AskDefine | Define Billingsgate

Dictionary Definition

billingsgate n : foul-mouthed or obscene abuse [syn: scurrility]

Extensive Definition

Billingsgate is a ward in the south-east of the City of London, lying on the north bank of the River Thames between London Bridge and Tower Bridge. It is found within the boundary defined by the river, Lovat Lane, Fenchurch Street, Mark Lane and Sugar Quay


Originally it was known as Blynesgate and Byllynsgate, and may have originated with a water gate on the Thames, where goods were landed, becoming Billingsgate Wharf, part of the London docks close to Lower Thames Street. Stow records that the market was a general market for corn, coal, iron, wine, salt, pottery, fish and miscellaneous goods until the 16th century, when neighbouring streets became a specialist fish market during the 16th and 17th centuries . The ward includes Pudding Lane, where in 1666, the Great Fire of London began. A sign was erected upon the house in which it began:''Here, by the permission of Heaven, hell broke loose upon this protestant city, from the malicious hearts of barbarous Papists, by the hand of their agent Hubert, who confessed, and on the ruins of this place declared the fact, for which he was hanged, viz. That here began the dreadful fire, which is described and perpetuated on and by the neighbouring pillar, erected Anno 1680, in the mayoralty of Sir Patience Ward, knight In 1849, the fish market was moved off the streets into its own riverside building, which was subsequently demolished (c. 1873) and replaced by an arcaded market hall (designed by City architect Horace Jones, built by John Mowlem) in 1875.
The ward contains the Customs House and the Watermen's Hall, built in 1780 and the only surviving Georgian guild hall. Centennium House in Lower Thames Street has Roman baths within their basement foundations.


The ward contains two churches St Mary-at-Hill and St Margaret Pattens , but another St George's Botolph Lane was demolished in 1904


Billingsgate is one of 25 wards in the City of London, each electing an Alderman, to the Court of Aldermen and Commoners (the City equivalent of a Councillor) to the Court of Common Council of the City of London Corporation. Only electors who are Freeman of the City of London are eligible to stand.

In Popular Culture

  • Billingsgate is referenced in the song 'Sister Suffragette' in the 1964 version of Mary Poppins.


External links


  • The City of London-a history Borer,M.I.C. : New York,D.McKay Co, 1978 ISBN 0094618801
  • Vanished churches of the City of London Huelin, G.: London, Guildhall Library Publishing 1996ISBN 0900422424.
  • The Churches of the City of London Reynolds,H London, Bodley Head, 1922*
  • A Survey of London, Vol I Stow,J p427 : Originally,1598: this edn-London, A.Fullarton & Co,1890
  • Wren Whinney,M London Thames & Hudson, 1971 ISBN 0500201129
Billingsgate in Hebrew: בילינגסגייט
Billingsgate in Dutch: Billingsgate
Billingsgate in Norwegian: Billingsgate
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