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Why is it called "Scotland Yard"?

The original headquarters of the Metropolitan Police was a house at 4 Whitehall Place, not far from Trafalgar Square, but the rear entrance, which the public used, was in Scotland Yard.   Great Scotland Yard still exists as a street today, and the building is used as stables for some of the Metropolitan Police Mounted Branch.

Sixteenth century maps of London show part of the land to the east of present day Whitehall as "Scotland" or "Scotland Yard".   This is linked to the royal palace, built by Cardinal Wolsey on land given to him in 1519, which once stood at the South end of Kinges Streate (ie modern Whitehall).   At one time the land was divided into Great Scotland Yard, Middle Scotland Yard and Little Scotland Yard.   Many of the buildings there were leased to private buildings or occupied by the Office of Works attached to the Palace of Whitehall.   At one time Sir Christopher Wren occupied apartments there.

The land may originally have been given by the Saxon King Edgar to King Kenneth III of Scotland for accommodation for his annual journey "to do homage for his kingdom of Scotland" and then later used by the Scottish kings when they came to do homage, as barons of the realm, for the counties of Cumberland, Huntingdon and other English lands held by them.

The Palace of Scotland was allowed to fall into decay by Henry VIII.   It is believed by some that the last person to have lived at the palace was Margaret Queen of Scots, sister of Henry VIII, who resided there after the death of her husband, James IV at the battle of Flodden Field.



Another theory is that the church of St Mary Rouncival once stood in the area.   The Prior claimed a nearby farm possessed by a man Adam Scott, and 200 years later the will of the then owner Cecilie Kelly bequeathed to her daughter the land known as Scottes Ground.   This could have been translated into Scottes Land and then shortened to Scotland.    An old English word scotte meant rent and this could feasibly have referred to this area as being available for rent at one time.

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