Holborn is a honeycomb of old alleyways and courtyards. But there's one secret passageway you won't find in Google Maps.
It's a little-known route between two of the area's most enigmatic corners.
1. Walk up Greville Street from Farringdon station, until you find Bleeding Heart Yard (above). This peculiarly named cul-de-sac is steeped in folklore, and appears prominently in Dickens's Little Dorrit.
2. Duck into the court. It's mostly taken with office space and various guises of the Bleeding Heart Tavern. Looking west, you might assume a dead end. But follow the sign to the Bleeding Heart Restaurant in the corner...
3. Here you'll spy a narrow passage leading to the restaurant — sometimes with al fresco seating outside, as in the photo. This passage, too, seems to peter out, but look to the end and you can see a charcoal-grey gate.
4. Push through the gate and, as if by magic, you're in Cambridgeshire! Or, at least, an area of land that is often touted as part of Cambridgeshire. This is Ely Place, an enclave of land formerly owned by the Bishops of Ely, and still overseen by private security.
5. Look back toward the threshold you just crossed. It's set in a high wall that resembles a rail viaduct, but isn't. If you've ever looked down Ely Place toward the wall, you may have expected it to be impenetrable. Now you know it's not.
Now, for as long as we can remember, this route has been a secretive if permissible means of getting between Greville Street and Ely Place. The gate was always open, and nothing suggested it wasn't for public use. On taking these photos, however, we note that a 'private' sign has appeared on the gate. It seems that public access is no longer tolerated. Consequently, we have to implore you NOT to investigate for yourself, lest we be accused of inciting trespass. Nevertheless, this is a curious anomaly in the street plan, which we feel is worth sharing.