.


Auctioneer Chris Albury, from Dominic Winter Auctioneers in Cirencester, said: “The family knew it was an old Bristol deed but it was only when I looked at it closely and clearly saw the place name that I realised why the collector probably treasured it and it seems it was a private joke he kept from his family.

“Besides the amusement factor, it is historically important as early documented usage of this place name.”

Image copyright Google
Image caption The name of the Bristol city centre street was later changed to Hallier’s Lane and then Nelson Street

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