48 – Gropecunt Lane

I’m hoping the Title Gropecunt Lane intrigues you a little 🙂 yes the phrase could be deemed offensive however my intention isn’t to be distasteful or rude. So with good taste in mind I’d like to share with you the existence of a little known Oxford City street called Gropecunt Lane, incidentally visit Oxford as a tourist and I doubt grope-a-cunt lane’ will be included on any medieval tourist walking tour!

cunt – noun – vulgar slang  a woman’s genitals (vulva, first described in 1230)

grope – noun  an act of fondling someone for sexual pleasure

A question. You may have guessed the words grope, cunt and an Oxford city street named Gropecunt Lane could be connected, and if I was to add during medieval times street names reflected the shops and economic activities therein you’ll have guessed where I’m heading, btw makes sense don’t you think, visit Baker Street for bread and cakes visit grope-a-cunt-lane for sexual favours……prostitutes!

Hold on before you leave, this isn’t Andrew being his usual tacky sordid and tawdry self!

Seven hundred years ago, the City of Oxford (England) possessed its very own ‘Red Light district’ a city centre street named Gropecunt Lane now rather disappointingly called Magpie Lane, bloody liberal do gooders, what an earth’s wrong with Gropecunt Lane?

We all understand prostitution is the oldest job in the world right? Whether it be medieval England alleyways, Roman brothels or American whore houses in cowboy times, prostitutes sold the use of their vagina’s for sexual pleasure in exchange for money.

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1. Magpie Lane entrance from High Street

I’ll refer to the alleyway above by it’s true historical name and not as you can see Magpie Lane, incidentally and not at all surprising many Cities across the length and breadth of England (I guess same as now) had their very own Gropecunt Lane, absolutely true but all are renamed or redeveloped.

If you’re ever staying in Oxford and would like to visit or take a leisurely stroll down this narrow Lane, walk a couple of hundred yards along Oxford’s High Street from the City Centre end and keep your eye out for a non descript easily miscible narrow alleyway pictured in the photograph above, incidentally I took all these photographs yesterday lunch time.

Office workers and shoppers will pass the Lane everyday no doubt unaware of its historical significance, totally oblivious centuries earlier women working as prostitutes frequented Gropecunt Lane, not me though I find the fact ‘ladies of the Night’ plied their trade there absolutely fascinating. Yesterday I could just imagine women lent against the great wall, lifting a skirt hem for the price a couple of groats and giving medieval punters a ‘knee trembler’, sounds romantic doesn’t it, I’d guess the sex lasted seconds leaving him with syphilis.

A fact I find even MORE intriguing, Gropecunt Lane connects St. Mary’s Church at the High Street entrance with Merton College at the opposite end, I wonder how many University students frequented the area? And I’m intrigued as to why the alleyway joins a Church to a College? Hmm makes you wonder!

As usual with all my posts I’ve filmed video at the same time as taking these photographs then uploaded via the wonders of WMM onto my YouTube channel. Look closely at the stone wall left of entrance and I’m told the structure is likely to be original as is the majority of medieval Oxford.

Quite evocative don’t you think? Yes I know many of the buildings have been replaced but I believe the shops on the right are quite a few centuries old and to the city planners credit they kept the thoroughfare intact, close your eyes, imagine and you can just make out the shadowy huddled figures of medieval hookers lent against the wall.

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2. Magpie Lane entrance from High Street

WordPress bloggers with a passion adore the English Language, many writers will have their own treasured and well thumbed thesaurus and dictionaries to hand, so I’m curious don’t you find the fact grope and cunt are still used in our spoken language today absolutely incredible, and 700 years on both still define a ‘vulva’ and a ‘fondling for sexual pleasure’……you have to admit usage apart that fact is pretty impressive!

And how long has Google been in existence? Eleven years?

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3. A little further into the Lane

 

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4. Halfway looking towards Merton College in the distance

 

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5. Entrance walking from Merton College end. High Street in the distance. Original wall to the left

 

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6. Again Merton College entrance

 

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7. Looking towards the narrowing exit on to High Street

…..look closely at the yellow sandstone building in the distance…..St. Mary’s Church!

There you are! A very brief Oxford history lesson and what a truly wonderful phrase, grope-a-cunt-lane!

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Oxford Street map 1574, find St. Mary’s on the High Street and opposite is Gropecunt Lane

© Andrew

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6 thoughts on “48 – Gropecunt Lane

  1. “Claustrophobic” was my first reaction to these photos. The buildings are absolutely majestic, but there is no way that I would enter that narrow passage to the womb. Used to open spaces, you see? So, whatever you call the lane these days, I will have to miss out on the groping.

    Liked by 1 person

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