This is a very short covered alley that leads from a busy market street into a post-war clearance park near the Barbican.

The alley leads off from Whitecross Street, which was named for the white cross which marked the border between the lands of the Templars and those of the Knights Hospitallers. The street market is one of London’s oldest, dating back to the 17th century.

The alley first shows up on the Ogilby and Morgan map of 1676 as an unmarked passage between shops leading to a large undeveloped plot of land behind the shops.

That area was filled in by the 1740s, and Shrewsbury Court first appears as a named alley, and was much longer than it is today reaching nearly halfway through the block. Oddly, Horwood’s map of 1799 shows it as Stars Yard, but that may be a mistake, as it’s the only map to show it with that name.

By the 19th century, the alley was showing up as a short covered passage leading to an open-air alley — with a cluster of small buildings on each side. The space behind the shops has also opened up somewhat into a builders yard.

This part of London was devastated during WW2, although remarkably, the row of shops that the alley passes through managed to survive, a thin line of Victorian buildings surrounded by rubble.

After the war, the space behind the shops wasn’t built on but became Fortune Street Park.

A long-standing occupant of the old shops is A Holt & Sons, which has been in the same building next to the alley since the company was founded, back in 1864

Today, the alley is a convenient route to the park behind, and a lingering relic of when the area was much more industrial than residential.


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