Salisbury Inn or Salisbury Place was the London house of the Bishops of Salisbury. The property was owned from 1206. It stood on the site that is now part of Salisbury Court, along with Salisbury Square. The Bishops used the property until 1564 when it was vacated by the Bishop of Salisbury who exchanged the land with other land held by the Crown in Wiltshire.
Above: Sketch map showing the site of the extensive building that formed Salisbury Inn. The inner courtyard is still open land now called Salisbury Square. The bishop’s large garden extended as far east as land now beside St Bride’s church.
Sadly nothing remains from the large house that stood surrounded by its large gardens. The only reminder is the street name ‘Salisbury Court’ which was mentioned by John Stow in his history ‘A Survay of London’ published in 1605.
From that time onwards it was an area of housing. On the east side of Salisbury Court today is a plaque recording the birthplace of Samuel Pepys, the son of a tailor, who lived and worked there. His birth date was 23 February 1633, the date of 1632 on the plaque relates to the Old-style calendar. Pepys was the fifth child and second son of John and Margaret Pepys. Pepys lived there until adulthood and would have known Fleet Street very well indeed. As a baby he was christened in the church near his home – St Bride’s.
During the first part of the 17th century the Salisbury Court Theatre was built on part of the site of Salisbury Inn. The theatre opened in 1629 and stood beside Salisbury Square where a Blue Plaque marks the site. It had a life of only 20 years – closing in 1649.
Today the buildings are anything but private houses. Until the 1980s so much of Fleet Street was given over to newspaper offices and it is all rather built up. It is hard to imagine what a genteel area the land was when the Bishops of Salisbury occupied the property – along with their extensive garden.