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Origins of Exeter's most intriguing street names

By Exeter Express and Echo  |  Posted: February 14, 2013

Heavitree Road

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Exeter's street names often reflect its 2,000-year history. They give clues to its former importance as a centre of religious learning and celebrate the trade and industry which once flourished in the city. Below are some of the city's most intriguing street names.

Blackboy Road: The nickname of Charles II because of his dark colouring.

Buddle Lane: From an Old English word 'bothl' which means 'dwelling'.

Friernhay Street: meaning 'friars enclosure'. Grey Friars lived in the area in the late 1200s.

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Guinea Street: Derives from the old word 'gennel', meaning 'narrow road'.

Heavitree Road: A Saxon word; Heavitree means 'the head tree' – one used as a gallows.

Mincinglake Road: From an ancient name for nuns – 'Moenchin' – a stream near a nunnery.

Parliament Street: One of the narrowest streets in the world. Urban myth suggests that it referred to the capability of 18th-century government!

Rack Street: 'Rack' refers to frames to dry the woollen cloth for which Exeter was famed.

Sidwell Street: From the mythical St Sidwella, an early Christian killed by her stepmother.

Waterbeer Street: From the 1300s. It was the street of water bearers who collected river water to sell.

Widgery Road: Named after FJ Widgery, a famous landscape painter and mayor of Exeter, in 1903.

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  • Cerberus2010  |  February 17 2013, 1:59PM

    Not forgetting, of course, Chute Street.... "The unfortunate inhabitants of Chute Street live in a street whose name is a corruption of the Saxon word, Shyte. A brook ran down the street which was used, from the Saxon times, to carry away sewage. It became known as Shytebrook or later on S**tbrook, and ran past the bottom of Paris Street, which was once called Shytebrook Street. It emerged at the river in Larkbeare, near Colleton Hill. The brook was covered over in 1843 and carries only drain water, leaving its previous contents to be carried away in modern sewers". Paris Street was once called Shytebrook Street, some might comment that this would be equally appropriate today.