Holborn

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Coordinates: 51°31′02″N 0°07′06″W / 51.5172°N 0.1182°W / 51.5172; -0.1182

Holborn (pronounced /ˈhoʊbɚn/ HOE-bərn)[a] is an area of Central London, England. Holborn is also the name of the area's principal east-west street, running as High Holborn from St Giles's High Street to Gray's Inn Road (the junction being roughly where Holborn Bar — the entrance to the City of London — was) and then on to Holborn Viaduct. The street since boundary changes in 1994 runs along the boundary between the London Borough of Camden and the City of London; previously the boundary was less obvious in the area and crossed the street at Holborn Bar.

Contents

History

Toponymy

The area's first mention is in a charter of Westminster Abbey, by King Edgar, dated to 959. This mentions "the old wooden church of St Andrew" (St Andrew, Holborn).[1] The name Holborn may be derived from the Middle English "hol" for hollow, and bourne, a brook, referring to the River Fleet as it ran through a steep valley to the east.[1][2] Historical cartographer William Shepherd in his Plan of London about 1300 labels the Fleet as "Hole Bourn" where it passes to the east of St Andrew's church.[3] However, the 16th century historian John Stow attributes the name to the Old Bourne ("old brook"), a small stream which he believed ran into the Fleet at Holborn Bridge, a structure lost when the river was culverted in 1732. The exact course of the stream is uncertain, but according to Stow it started in one of the many small springs near Holborn Bar, the old City toll gate on the summit of Holborn Hill.[2][4] Other historians, however, find the theory implausible, in view of the slope of the land.[5]

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