Elephant & Castle (1910)

Image dated 2015

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Photo taken in a southerly direction · Elephant and Castle · SE1 ·
December
24
2013

The Elephant and Castle is a major road junction and the name of the surrounding area, largely superseding the name Newington.

Elephant & Castle, 1910.
Famous former residents include Charlie Chaplin and Michael Caine, who were born and grew up locally.

In the medieval period it was part of rural Surrey, in the manor of Walworth. The parish was called St Mary, Newington, which church occupied the southwest side of today's southern roundabout, near the Tabernacle, and was first recorded by name in 1222.

St Mary's Church was rebuilt in 1720 and completely replaced in 1790, to a design of Francis Hurlbatt. Within another hundred years this too was to be demolished, with its replacement on Kennington Park Road ready in 1876. It was destroyed in 1940 by enemy action. The remains of the tower and an arch were incorporated into its replacement of 1958. The open space is still known as St Mary's Churchyard, and the narrow pedestrian walk at its south end is Churchyard Row.

The name Elephant and Castle is derived from a coaching inn. The earliest surviving record of this name relating to the area is in the Court Leet Book of the Manor of Walworth, which met at "Elephant and Castle, Newington" on 21 March 1765. Previously the site was occupied by a blacksmith and cutler - the coat of arms of the Worshipful Company of Cutlers features an elephant with a castle (possibly meant to be a howdah) on its back, which in turn was used because of the use of elephant ivory in handles.


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Elephant & Castle, 1910.
User unknown/public domain


 

Elephant and Castle

Elephant and Castle is one of five London tube stations named after a pub.

One thing Elephant and Castle is not named after is 'La Infanta de Castilla', seemingly referring to a series of Spanish princesses such as Eleanor of Castile and María, the daughter of Philip III of Spain. However, Eleanor of Castile was not an infanta - the term only appeared in English about 1600. María has a strong British connection because she was once controversially engaged to Charles I, but she had no connection with Castile. Infanta de Castilla therefore seems to be a conflation of two Iberian royals separated by 300 years.

Regardless, the pub of that name gave its name to the station, and in turn the station to the nearby area - originally called Newington.

Elephant & Castle tube station is on the Bank branch of the Northern Line between Kennington and Borough, and is the southern terminus of the Bakerloo Line.

The station was built in two stages. The Northern Line station opened on 18 December 1890 as part of the first deep-level tube, the City & South London Railway (C&SLR). The Baker Street & Waterloo Railway (BS&WR) station opened on 5 August 1906, five months after the rest of the line. Although belonging to separate companies, the platforms were connected below ground from 10 August 1906.

The first baby to be born on the underground was born at the station in 1924. Press reports claimed that she had been named Thelma Ursula Beatrice Eleanor (so that her initials would have read T.U.B.E.) but this story later proved false, and she was named Marie Cordery. Elephant and Castle seems to specialise in names which prove false!
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