This alley is notable for appearing in a very famous song, of which most of us know just one line – Pop! goes the weasel.

Situated just to the north of Old Street is Shepherdess Place, with a distinctive pub on the corner, The Eagle, and it is suspected, but not actually proven that this pub is the one that appears in the famous song.

Up and down the city road
In and out the Eagle.
That’s the way the money goes,
Pop! goes the weasel.

Of course, the unproven heritage doesn’t stop the pub putting the lines on its building. No one is entirely sure what the weasel is, nor why it goes pop.

The Eagle was an old pub in City Road, originally called the Shepherd and Shepherdess, which was rebuilt as a music hall in 1825, demolished in 1901, and then rebuilt as the current pub.

The pub had been on the spot long enough to — possibly — make an appearance in the song, which was first written down in the early 19th century. The Church of England, being boring, disapproved of the song, but accepting that its nonsense lyrics were rather popular, maybe a more wholesome version could be written.

The place itself is a hybrid of two seemingly separate little routes, a pleasingly cobbled* passage outside the pub, and a very municipal space that clearly serves as a back entrance to local shops and restaurants.

*yes, I know they’re Setts, but everyone calls them cobbles.

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7 comments on “London’s Alleys: Shepherdess Place, N1
  1. Brian says:

    A weasel is a beaver hat, very fashionable at one time as well as costly, and when your money went you ‘popped it’, i.e. took it to the pawnbrokers ……

  2. Ian Carter says:

    I always understood it was rhyming slang ‘weasel and stoat’ for coat, i.e. he was pawning his coat. People would pawn their ‘Sunday-best’ clothes during the week and reclaim them on payday ready for church on Sunday (or synagogue on Saturday).

  3. Melvyn says:

    Half a pound of two penny rice , half a pound of treacle,
    Mix it up and make it nice ,
    Pop Goes The Weazel

  4. I believe a Weasel is a hat makers tool when the hatmaker
    needed money he used the pawnshop (uncles)

  5. I believe a Weasel is a hat makers tool when the hatmaker
    needed money he used the pawnshop (uncles) popping means pawning

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