12 Oldest Street in London you MUST visit

How to make the most of visiting old streets in London

12 Oldest Streets in London

London is a city with a rich history, and this is reflected in the winding, narrow streets that make up much of its landscape. These old streets in are a fascinating part of the city, with their cobbled pavements and historic buildings dating back centuries. The oldest streets in London can be found in the City of London, also known as the Square Mile, which is the oldest part of London. Some of the oldest streets include Roman Road, which dates back to the Roman occupation of Britan in the 1st century AD, and Aldgate, one of the original gates in the Roman wall that surrounded the city. Additionally, there’s also Cheapside, a medieval street that was once the centre of trade in the city, and Lombard Street, where the first London Stock Exchange was established in the 17th century. These streets and many more can be found in the City of London, which is a great place to explore for those interested in the history of London.

In this blog post, we will take a journey through some of the most interesting and iconic old streets in London, exploring their history and the stories they have to tell. From the bustling markets of Brick Lane to the grandeur of Haymarket, these streets are a testament to the city’s past and present, and a must-see for any visitor to London. So come with me as we delve into the rich history of London’s old streets.

History of London and the Romans

Our old London streets were a bustling hub of activity, with merchants selling their wares and people from all walks of life going about their daily business. The street was lined with tall, narrow houses made of brick and stone, many of which had been built by the Romans during their occupation of Britain. The streets were cobbled and uneven, making for a bumpy ride for those on horseback or in carriages. The smell of roasting meat and baking bread wafted through the air, mingling with the sounds of chatter and laughter. Despite the hustle and bustle, there was a sense of community and camaraderie among the people of old London Street, a testament to the enduring legacy of the Romans who had once called this place home. To this day, Roman ruins can still be found in and around London if you know where to look.

Below, are 12 old streets in London you MUST visit.

1. Cloth Fair

Cloth Fair has been an important part of London since the 12th century. The fair was originally held on the banks of the Thames, near the old London Bridge. It was a place where merchants and traders would buy and sell cloth, textiles, inlcuding wool, silk and linen. The fair was so popular that it was eventually moved to its current location in the Smithfield area of London in the 13th century.

The area around Cloth Fair became known as Cloth Fair Street and was a bustling hub of activity. It was a place where merchants and traders could meet to buy and sell their goods, and it was also a popular spot for entertainment. In the 16th century, the area was home to a number of theatres, including the faous Globe Theatre.

In the 18th century, the area around Cloth Fair Street was transformed into a residential district. Many of the old buildings were demolished and replaced with Georgian-style terraces. The area was also home to the famous London Hospital, which opened in 1757.

Today, Cloth Fair Street is still a popular spot for shoppers and tourists. It is home to a number of independent shops and cafes, as well as the historic London Hospital. The street is also the located of the annual Cloth Fair Festival, which celebrates the history of the area. The festival includes a variety of events, such as live music, street theatre and craft stalls.

Nearby streets include Long Lane, Middle Street, and the Anglican church St. Bartholomew the Great. The oldest dwelling can be found at numbers 41-42 and there was a cloth specialist shop called Mitchell, Inman, and Co. at number 40, which opened in the 19th century. Although the street is small and narrow with only a few people passing through it, its history and relation to the Cloth Fair make it an important part of London’s past.

2.  Haymarket

Haymarket in London hasa long and varied history. It began in the early 1600s as a small market selling feed, hay and straw, which was needed to feed the horses of the many carriages that passed through the area. This market was located at the junction of what is now Piccadilly and Haymarket and was more rural than urban. The nearest village was Charing, which is now known as Charing Cross.

In the 1700s, the area began to change. With the development of the theatre district, the area became a popular spot for entertainment. This led to the construction of a number of theatres, including the Theatre Royal Haymarket, which opened in 1720.

The area continued to develop in the 19th century, with the construction of several grand hotels, such as Haymarket Hotel. This was a popular spot for the wealthy and famous, including members of the royal family.

In the early 20th century, the area became known for its nightlife. It was home to a number of cabarets and nightclubs, as well as the infamous ‘Haymarket Riots’ in 1887. This was a protest by the unemployed against the government policies, which ultimately led to violence and the death of a police officer.

Today, Haymarket is a vibrant area with a mix of shops, restaurants, theatres, and other attractions and is just a short walk away from Liberty’s Department Store. It is also home to the Haymarket Theatre, which is still one of the most popular theatres in London. The area is also known for its vibrant nightlife and is a popular spot for tourists and locals alike. 

What makes Haymarket special is its West End theatre district. You can find Her Majesty’s Theatre, which was built by architect Charles J. Phipps in 1897, as well as Theatre Royal, built by John Nash, which hosts musical productions throughout the year. The Lyceum Theatre is also located in Haymarket and is home to the long-running musical The Lion King. If you want to learn more about the West End, check out my West End walk for ideas and inspiration.

Brick Lane Market

3.  Brick Lane

Brick Lane is an old London street located in the heart of Shoreditch, a neighbourhood known for its vibrant street art, bustling markets, and diverse cultural offerings. Brick Lane has a long and storied history that dates back to the 17th century. The area was originally developed as a brick-making centre, hence its name. The area was home to a large number of Huguenot refugees who had fled religious persecution in France and settled in the area in the 160s. These Huguenots brought with them their own unique culture and skills, which included silk weaving, embroidery, and lace-making.

In the late 19th century, the area became a hub for Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe. This influx of new residents saw the area become a vibrant centre for Jewish culture, with many traditional Jewish businesses and synagogues springing up.

The area was heavily bombed during the Blitz of World War II, and many of the buildings were destroyed or damaged. This led to a large-scale rebuilding effort that saw the area become populated by a diverse range of people from all over the world.

Today, Brick Lane is a popular area for tourists and locals alike. The street is lined with an array of vintage shops, trendy cafes, and authentic Indian restaurants, giving it a unique and eclectic vibe. The area has a rich history, with many of the buildings dating back to the 18th century, and it is known for its strong ties to the Bangladeshi community. It is also famous for its curry houses, making it a must-visit for those who enjoy this type of cuisine.

Visitors to Brick Land can also experience the famous Sunday Upmarket, where local artists and designers showcase their work. Overall, Brick Lane is a must-see area for anyone looking to experience the authentic character of old London.

4.  Fleet Street

Another notable street names in London include Fleet Street. Fleet Street was built by the Romans in 200 AD. In Ludgate, they discovered a Roman amphitheatre that was constructed above Fleet Prison. It began as a small Roman road, known as the Strand, which ran from the City of London to the Thames. However, other reports suggest that the area was too muddy for the Romans to build their settlements there. A water pipe was also built in Fleet Street and it was rumoured that the water flowing through it was actually wine when Anne Boleyn married King Henry VIII. During the 14th century, brothels, tanneries for fabric production, and taverns were built in the area. By the 16th century, Fleet Street was overcrowded with people, but construction of buildings continued despite a ban on building additional properties.

Later, in 1675, St. Paul’s Cathedral was built in the area. It still stands tall and proud to this day. 

In the Middle Ages, Fleet Street became the main thoroughfare for London’s newspaper trade. Printers and publishers set up shop along the street, and it quickly became known as ‘Street of Ink’. By the 18th century, it was home to some of the most influential newspapers in the country, including The Times, The Daily Telegraph and The Guardian.

In the 19th century, Fleet Street became the centre of the British newspaper industry. It was home to many of the country’s largest newspaper offices and printing presses. This was the era of ‘penny dreadfuls’, when newspapers were sold cheaply and newsboys filled the street with the cries fo ‘Extra! Extra’. Along with St. Paul’s Cathedral, Fleet Street still has its 19th century buildings with a variety of retail shops, restaurants, and cafes. It also connects to the South Bank area, located by the River Thames where all the major attractions are.

The 20th century saw Fleet Street become the centre of the British media. Television, radio and advertising companies all moved in, and the area was transformed into a bustling hub of activity.

Today, Fleet Street is still home of the British newspaper industry, although it has changed significantly in recent years. Many newspapers have moved out of the area, and some of the old printing presses have been turned into museums. However, the street still retains its status as the centre of the British media, and it remains a key part of London’s history.

5.  Alderman’s Walk

Alderman’s Walk is a small alley located near Liverpool Street station that dates back to the 16th century. The street was originally known as ‘Alderman’s Lane’ and was a narrow alleyway located in the city’s financial district. The street was home to a number of wealthy merchants and alderman, who were members of the city’s ruling class. As such, the street was known for its grand and opulent homes, as well as its many shops and businesses. 

Alderman’s Walk has a rich history, as it was connected to the gardens and house of Sir Frances Dashwood, a member of the Common Council of the City. The church of St. Botolph-without-Bishopsgate, which is situated next to Alderman’s Walk, has also been around since the 14th century, as evident by the old, grey, and white patches on its stained stone walls. The Knight’s Templar, a Catholic military order, were tried in this church for corruption, and in 1413, a female hermit lived there on a yearly pension of 40 shillings paid by the Sheriff. It is believed that St. Botolph-without-Bishopsgate is haunted to this day, as a photographer reportedly captured a ghost of a woman in medieval clothing running around the church.

In the mid-1800s, Alderman’s Lane was widened and renamed ‘Alderman’s Walk’. This was done in order to make the street more accessible to the public and to create a more accessible to the public and to create a more pleasant environment. The street was also lined with trees, making it one of the first streets in London to be adorned with greenery.

Today, Alderman’s Walk is a bustling street filled with shops, restaurants, and businesses. The street’s wide pavements and plentiful tres make it a popular destination for tourists and locals alike. The street is also known for its many historic buildings, including the Grade II listed Alderman’s House and the 18th century Alderman’s Hall.

Kynance Mews, Chelsea

6.  Kynance Mews

Kynance Mews is a picturesque street that has a rich history and has been featured in several movies. Located in South Kensington, a wealthy area of London, Kynance Mews was once home to wealthy individuals who owned horses and kept them in barns, which are now used as garages. The upstairs was inhabited by servants. Some notable movies that have been filmed at Kynance Mews include Star! starring Julie Andrews, Who Dares Wins, The Black Windmill, and The Big Sleep. Despite its popularity among Instagram enthusiasts, the street is generally quiet and not often crowded.

One of the best things about Kynance Mews is its secluded location, hidden away from the hustle and bustle of the main road. It feels like stepping into a different world, surrounded by beautiful plants and flowers. In the autumn, the 19th century walls are often covered in colorful weeds in shades of red, green, and yellow. The garages and doors are also frequently painted in different colors, adding to the street’s Instagram-worthy appeal.

7.  Lombard Street

Lombard Street is one of London’s Roman roads of Londinium, also known as Roman London, a capital of present-day London during the Roman period. Its history dates back to the 13th Century when King Edward I bought a plot of land for goldsmiths. During the 17th Century, Lloyd’s Coffeehouse was introduced in Lombard Street where merchants, sailors, and shipowners would meet to talk about trade, shipping insurance and other maritime subjects. The greatest thing about Lombard Street is that there are many colourful signs of ancient buildings that stood there since as old as time. Between the 17th to the 19th Century, the headquarters of the General Post Office’s, the state postal system in the United Kingdom once stood in Lombard Street.

8.  Old Street, London

Old Street, also known as “Silicon Roundabout” due to its high concentration of technology startups and companies, is a bustling area located in the heart of London. The area, which is located just east of the City of London, is known for its vibrant street art, trendy bars and restaurants, and cutting-edge technology companies. The Old Street Roundabout itself is a popular area for tourists and locals alike. The area is also home to several well-known technology accelerators and co-working spaces, making it a hub for innovation and entrepreneurship. With its unique blend of old and new, Old Street is a must-see street for anyone in the area.

9. Cheyne Walk

Cheyne Walk is a charming residential street located in Chelsea, London. It is known for its grand houses and charming atmosphere, and is especially beautiful in the spring when the wisteria flowers are in bloom. The wisteria flowers cover the street in a blanket of purple, adding a touch of color to the already picturesque scene. Visitors can walk along the street, admiring the beautiful houses and the stunning wisteria flowers, and perhaps stop to take a few pictures along the way. Cheyne Walk is a must-visit area in Chelsea for anyone looking to experience the beauty and charm of London’s residential areas. 

10. Fournier Street

Victorian streets in London are a fascinating glimpse into the city’s past. One of the most notable examples is Fournier Street, located in the heart of Spitalfields. This charming cobblestone lane is lined with colourful terraced houses, many of which date back to the 18th century. The houses are notable for their intricate brickwork and ornate details, such as bay windows and wrought iron balconies. Fournier Street was once home to a thriving community of Huguenot silk weavers, and today it is a popular area for tourists and history buffs alike. Visitors can take a leisurely stroll down the street, admiring the well preserved architecture and imagining what life was like for the residents of this historic neighbourhood.

11. Bishopsgate

Bishopsgate London has a rich history that dates back to the Roman period and is the oldest street in London. The name of the street is derived from the Bishop’s Gate, which was one of the original entrances to the city, and it was the site of the Bishop of London’s palace in the medieval period. During the Middle Ages, Bishopsgate became a center of trade and commerce, and many wealthy merchants and traders built their homes and businesses in the area. In the 17th century, the Great Fire of London destroyed much of the city, including Bishopsgate. The street was rebuilt, and many of the buildings that still stand today date from the 18th and 19th centuries. Today, Bishopsgate is a bustling financial district, with many modern skyscrapers and historic landmarks, including the St. Botolph-without-Bishopsgate church, which dates back to the 16th century.

A symmetrical view of the zebra crossing in Oxford Street, London with a front view of the red double decker bus and a back view of the London taxi

12. Oxford Street

Oxford Street is one of the most famous streets in London, known for its bustling shopping scene and inconic department stores. Located in the heart of the city, it stretches from Marble Arch to Tottenham Court Road, making it one of the longest shopping streets in Europe. Along its length, you’ll find a wide range of shops, from high street favourites like H&M and Zara to luxury brands like Selfridges department store and John Lewis. Other famous streets in London, such as Regent Street and Bond Street, are just a stone’s throw away, making it a perfect area for a day of shopping and exploring.

If you want to find hotels around the old streets of London, please click on the Expedia and Tripadvisor link below. I am a part of an affiliate program with Expedia.com, and Tripadvisor. If you book through me with no additional charge to you, I get a commission from them, so it will help me out a lot when writing more about London.

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