A short passageway close to St Paul’s Cathedral which is dominated by offices on one side and a nearly 200-year old livery hall on the other.
Originally known as Kyrone Lane in medieval times, but had changed to Carey Lane by the 1670s. The origins of the name are lost, although John Stow suggested that the lane’s name originates from “
one Kery”. Henry Harben’s Dictionary of London suggested it “may be derived from some one of the name of ‘Kerion, or ‘Kirone,’ ‘Kyrone,’ as in the case of ‘Kyrune Lane’ in Vintry Ward”.
The northern side of the alley has long been dominated by Goldsmiths’ Hall, and the southern side is lined with smaller shops and houses. A lot of the southern side was consolidated into larger blocks of offices in the Victorian era. One of the notable occupants on the corner with Gutter Lane was Broderers’ Hall, which was on this site for 425 years, until it moved away in the 19th-century to be replaced with a warehouse building.
The Broderers, officially called The Brotherhood of The Holy Ghost of the City of London, is a livery company that promotes the art of embroidery.
During this time, Goldsmiths’ Hall also expanded to take over the entire northern side of the lane.
A lot of the area around the alley was badly damaged during WWII, but the alley itself suffered only minor damage, although the eastern corner took the worst as the buildings behind it were destroyed.
The southern side has changed considerably in recent decades, with two large office blocks replacing the previous buildings on the site – one is the Richard Seifert designed Abacus House constructed in 1990, and the other, 1 Carey Lane is from the 2000s. There used to be a Balls Brothers bar in the basement of the eastern building, but the refurbishment of the offices above in 2016 saw the basement space reclaimed — and is now being eyed for an indoor golf venue. And what had been a closed corner was turned into a new entrance — for Barry’s, a gym.
The northern side of the alley is dominated by one building, the third Goldsmiths’s Hall, which was built on the site of its predecessor hall between the late 1820s-1835, when it was formally opened.
The Goldsmiths are another of the city’s livery companies, supporting the gold and silver industries, but unlike most of the livery companies that have lost their legal powers over the centuries, the Goldsmiths still carry out legal functions. London’s Assay Office is based here, providing hallmarking services to London’s precious metal workers. Also, this is the site where the annual Trial of the Pyx takes place to verify the quality of the coinage used for currency in the UK, and some overseas countries.
So this short alley has modern offices on one side and ancient livery on the other.