Gwynne Street - 'The phantom horse'
This street is a narrow old road which leads from the City's cathedral to the Old Wye bridge. The street was made as a shortcut from the cathedral to the new bridge, a passage from Bridge street to Gwynne street was found. There was an Inn which was nearby to the street as the street was used as stables. There was also a 13th century ditch that was found near Gwynne street.
Originally named Pipewell lane the road is locally famous for , and known to many locals as the birthplace of Nell Gwyn. Nell was born in the year of 1650 in a house on this street hence its name is Gwynne Street. When Nell was an infant , Nell and her elder sister Rose were moved to London by their mother Elen, Elen was always drunk on brandy and money was tight within the family, Nell and her family moved to Coal Yard Alley which was a squalid slum on the east side of Drury Lane.
When Nell reached her early teenage years she began making a small amount of money by selling oranges outside the well known Theatre Royal which is today's Drury Lane Theatre and shortly after this when the Royal Playhouse opened in 1663 Nell became a successful actress at the age of fourteen and people flocked to 'The King's House 'and the Theatre Royal which is now our present 'Drury Lane' to see Nell act in plays and comedy roles.
Nell was always known as the orange girl but she soon had a admirer when she became an actress and that was King Charles II, she first met Charles at the Dukes House theatre, the feeling was mutual as witty Nell became the King's mistress, two years later she proudly gave birth to their first child in 1670 , her son Charles later grew up to be the Duke Of St. Albans.
In 1671 Nell decided to retire from the stage and also in this year she gave birth to their second son James who sadly died in Paris at the tender age of nine, Charles became fatally ill and whilst lying on his deathbed he begged his brother and James'Please do not let poor Nelly starve', soon later King Charles II died.
Two years after Charles's death Nell was suddenly taken down seriously ill with apoplexy, part of her body was completely paralysed and she was getting weaker and weaker by the day, Nell died at the young age of thirty seven on November 14th 1687 of at her home and she left a large amount of her estate to her son James.
There is only one really known ghostly tale associated with this street , the mysterious phantom man on horseback. On a warm evening in June 1945 a family was walking down this street and all of a sudden to their surprise they saw a mist in the air which floated quickly past them , as the mist moved away they heard the sound of horse's hooves clattering.soon after the mist formed into a man on horseback , they described him wearing a large hat with an attached feather and a long cape, the apparition disappeared through the wall at the end of the street. Many people believe it to be the ghost of Nell Gwyne's lover King Charles who was looking for Nell.
Sadly Nell Gwynne's house was demolished in 1858 and all that stands there today is a remembrance plaque on the large stone wall where the house originally stood. Gwynne street is not the only remembrance of Nell Gwyne, there is also a public house in Hereford named after her and on the pub sign there is a picture of Nell with a basket of oranges, Nell also has many other public houses named after her in various places across the country.