infobox UK place
official_name= Ward of Billingsgate
map_type= Greater London
country= England
region= London
london_borough= City of London
latitude= 51.50864
longitude= -0.08205
os_grid_reference= TQ332806
post_town= LONDON
postcode_area= EC
postcode_district= EC3
dial_code= 020
constituency_westminster = Cities of London and Westminster

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" [Spelling was not standardised until much later (Borer)] , 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 [ History of Billingsgate] accessed 21 May 2007] . By the 16th century, most merchant vessels had become too large to pass London Bridge and Billingsgate, with its deeply recessed harbour, replaced Queenhithe as the most important landing-place in the City.

The ward includes Pudding Lane [Derived the name from the butchers in Eastcheap "having their scalding house for hogs there; and their puddings with other filth being conveyed thence down to their dung boats in the Thames" (Stow).] , where in 1666, the Great Fire of London began [ 'Book 2, Ch. 7: Billingsgate Ward', A New History of London: Including Westminster and Southwark (1773), pp. 551-53] accessed: 21 May 2007] . A sign was erected upon the house in which it began:quotation
"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."

After the Great Fire of London, arcaded shops and stalls lined the west side of the harbour and at its head lay an open market-square known as 'Roomland'.

Fish market

Billingsgate Fish Market was formally established by an Act of Parliament in 1699 to be "a free and open market for all sorts of fish whatsoever". [cite journal | month = January | year = 2005 | title = Lox, Stock and Barrel | author = Billie Cohen | journal = National Geographic Magazine ] Oranges, lemons, and Spanish onions were also landed there, alongside the other main commodities, coal and salt. 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.

In 1982, the fish market was relocated to a new building close to Canary Wharf in east London. The original riverside market hall building was then refurbished (by architect Lord Rogers) to provide office accommodation.

The raucous cries of the fish vendors gave rise to "billingsgate" as a synonym for profanity or offensive language [ [ "Word of the Day Archive - Monday June 12, 2006"] accessed 21 May 2007] .

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 [Built by Wren, but gutted in 1941(Whinney)] and St Margaret Pattens [So called after the templates that were used by the clogmakers of the district(Reynolds)] , but another St George's Botolph Lane was demolished in 1904 [As the resident population of the area declined(Huelin).]


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

*Edmund Blackadder, Lord Blackadder, the titular hero of "Blackadder II", resided in Billingsgate.

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


External links

* [ Ward Constable profile]
* [ Ward Newsletter]
* [ map]
* [ Ward Club]
* [ Map of Early Modern London: Billingsgate Ward] - Historical Map and Encyclopedia of Shakespeare's London (Scholarly)


*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

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  • billingsgate — 1670s, the kind of coarse, abusive language once used by women in the Billingsgate market on the River Thames below London Bridge. Billingsgate is the market where the fishwomen assemble to purchase fish; and where, in their dealings and disputes …   Etymology dictionary

  • Billingsgate — Bil lings*gate , n. 1. A market near the Billings gate in London, celebrated for fish and foul language. [1913 Webster] 2. Coarsely abusive, foul, or profane language; vituperation; ribaldry. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • billingsgate — index profanity, revilement Burton s Legal Thesaurus. William C. Burton. 2006 …   Law dictionary

  • billingsgate — scurrility, vituperation, *abuse, invective, obloquy …   New Dictionary of Synonyms

  • billingsgate — [bil′iŋz gāt΄, bil′iŋzgit] n. [after a London fish market, notorious for foul language] foul, vulgar, abusive talk …   English World dictionary

  • Billingsgate —    This name has been variously used to designate : one of the City gates, a port or quay on the Thames, one of the principal City markets.    It seems probable, and recent discoveries tend to confirm the view, that in early times the City was… …   Dictionary of London

  • billingsgate — /bil ingz gayt / or, esp. Brit., / git/, n. coarsely or vulgarly abusive language. [1645 55; orig. the kind of speech often heard at Billingsgate, a London fish market at the gate of the same name] Syn. vituperation, vilification, invective,… …   Universalium

  • Billingsgate —    foul language    The language was once used by the women sellers of fish, rather than by the male porters, in the London market which was closed in 1982. According to Dryden , Parnassus spoke the cant of Billingsgate , and in modern use:     …   How not to say what you mean: A dictionary of euphemisms

  • billingsgate — noun Etymology: Billingsgate, old gate and fish market, London, England Date: 1652 coarsely abusive language Synonyms: see abuse …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • billingsgate — noun profane, abusive language; coarse words You wouldnt have believed the billingsgate which poured forth from that boys mouth …   Wiktionary

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