This short little alley certainly brings home the bacon, as conceals a vast modern courtyard, which was until recently the old Danish Bacon warehouse.

The runt of the alley that remains is remarkably old though, appearing in maps at least as far back as John Strype’s Survey of London from 1603, where he described it as “ordinary”. It also used to be much longer as a narrow alley, winding its way between buildings to the other side of the block were it emerged on Benjamin Street.

It is named, unsurprisingly, after a long since vanished pub, the White Horse which probably sat on the corner of the alley and Cowcross Street.

Today, it’s a small bit of an alley running under two Georgian era buildings, but then widens into a large public/private courtyard filled with flats overlooking a space that fills up with office workers at lunchtime, and post-work drinkers.

The “alley” which is now a courtyard curves around a series of new buildings, to also emerge on Benjamin Street a short distance from where its ancient namesake once stood.

Today is bland to the point of boring, covered in CCTV and most of the buildings are generic modern blocks of no notable appeal. However, do wander around, as some older buildings have survived, including this former warehouse with the stone heads of those who made its fortune.

Considering the scale of the recent development, it has proven remarkably difficult to find out anything much about about the history of the alley — although thanks to its original long length, and long history, it pops up a lot in criminal cases.


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  1. Chris Goddard says:

    I knew that your alley visits would come in useful one day, Ian. Today, while researching the Young family, I’ve found them living in White Horse Alley in 1901. Henry, head of the family and born in Portsmouth, was a “brand and stamp maker, employer”. His children variously included a silk winder and a wood turner.

  2. Angela Davidson says:

    White Horse Alley is mentioned in Daniel Defoe’s diary of the Great Plague. It was so narrow that only a hand cart could be employed to take dead bodies out of the houses there.

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