Where else could you find a building called ‘2nd Star On The Right & Straight On ‘Til Morning’?
It’s well known to locals, but others may not be familiar with the unusual-sounding Land of Green Ginger in Hull. Lying at the bottom of Whitefriargate in the old town area of Kingston upon Hull, the narrow street – formally known as Old Beverley Street – hosts a variety of commercial and residential buildings, including the wonderfully named ‘2nd Star On The Right & Straight On ‘Til Morning.’ It’s also home to the world’s smallest window, which was used by the gatekeeper of the George Hotel to look out for stagecoaches and potential customers.
The etymology of the unusual name is uncertain, but could possibly refer to the sale or storage of the spice ginger in the medieval period. An 1853 record indicates that a Mr Richardson “has made it most probable that the designation ‘Land of Green Ginger’ took place betwixt 1640 and 1735”. The unknown writer then goes on to speculate that as a Dutch family with the surname Lindegreen (“green lime trees”) was known to live in Hull during the earlier part of the nineteenth century, the modern name might be a corruption of Lindegroen jonger (Lindegreen junior). Another idea, dating from 1880, is that it is a corruption of “Landgrave Granger”, meaning a walk or pathway approaching the home of the family Landgrave.
Whatever the derivation, The Land of Green Ginger has cropped up more than once within The Arts. It is the title of a 1927 novel by Winifred Holtby, as well as a 1936 children’s novel about the son of Aladdin by Noel Langley. ‘Land of Green Ginger’ is also a Play for Today about Hull by Alan Plater, and the title of a 2008 participatory art project exploring encounters between refugees living in Hull and their host communities.
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