It turns east to pass between St Bride’s Church
and the rear of the Old Bell Inn, with an additional branch leading by way of a wide covered path into Salisbury Court
. It was once a significant passageway, arched over at the Fleet Street
entrance, but is now open to the elements and serves merely as a short cut, for those in the know, between New Bridge Street
, Fleet Street
and the Bishop of Salisbury’s Court.
The rear entrance to the Old Bell, by which most of the regulars arrive, is really quite unobtrusive; a plain door devoid of any accompanying signs leaping out to declare the facilities on offer. The Bell is a solid pub and exists for the solid City drinker as it was originally intended. It stands on the site of the Swan tavern, where Wynkin de Worde, assistant to William Caxton, is supposed to have used a room as his workshop.
When Sir Christopher Wren drew up his plans for rebuilding St Bride’s church in 1671 he constructed the Bell as accommodation for his men working on the site. The Bell has stood the test of the ages and has emerged with first class honours. Its clientele used to come mainly from the newspaper trade; journalists, printers, and men of advertising jostled for a place at the antique counter. Now that the newspapers have moved to other parts and brought to an end the centuries old street of print, the clientele is more varied.