What came first- the chickens or the blog?

Poultry EC2

on April 30, 2013


While we were wandering the streets of the City of London, the capitol’s financial heart, I noticed an unusual street sign.
As a hen keeper this immediately sparked interest. Poultry is a very short street which takes its name, like Milk Street and Bread Street, from the produce which was sold there long ago in the street markets of Cheapside, which in Old English means “market place”.
The short street extending between Cheapside and Cornhill was the special quarter of the London poulterers who sent their fowls and feathered game to be prepared in Scalding Alley (anciently called Scalding House, or Scalding Wike). The pluckers and scorchers of the feathered fowl occupied the shops between the Stocks’ Market (now the Mansion House) and the Great Conduit.
Today Number 1 Poultry is a very modern building housing among other things the Coq d’Argent restaurant which has a roof top terrace boasting superb views. (Not as spectacular I would imagine as its neighbour over the river, the Shard.)
Sadly in these difficult times, this high building in the heart of the City has become the location of five suicides in the past two years.
Centuries ago, from medival times to 1815 the local prison Poultry Compter was located here. It was notorious for its poor conditions and was used to detain debtors, religious dissenters and vagrants. William Carter is perhaps its most famous inmate. A Catholic printer, he was imprisoned in Poultry Comptor for several months before being moved to the Tower of London, stretched on the rack and executed for treason against Elizabeth 1st in 1584.
Poultry Comptor was also used to detain slaves who had been released as part of the Abolition efforts of Granville Sharp in the 1770’s.
So much history beneath our feet. The only memory left in an unusual street name. And on a blustery Saturday morning in 2013 it is much easier to obtain a large latte in Starbucks than a freshly scalded chicken.

An old sketch of the long disappeared Poultry Comptor.

2 responses to “Poultry EC2

  1. zeudytigre says:

    Love the history you share with these posts 🙂

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