- East from No. 48 Gracechurch Street and Fish Street Hill to Great Tower Street (P.O. Directory).In Billingsgate, Bridge Within and Candlewick Wards.The name is used to denote both the street and the market.Earliest mention of name : "Estchep," 15 John (Anc. Deeds, A. 6884). "Street called Estchepe," 1246 (Cal. Ch. Rolls. I. 309).This is the usual form in early records.The street has varied considerably in extent and in designation from time to time.From the early allusions to St. Michael Crooked Lane as "St. Michael Candlewick Street," or "near Candlewick Street," it seems probable that in the 12th and 13th centuries at any rate, the street at least as far as Crooked Lane was known as Candlewick Street, and that the designation "Eastcheap" for the western portion of the street to Clement's Lane did not come into use until a later date, probably about the 14th century.The name "Eastcheap" was in use for the whole of the street as late as the 16th century, including those portions known subsequently as Great Eastcheap, Little Eastcheap and Little Tower Street.The name "Great Eastcheap" appears first in a will of 1569, in which a messuage in St Clement's Lane is described as near Great Eastcheap (Ct. H.W. II. 691).Stow mentions Great Eastcheap and Little Eastcheap (S. 218 and 207).In Leake's map, 1666, the eastern portion of the street extending from Tower Street to St. Mary Hill is unnamed, the portion from St. Mary Hill west to Botolph Lane is named "Smithers Lane," from Botolph Lane west to Fish Street Hill "Little Eastcheap," and from Fish Street Hill to St. Clement's Lane, "Great Eastcheap."In connection with this name "Smithers Lane" it is interesting to note that in a London I. p.m. 6 Eliz. mention is made of messuages in Smyth Lane and Philpott Lane and otherwise described as "near little Estchep," and the context suggests that the portion of Eastcheap designated by Leake "Smithers Lane," may in 1564 have been called "Smyth Lane."In O. and M. 1677 and Rocque, 1746 the name "Smithers Lane" has entirely disappeared and the various portions of the street are designated respectively Little Tower Street, Little Eastcheap and Great Eastcheap, the eastern end from Tower Street to St. Mary Hill being called "Little Tower Street," the portion extending from St. Mary Hill to Fish Street Hill "Little Eastcheap," and the western end from Fish Street Hill to St. Martin's Lane "Great Eastcheap."In 1799, in Horwood's map, the only change to be noted is at the western end, Great Eastcheap not extending as far west as in the earlier maps, but ending at Crooked Lane, which agrees with the description given by Lockie in 1810.Some few years later, as shown in Greenwood's map, 1827, the name Great Eastcheap has disappeared and has given place to "Eastcheap," extending west as formerly to Clement's Lane, the eastern portion from Fish Street Hill remaining unaltered in extent and designation.Soon after this date, however, namely about 1831, the extent of the street at its western end underwent considerable curtailment, and a great portion of it was swept away for the formation of the approaches to the New London Bridge. The western end indeed ceased to exist, and the eastern portions were known respectively as Eastcheap and Little Tower Street, "Eastcheap" extending from Fish Street Hill to St. Mary Hill, and Little Tower Street from St. Mary Hill to Great Tower Street as shown in the O. S. 1848-80.In 1884 the whole street was widened under the Metropolitan and District Railways (City Lines and Extensions) Act, 1882, and all subsidiary designations being abolished, the whole extent of the street became known once more as "Eastcheap" as at the present time.The dates of these various designations may be given approximately as follows : "Eastcheap" temp. H. III. to the 16th century, and again from 1827 to the present time. "Great Eastcheap" occurs 1569-1827, "Little Eastcheap " 1564-1831, "Little Tower Street" 1677-1884, "Smithers Lane" 1666, "Smyth Lane" 1564.From the early records it appears that Eastcheap was one of the places in the City specially set apart for the butchers, and that they had their shops and stalls here, and it is to be noted that in these early records the name is perhaps more often used to denote the "macellum" or " butchery" than the street. Indeed the earliest reference given above relates to rent from a stall at the butcher's market (apud macellum), Estchep, and shows that the butchers sold meat here as early as the reign of King John.A patent 17 Ed. II provides that a market for flesh and fish should be kept in Estchepe as of old (Cal. P.R. Ed. II. 1321-4, p. 425).As Stow says, "The street is so called of the market there kept in the east part of the Citie, as West Cheape is a market so called of being in the West" (S. p. 218).The market was afterwards removed to Leadenhall, but the butchers still sold meat in Easteheap in Strype's time (ed. 1755, I. 509).The statue of King William IV. at the junction of King William Street and Gracechurch Street marks approximately the site of the famous Boar's Head Tavern (q.v.) in Eastcheap.During the excavations in 1831 for the formation of the approaches to the New London Bridge there were found at the north-east corner of Eastcheap two Roman wells and remains of some Roman building, coarse tesserae, vessels, etc. (Gent. Mag. Lib. XV. p. 41).Roman relics of various kinds found near the end of Clement's Lane in the course of excavations in 1834 (Arch. XXVI. 462). A raised bank of gravel 6 ft. deep and 18 ft. wide, 5 ft. below the surface of the modern pavement (ib. 192). A tessellated pavement was found in 1834, 12 ft. below the present surface, adjoining the church of St. Clement (ib. XXVII. 141).A Roman road was found across the end of Great Eastcheap to Gracechurch Street at a depth of 3 ft. made of concrete gravel resting on a bed of loam (1 ft. thick) at a depth of 10 ft. 6 in., the gravel below extending to a depth of 20 ft. The road tended from Cannon Street towards Little Eastcheap (Hist. St. Michael's Crooked Lane, p. 21).Foundations of houses found throughout Little Eastcheap, towards the Tower, 18-20 ft. deep (Arch. XXIX. 154).
A Dictionary of London. Henry A Harben. 1918.