A covered alley running off Cornhill in the city that was once the home to the King’s official weights.

Although the main road, Cornhill seems to have been laid out with the passageway and court behind, what probably saved it later being filled in was the arrival of the Medieval Weigh House, when it was known as, unsurprisingly, Weigh House Yard.

The weigh house was the building for the weighing of goods imported into London from overseas. The “King’s Beam” was used here as it was the official standard for weights at the time.

The King’s Beam later moved to Eastcheap.

Although still called Weigh House Yard in John Strype’s survey of 1720, it shows up as Sun Court in John Rocque’s map of 1762 – so evidently the name changed around that time. Although the reason for the change is not clear, the name is suggestive of a local pub, as many courts and alleys were named after local inns.

The court was very nearly destroyed on 7th November 1765 when a large fire destroyed much of the area and reached right to the very edge of the court, having burnt down all the buildings to the eastern side of Cornhill.

In 1768, Sun Court gained a new resident, as Lloyd’s Registry of Shipping moved from their coffee house origins into their first dedicated offices, 4 Sun Court. Over the centuries, it has had a number of mostly insurance firm residents.

The entrance to the court today is though a covered passage running under a grandly decorated Victorian building dating from 1880. Designed by T Chatfield Clarke, it’s a richly decorated modified Italian Renaissance style in Portland stone with intricate carving of the sort that could keep a tour guide busy for half-an-hour.

The ground floor is entirely given over to the retail side, so the entrance to the offices above is inside the Court itself, which happens, therefore, to make it one of the busier such small courtyards in the area. The offices were refurbished in 2009.

Inside Sun Court is a small courtyard, today with some nice seating spaces, which if you think you’ve found a hidden hole for a lunchtime sit down, it’s surrounded by offices, so you’ll be lucky to get a space. The far corner, with the much older looking brickwork and a grand stone crest, is the back of the Merchant Taylors livery hall, leading, if they haven’t changed the layout, to their library.

It’s a pleasant little space, probably more than would be expected, and that’s thanks to having the entrance to that refurbished office down here.


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