The People of Gibraltar
2019 - Downtown Patios - Gibraltar

Patio del Catalano - Patio de la Merced
Patio Avellano - Patio de la Troncha Viva
Patio de la Guantera - 
Patio el Nazo - Patio Mena

Patio de Navas - Patio de los Balcones - Patio Perejil 

Patio del Catalano

Horse Barrack Lane junction with Main Street

According to Tito Benady the mid 16th C Spanish Church of “La Vera Cruz” occupied the site where the Emporium building once stood. George Palao and Tito Vallejo - possibly taking their cue from E.R. Kenyon’s book on Gibraltar - shoved it further north towards the south-west corner of Horse Barrack Lane and Main Street - in other words the site of the “Cafe Universal”. I tend to agree with George and Tito.

The name of the lane probably comes from a barracks that was built on the site of the church very soon after 1704 and then again in 1720s and is mentioned in Garrison Orders of 1803. By the mid-19th C however, Bishop Scandella wrote a letter in which he mentions that the site was at the time occupied by a merchant called Mr. Weir, but that it was then sold to a certain Mr. Breciano - all of which must be very stale news to local author Sam Benady.

According to The Rev R. Stewart Patterson in an article an 1884 edition of the magazine Notes and Queries, Horse Barracks Lane was known by the locals as el Patio del Catalano possibly from even as far back as before the British took over Gibraltar. I have no idea who the “Catalano” might have been.

In 1899, Lutgardo Lopez Zaragoza in his Guia de Gibraltar y su Campo mentions a Dr. L. Queros y Bejer with their address in Patio de Housse (sic) Barracks another example in which the term Patio is used to describe the lane. It is not the only example of an entire road being given a patio prefix. Danino’s Ramp for example was also referred to as Patio Danino - or to pronounce it as many a local would - Patio Anino. 

Patio de la Merced

Other than that this patio was in Irish town I know next to nothing about it. The original Spanish name for Irish Town was Calle Santa Ana - a reference to a small hermitage called Santa Ana which stood at the corner with the junction between Irish town and Market Lane. 

Irish Town

During the late 16th century the Mercedarios built a bigger monastery around this chapel and there is evidence that suggests that Irish Town - or at least part of it - may have also been called “Calle de la Merced” for a while.  It is possible that this Patio may have been close to the building which had once been the Mercedarios monastery and took its name from it. 

The Monastery  of the Mercedarios - Known as White Cloisters by the British

During the late 18th century, - Irish Town boasted at least four major stores, one baker, and a couple of taverns. Much of this was the property of a rich merchant by the name of Mr, Aboab who also owned a summerhouse and garden in this street. The rest of the buildings were “dwelling houses”. There were quite a few which suggests that Patio de la Merced may not have been the only patio in Irish Town.

Patio Avellano - Patio de la Troncha Viva

Its address was 24 George’s Lane an old passageway that joins Main Street on the west to Town Range on its eastern side. 

George’s Lane looking up from Main Street to Town Range

There are several theories as to why it is called George’s Lane. The simplest is that the lane boasted a pub with a similar name such as “The George” for example. Another was that it took its name from Prince George of Hesse, military commander of the Anglo-British forces that captured Gibraltar in 1704. He and Admiral Rooke appropriately set up their temporary headquarters at the Spanish Governors house in what is today Governor’s Parade and which in turn was quite close to George’s Lane. Both suggestions are pure speculation with very little or no evidence for either.

What is certain is that colloquially the lane was known as either Calle el Vicario - according to the Rev. R. Stewart Patterson, Chaplain to H.M. Forces in Gibraltar (1884) or Calle el Vicario Viejo - according to local historian Tito Benady (1996). The name apparently refers to a “vicarage” that once existed in this lane. It belonged to Father Messa who was the Parish priest of St Mary the Crowned during the Great Siege which took place in the late 18th century. The name apparently became popular after his death in the 1790s. 

Not to be outdone, Patio de Avellano also had its own alternative name - el Patio de Troncha 
Viva but I do not know what either of these names refers to.

Three snapshots of what was one of the few houses in Gibraltar to survive the bombardments and destruction of the Great Siege and probably dates from before 1704 - It stood in the corner of George’s Lane and Town Range, quite near what was once the Spanish Governor’s House

Patio de la Guantera - Patio el Nazo

Mark Twain and la Guantera  (1869 - from Vagabond’s Abroad - Samuel Clemens)

Twain comments at far too great a length on this trivial event in which he was persuaded to buy a pair of blue kid gloves from what must have been a very attractive young lady in “a little variety store” in Main Street. The lady in question was no figment of Twain’s vivid imagination - she was a local resident and was known by many as “la Guantera” - the seller of gloves. She has also gone down in history as the source of the name of the Patio in which she lived in - El Patio de la Guantera. 

As luck would have it the house next door to it to the north - 256 Main Street - was my family home - possibly for more than a couple of centuries before WW II and at least a decade after we returned to Gibraltar in 1945 from our enforced evacuation in 1939.

256  Main Street is the narrow building to the left of the house with the fancy balcony - El Patio de la Guantera is the double entrance to the right of the lady with the flowery dress

However vague I might be on specific dates I do know that Angel Chipolina - one of my great, great, great grandfathers - lived there with his wife and their large brood of children. Angel was undoubtedly something of an eccentric and was known to his friends as el Nazo - according to family mythology this was because he had a very large nose. 

El Nazo must have been quite a well off individual as he owned several of the Patio de la Guantera flats which subsequently also became known as el Patio el Nazo. The patio’s courtyard was connected to 256 via a long and narrow passageway.  There was a deep well at the 256 end which as far as I remember was not used by anybody in the mid 20th century. Hardly anybody had running water in those days - the patio was any different - but by then we all got our supplies on a daily basis via los “aguadores.

Despite all this I can’t remember the patio having any name at all but I am almost certain that by the end of the 19th century it had already lost the "Nazo" connection and acquired the name of  la Guantera.

Patio Mena 

During the mid to late 20th century a commercial agent by the name of Mena owned warehouses and other property in City Mill Lane, hence a suggestion that Patio Mena got its name from him. Another possibility is that the Patio was owned by somebody called Francisco Mena - who may have been one and the same as the warehouse owner. Difficult to decide but I suspect the name predates both suggestions by quite a bit.

In fact the building is actually remembered by a “once upon a time resident” as being a very old one. At the back of the courtyard - which was "Y" shaped - there was an old well in what appeared to be a stable overlooking the garden of a senior army officer.  On the well - according to the resident:
. .  there was a date which certainly predated 1704 and I vaguely recall might may have been a 16th century date.
Also known by its residents - and others - as Patio Currito el Meo, its address was 56 City Mill Lane, quite close to a much loved but now long lost department store called the Emporium which stood at its southern corner with Main Street. 

Main Street, Emporium and City Mill Lane ( 20th Century)

The Emporium building occupied the site of a 16th century Spanish church known as la Iglesia de las Angustias which in turn was probably responsible for the many changes of direction of City Mill Lane as it skirted the back of las Angustias - hence the old colloquial name of la Calle de las Siete Revueltas. The original Spanish name for the upper section of the lane was also descriptive - Calle Angosta de Miguel de Ribera.

Iglesia de las Angustias (Adapted from George Palao)

The present day official name is said to derive from a property owned by a Dutch merchant called Francisco Dierk who used it to convert tobacco into snuff - in other words a process that required some sort of a mill.  An alternative theory is that it comes from a flour mill that once stood near the south eastern end of the lane on a site near the now defunct Theatre Royal. It was known as the City Mill to distinguish it from those on Windmill Hill and on the isthmus.

Yet another hypothesis is that it derives from City “Mall” Lane where the word “mall” denotes a place where ball games are played. It seems unlikely as there is no evidence of these types of courts in this lane although the name City “Mall” Lane does appear more than once in Governor Bland’s well-thumbed 1749 Court of Enquiry.

We also have it referenced as the “Whirligig” in the same enquiry and as “Whirligig Lane” by Thomas James in 1771. The whirligig was a cage which was used to punish women who “misbehaved”. They were spun around inside the cage until they were sick. In the 18th century one of these contraptions was set up at the entrance to City Mill Lane from Main Street. 

The Whirligig    (Adapted from George Palao)

In a 1773 listing it also appears as “Mr Pearson's Lane”. The eponymous gentleman apparently owned a house on the corner of City Mill Lane and Governor's Street. None of which, of course, helps explains why the patio was known as Currito el Meo.

To end on another ridiculous note the lane was often referred to - tongue firmly in cheek - as “7000 Lane” - or Siete Mil Lane - no end to the inventiveness of Gibraltarians when using their unique patois. 

Steps leading up to some of the flats of Patio Mena   (21st Century - detail - Charles Bossano)

Charcoal vendor  (1895) - The frontage from left to right was part of the rear end of the now dismantled Theatre Royal.  During the 1950s it was used mainly as a furniture shop known as la Tienda de Bartolo.

Patio de Navas

The dark open doorway on the extreme right on the charcoal vendor photo was the entrance to el Patio de Navas, possibly because the building belonged to a certain Mr. Navas. The bottom right shown on the photograph - was a favourite resting spot for Tobaila - Gibraltar’s one and only mid-20th century tramp.

Patio de los Balcones

Other than its name and that it was in Main Street I know nothing at all about this patio. Gibraltar’s principal street is no Champs-Élysées. It is a relatively narrow, non-descript high street cutting right across the town from Casemate to Southport Gates. It does or at least it once did have at least one redeeming feature. It boasted more than its fair share of balconied buildings - which of course makes it even harder to hazard a guess as to where exactly one might have been able to find el Patio de los Balcones.

Patio Perejil

Probably quite old as its name comes from Callejon del Perejil which was once the colloquial name for Victualling Office Lane - which is where it was.

On the right is the Convent with its large garden to its left - On the bottom left, the lane in deep shadow is Victualling Office Lane - or el Callejon del Perejil - In the 1777 census there is a mention of this lane and another known as Victualling Office Street but I don't know where this last one was.

2019 - Patios of Gibraltar - Introduction

2019 - Patios of Flat Bastion Road - Gibraltar
2019 - Patios of Lynch’s and Turnbull’s Lane - Gibraltar
2019 - Patio Arengo - Gibraltar
2019 - Downtown Patios - Gibraltar
2019 - Rosia Patios - Gibraltar
2019 - Patios de la Buena Vista - Gibraltar
2019 - Castle Steps Patios and Beyond - Gibraltar
2019 - Upper Town Patios - Gibraltar
2019 - Patio Schammarri - Gibraltar
2019 - The Patios of Fraser’s Ramp - Gibraltar
2019 - Other Patios - Gibraltar
2019 - Patio Schott 1 - Gibraltar
2019 - Patio Schott 2 - Gibraltar

2019 - Los Patios de Gibraltar - A Disappearing Way of Life