This is a chaming litle cobbled* courtyard next to the Walkie Talkie skyscraper, that contains one of the few surviving  Georgian buildings in the City of London.

The alley leads off Philpot Lane, which is named after Sir John Philpot a leading merchant and Lord Mayor in 1378. From medieval times it was a place of merchants and traders, and while the whole area was destroyed in the Great Fire of London, it was swiftly rebuilt.

It first shows up on WIlliam Morgan’s map of 1682, as Bowling Alley, and ran all the way through from Philpot Lane to Gracechurch Street. John Strype’s Survey of the Citie of London of 1720 describes Philpot Lane as “a Place pretty well supplied with Inhabitants, amongst which are several Merchants.”

The alley seems to later change to Braben Court (according to William Maitland’s ‘History of London from its Foundation to the Present Day’), and then again to Brabant Court, where is first shows up in Horwoods map of 1799, which it remains today.

One of the significant occupants of a building next to Brabant Court (and just about visibible from inside it), was the first headquarters and auction room of the East India Company.

For most of the 19th century, the area was filled with wine merchant warehouses and smaller offices, but after WW2, it became mostly offices. In 1973 the whole court was nearly demolished and replaced with a large single office block, but the GLC blocked the plans.

More recently, a grade II listed building dating to around 1710 within the court, and one of the few remaining Georgian properties to remaining standing within the City of London was rennovated from offices back to its original use, as residential flats in 2012, and is occasionally open during Open House Weekend.

The rennovation of the building won 2013 City Heritage Award.

In the far corner is an ornate, and locked, gate that leads to what looks like a back entrance or fire escape for an office block.

That gated path is a remnant of the alley that’s since been blocked off, and it would have continued on to link up with St Benet’s Place on the other side of the building.

OS Map 1952

One of the more noticable decorations of the courtyard are the large number of anti-smoking signs, which seems to be very much needed based on what the area looked like on Google Street View in 2017.

*yes, I know they’re technically called Setts, but everyone calls them cobbles. Get over it.

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  1. Chris Rogers says:

    The two courts are likely to be joined up in the future if the very promising 55 Gracechurch St development goes ahead; i explored them for this piece (scroll down to the item)

  2. Chris H says:

    What do I call cobbles now everyone calls setts cobbles ? 🙂

  3. Christine says:

    My 5x great grandfathers, Francis Devereux and Mark Lambert, who were in business together, had some sort of merchants in Brabant Court in the 1700s! Thank you for writing this I was wondering what it looked like!

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