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London contains a treasure trove of historic old streets. They tell a tale of a bygone era, and exploring them is like discovering a part of the city’s forgotten past.
If you love history like me, you’ll find these old streets in London a pleasure to explore.
If you’re looking for something new and exciting to do during your trip, why not immerse yourself in the historical side of London?
Oldest Streets in London
Stroll the city and admire the natural preservation and ancient architecture of the capital’s oldest thoroughfares.
From cobbled roads to narrow passageways and charming water-lined walks, here are the oldest streets in London you don’t want to miss.
Secrets of London Walking Tour
This walking tour is perfect for travellers who want to explore the hidden streets and alleyways of London. The expert guide will take you on a journey through time, seeing some of the most interesting sights in London like 7 noses of London and the smallest police station in the world.
1. Shaftesbury Avenue
Shaftesbury Avenue is a main road in the West End of London and one of the most famous streets in the city. It runs north-easterly from Piccadilly Circus to New Oxford Street, crossing Charing Cross Road at Cambridge Circus. The street was built between 1877 and 1886 by the architect George Vulliamy, and it is named after The 7th Earl of Shaftesbury.
This busy road runs through the heart of the West End and is lined with historic buildings and landmarks. The theatre district is a highlight, with several world-famous venues, such as the Shaftesbury Theatre and the Savoy Theatre.
Just off the avenue, you can explore the atmospheric streets of Soho or discover the fascinating history of London’s Chinatown and find plenty of things to do in Chinatown London, including tasting some of the best bubble tea in London.
The West End is unsurprisingly home to many famous streets – Haymarket, Shaftesbury Avenue, Regent Street and more. All of which lead up to the iconic Piccadilly Circus. The circus is world-renowned for its beautiful billboards and should definitely be on your London bucket list!
2. The Strand
The Strand is one of the most famous streets in London. The historic street runs for just over three-quarters of a mile from Trafalgar Square eastwards to Temple Bar. The street links the two cities of Westminster and London, and its name comes from the Old English ‘strond’, which means the edge of a river, which is fitting as The Strand runs alongside the north bank of the River Thames.
Some of London’s most famous landmarks are located on the Strand, including Somerset House, a grand neoclassical building that houses several museums and art galleries.
King’s College and Simpson’s-in-the-Strand, one of the city’s oldest traditional English restaurants, has been frequented by everyone from Charles Dickens to Winston Churchill. You’ll also find the Twinings Tea Shop, established in 1706 on the Strand.
Nearby, you’ll find several historic streets in London, such as Fleet Street, home to some of London’s oldest pubs; Charing Cross Road, lined with countless bookstores; Piccadilly Circus, Trafalgar Square, Pall Mall and The Mall.
Covent Garden, where you can enjoy things to do in Covent Garden and explore the hustle and bustle of one of London’s most popular markets.
3. Fleet Street
Fleet Street is one of the major old streets in London that’s most notable for its ties to London’s printing and publishing industry.
Its timeline can be traced back to Roman times when Fleet Street served as an important route through the area.
Fleet Street’s association with publication began in 1500 and flourished for several centuries. By the first half of the 20th century, most of the country’s newspapers based their head offices here.
During the 1980s, all of the major newspapers relocated their offices to other areas of the city. However, this historic London street remains one of the most celebrated.
Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese is one of London’s oldest pubs, located on Fleet Street. Shortly after the Great Fire of London, it was rebuilt, and many famous people have been documented as patrons, including Samuel Pepys, Dr Samuel Johnson, Charles Dickens and Mark Twain.
4. Cloth Fair
Cloth Fair is one of the oldest streets in London, dating back to medieval times. It was originally a gathering place for merchants to buy and sell cloth during the Bartholomew Fair.
Today, Cloth Fair is home to the oldest residential dwelling in London (numbers 41 and 42), which survived the Great Fire of London.
This narrow street was once the heart of the cloth trade in London, and it’s still possible to see evidence of that today. Number 40 was occupied by Mitchell, Inman & Co., a wholesale firm in the cloth trade, and while the business is long gone, the building remains.
5. Threadneedle Street
Since its humble beginnings as a Roman trading outpost, Threadneedle Street today is known as the wealthiest square mile in the world.
Threadneedle Street is a street located in the City of London, England. It stretches from Bishopsgate at its northeast end to Bank junction in the southwest. Threadneedle Street is one of the streets that converge at Bank.
The street is renowned for being the home of the Bank of England; sometimes, the bank itself is called ‘the Old Lady of Threadneedle Street.’ It has been situated at its current location since 1734.
The Worshipful Company of Merchant Taylors is a UK-based corporation whose headquarters, the Merchant Taylors’ Hall, has been located between Threadneedle Street and Cornhill since at least 134.
This is one of the old London streets that is only a few minute’s walk to Liverpool street station and Old Street in London near Shoreditch.
6. Frith Street
Frith Street is located in London’s Soho neighbourhood. This London street was laid out in the 1670s and 1680s. From the 18th to 19th century, many prominent artists took up residence here, including painter John Alexander Gresse and renowned sculptor John Bell.
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart also lived on Frith Street from 1764 to 1765 while conducting his grand tour of Europe.
Although a few residential buildings still remain today, the street is considered one of Soho’s main entertainment areas. It contains many eclectic restaurants and trendy clubs.
7. King’s Bench Walk
King’s Bench Walk is a street in the Inner Temple. Its name comes from the Office of the King’s Bench, built on the street in 1621. Buildings have resided on the Walk since 1548.
However, they were destroyed and rebuilt twice, once during the Great Fire of London in 1666, and again during the subsequent fire of 1677.
No.4 King’s Bench Walk was rebuilt in 1678 following the fires. It’s one of the most historically important buildings on the street and is a Grade I listed building. Over the years, it has been home to numerous sets of barristers.
Haymarket is a London street that runs from Piccadilly Circus to Pall Mall at the southern end. The street was originally used as a street market to sell fodder, and other farm produce. Although it is now a bustling train station, Charing (now known as Charing Cross) was once just a small village and the closest settlement.
Some of the notable buildings on Haymarket Street are the Theatre Royal Haymarket and Her Majesty’s Theatre.
The street got its name from the Haymarket theatre, built in 1720, making it London’s third-oldest playhouse still in use.
9. Downing Street
If you’re exploring the streets of London, you’re sure to come across Downing Street. This street is home to the official residences and offices of the Prime Minister of the UK and the Chancellor of the Exchequer.
Downing Street is located in Westminster, just a few minute’s walk from iconic London landmarks like the Houses of Parliament, the London Eye and Big Ben. Built in the 1680s, the street is named after Sir George Downing.
10. Watling Street
Watling Street in London is a fascinating street with a rich history. Ancient Britons used it as one of their main roads, and it was paved by the Romans during their occupation of Britannia.
It links Dover and London in the southeast and continues northwest to Wroxeter. Watling Street was one of the greatest arterial roads of the Roman and post-Roman periods.
Today, this old London street is known as the A2 and the A5 motorways, which run diagonally across Britain from Anglesey in north-west Wales to Dover in south-east England. Watling Street is a great place to start if you’re interested in exploring some of London’s old streets.
11. Cheyne Walk
Cheyne Walk is a scenic old street in Chelsea and Kensington that runs parallel to the River Thames. Originally, the road fronted the river.
However, the construction of the Chelsea Embankment in 1874 created a road and walkway between Cheyne Walk and the water.
The tall, uniform 18th-century homes that line the street are just a stone’s throw from the relaxing waterfront. This historic London street is as charming as they come.
12. Kensington Palace Gardens
Kensington Palace Gardens is one of the most upscale residential streets in London. It was built in the 1840s as part of Kensington Palace’s grounds.
Originally, it was called The Queen’s Road but was renamed in 1870.
During the Second World War and the Cold War, the house at No. 8 was the location of the London Cage, a prisoner-of-war facility.
However, it was demolished in 1961 and replaced by a small block of apartments.
13. Kynance Mews
Kynance Mews is a charming cobbled street in South Kensington, London. The street is home to several traditional mews houses and is one of the most popular and Instagram-worthy streets in the city.
Despite its central location, Kynance Mews feels like a world away from the hustle and bustle of London life.
The street is lined with terraced houses, and its quaint atmosphere is perfect for a leisurely stroll through neighbouring streets is also worth exploring, as they offer a glimpse into old London life.
The mews is also near some of London’s most famous museums, so whether you’re visiting London for the first time or you’re a seasoned traveller, be sure to add Kynance Mews to your list of must-see attractions.
14. Greek Street
Greek Street is a lively Soho street that acquired its name from a Greek church built in 1677. The street has several buildings that date back to the 18th century, or earlier.
No.1 Greek Street was built in 1746. It has been used for many purposes throughout the centuries, from a sewage planning and management business to a charity shelter.
Charles Dickens used the house as inspiration for the residence of Dr Manette and Lucy in A Tale of Two Cities.
Today, the old buildings found along Greek streets are mostly occupied by modern eateries and bars.
15. Roupell Street
The little cluster of streets that make up the Roupell Street Conservation Area will transport you back to 19th century London.
The road was first developed in the 1820s for workers’ cottages. John Roupell was a wealthy businessman who saw an opportunity in renting them out to the local community.
The surrounding streets were originally named after his family members, John Street, Richard Street, and Catherine Street.
However, they were later renamed in the late 19th century to Theed Street, Whittlesey Street West, and Whittlesey Street East.
This old London city street has been featured in several TV series, including Doctor Who, Mr Selfridge, and Call the Midwife.
16. St Olave Hart Street
On the corner of Hart Street and Seething Lane, you’ll find an old London church, called St Olave’s Church, Hart Street.
It presumably began its existence as a wooden structure but was first documented in the 13th century when it had been rebuilt in stone.
The structure we see today was built around 1450. It was one of only a handful of medieval churches in London to escape the Great Fire of 1666.
17. Wapping High Street
The name “Wapping” is thought to come from the Saxons who are believed to be the first inhabitants of the area. One of their leaders was named Waeppa.
This old street runs along an embankment of the River Thames and has a rich maritime history.
The high street and surrounding area prospered for centuries as a lively commercial waterfront. During the London Blitz, a large portion of Wapping was destroyed.
However, some original structures still remain, and new buildings have sprung up and given new life to this old street.
18. Rotherhithe Street
Rotherhithe Street runs for 1.5 miles (2.4 km), making it the longest street in London. Its curved path follows the River Thames and contains a slew of historic buildings.
The Georgian style Nelson House was built in the 1740s. This grand brick home was used to house shipbuilders, including John Randall.
St Mary’s Church, Rotherhithe also resides on the street. The structure we see today was mostly built from 1714 to 1715. However, documented evidence shows that a church has been on this site since 1282.
19. Brick Lane – Old Streets in East London
Brick Lane is one of the best places to find old streets in London. The area is full of historical charm, and the streets are lined with brick buildings that date back centuries.
Many of the old streets in Brick Lane have been preserved, and they offer a glimpse into what life was like in London centuries ago. If you’re looking for a taste of Old London, Brick Lane is the perfect place to start with its diverse community, curry houses, street art and vintage shops.
Some of the famous streets in Brick Lane include Hanbury Street, Dorset Street, Bell Lane and Spitalfields Market. Each of these streets has its own unique history, and they’re all worth exploring. So whether you’re a history buff or just looking for a taste of Old London, be sure to check out things to do in Brick Lane.
Brick Lane is a good place to find old streets in London because it is home to many of the city’s historical buildings. You can also visit the coffee shops in Shoreditch along with the many epic things to do in Shoreditch.
20. Princelet Street
Located in the Spitalfields neighbourhood of East London, the homes found along Princelet Street date to the early 18th century.
They were mostly occupied by the French Huguenots, who came over to England escaping religious persecution in their homeland.
The Huguenots lived and worked as silk weavers. They conducted their services from the top floor of their residences, where they had plenty of natural light.
These Georgian-era houses are especially remarkable as they have managed to escape new developments and modernisation.
21. Fournier Street
Similar to Princelet Street, Fournier Street contains a string of well-preserved 18th century Georgian homes.
They were built in the same neighbourhood (Spitalfields) to house the growing community of wealthy French Huguenots. Most of the homes are dated from the 1720s and were designed with a higher standard than the ones built on Princelet Street.
22. Elder Street
Elder Street is yet another old street in Spitalfields that was built in the 18th century to accommodate the Huguenot silk weavers. They were mainly constructed in the 1720s for the more successful silk merchants.
Are you curious to learn more about the Huguenots? Elder Street runs into Folgate Street, where you’ll find Dennis Severs’ House. This museum features rooms recreated to depict what life would have been like for Huguenot silk weavers.
23. Fleur de Lys Street
Fleur de Lys Street is an old alleyway in Spitalfields. It dates to the 1720s when the neighbourhood first started to be developed.
It’s a rather short route and has a mix of modern and historic elements. You can view old-style street-lights and tall brick buildings alongside artistic graffiti.
24. Artillery Passage & Artillery Lane
The Artillery Passage Conservation Area (which includes Artillery Lane) provides a rare glimpse into 17th century London.
Their unique name stems from 1537 when the area was designated as artillery ground.
The buildings that line these passages are mostly tall Georgian houses. They are not set back from the street and form a well-connected narrow line.
If you’re intrigued by murder mystery, Jack the Ripper haunted these secret London passageways. The body of his final victim, Mary Kelly, was found just a stone’s throw from Artillery Passage.
25. Old Street in Central London
Old Street is a short, one-mile street located in central northeast London. The street starts at Goswell Road and goes east through St. Luke’s until it reaches the Old Street Roundabout. From there, it continues East to Shoreditch High Street.
Old Street was first noted as Ealdestrate in 1200 and then again as le Oldestrete in 1373. The name suggests that the road is one of the few old London streets.
Old Street is situated on a historical Roman path that connects Silchester and Colchester. This road skirts around the former walls of Londinium, which is now known as the City of London.
As the street evolved into one of the city’s main thoroughfares in the 19th century, the western side was widened to accommodate a surge of traffic and shops.
And is known as the technology hub of London. A bustling nightlife, Old Street has become a popular location for graffiti artists in recent years, such as Banksy and Jef Aérosol. Banksy has featured several pieces of art on Shoreditch Bridge.
Artisan coffee shops with some of the best coffee shops in Old Streets and tons of epic things to do in Old Street and Shoreditch. Making this one of the most popular old streets in London and a top things to see in East London.
25. Little Green Street
Little Green Street is another one of those historic London streets that have remained unchanged over time. The 10 quaint houses that line the cobbled road were built in the 1780s. It’s one of the best-preserved Georgian streets in the city.
26. Alderman’s Walk
Alderman’s Walk dates back 17th century. Alderman’s Walk is located on the north side of the church and ends in the courtyard. It was formerly known as Dashwood’s Walk, after the mansion owned next to the site by Francis Dashwood (father of Sir Francis Dashwood).
This alley is located near Liverpool Street station, next to St Botolph’s without Bishopsgate church.
27. Lombard Street London
Lombard Street origins date back to one of the primary Roman roads in Londinium. This old London street also was part of a plot of land granted by King Edward I to goldsmiths.
Lloyd’s Coffee House, the birthplace of Lloyd’s of London, shifted from Tower Street to Lombard Street by 1691.
UK banks based their head offices in Lombard Street up until the 1980s and it has been known as the historical home for London money lenders.
The Barclays financial institution was headquartered at No. 54 before it relocated in 2005 to a new building called One Churchill Place, located at Canary Wharf. This part of London has now become the new financial centre of London, with plenty of things to do in Canary Wharf and many coffee shops to work from.
Old Streets in London FAQs
What is the most famous street in London?
Downing Street is the most famous street in London because it is home to the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. The street has been home to the Prime Minister since 1732, when Sir Robert Walpole became the first Prime Minister to live there. Since then, every Prime Minister has lived in Downing Street, making it an important part of British history. Making it one of the most recognised and famous streets in London.
What is the oldest neighbourhood in London?
The City of London is the oldest neighbourhood in London. The City, more commonly known as the Square Mile, was established in approximately AD50. This is seven years after the Romans invaded Britain. The City served as the foundation from which modern-day London eventually developed. It was once the centre of London’s economy and is still home to many of the city’s financial institutions.
The City’s Roman wall can be seen in its remains at various locations, including the foundations of the Roman Temple of Mithras and Billingsgate Roman House and Baths. It’s also is home to some of London’s most iconic landmarks, including St. Paul’s Cathedral and The Tower of London.
What is the most beautiful street in London?
Kynance Mews is the prettiest street in London for many reasons. The cobblestone streets, mews houses, and abundance of greenery make it a visual delight. This street is loved by locals and tourists because it provides a glimpse into the past.
Old London Streets: Final Thoughts
The history of old streets in London is truly remarkable. They show an interesting aspect of the capital’s past and really are in a league of their own when it comes to attraction and charm.
They make up some of the oldest parts of London and walking down them will make you feel as if you’ve stepped into a time capsule.
Find out more on what London has to over by browsing the rest of my London street content here: