This is a modern looking alley that follows an ancient path, and is named after the ruined church in the middle of the road. Originally a parade ground just outside Roman London, and possibly later a small palace, the area today is the heart of big city business, but notable for the remains of the old church.
The church of St Alban de Wodestrate may date back to King Offa of Mercia, but the earliest records date to about 200 years later in 930AD. The church was completely rebuilt in 1634, promptly burnt down in the Great Fire of London and rebuilt by Sir Christopher Wren.
It managed to survive up to WW2, when it was burned out and partially destroyed. The remains of the body of the church were demolished in 1965, leaving just the tower, standing now in the middle of a widened road, and a private building.
The alley shows up on maps between buildings as early as medieval times, possibly as an approach to the church. It was probably originally called Fryingpan Alley, a not entirely uncommon name at the time, so to avoid confusion may have been renamed after the church.
Today, the alley passes though the middle of a striking building, designed by Sir Norman Foster at the turn of the Millennium to replace a couple of 1970s nothings, leading to the former churchyard and now public park of St Mary Staining.
John Strype described it in 1720 as indifferent, and frankly, not much has changed. It’s now very modern and slick, but candidly, quite indifferent. An anonymous hole in the office block of no decorative appeal, a way to get from here to there without a lingering hint of the journey.