Originally Aldersgate Street was only the section starting from the church of St Botolph without Aldersgate towards Long Lane
. The portion of the road from Long Lane
to Goswell Street (after 1864 Goswell Road
) was formerly named Pickax Street. This name may derive from Pickt Hatch
, an area of brothels said to be in this part of London during the Elizabethan era.
Pick Hatch is mentioned in The Merry Wives of Windsor ("Goe … to your Mannor of Pickt-hatch") and in The Alchemist ("The decay’d Vestalls of Pickt-hatch"). By the late eighteenth century the name Pickax was no more in use, and the road was fully incorporated into Aldersgate Street.
Underground station is located on Aldersgate Street and when it was opened in 1865 was named Aldersgate Street tube station. In 1910 it was renamed Aldersgate, then Aldersgate & Barbican
in 1924, before finally being renamed Barbican
28 Aldersgate Street is the approximate former location of a Moravian Church. On 24 May 1738, attending a meeting at the church, the clergyman John Wesley
underwent a profound religious experience. The following year, he broke with the Moravians and founded the Methodist Society of England. The yearly anniversary of his experience is celebrated by Methodists as Aldersgate Day. Wesley
’s Chapel, in nearby City Road
, remains a major focal point of the worldwide Methodist movement.
The poet Thomas Flatman was born in a house in Aldersgate Street in 1633. As with most historic buildings on this stretch of road, the building no longer stands. At Nos. 35-38 stood Shaftesbury House, built around 1644 by Inigo Jones. It was demolished in 1882.
No. 134 for many years had a sign claiming: "This was Shakespeare’s House". Although the building was very close to the nearby Fortune Playhouse
, there is no documentary evidence surviving to indicate that Shakespeare resided here; a subsidy roll from 1598 shows a "William Shakespeare" as owner of the property, but there is nothing to indicate that it is the playwright. The building no longer exists, and Barbican
station now occupies the site. The nearby Shakespeare Tower is named for this (tenuous) connection.