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Piccadill

Queen Elizabeth I with her piccadill. This is the so-called Darnley portrait dated c. 1575, by an unknown artist. Queen Elizabeth I with her piccadill. This is the so-called Darnley portrait dated c. 1575, by an unknown artist. © National Portrait Gallery, London, acc. no. NPG 2082.

Piccadill (peckadill, pickadill, picardillo, pickadaille) was the name of a type of sixteenth-century cut-work lace, characterised by its very small spear-points. The name was also applied to the lace edge of a ruff, and hence to the full ruff itself. The name reputedly derives from Spanish picado, which means punctured or pierced. A ruff was correspondingly called a picadura in Spanish.

The name of the famous London street (Piccadilly) and that of Piccadilly Circus are thought to be named after piccadill, and in particular to Piccadilla House, which was apparently a depot of piccadill lace during the reign of Elizabeth I. The name is also linked to a tailor, called Robert Baker, who had built up a flourishing business in producing piccadills. In the early seventeenth century he seems to have bought a plot of land along what was then called Portugal Street, and built a house that came to be known as Piccadilly Hall. Soon Portugal Street, so it is said, came to be known as Piccadilly.

Source: The Shorter Oxford English Dictionary, s.v. 'piccadill'.

National Portrait Gallery online gallery (retrieved 23rd January 2016).

WV

Last modified on Saturday, 20 May 2017 16:42