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Old 05 May 2009, 02:34 PM
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Johnny Slick Johnny Slick is offline
 
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Default Origins of London borough names

According to one of the tourist guides I picked up in England, Soho is an old hunting cry (like tally ho) that later became the name of a part of the city because it was built on former royal hunting grounds. Of course, those tourist guides you get can be very, very untruthful; your average tourist, after all, is primarily interested in a good story rather than the facts. So what's the etymology?

While we're at it, what about the origin of the word Piccadilly, as in Piccadilly Circus and the Piccadilly line on the underground? I've seen from more than one source that this is thought to be derived from the "picadil", a type of collar that was popular back in the day and that was manufactured around the Piccadilly area. I could just as easily see the accoutrement named after the part of the city, though (a la the tuxedo being named after Tuxedo Park). An alternate explanation offered by a tour guide - and this one sounds really dodgy to me - is that the Piccadilly area was once known for its daffodils, or its "dillies", and it was a good place to pick one. The fact that the spelling is terrible is not, of course, reason in and of itself to discount things. We are talking about England here. Still, it doesn't sound right.
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Old 05 May 2009, 02:43 PM
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llewtrah llewtrah is offline
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Johnny Slick View Post
While we're at it, what about the origin of the word Piccadilly, as in Piccadilly Circus and the Piccadilly line on the underground? I've seen from more than one source that this is thought to be derived from the "picadil", a type of collar that was popular back in the day and that was manufactured around the Piccadilly area. I could just as easily see the accoutrement named after the part of the city, though (a la the tuxedo being named after Tuxedo Park). An alternate explanation offered by a tour guide - and this one sounds really dodgy to me - is that the Piccadilly area was once known for its daffodils, or its "dillies", and it was a good place to pick one. The fact that the spelling is terrible is not, of course, reason in and of itself to discount things. We are talking about England here. Still, it doesn't sound right.
However, since starch for collars was often extracted from flower bulbs, the pickadil collar may be related to picking daffodils anyway. Apparently the manufacturer of said collars built himself a mansion on the site and named it in honour of the collars that made his fortune - Piccadilly House - and this then became the name of the surounding area.
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Old 05 May 2009, 03:15 PM
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Andrew of Ware Andrew of Ware is offline
 
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The name Soho almost certainly comes from the hunting cry 'So Ho'. This is according to the Oxford Dictionary of English place names which also states that its original name was So Ho, it first being mentioned in 1632. The enormous London Encyclopaedia edited by Ben Weinreb and Christopher Hibbert agree. They say that in mediaeval days the land was owned by a couple of monasteries. After the Dissolution of the Monasteries the land passed to Henry VIII who did indeed use it for hunting. (See pages 792-794 of my 1983 edition.)

Piccadilly, only being a street, is not mentioned by the Oxford dictionary of place names. According to the London Encyclopaedia it does indeed come from the sale of 'picadils' which were 'a kinde of stiff collar' then in vogue at the Court. Robert Baker had a shop down the street from where he sold these collars and he made a fortune. He used the money to buy some land, where Piccadilly Circus now stands. On the east side of the street he built himself a grand hall which was nicknamed Piccadilly Hall by the populous in derision to the source of his wealth.

More building then took place along the street and it was named Portugal Street in honour of Charles II's wife, Catherine of Braganza. However, the street was already known as Piccadilly, especially the eastern part around the hall built by Baker. By the middle of the eighteenth century the whole street was known by this name. (See pages 596 to 598.)

It appears you have a reliable guide book Johnny.
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Old 05 May 2009, 04:16 PM
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rangerdog rangerdog is offline
 
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Ware, are you? Ware, Ware, Ware, Ware?
I woke up in a Soho doorway, a Policeman knew my name...
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Old 06 May 2009, 08:53 AM
BamaRainbow BamaRainbow is offline
 
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Ha, rangerdog, I see your post and raise you:

I saw a Ware-wolf with a Chinese menu in his hand
Walking through the streets of Soho in the rain
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Old 07 May 2009, 01:09 PM
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You are King of the Wares!
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