Hidden Kings: In Search Of London’s Concealed Monarchs

Historians yesterday confirmed the tragic death of Richard of Gloucester. A 556 year old Welshman was said to be helping police with their enquiries. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

A rare piece of breaking news from the 15th century emerged yesterday, with confirmation that the bones of King Richard III had been found under a Leicester car park. We at Londonist sincerely hope that this will mean the media finally reassesses its persistently pro-Tudor bias.

Monarchs disguised by concrete and tarmac, though, are not as unusual as one might think. In fact, after a few moments with an A to Z and our copy of Brewers, we think we’ve identified no fewer than eight: in chronological order, Harold II, Henry IV, Henry VII, Charles II, George I, George IV, Victoria and Edward VII.

All of these are referred to (sometimes cryptically) in the names of at least one place name somewhere in London. And just to make things difficult, we’re only counting those that are at least semi-disguised: so no King William IV pubs, no George V playing field, and absolutely no Victoria. To reveal one solution, George I can claim Hanover Square in Mayfair, which was named after his ancestral home, upon his ascension to the British throne.

So, can you find our other hidden kings? First to identify all eight wins a vague sense of smugness, and perhaps a postcard of Leicester.

Feel free to suggest other monarchs hidden in the landscape, in the comments below.

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  • Mark Mason, @walkthelinesldn

    Victoria could be either Queensway or Lancaster Gate (she was the Duke of Lancaster, as all reigning monarchs are, irrespective of sex)

    • http://twitter.com/jonnelledge Jonn Elledge

      I was going with Queensway. Didn’t know the Lancaster thing – that’s interesting, ta

  • http://www.theimportanceofbeingtrivial.com/ Mark Mason, @walkthelinesldn

    Mark Mason, @walkthelinesldn
    Victoria could be either Queensway or Lancaster Gate (she was the Duke of
    Lancaster, as all reigning monarchs are, irrespective of sex)

  • Kerry

    Henry VII could be any of the Richmonds. Lancaster Gate could be Henry IV as well – he was duke of Lancaster before he deposed Richard II, and is the one who joined the duchy with the crown.

    • http://twitter.com/jonnelledge Jonn Elledge

      I think it’s fair to say Richmond is named for Henry VII, as it was named for his palace there. (Prior to that it was Sheen.)

  • Kerry

    There’s a Godwin Ct. in NW1 according to Google Maps (yeah, cheating), which could be Harold II (Godwinson).

    The (interesting to me) thing is, so many monarchs were also dukes of this and that, there are loads of place names with royal connections even if they aren’t directly royal – to pick a run of three kings, Edward IV was duke of York, Richard III was duke of Gloucester and Henry VII was earl of Richmond, and a Tudor (grandfather), a Beaufort (mother) and a Stanley (father). All these names are those of wealthy noble families so it’s a good bet they’re all over the capital. And then – is “York Way” named after the duke of York, or because it’s the road to York? Does it count if it’s a coincidence?


    King George V Playing Fields are just to the south of Barnet FC in Barnet Lane, Barnet, Herts.