Watling Street
   East from St. Paul's Churchyard to Queen Street, at its junction with Queen Victoria Street (P.O. Directory). In Cordwainer and Bread Street Wards and in Farringdon Ward Within.
   First mention: Street leading from Cordwainer Strete to Bredstrete," 14 H. III. (Anc. Deeds, B. 1971).
   In subsequent deeds, which seem to relate to the same property, it is described as "Watlyngstrete."
   Called "Watlingstrate," 1307 (Ct. H.W. I. 186).
   Other forms, etc. : " Wattlingestrete," 13 Ed. II. (Anc. Deeds, C. 3541). " Watelyngestrete," 1349 (Ct. H.W. I. 548).
   The form" Athelyngestrate " occurs 1272-3, and it seems probable from the description of the property that this is identical with Watling Street.
   Earliest form: " Aphelingestrate," 1213 (Anc. Deeds, A. 1499).
   See Atheling Street.
   In 1402 the church of St. Antonin is described as St. Anthonin de Watlyngstrete," which suggests that Budge Row at some earlier date may have been included in Watling Street.
   Leland calls it " Atheling or Noble Streete," but since he showeth no reason why, I rather take it to be named of the great highway of the same calling (S. 348).
   The original name seems to have been " Athelyngstrate," and it may be derived from the A.S. "aethel " = noble, or, as seems more probable, from the common personal name "Athel " or " Æthel." In this case the " W " is intrusive and may have been inserted by a copyist in error in some early deed and in this way have gradually gained currency.
   On the other hand it may have been adopted as the name of the street, as being a branch from the famous highway of that name outside the City. For it is important to bear in mind in this connection that this street is not on the direct line of the Roman highway of Watling Street as Stow seems to suggest, although it was probably connected with it as a branch road traversing the City.
   The Roman Watling Street from Dover to Chester seems to have crossed the Thames at Westminster, without entering the City, and its subsequent course has been traced along the present Edgware Road to Watford and beyond.
   This would be the direct route, and it is not likely that London was, at the time of the formation of the Roman Watling Street, of sufficient importance to cause the diversion of the military road from its straight and direct course. But it is quite possible that an alternative route through the City was constructed before long and that the Ermine Street may have entered the City near the site of London Bridge. A branch from this road westwards through the centre of the later Roman City would connect it with the Watling Street, and the remains of such a Roman road, narrower than the military high way, but with a substratum of chalk and a pavement of flint, have been found at the eastenn end of the present Watling Street and in Budge Row at a depth of 20 ft.

A Dictionary of London. . 1918.

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