- There seem to have been several of these open spaces in different parts. of the City in early days, as, for instance, in Tower Ward, in Billingsgate Ward, in Dowgate Ward, in Queenhithe Ward.Wheatley says that in front of the larger monastic establishments, as at St. Albans,. Bury St. Edmond's, etc., there were large open spaces railed oft, used at any rate at Waltham as a market place, and he suggests that they may have been generally so used in early times.It is interesting to note that in a decree of Chancery 37 H. VIII., confirming to the citizens the possession of the Romeland at Billingsgate, it is expressly stated that markets had been held time out of mind on both the Romelands at Billingsgate and at Queenhithe..Dr. Sharpe says that it was a name given to an open space near a dock where ships could discharge (Cal. L. Bk. F. p.175, note).A writer in the Archæologia, XXXVI. Pt. 2, 410-12, suggests that the rents of these lands were appropriated to the use of the See of Rome, and so were called" Romelands," as Peter's pence was called " Rome-scot."It seems probable that the word is derived from the A.S. "Ram " = open, cleared, roomy, and that they were, as Dr. Sharpe suggests, large open spaces that could be used for the purpose of discharging a cargo, etc., or as a" market" place for the dis posal of these cargoes or other wares.It should be noted that all the Romelands mentioned were in close proximity to what were the principal wharves of the City in early times.
A Dictionary of London. Henry A Harben. 1918.