We all know the lane that runs between the North-East corner of the Marketplace and Bondgate Within. But what is it called? “Market Passage” has a long pedigree, and support from distinguished authorities. But it’s not the only possibility.
Writing in the 1860s George Tate tells us that in 1770 this was called “Pye’s Lane” or “Hunter’s Lane”, and that it was later known as “Egdell’s Lane”. Those were all based on the names of the occupants. These days there are no suitable properties that front onto the lane. So if we wanted to follow the same practice we would need to think of this as “the lane with no name”, or maybe the “George Inn Lane”.
After 1770 “Hunter’s Lane” seems to have remained in use for more than a century. That’s the name that appears on Wood’s map of 1827. It also appears in a Poll Book from 1847. But in 1834 the lane appears in Pigot’s directory as “Market Passage”. An early Ordnance Survey town plan called it “Market Passage” in the 1850s. In 1864 a tailor called Mr Taylor was advertising his business as being in “Market Passage”. Through the 1870s and 1880s there are newspaper references to recurring problems with the paving in “Market Passage”.
On the other hand, a report in 1881 about a meeting of the Board of Health shows both names in use at the same time. “Market Passage” was also referred to as “Hunter’s Lane”. A few years later a report in 1885 about the Street Committee talks about “Market Passage or Chrisp’s Lane”.
It’s useful to know that over time this lane has been called after various different occupants. “Hunter’s Lane” seems to have stuck for a long time, but lives move on, and over time the names of occupants inevitably vary.
If you had to pick one name for the lane today, what would you prefer? The consensus seems to be that “Market Passage” is the sensible choice, and we are inclined to agree. But we understand why some of the alternatives appeal.
Thanks to Gordon, Adrian, Lorna, Phil and Allan for an intriguing diversion.