Londonist's Back Passage: #51 Wardrobe Terrace

By M@ Last edited 169 months ago
Londonist's Back Passage: #51 Wardrobe Terrace

Where? Tri-directional alley system behind St Andrew-by-the-Wardrobe, off Queen Victoria Street in the City.

What? Like a fugitive from a forgotten Monty Python script, Wardrobe Terrace presents its bizarre name to the (slightly diminished) hordes of City workers who flock down Queen Victoria Street each morning from Blackfriars. It's hard to concoct a more surreal appellation. Try it. Beanbag Passage, Futon Close, Chaise-longue Court: nothing we can contrive matches that special tring of Narnian oddness enjoyed by Wardrobe Terrace. The improbable reference to bedroom furniture is shared by the neighbouring church, and nearby Wardrobe Place. What in the devil's ottoman can it mean?

The outré name does, in fact, refer to a real wardrobe, and a right royal one at that. The administrative body known as 'the Great Wardobe' oversaw the king's garments and other accoutrements. Edward III moved his glad rags from the Wardrobe Tower (at the Tower of London) to this spot in 1361. Wardrobe Court marks the location on the Rocque map (1746; see gallery), where it can also be seen that our back passage was previously named Church Alley. The area has changed beyond recognition, thanks to the 1861 construction of Queen Victoria Street, but humble Wardrobe Terrace follows the same route as ever.

The church itself dates back to at least the 12th Century and formed part of Baynard's Castle—a Norman stronghold long-since vanished. The current version is a Christopher Wren design, but significantly rebuilt after a sound Blitzing. More churchery next door, where you'll find the City home the Church of Scientology.

Why Use? The perfect place to come out of the closet? (Lawyer's note: gag relates purely to the name 'Wardrobe Terrace', and makes no allusion to any Scientologist, famous or otherwise. In an unrelated aside, check out this funny clip.)

Last Updated 16 January 2009