Carmelite Street is a very narrow road and runs down a slope to its south end, where it meets the Victoria Embankment. Named in 1901, it commemorates the old foundation of the Carmelite or Whitefriars monastery here. Before 1901, it had been an extension of Whitefriars Street but was wharfland until the 1860s.
The street seems to have begun as an alley to serve ship berthings which by the 1860s had been repurposed to lead to the new Sir Joseph Bazalgette-designed Victoria Embankment.
The buildings which now stand on Carmelite Street were mostly constructed after the Second World War. There are also some very old buildings such as The Harrow, a public house said to have been frequented by Evening News reporters.
Founded by a City merchant, William Ward, in 1881, the City of London School for Girls opened in Carmelite Street in 1894 at a time when there was so little faith in academic education for girls that the building was designed so that it could be turned into offices, should the project fail. The flourishing school moved to the Barbican in 1969.
Speaking of offices, Carmelite Street was for many years the home of Associated Newspapers Ltd, publishers of the Daily Mail and the London Evening News.
The offices of the Evening News had been situated in Whitefriars Street between 1882 and 1902. In 1902 the newspaper relocated to Carmelite House (originally known as Harmsworth Buildings and built in 1898) on the corner of Carmelite Street and Tallis Street, where it remained for several decades.
In 1936, a new purpose-built building opened next door to Carmelite House and extending down to the Victoria Embankment. This was called New Carmelite House and was used to expand the offices and printing presses of the Daily Mail and other Associated Newspapers publications.
The two buildings were joined together on every floor, though the forty-year gap between their construction dates resulted in the two being architecturally very different.
On a corner almost directly opposite the Harrow pub is Northcliffe House, the construction of which was completed in 1927.
Northcliffe House was purpose-built to contain the new offices of the Daily Mail (previously in Carmelite House). It was named after Lord Northcliffe who died in 1922. In the years following the Second World War, the offices of the Evening News were located (with the Daily Mail) in Northcliffe House.
In 1988, Associated Newspapers moved their headquarters to Kensington.
Northcliffe House had been built on the historic site of the old Whitefriars Glass Works, which had occupied the space for over two hundred years. Prior to that, the corner on which Northcliffe House stands was the site of a monastery built by the White Friars, or Carmelites, who came to London during the reign of Edward I.
Around the year 1150, at the time of the Crusades, a small group of Christians founded a new religious order on Mount Carmel in Palestine. The Carmelite order grew, and began to spread to Europe, before being forced to flee the Holy Land when Acre fell to the Mamluk Army in 1291. A small group of Carmelites reached England in 1242. Eventually some 40 Carmelite communities were established across Britain, where, because on formal occasions they wore white mantels over their brown habits, they became known as the White Friars.
In 1538, the friary was dissolved on the orders of Henry VIII. The land was given to the Royal Physician, Sir William Butts. Butts died in 1547 and the friary area fell into disrepair.In the absence of the White Friars, no one was really sure who was responsible for the area of their old friary. The new inhabitants successfully claimed it to be outside the jurisdiction of the City of London and founded Alsatia, the story of which is told elsewhere.