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TOUR OF THE MONTH
ON THIS DAY IN LONDON
The Elephant and Castle Story
The real story of why the Elephant and Castle are thus named.
Location: Elephant and Castle, Southwark, London
Description: There are many ideas of where the name Elephant and Castle comes from about on the Internet.
The most plausible is the most wrong, that it's from a corruption of la Infanta de Castile referring to any of a number of Spanish princesses connected to English history including Eleanor of Castile, Catherine of Aragon, and Maria, daughter of Philip III of Spain.
The second is that it's from the name of a pub (oldest records date to 1765), which places the pub in the same position as the area - where did they both get the name from?
Author John Timbs documents the story from the 21st March 1661, repeated from a pamphlet printed at the time and now in the British Library.
Some was standing on old London Bridge and saw a vision in the clouds of an Elephant with a Castle on it's back. Now, those times it was common place that if someone saw a vision then crowds flocked, in fact the author of The History of the Great Plague tells us that he was in danger from a crowd in St Giles, because he could not see an angel in the air holding a drawn sword in his hand.
This story almost certainly, once documented in rare written form, became famous in London, and pubs (as was the wont) were named after such things.
Tagged in this Tour: Weird photo ops
Tagged in this Tour: unique tour