This alley looks as if it’s part of the next door Leadenhall Market, with the same style buildings, but no roof over head. It’s actually an extension, added over an already ancient road.
The site of Lime Street Passage, and most of the buildings around it site on top of the Roman Forum, with Line Street Passage sitting over the east wing of the Forum. The second forum, built circa 100 AD was likely to have been a large open square, surrounded on all sides by rows of buildings, with shops at the ground floor. By the time the Emperor Hadrian visited London in 122, it was said to be the largest structure north of the Alps.
As with much of Roman London it was buried under the subsequent generations and pretty much lost to knowledge.
The major streets in the area, Lime Street, Fenchurch and Cornhill were established by the 13th century, probably spreading out from the remains of the Roman road that is today Gracechurch Street.
Although unnamed, Lime Street Passage can be seen on early maps following roughly the line it occupies today.
Lime Street itself is named after the lime burners and sellers once living and working there.
What is today Leadenhall Market has emerged over the centuries from a series of markets that clustered in the area, variously known as Hide Market, the Green Market and the Herb Market. Lime Street Passage passes through the space that was once given over to the sale of herbs.
I am sure you can work out what each sold.
Leadenhall itself was, unsurprisingly, a large building noted for its Lead roof – hence, leaden hall, and a market that could be used by “foreigners”, or traders from outside the City walls.
The current market building was constructed to replace the old meat markets and was built as a poultry market, sitting across a number of rights of way, hence the peculiar layout of the market.
The popularity of the poultry market saw it extended outside just a few years later to Lime Street Passage, and that’s why the road outside the market shares the same design style.
In the post war years, the poultry trade followed the meat market to Smithfield, and following a 1991 restoration, the area is now better known for the restaurants, shops, and Harry Potter.
The building on the corner is as it looks, modern, having been given permission in 2001, but delayed due to the banking crisis, restarted in 2013 and only completed a couple of years ago. Otherwise, the passageway looks to all intents what it is, an extension of the covered market at the end of the lane.