Spruce Up For Great Queen Street

By Lindsey Last edited 112 months ago
Spruce Up For Great Queen Street

Improvement plans are afoot for Great Queen Street, so called because it was built as a private lane for James I's Queen Anne to shortcut from Drury Lane red light district theatreland through to Lincoln's Inn Fields. Tis a route still well used for this purpose as Covent Garden office workers flee Plaza-ville for the relative peace of the 'Fields and a lunchtime picnic.

Lazy BBC headline hunters are calling it "Da Vinci Code Street" assuming that a good number of its readers actually sat through that appalling and overly long money-milking book flick (yeah, OK, we did...) but would be better known as 'Freemason's Central' since it's home to the wonderfully intimidating United Grand Lodge of England AKA Freemason's Hall and peppered with mysterious masonic charity buildings and pubs that are intermittently swollen by men (rarely women but they are allowed) in suits and intriguing regalia. The great thing we discovered on Open House weekend last year was that since the UGLE (fabulous initialism) received Heritage Lottery Funding, it's had to open up to the public and you can go into the Lodge and have a tour or go and poke round the library and museum which is open to the public, free of charge, Monday to Friday, 10am to 5pm. You can even buy your own regalia.

Back on the street, though, the plans involve pavement widening, tree planting and generally making it a more pleasant pedestrian thoroughfare and public square. Amazingly, the work is scheduled to be completed by the summer.

Last Updated 28 January 2009


Oh dear: does this mean it will be even harder to get a table at No. 32?


"... it's had to open up to the public and you can go into the Lodge and have a tour or go and poke round the library and museum..."

I am sooooo going to have to do that.


Go for a tour, if you can. On Open House weekend we chatted to a big masonic bloke with the most awesome facial hair I'd ever seen and he desperately wanted to tell us things about the building. The place has true audacity and bonkers decor. The Great Hall is amazing - you'll need to sit down and gawp.


The building is definitely Freemasons' Hall, but the street in the picture is actually Drury Lane, not Great Queen Street, which is round the corner to the left.


I'm not convinced about GQ St. as a shortcut from Covent Garden to Lincoln's Inn Fields. I live at High Holborn and Drury Ln., and walk to the LSE (which is adjacent the Fields) every day. I find that the best way to get there is to go down Drury Ln., but bypass GQ St. and instead take Wild Ct., an alley so super-secret that even Google Maps doesn't acknowledge that it connects to the Kingsway (they show it as a little appendix of Wild St., the road that runs perpendicular to GQ St., on the west side of the UGLE). The great thing about Wild Ct. is that it dumps you right at a zebra crossing across from Sardinia St., and thence the Fields (and thencely LSE's Library!) Game, set, match.


@GrahamB - it's actually a view down Long Acre towards Great Queen Street. Drury Lane runs left to right across that Junction. Either way, I love the spooky effect on Freemason's Hall.


A shame we shall have even more of an opportunity to stand and shiver at that monstrous monument to secrecy and division in English society.
The Free Masons have much to account for, but they say nothing.