Cock Lane (Dickens-era site), London

Cock Lane (Dickens-era site), London

This narrow street within the City of London likely derived its name from its historical association with cockfighting, a popular sport during the 17th and 18th centuries. In earlier times, during the Middle Ages, the street was called Cokkes Lane and and was known for hosting legal brothels. In 1762, 25 Cock Lane became infamous as the site of a well-known fake supernatural occurrence, famously referred to as the "Cock Lane Ghost", a term later used generically for fictional ghost stories.

Charles Dickens, who had a fascination with ghosts, likely influenced by his childhood nursemaid Mary Weller, made references to the Cock Lane Ghost in some of his works in "Nicholas Nickleby", as Mrs. Nickleby, one of the novel's lead characters and a source of much of its comic relief, claims that her great-grandfather "went to school with the Cock-lane Ghost" and that she knew "the master of his school was a Dissenter, and that would in a great measure account for the Cock-lane Ghost's behaving in such an improper manner to the clergyman when he grew up." Dickens also briefly alluded to the ghost in "Dombey and Son" and "A Tale of Two Cities", where Jerry Cruncher of Tellson's Bank moonlights as a body snatcher.

Aside from the ghost, Cock Lane had another claim to fame: it marked the stopping point of the Great Fire in 1666, where it intersected with Giltspur Street, formerly known as Pye Corner. This historic event is now commemorated by the Golden Boy of Pye Corner.

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Cock Lane (Dickens-era site) on Map

Sight Name: Cock Lane (Dickens-era site)
Sight Location: London, England (See walking tours in London)
Sight Type: Attraction/Landmark
Guide(s) Containing This Sight:

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