Fleet Street – Area Guide
Fleet Street is named after the Fleet River, one of the many rivers that now flow beneath London’s streets to the Thames.
Running eastwards from the Strand towards Ludgate Hill and St Paul’s, Fleet Street was once synonymous with Britain’s national daily and Sunday newspapers.
The association began in 1500 when William Caxton’s assistant, Wynkyn de Worde, moved his printing presses from Westminster and set up opposite Shoe Lane. Fleet Street soon became the haunt of many important literary figures.
The playwrights William Shakespeare and Ben Jonson were once patrons at the old Mitre Tavern, now No. 37 Fleet Street. Samuel Pepys and Dr Samuel Johnson drank at the Devil’s Tavern, at No. 1, and Dr Johnson was also a regular of the most famous of Fleet Street’s taverns, Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese. Parts of this building, set on the corner with Wine Office Court, date back to 1667, when the tavern was rebuilt after the Great Fire. It is one of the few pubs in London to have retained the 18th century arrangement of small rooms with fireplaces, tables and benches. Dr Johnson’s association with ‘the Cheese’ made the tavern a place of pilgrimage for many 19th century literary figures including Mark Twain and Charles Dickens.
Many of the pubs and bars on the street are still heaving with journalists and lawyers, particularly El Vino’s wine bar and Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese (one of Dr Samuel Johnson’s regular haunts) and St Bride’s – one of Wren’s churches – is often the venue for memorial services to journalists, many of whom are honoured with plaques on the walls.
The Royal Courts of Justice situated at the end of Fleet Street, often called the Law Courts, hold the most senior of legal litigations in the UK.
Fleet Street – Interesting Facts
- Fleet Street is a street in central London, named after the River Fleet, a stream that now flows underground.
- It was the home of the British press until the 1980s.
- Even though the last major British news office, Reuters, left in 2005, Fleet Street continues to be used as a metonym for the British national press.
- Publishing started in Fleet Street around 1500 when William Caxton’s apprentice, Wynkyn de Worde, set up a printing shop near Shoe Lane.
- Fleet Street is also famous for the barber Sweeney Todd, traditionally said to have lived and worked in Fleet Street (he is sometimes called “the Demon Barber of Fleet Street”)
- Child & Co Bankers, one of the country’s oldest private banks and owned by the Royal Bank of Scotland Group plc, is based at 1 Fleet Street.
- The Office of Fair Trading, the UK government’s competition law regulator, is based on Salisbury Square, just off Fleet Street.
Fleet Street – Local Attractions
Central Criminal Court (Old Bailey)
Working courthouses built on the site of Old Newgate Prison. The public galleries are open for viewing of trials in session.
St Paul’s Cathedral
Step inside St Paul’s and you can enjoy the cathedrals awe-inspiring interior, and uncover fascinating stories about its history.Visitors can try out the acoustic quirks of the Whispering Gallery, climb to the Golden Gallery and enjoy breathtaking views across London, or take a moment for reflection and contemplation. At St Paul’s we begin and end every daywith prayer. The world-famous St Paul’s Cathedral Choir usually sing Evensong at 5pm. There is no charge to attend any of the daily services and all are welcome to attend. St Dunstan’s Chapel is also set aside for private prayer and is free of charge.
Dr Johnson’s House
Early 18th century house with a collection of portrait prints of Dr Johnson and his circle of friends. The house contains its original Virginia pine paneling and staircase and the garret workroom where Johnson compiled his Dictionary. The first edition of Dr Johnson’s Dictionary is also housed here.
Sweeney Todd the demon barber of Fleet Street, had his shop at number 186 Fleet Street. On this site he is believed to have robbed and murdered over 150 customers, thereby making him the number one killer in London’s history.
This church, restored by Sir Christopher Wren, has a large crypt museum which articulates the history of the 6 previous churches which stood here. Pepys was baptised here and the church has many American connections. Also display of local printing industry and a Roman Pavement. Lunchtime concerts held Tue and Fri at 13:15, except Lent, Advent.
The London Eye
The London Eye – the Giant Observation Wheel became operational in January 2000. Erected in London’s Jubilee Gardens, on the South Bank of the River Thames the British Airways’ London Eye, is a focal point of the Nation’s celebration of the New Century. The Wheel is the largest of its kind ever to be built, at a height of 135m (450 feet) and 1600 tonnes; it is a new landmark for London, to mark the new Millennium.
Fleet Street – Places to Eat, Drink & Hotels
Thai Square at the Wig & Pen – 229 – 230 Strand, Aldwych, London WC2R 1BF
Gaucho – 125 – 126 Chancery Lane, London WC2A 1PU
Vanilla Black – 17 -18 Tooks Court, London EC4A 1LB
Chez Gerard – 119 Chancery Lane, London WC2A 1PP
Ming Court – 54 – 56 Ludgate Court, London EC4M 7HX
Ye Old Cheshire Cheese – 145 Fleet St, City of London EC4A 2BU
The Old Bank of England Pub – 194 Fleet Street, Holborn, London EC4A 2LT
The Tipperary – 66 Fleet Street, City of London EC4Y 1HT
Old Bell – 95 Fleet Street, City ofLondon EC4Y 1DH
Club Quarters St Pauls – 16-28 Ludgate Hill, London EC4M 7DR
The Waldorf Hilton Hotel – Aldwych, London WC2B 4DD
Crown Plaza London City – 19 New Bridge Street, London EC4V 6DB
Grange St Pauls – 10 Godliman Street, London EC4V 5AJ