This is one of those seemingly ancient alleys that the City of London is so rich in, yet almost impossible to find anything about.
References to Castle Court can be seen — just about — in a map of 1795. It shows up clearly in a map from 1814, of the great Cornhill fire, which destroyed all the buildings in Castle Court, but just about spared s local pub.
The alley is most notable for this pub, that’s been on the location since 1748, the incredibly named George and Vulture.
Like most old city pubs, it claims almost every famous person in history as a regular customer, but in this one’s case, it is mentioned at least 20 times in The Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens, so he is at least likely to have drunk there regularly.
Since 1950 it has been the home of the Dickens Pickwick Club and the venue for the Dickens family gathering at Christmas.
So well known is the pub that is may have given the name for Castle Court at one time, as I can find references to a George and Vulture Alley at the same spot. It’s common place for alleys to be named after pubs, but quite why the name later changed (if it did change), I am uncertain of.
It’s a quite delightful alley in an area that is rich in tiny delightful alleys, and the other shops and offices that line the passage add to the character of the area.
Location map and local interesting places
- 1] Castle Court
- 2] Bengal Court
- 3] St Peter's Alley
- 4] Post Office Court
- 5] Pope's Head Alley
- 6] Nicholas Passage
- 7] St Stephen's Row
- 8] Talbot Court
- 9] Lovat Lane
- 10] Great Bell Alley, EC2