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Dover: Lock and Key of the Kingdom

Street Name Origins

This is by no means a comprehensive list of street name origins. What I have tried to do is select some of the names which have a direct link with the history of Dover. 
Pencester Road   There are two contenders for the honour of having this road named after them. One Stephen de Pencester, who helped Hubert de Burgh  defend the Castle during the French siege of 1216. Another Stephen de Pencester was also Constable of Dover Castle from 1267 to  1299.  Before the road was built there had been no cross road from the main thoroughfare to Maison Dieu Road between Castle Street   and Bridge Street. In 1854 the Gunman estate came on the market and Pencester Road was laid out by Mr William Moxon. Soon after  that the erection of houses commenced but before the surface of the road could be metalled, Mr Moxon’s financial difficulties brought  matters to a standstill, the river only being bridged by a plank. The bridge was finally built in 1862. Pencester Gardens opened in the  1920s.  Ropewalk  Being a seafaring community rope-making was an important industry in Dover during the age of sailing ships. Rope-making required a  long, straight area over which the ropes could be pulled and twisted during the manufacturing process. The original ropewalk was on  the shingle bank on the site of what is now the Sea Front, when building started in this area it moved to Shakespeare Beach. In 1843  this area was bought by the South Eastern Railway for their new line into Dover.  The rope manufactory moved to firm ground below the Western Heights but the business did not survive for long, although the name has in this area where the trade was last practised. St Radigund’s Road   This road leads to the ruins of St Radigund’s Abbey on the hills just outside Dover. The Abbey was built in 1191 and survived until the  dissolution of the monasteries by Henry VIII. St Radegund lived from 518-587. She was the daughter of the King of Thuringia, whose  assassination was avenged by the Frankish King Clotaire I. Clotaire had the twelve year old Radegund baptised and educated, and  eventually married her. However, her ill treatment by the King, and his murder of her brother, compelled Radegund to leave him. She  became a nun and went on to found the great nunnery of the Holy Cross at Poitiers, where she spent the last thirty years of her life. Stembrook  It has been suggested that the name comes from the dam of the mill, that used to stand here, “stemming” the water, but Stembrook  Mill is of comparatively modern origin having been built in 1799. The name may well have originated from the proximity of the pointed  piece of land which divided the Eastbrook and the Westbrook of the river Dour, and as that point “stemmed “ the body of the stream, it  would appropriately be called Stembrook.   Tower Hamlets Road   This road was originally called Black Horse Lane until 1866. It takes it present name from the housing development which was built  either side of it. For many years brick-making was the staple industry of the area, and the owners of the brick fields were Messrs. J. &  S. Finnis. At this time the only distinguishing feature in the area was a tower built to supply water. When the brick fields were being  built over the question of a name for the area arose, and Mr S. Finnis suggested, jokingly, “let’s call it Tower Hamlets”, and the name  stuck. Townwall Street   Townwall Street owes its name to the fact that it is the thoroughfare which follows most closely the line of part of the town wall. From  its start at Snargate Street to its termination at Woolcomber Street its whole length was alongside the wall. As the street developed the wall was demolished and much of the material reused in other buildings. During building work in the street in 1838, two guns called  culverins, possibly from the time of Henry VIII, were discovered. Townwall Street today presents a very different aspect as much of the street was destroyed during World War Two and it is now a dual carriageway, leading to the Eastern Docks. Victoria Park   This fine, sweeping terrace of substantial houses was built in 1864 and named after the Queen, who had by then been on the throne for 27 years. These large properties were often rented by the senior officers of the regiments stationed in Dover.  There were private tennis courts at the bottom of the gardens and ample accommodation for servants in the basements and attics. These once grand houses are  now divided into flats, but from a distance they still are an impressive sight sweeping across the hillside below the Castle.
Victoria Park c.1906.
Astley Avenue This street was named after a prominent Dover citizen of the 19th century, Dr Edward F. Astley. He was Mayor 1858-9 and was a great  benefactor to the town. He opened the Isolation Hospital at his own expense in 1871, was chairman of the committee responsible for  laying out Connaught Park, and gave the town the organ in the Town Hall. Astor Avenue Was named after Major the Hon. J.J. Astor, Member of Parliament for Dover from 1922 to 1945. The road was opened by the M.P.  himself in 1924.  
Barton Road c.1905. On the right is the corner of Cherry Tree Avenue and St Barnabas Church.
Barton Road   Marked on old maps as Barton Back, and although originally  little more than a lane, until the building of Buckland Bridge in  the late 18th century, it formed the main route for coaches,  wagons and other traffic to Canterbury and London. The road  as it appears today was developed in the late 1890s as part of  the Barton Estate built by Sir William Crundall. Prior to this  Barton Farm used to stand on the land between the road and  the river Dour. Bartholomew Street  Built close to land used to be known as "Bartholomew Fields"  where a "Bartelmy Fair" used to be held until 1830. The fields  took their name from St Bartholomew's Hospital for lepers,  which was founded nearby by monks from St Martin's Priory in  1152. 
Bridge Street  This street is part of an ancient road running from Charlton to Hougham, which continued on up what is now Tower Hamlets Road. The  part now called Bridge Street probably got its name in 1829 when a brick bridge was built across the river Dour. Originally the road  had crossed by a ford, with a wooden bridge for pedestrians.
Cannon Street There was a Cannon Ward in the earliest days of the Dover  Corporation, and was the portion of the town under the control  of the Canons of St Martin-le-Grand. It has been argued that  the street takes its name from this ward and is thus misspelt.  However, the street never bore this name at the time of the  canons. A more likely explanation is that Captain Henry  Cannon, who was Deputy Governor of Dover Castle during the  Commonwealth, owned property in the street. Cherry Tree Avenue Originally called Cherry Tree Lane after the large cherry tree  which stood in the garden of the Cherry Tree Inn on London  Road. The lane was widened and planted with trees (not cherry trees) in 1895, at a cost of £1129. After the widening it was  renamed Cherry Tree Avenue.
Cannon Street c.1890. Viewed from the Market Square, the famous City of Antwerp Hotel stood on the corner until the early 1890s when it was demolished as part of the Cannon Street widening.
Church Street  This street was laid out, it is believed, after the demolition of St Peter's Church in the Market Square. It is unclear if the street takes its name from the demolished church or from St Mary's whose churchyard bounds one side of the street. De Burgh Street   This street, laid out about 1866, was named after Hubert de Burgh, defender of Dover Castle during the French siege of 1216. The  street was built on the site of the Eagle tea gardens, which had replaced the earlier Black Horse tea gardens on the same site. The  Black Horse Inn and tea gardens had been a popular resort with the townsfolk, especially on the occasion of public executions which  took place at the nearby crossroad until 1823. The Black Horse Inn, which stood on the corner of London Road and Black Horse Lane  (now Tower Hamlets Road), was sold at auction in September 1839 and the Eagle Tavern built on the site. Dieu Stone Lane  This lane, which runs from Biggin Street to Maison Dieu Road, was once the boundary of the Maison Dieu Estate or Park. A stone once  marked the boundary at the Maison Dieu Road end of the lane. This stone had a letter 'D' carved on it and for many years the lane was  known as Dee Stone Lane. Effingham Crescent/Street The plans of the original eight Effingham Villas, in what was to become Effingham Crescent, were submitted to the Town Council in  March 1847. The other side of Effingham Street was built a year or two later and was originally called St Martin's Street, as it was built  on the site of the church of St Martin's Priory. The name was changed in 1872 after residents petitioned for the name to be changed in  honour of the Countess of Effingham, who was a great benefactor in the building of the nearby Christ Church in 1844. Frith Road  Originally called Love Lane, the road takes its name from Frith Farm, as the continuation of Frith Road, known as Old Charlton Road,  leads to the farm. Frith Road was widened in the 1880s after some cottages at the bottom of the road were purchased by the  Corporation and demolished to allow a width of 40 feet along the whole length of the road. King Street   Both King's Street and King's Lane were terms in use in Dover deeds and charters in Norman times.  The name probably originated  from the fact that the whole of the property in that area was held from the King.  The lane now called Fishmonger's Lane was originally  King's Lane, the stretch of water at the bottom of it was called King's Water, and the mill that stood there was King's Mill.
Ladywell c.1935. Buildings being demolished to clear the land for the building of the police station.
Ladywell  In this road was once the “Well of Our Lady”, a natural spring  whose waters had, reputedly, curative and even miraculous  properties. The well used to be in a nook in the wall of the  Maison Dieu, and in the days before the Dover Waterworks,  when good water was scarce, this water was carried all over  the town. When the Corporation purchased the Maison Dieu in 1836, the  well was covered over and a public pump installed over it. In  1858 this pump was repaired but in 1866, when a scientific  analysis found the water to be unfit for human consumption,  the pump was removed and the well closed.
Maison Dieu Road   Until 1862 this road had been described in deeds as Charlton Back Lane. By the 1860s the road was assuming a residential character  and the new name, deduced from its surroundings (the Maison Dieu Park on the west, and the Maison Dieu Fields on the east) was  conferred upon it by the Corporation.
New Bridge c.1850. Looking towards the Market Square.
New Bridge   Anyone standing in New Bridge today could be forgiven for  asking “where’s the bridge?” The “new bridge” in question was  built in 1800 and was called new to distinguish it from the  earlier Buggin’s Bridge further upstream on the Dour. The  bridge and the river were visible until 1840, when the northern  parapet was removed to make room for houses, and the other  parapet was taken away when Northampton Street opened in  1852.   Today the Dour can be seen on the northern side of New Bridge as it dives under the steps leading up from the Townwall Street  pedestrian subway, on its way to join the sea in the Wellington  Dock. 
Woolcomber Street  This street was built on land reclaimed after the old harbour  here fell into disuse. The name comes from some hosues that  were occupied by wool-combers in the 18th century. On the the east side of the street there used to be some houses marked  Exhibition Place, so named because they were built in 1851,  the year of the Great Exhibition in Hyde Park. Much of  Woolcomber Street was destroyed during World War Two, the  town’s swimming pool and sports centre now stand on one side  of the road. Worthington Street   Originally called Gardiner’s Lane, a name associated with the  lane since at least the early 17th century. Around 1800 the  name was changed to Worthington’s Lane, the Worthingtons  being an important Dover family, one of whom was a wool  merchant with warehouses in the lane. In 1895 the narrow lane  was widened to its present width and became Worthington  Street.
Woolcomber Street, 1894. Looking towards Castle Street. Back to Streets Index Back to top of page Back to top of page Back to top of page Back to top of page