An ancient alley, on a modern alignment that will soon shift sideways, this is the astronomically named Star Alley. A bit like the stars it is named after, the alley has wandered around a bit over the centuries.
Star Alley first appeared on maps in 1676, on a map by Ogilby and Morgan, and used to be aligned with an alley on the opposite side of Fenchurch Street. This link was severed by 1746 as shown on John Rocque’s map.
The alignment was later re-established in the 1950s when the current building was erected on the bomb damaged site by Lewis Solomon, Son and Joseph.
Today, the alley is a curious mix of a covered walkway under the 1950s building, and then an open path behind. Despite being built in the 1950s, the cafe has tried to give itself a Georgian feel with the wooden frontage.
The choice of name, Upper Crust does rather, unfortunately, remind us of the overpriced purveyors of baguettes at railway stations, although reviews suggest this cafe is of a higher quality and lower price.
The alley’s 1955 alignment is soon to change again, for the post-war building is to be torn down and replaced with something rather… odd.
A series of stone-clad “boxes” stacked up on top of each other seems the best description. As if modern art had been magnified to gigantic proportions. All the odd angles aside, the use of Portland stone for the facade will make the building stand out in the sea of glass and steel that surrounds it.
At the moment, the alley sits to the edge of the building, but the replacement alley will sit in the middle, which allows for two larger retail units to be added on either side of the alley.
That alignment change, while for commercial reasons, will have the benefit of making the tower of All Hallows Staining be visible, just, from Fenchurch Street.
The first mention of All Hallows Staining was in the late 12th century, and while the old church survived the Great Fire of London in 1666 it collapsed five years later in 1671.
Rebuilt in 1674, in 1870 the parish was combined with the parish of St. Olave’s, and All Hallows Staining was demolished, leaving only the tower which has parts from the 12th to 16th century.
Soon it will get another stone tower to loom over it.