Atlas Obscura is organizing trips! Join us on an adventure »
Today Only: 50% off Atlas Obscura books and calendars at Barnes & Noble »
The Perfect Gift for Travelers: Our #1 New York Times® best selling book »

London, England

Goodwin's Court

An easily overlooked stretch of ornate window fronts and gaslight lamps that could be right from the pages of Dickens. 

London is famous as a city of side streets and alleyways, and conjures up pictures of deerstalker-clad detectives appearing from the fog, pacing behind top-hat adorned gents or serial killers. Goodwin’s Court is an excellent example of just that sort of evocative image, tucked neatly away between London’s modern bustling boulevards.

An easily missed set of steps from St. Martins Lane leads through a low roofed arch and around a corner to reveal what seems a perfectly preserved piece of London nostalgia—a spindly stretch of ornate window fronts and gaslight lamps, akin to anything found in the pages of Charles Dickens or Conan Doyle.

A plaque informs us that the well-preserved row of shops was built in 1690, predated by a passage known as Fishers Alley at the same site. The doors are decorated with gleaming door knobs and knockers and name plates with the business contained within. It’s easy to imagine elaborate window displays, which were at the time gaining in popularity, decorating the elegant windows and catching the eye of shoppers strolling by. When the shops slowly became increasingly unprofitable, the quaint alley was occupied by offices, and many theatre and entertainment agents have taken spaces there, at different points in time.

It now maintains a relatively secluded feel from the surrounding busy streets, serving as a very scenic occasional short cut. Goodwin’s Court draws its fair share of local photographers and domestic TV stations in search of a unique city location. Whether viewed through the spectacles of Dickens or just straight out of the history books, it’s an excellent example of the architecture and historic charm that helps London continue to capture the imagination. 

Know Before You Go

Easy walking distance from Trafalgar Square (Charing Cross Tube Station) or most central London locations & landmarks.