The Great Fire of London started on September 2, 1666 from Thomas Farriner’s bakery on Pudding Lane. The fire burned down about 85 percent of medieval London. Although there were only six recorded deaths during the four-day inferno, it is believed that many more victims went unrecorded, and some of their remains were cremated in the overwhelming, devastating heat. About a decade after the fire, a 202 feet-tall Doric column commemorating the accident was built 202 feet away from Farriner’s bakery, today known simply as the Monument.
But the significance of Pudding Lane is not limited to its connection to the 1666 fire. It was one of the first one-way streets in London, after a 1617 decree to regulate cart traffic near the Thames; Pudding Lane was one of 16 alleys designated to move traffic in a single direction. It was not until 1800 that one-way traffic was brought back to the City of London on Albemarle Street, and the concept soon spread more widely.
Much like other food-themed street names in London, from Milk Street to Honey Lane, Stew Lane to Shoulder of Mutton Alley, Pudding Lane’s name comes from the wares that could be found on the street. While it may be reminiscent of sweet, creamy desserts to those who are not familiar with medieval and traditional British cuisine, the word “pudding” is not a reference to the merchandise of bakeries and patisseries, but to butchers’ offal, or animal guts.
Etymology-wise, pudding ultimately derives from Old French boudin (“blood sausage”) and in the Middle Ages, pudding was mainly made from blood and guts. According to the 16th-century chronicler John Stow, the area surrounding Pudding Lane used to be a prominent meat district in the olden days, and the butchers of Eastcheap would throw offal from the high windows of their buildings and from carts heading for the waste barges on the Thames.