The oldest sense of circus is ‘a large building, surrounded with rising tiers of seats, for the exhibition of public spectacles’but, in this instance, it is simply a ‘circular open space at a street junction’.
King’s Cross St Pancras
This tube station services King’s Cross and St Pancras National Rail stations. The former is now perhaps best known for being Harry Potter’s entrance to Hogwarts, but the king in question is King George IV (who reigned 1820-1830), and the cross, a monument that was demolished in 1845. St Pancras was born around 289, and beheaded for his Christian faith when he was 14 years old.
It’s named after a former coaching inn on the Great North Road called the Angel, dating from the 17th century.
The most famous resident of Baker Street is, of course, Sherlock Holmes. You might think that it was named after a maker of cakes of pastries, but its namesake is actually William Baker, a builder who laid out the street in the second half of the 18th century.
Bank is named after the Bank of England. Incidentally, it was voted the most disliked tube station in 2013.
Canary Wharf takes its name from a warehouse, built for the Mediterranean and Canary Islands fruit trade.
This unusual name comes from the Old English ‘Hyneholt or ‘Henehout’ and means ‘wood belonging to a religious community’.
The lane is named after Hanger Hill. hanger comes from the Old English hangra, ‘a wood on a slope’.
This area owes its unusual name to a local inn. The Swiss Tavern, built in 1803-4, was in the style of a Swiss chalet – later renamed to the humbler Swiss Cottage.
It’s a historical term for a toll gate, though was originally a spiked barrier – thus a sense of pikemeaning ‘a spiked staff or stick’.