Victorian London - Districts - Streets - Brooke Street


Just past the monastic gates of Furnival's-inn, and between that den of lawyers and the narrow crowded turning to Gray's-inn-road, there exists a short dingy street, closed at the southern end by the wall of the church of St. Albans. The dim thoroughfare, otherwise quiet, sordid, and dirty enough, resounds at early hours with the appealing bell that summons the low-brewed costermongers of Brooke's Market, the unkempt roughs of Fox-court, the wild Irishmen of Greville-strect, and the mocking organ-boys of Leather-lane. On the right of the street (eastward), as you enter it, stands a curious, truncated building, that looks like a cutdown man-of-war, but really is a huge furniture warehouse, that has been partly burnt down and never properly rebuilt. The houses in Brooke-street are divided amongst the usual petty trades, with here and there a thermometer maker, the overflowing of the Italian colony in Hatton-garden. An alley on the west side leads the evasive pickpocket, who by chance finds himself here beset, into Gray's-inn-road, a turning on the other leads the wayfarer into the Piedmontese settlement of Leather-lane. Of colour, brightness, gaiety, there is no trace here; and even if the sunshine, on some favoured summer sunset, does stream down upon the eastern side of the street, it soon fades away, as if unwilling to make the dulness and dinginess of the locality seem greater upon its departure.

All the Year Round, 1871