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June 30, 2012

The visitor to the British Museum in London, UK, often comes to a  nearby street called Coptic Street. What is the history of this street, and how did it come to be called after the Coptic Christians of Egypt?

The London Encyclopaedia, 3rd ed. by Ben Weinreb et al (London, Macmillian, 2008, p. 207) tells us that it was originally built after the Great Fire of London in 1666, and was then called Duke Street after the ground landlords the Dukes of Bedford. Apparently there were many Duke Streets in London at the time, and therefore its name was changed to Coptic Street in 1894. The British were ruling Egypt than, and came into contact with the Copts as Egyptians. The event that occasioned the renaming of the street was the large and valuable collection of Coptic manuscripts which had been obtained by the British Museum a year earlier.

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