Gibbon’s Rents

Above: Exotic plants brightening up an otherwise drab footpath.

Inner London has an amazingly diverse collection of street names. Having said that, there are plenty of very unusual street names in many other parts of England. In the town of Sandwich, in Kent, there is even a street called ‘No Name Street’. A word that is to be found in just a few streets in London is ‘Rents’. Throughout history, there have been many streets or alleyways with the word ‘Rents’ in them. There was once a ‘Drew’s Rents’ on Bankside, Southwark.

Only four streets or alleyways remain today with the word ‘Rents’ in the name. The word relates to land beside the street or alley where there was usually housing where people paid rent to live. The property was therefore known as ‘Rents’.

Baker’s Rents – a short cul-de-sac running south off Hackney Road, a short distance NE of St Leonard, Shoreditch.

Chichester Rents – an alleyway off Chancery Lane. Formerly a street of rented houses leading to the palace of Ralph Harris, Bishop of Chichester in the 13th century.

Gibbon’s Rents – an alleyway off the south side of Magdalen Street, linking through to Holyrood Street. Magdalen Street is a small side street off the south side of Tooley Street, Bermondsey. Gibbon’s Rents was probably named after the owner whose surname was Gibbon or Gibbons.

Randall’s Rents – a pathway leading from the south end of Odessa Street, in Rotherhithe, to the riverside walkway beside the Thames, near Greenland Dock.

Wild’s Rents – a street off the south side of Long Lane, Bermondsey.

The subject of this article is Gibbon’s Rents which is in the form of a winding footpath which used to be rather narrow and uninteresting. A few years ago, those who worked in the nearby offices decided to turn it into a ‘mini garden’ by adding small trees, shrubs and flowers all grown in large tubs. The effect has been to create a place of tranquility and beauty out of the most unlikely location. It is to be hoped that those responsible for other pedestrian walkways will take note and add more foliage and colourful flowers to their location as well. This narrow path is so tucked away that few people are likely to find it by accident. Now that you know where it is situated, why not take a detour and walk through the footpath. It is surprising what can be achieved with some determination and a little imagination. You can never have too many plants in an urban setting.


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4 Responses to Gibbon’s Rents

  1. I thoroughly agree with your last sentence – and it’s great to see what has been done here. Planting trees and shrubs on streets where there’s space to do so makes a significant difference, in perception at least, of noise and heat.

    PS One other passage in London that I’m aware of is Greenhill Rents near Farringdon station, solely because I had a client based three many years ago.


  2. Robert says:

    I saw it when walking in E2. But I would like to add Bakers Rent to the list. It’s real and does exist.


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