This is both delightful, in a 1980s sort of way, and yet somewhat perplexing alley in the City of London.
The puzzle is why it’s still here – being barely a moment from the end of the road, so anyone using it as a short cut to get to the next road saves a mere 10-15 seconds on their journey.
The building it sits beneath is a late 1980s affair, but the alley is, as many are in the City, considerably older.
It may have been called Angel Alley, as that shows up on Richard Blome’s map of 1754, and Noorthwick’s of 1772, but by the late 18th century it was know as either Hartshorn Court or Alley, probably after a tavern on the site, known as the Harts Horn.
The buildings on the site were demolished in the late 1980s and the current office block erected, with the alley preserved.
And what an odd alley it is.
In a way, it’s quite lovely, with a curious mix of a curved corner in the middle that hints of hidden depths and prevents you from seeing a simple straight path, but open entrances and street signs that indicate a public passageway.
The stonework is reminiscent of the era, being exceptionally expensive granite blocks, yet most of the alley is given over to crude fire escape exits and in one case, a totally sealed off doorway.
It’s almost as if an street underpass has been tarted up, but no one bothered to deal with the derelict shops that had long since closed. Except one though — as in the middle of this narrow alley, is a bookmakers.
There is a main entrance on the road, but they chose to spend a fair bit on an extra doorway hidden away in this alleyway, maybe as a convenient escape route for gamblers caught by their bosses, or wives when they should be at work.
It’s just a bit odd that a narrow alley that need not exist was not just preserved, but had quite a lot of money spent on the wall coverings.
Location map and local interesting places
- 1] Hartshorn Alley, EC3
- 2] Sugar Bakers Court, EC3
- 3] Golden Fleece Court
- 4] Star Alley
- 5] French Ordinary Court
- 6] Blue Boar Alley
- 7] Little Somerset Street, E1
- 8] Barbon Alley, EC3
- 9] St Peter's Alley
- 10] Lovat Lane
- 11] Cock Hill, E1
- 12] Rose Alley, EC2
- 13] Aldgate Pump