London’s Alleys: Saracen’s Head Yard, WC3
This is a modern courtyard in Aldgate named after a long standing pub, which no longer exists, of the same name, and which had been a sort of inn since Tudor times.
The location in Aldgate, on the outskirts of the City of London, makes it an ideal location for hostels and hostels, and many great old buildings have sprung up in the area, many of which survived the Great Fire of London. , until the Victorian era.
Saracen’s Head Inn actually overlooked Aldgate with a large courtyard behind, but had a small rear entrance on the side street where Saracen’s Head Yard is now located.
The hostel itself closed in 1867/8 and was later used as a builders office, restaurant, and the yard and stable buildings were used as small warehouses. The increasingly dilapidated buildings were sold and demolished in 1913.
The side road where Saracen’s Head Yard now stands is Jewry Street, but was known as Poore Jurie because it was home to mostly Jewish-owned slums. The row of old houses that lined the street just a little to the south where the courtyard and offices are today were donated by Sir Moses Montefiore to be used as almshouses for the poor Sephardic in 1823. The chaplaincy merged with Barrow Almshouses in East London in 1894.
The entire area was razed to the ground during WWII and remained a bomb site, used as a temporary parking lot. An office building project in the 1950s did not go beyond a few drawings. There was a more serious plan to build an extension of Sir John Cass College on the site – which would have been connected to the existing university building opposite with a 4th floor walkway and an underground metro.
This did not happen, and in the late 1970s the neighborhood was finally redeveloped into a mixture of six floors of office and four floors of apartments. The apartments on the upper floors were transformed into an office extension, with a sports club and canteen included in 1982/3.
Today, it’s fair to say that it is exactly what it is – a late 1970s office building with the courtyard still fulfilling its post-war task of being a parking lot. Although for desktop users only now.
Dark brick walls are bordered on the lower levels in dark marble with two arches leading to the courtyard behind.
Today, one arch is a designated smoking area where the other arch has signs telling people not to smoke, and there is a very eye-catching sign in the middle of the yard near a lonely tree telling people to no smoking.
Otherwise, the yard is just a basic parking lot and a service yard of no interest to passers-by.