Tag Archives: Victoria Embankment Gardens

Random Camels of Old London Town

To tie in – loosely – with the beginning of Advent, here are images of some of the Random Camels of Old London Town …

Random Camels of Old London Town

Clockwise from top left: Camel Corps memorial, Victoria Embankment Gardens; Camel public house, Sugar Loaf Walk, Globe Town; ‘Camel and Artichoke’ – whaaat? – public house, Lower Marsh, Waterloo; seat with camel motif, Embankment (near Cleopatra’s Needle); “amusing relief of camels and a driver” (Pevsner), Peek House, Eastcheap (once a tea and coffee warehouse, hence the “singular Graeco-Egyptian details”).

How “Of Alley” Got its Name



The story may be said to have begun at least as long ago as 1237 or thereabouts, when a house was built on the banks of the Thames for the Bishops of Norwich.  The  house was later handed over by Henry VIII to his brother-in-law Charles Brandon, the Duke of Suffolk,  during the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1536, and then by Queen Mary to the Archbishop of York  in 1556, at which point it  came to be known as “York House”.  York House was then in turn owned or occupied by Sir Nicholas Bacon, the Lord Keeper of the Great Seal, from 1558; by his son Francis Bacon, from 1617;  by  George Villiers Senior, the First Duke of Buckingham, from 1621; by Villiers’s widow, from 1628;  by General Sir Thomas, Lord Fairfax, during the Civil War; and eventually by Villiers’s son, George Junior, the Second Duke of Buckingham, after the Restoration  (by which time he had married Fairfax’s daughter Mary).  The house  survived the Great Fire of 1666.  However, it was substantially demolished in the 1670s, whereupon Nicholas Barbon re-developed the site, and in deference to its former owner set out new streets named George, Villiers, Duke and Buckingham –  and an alley named Of!


(Incidentally, of York House, only the Water Gate, believed to have been designed and built by the master-mason Nicholas Stone in 1626, survives to this day, in  Victoria  Embankment Gardens).