48 – Gropecunt Lane

I’m hoping the¬†Title Gropecunt Lane intrigues you a little ūüôā 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 Рnoun  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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