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Street Stories of London breathes life into the rich history of the capital

On Tuesday 16th June, for the first time in four hundred years, a game of “Paille Maille” will be played in the area that eventually led to the naming of the world famous Pall Mall in central London.

Taking place in the shadow of Buckingham Palace, the recreation event will be open to Londoners and visitors who will have a chance to play this historic game, enjoyed centuries ago by King Charles II when central London was still green fields.

This once Royal and upper class sporting pastime from the 17th century originated from the Italian pallamaglio, which literally means “ball-mallet” and was played in the area we now refer to as Pall Mall in St James’s Park.

Visit London’s Chief Executive Sally Chatterjee commented, “One of the things that makes London such a unique city is its rich history and heritage. Revealing the street stories of London and the re-enactment of Paille Maille we want to celebrate the unusual and world-famous heritage of London’s streets, bringing them back to life in a really fun and engaging way.“

The one-day recreation of Paille Maille is one of a part of a series celebrating the past, present and future of London during a month long “Story of London” festival.

Mayor of London Boris Johnson commented, “This is a rare opportunity for Londoners to take to the streets and have a go at a quintessentially English game of ‘Paille Maille’, an earlier version of the game fondly known as croquet. Discovering the delights of croquet and revelling in the history of our great city is a past time I wholeheartedly encourage.”

The unique recreation of “Paille Maille” is also part of Visit London’s Only in London campaign which aims to attract visitors to experience more in the capital. “Street Stories of London” will share London’s history by revealing the background to some of the capital’s best known highways and byways.

London historian Ed Glinert, says, “The history behind London’s street names is fascinating and continues to intrigue visitors from across the world. From Pall Mall’s royal sporting heritage to Piccadilly’s tailoring association, London is renowned as one of the most historical places in the world and this activity illustrates exactly why.”

Portobello, home to the world famous antiques market, was named to commemorate the capture of Puerto Bello in the Gulf of Mexico. The name of Knightsbridge is alleged to derive from the legend of two knights who once staged a duel on the bridge that spanned the river Westbourne. Pudding Lane comes from the entrails and organs (known as “puddings”) that would fall from carts as they came down the lane from the butchers in Eastcheap.

Notes to Editors

Paille Maille -
Through the ages, Paille Maille has passed through years and years of adaptations, including one version involving a lacrosse-style stick and a large round hoop placed at the far end of the Mall. A later, rather more sedate, version of Paille Maille involved equipment similar in style to that of which we now know as croquet or golf. The Paille Maille event will take place from 9am-4pm on Tuesday 16th June, in a specially turfed section of the Northhorse Ride section of the Mall.

Only In London -
Visit London’s ‘Only In London’ campaign was launched by the Mayor of London Boris Johnson at the end of April and will run for three months, promoting the unique and diverse experiences that our capital city has to offer. The campaign is funded by the London Development Agency and four central London boroughs - Camden, City of London, Kensington & Chelsea and Westminster - as well as the commercial sector. The campaign is expected to deliver £60m in economic benefit to the city.