The name of this narrow throughfare in the City of London has nothing to do with anger. Rather the moniker comes from an old English word meaning ‘full of chaff’ – ‘sifethen’.
The reference relates to the presence of corn market which in medieval times was located nearby in Fenchurch street. The chaff apparently blew down from the market to the laneway. Hence ‘Sifethen’ or ‘Seething’ Lane.
The lane, which runs north-south from the junction of Hart St and Crutched Friars to Byward Street, is famous for being the former location of the Navy Office. Built here in the 1650s, it was where diarist Samuel Pepys worked when appointed Clerk of the Acts of the Navy.
Pepys, who later became Secretary of the Admiralty, was given a house in the lane. The church where he worshipped, St Olave, Hart Street, is still located at the north end of the lane.
Having survived the Great Fire of London in 1666, the Navy Office burnt down in 1673 and was rebuilt soon after to the designs or Sir Christopher Wren or Robert Hooke. It was eventually demolished in 1788 when the office moved to Somerset House.
There’s a now a recently redeveloped garden where the Navy Office once stood in which can be found a bust of Pepys. The work of late British sculptor Karin Jonzen, it was first placed in an earlier garden on the site by the Pepys Society in 1983.
The garden, which is now part of the Trinity Square development, also features an English Heritage Blue Plaque commemorating the Navy Office and a series of scenes carved into stone by Alan Lamb depicting scenes from Pepys’ life and diaries.
All Hallows-by-the-Tower stands at the south end of the partly pedestrianised street.
PICTURE: Top – Google Maps (image lightened); Right – The bust of Samuel Pepys in the Seething Lane Gardens (Dave Bonta/licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0)
2 thoughts on “What’s in a name?…Seething Lane…”
My grandma pearl ruby fay is a descendant of the late Samuel Pepys and when she was alive she received rent from land belonging to Samuel Pepys from what I’ve was told the land has a government building on it to which they payed rent to my grandma since my grandma has passed away how would I be able to find out
The lane certainly deserves its Samuel Pepys sculpture, since this is where the Navy Office was in the 1650s when Pepys worked there. Actually I am more impressed with him being GIVEN a house in the lane when he became Secretary of the Admiralty. I was a public servant for a long time and I got a free lunch every Christmas.
Did he also have a marked pew in St Olave Church?