- East from Aldersgate Street at No.77 to Redcross Street and Golden Lane (P.O. Directory).In Aldersgate Ward Without and Cripplegate Ward Without.The first definite mention of the street occurs : " Barbecanstret," 1348 (Ct. H. W. I. 525).Other forms : " la Barbycanstret," 1378 (ib. II. 201). Street called " Barbican," 1385-6 (ib. 252). Street called " le Barbican," 1408 (ib. 379).Stow suggests that the street was formerly called Houndsditch (pp.71 and 433), but gives no authority for the statement, which is not confirmed by any of the records.The street seems to have derived its name from a tower which at one time stood on the north side of it, fronting Redcross Street.First mention: " Barbekan," 1294-5 (Ct. H.W. I. 119).Stow says this tower was pulled down by Henry III. in 1267, when he occupied the city after the war with the Barons (p.71). If so, it would appear to have been rebuilt. The site was given by Edward III. to Robert Earl of Suffolk in 1336 by the name of his manor of Base Court, commonly called Barbican (ib.). The Earl of Suffolk's hostel there is mentioned in 1378 (Ct. H.W. II. 201).In 1375-6 a gate was to be made at " la Barbekane " without Aldersgate (Cal. L. Bk. H. p. 26). According to Strype the site was occupied by the Watch Tower, shown on Rocque's map, 1746, but in the O.S. 1875, the site is shown further to the north-west, on the north side of " Barbican" between Princes Street and Golden Lane.The N.E.D. says the word is of uncertain origin, perhaps from Arabic or Persian words meaning the " House on the wall." It came into English through the O.F. " barbacane," Low Latin, " barbarcana," an outwork.It is defined as (1) an outer fortification or defence to a city, a watch-tower. (2) a wooden tower or bulwark. (3) A loophole in the wall, out of which missiles could be hurled.See Bas Court, Cripplegate.
A Dictionary of London. Henry A Harben. 1918.