This is a narrow gap off busy Piccadilly that leads to a service road at the rear and seems to serve little purpose other than to separate two large buildings.
Once empty fields, this part of London developed rapidly to largely built up in just a few decades in the 1660s-80 as London expanded westwards from Whitehall and St James.
Initially, the alley seems to have been called Maggots Yard, which is not an indicator of its function, but was named after the Meggott family which had a lease from the Crown for the land there. By the time we get to the 1790s, it’s gained the more wholesome name of George Court.
It was renamed Piccadilly Place in 1862.
On the western side of the alley is an office block above shops that was constructed in 1955/56 to a design by the Architectural Section of the Prudential Assurance Company. They didn’t have to clear the site, as WWII had done that for them in 1940. The building is called Airwork House, but there was planning permission for its to be rebuilt granted in 2018, and would have lapsed by now, but they secured an extension in 2021.
Architecturally more interesting though is the building to the eastern side of the alley — the Dilly Hotel, which was built in 1908 and opened at the Piccadilly Hotel, as part of the rebuilding of Piccadilly Circus and the Quadrant of Regent Street.
It was built to a design by the architect Richard Norman Shaw, in a Neo-Baroque style based on 17th-century English Palladian architecture, which gives it the grand frontage facing onto Piccadilly. When it opened it had its own artesian well to avoid using polluted drinking water and came with four masonic temples inside the hotel alongside the 300 rooms.
The alley today, therefore, is a slip of a passage between these two grand buildings. On one side are the glass windows for the ground floor shop, and opposite are the emergency doors and accessways for the hotel staff. It’s not that interesting an alley frankly, and really just offers a way of splitting off the hotel from the offices and lets both sides have some windows overlooking the alley.
They could have at least kept the original name of Maggots Yard. Now that would have made it more interesting.