We believe that - as we move our research into situations where it will be in dialogue with other datasets -  it is important to distinguish not only the "toponym" (place name) preferred by REED London Online, but also the ways in which a place functions within particular historical and cultural contexts. We share the list of terms below to explain our understanding of how London places appear in the REED London (and REED Online) records that provide context for performance in pre-modern London. These definitions are rooted in the Oxford English and Oxford American Dictionaries, and are as etymologically specific as possible to the time frame in which our work deals; where necessary definitions have been amended by REED. Amendations are indicated in the Source column. The examples listed are from records in our collections.

For a complete list of London places referred to in the records, please see REED London Online: Places Referred to in Records.

Please cite this work as follows:

Chung, Kathy K.Y., Diane K. Jakacki, Sally-Beth MacLean, and Illya Nokhrin. “How REED Defines London Places.” REED London Online, 2020. https://cwrc.ca/how-reed-defines-london-places.


Term REED Definition Source Examples


A level area in which sports, entertainments, and other public events are held. Includes cockpits, tiltyards, animal baiting arenas. New Oxford American Dictionary, 3rd ed. Amended. Bear Garden, Tiltyard at Whitehall
Bridge A structure forming or carrying a road, path, etc., which spans a body of water, a roadway, a valley, or some other obstacle or gap, and allows a person or vehicle to pass unimpeded over or across it. OED 1. Amended. London Bridge
Church A building for public Christian worship or rites such as baptism, marriage, etc., traditionally cruciform in shape, and typically having a tower, dome, or spire; distinguished originally from an oratory or place of private prayer. OED 1a. Westminster Abbey; Church of Christ Church Newgate Street; Church of St Martin Ludgate
Church house A house owned by a church; esp. a building next to a church, in which social events, meetings, etc., connected with the church are held; a church hall.  OED  
County An administrative division of England, Scotland, Wales, and Ireland OED 1. Surrey, Sussex, Middlesex
Gate An opening in a wall, made for the purpose of entrance and exit, and capable of being closed by a movable barrier, the existence of which is usually implied; said with reference to a city or other enclosure, or the enclosure-wall of a large building, formerly also to the building itself, where door or doors is now commonly employed. OED 1. Aldgate, Bishopsgate, Cripplegate
Guildhall The hall in which a guild met. From its use as a meeting-place for the town and corporation often synonymous with ‘town-hall’ OED Bakers' Hall, Merchant Taylors' Hall
Hospital A house or hostel for the reception and entertainment of pilgrims, travellers, and strangers; a hospice. Hence, one of the establishments of the Knights Hospitallers. or an institution or establishment for the care of the sick or wounded, or of those who require medical treatment. OED 1 and 3. Bethlehem Hospital
Inn of court The four sets of buildings in London (the Inner Temple, the Middle Temple, Lincoln's Inn, and Gray's Inn) belonging to the four legal societies which have the exclusive right of admitting persons to practise at the bar, and hold a course of instruction and examination for that purpose; hence, these four societies themselves. OED 5c. Inner Temple, Middle Temple, Lincoln's Inn, Gray's Inn
Liberty (a) An area of local administration distinct from neighbouring territory and possessing a degree of independence. In extended use: a precinct, a domain. Also in plural in same sense. (b) The district outside a city over which its jurisdiction extends. Also in plural in same sense. OED 6c. Clink, St Bartholomew's Hospital, Tower of London
Manor An estate of a lord, including both the land and the manor house or mansion; a landed possession.
Note: Manor houses themselves are categorized as "residences" and may have different names from the manor itself. If the name is the same, then the manor house name is capitalized (eg, Holcombe Burnell Manor)
OED 1. Emphasis and note added. Paris Garden manor
Open area An open space, often with poorly defined boundaries, such as a field, park, forest, market, etc OED "area" 1. Finsbury Fields, Lambeth Marsh, Lincoln's Inn Fields, Smithfield Market, Covent Garden
Parish An area or district having its own priest, vicar, or other incumbent under the jurisdiction of a bishop (to whom tithes and ecclesiastical dues were formally paid); a territorial subdivision of a diocese. The smallest unit of local government in many rural areas.The existing ecclesiastical parishes were adopted by the Tudor state for civil purposes in a series of legislative measures beginning in the 1530s. These involved the parish having local responsibility for vital registration, highways, militia matters, and, above all, poor relief, roles which were largely retained until the 1830s.  OED 2a. and 3a. Amended. St Saviour Southwark, All Hollows Bread Street, St Margaret Fish Street
Place of punishment A building or other location where people are disciplined for a crime or other offence, where people are held while awaiting trial, or where people are incarcerated. OED "prison" 1b. Significantly amended. Marshalsea Prison, Newgate prison, Tower Hill, Tyburn, Poultry Compter
Playhouse An edifice specially adapted to dramatic representations OED "theatre" 2a. Rose Playhouse, Fortune Playhouse, Theatre playhouse
Property A piece of land under one ownership. Sometimes a landed estate. OED 3c. Slightly amended. Little Rose property, the Unicorn
Religious house A house or building inhabited by a religious order; an abbey, monastery, convent, etc.; places where the religious orders lived and includes: priories, friaries, monasteries, nunneries, etc. OED. amended Charterhouse, Holywell Priory
Residence The place where a person resides; the dwelling place or home of a person (esp. one of some rank or distinction). OED 4a. Hampton Court, Tower of London, St. James' Palace, Bishop of Winchester's palace
School An establishment or institution for the formal education of children or young people. Includes colleges and universities as well as grammar schools, primary schools etc. OED 5a. Amended. Westminster Grammar School, Eton, Trinity College Cambridge, St Paul's School
Settlement A collection of dwelling-houses and other buildings identified as a single geo-political or administrative unit (such as a town or city). OED "village" 1a and TEI def of settlement. Amended. London (more broadly recognized)
Street A path or way between different places, or leading to some place (including lanes, alleys, roads) OED "road" 4a. Fleet Street, Rose Alley, Watling Street
Victualling house A house where victuals are supplied or sold; an eating-house, inn, or tavern OED. Bell and Cock Inn, Boar's Head Inn
Ward An administrative division of a borough or city; originally, a district under the jurisdiction of an alderman. Also, the people of such a district collectively.In Anglo-Latin documents the wards (wardæ) of London are mentioned by that name from the 12th cent., sometimes designated by the name of the alderman and sometimes by their locality. OED 19a. Bridge Ward Without in Southwark
Water feature A body or mass of standing or flowing water (natural or artificial), irrespective of size or type; a sea, lake, river, etc. River Thames, Great Conduit, Skinner's Well OED "water" 11a. Amended.


This list of definitions was compiled in collaboration between REED London Online and REED researchers: Kathy Chung, John Craig, Diane Jakacki, Sally-Beth MacLean, Rachel Milio, Byron Moldofsky, and Illya Nokhrin.

Further research was undertaken in consultation with Carolyn Black, Susan Brown, James Cummings, Matthew Davies, Mihaela Ilovan, Janelle Jenstad, and Kim Martin.

See Sally-Beth MacLean's edited REED Rose Playhouse prototype collection for a mapping visualization of London places.