This is a narrow slip of a passage that runs behind some of the posh shops on Mayfair’s South Molton Street.
South Molton Street was initially called South Moulton Row and was laid out in the 1720s by the Grosvenor family — making it some 300 years old, but initially, only with buildings on the eastern side. The buildings on the other side of the row were added later by the City of London, which still owns some of the freeholds on that side of the road.
Globe Yard is on the eastern side, the bit that was laid out first, and was originally a large courtyard space.
The space was filled in within the next 50 years and adopted its current appearance as a T-shaped passage running behind the shops.
By the turn of the 19th century, there was the Globe Pub on the corner of the alley, and at the time, South Molton Street wasn’t the posh area it is today, so we can see that the alley was filled with plumbers, painters, workshops and furniture makers.
The alley also became known for illegal gambling in the 1930s, with a police raid on the Auto Club in 1931, and in 1934 on the Mayfair Sports and Social Club, which resulted in 33 men being arrested and charged with gambling and four more for running the establishment.
These days, it’s rather quieter.
The main South Molton Street used to be a normal street, but was pedestrianised in the mid 1970s, and that changed its character from an ordinary street with average shops into the posh enclave it is today.
The main entrance to the alley is on South Moulton Street, between two shops and do stop to look at the very grandly decorated bollard. A tiled lined passage leads down to the junction of the alley, and right in front of you is what looks like the entrance to Chisou Restaurant. In fact, it turned out this is the back door, and the main door is on the other side of the building, on Woodstock Street.
Chisou is a fairly recent occupant, as it used to be Maynard’s wine bar, and later the music club, Sitting Pretty, before the Japanese restaurant took over the building.
And as we’re talking bollards earlier, there’s another one down here opposite the restaurant that looks plain, but has some nice decoration under the layers of paint, showing the City of Westminster crest and a Tudor rose above.
The southern half of the alley is much more interesting, as two very different sets of buildings line it. On the right hand side, a series of brick arches form the back of the fancy shops, but opposite is the rear of the 1930s Blenstock House, and art-deco building now owned by Bonham’s auction house.
You won’t see much of the art-deco here though, as this is a mere back alley, and you’d need to go around to the main entrance to be enchanted with the design elements. You can, however carry on walking south along this alley to the very end, and what looks like it would be a dead end actually has a very narrow gap between the buildings and leads into Haunch of Venison Yard instead.