Our school at UIC is in Mortimer Street, just off Regent Street in the centre of London. When we think about central London, we generally imagine two parts; The West End and The City. We are in the West End, that’s where the theatres, museums, opera houses, cinemas, restaurants and fashion shops are. The City, the older part of London, is the banking and financial district.
So, the West End is the fun bit and a lot of the roads were laid out in the late seventeenth century when England reintroduced the monarchy ( having a king) after 10 years of rule by parliament. Parliament more or less made fun against the law; even football was banned! When the king, Charles II, came back, the country and the king himself were determined to have fun. Music, dancing and art were back.
Many of the great families and rich merchants and bankers wanted to have houses around here as well as their big country house.
Mortimer Street was named after the earls of March in East Anglia whose family name was Mortimer. They were a very powerful family in the court of the kings through to about 1800 and were rewarded for their loyal service with the name of this street.
However, at one time the Mortimer family could have taken the throne and become Kings of England. In 1385, Mortimer was named the heir to the throne ( next king) after the present king; Richard II who had no children. Unfortunately, Mortimer died in 1398 and his son was only 6. The next year Richard II was pushed off the throne by a rival who became Henry IV.
So the son was kept prisoner in a country house by the new king but treated well. Then, in 1405, he was liberated by his uncle who raised an army against Henry IV. They lost. The boy went back to his very comfortable prison but he became friends with the King’s son and later fought with him in his many battles against the French.
So, next time you’re in London, remember there’s a story for every street.