Above: The name of Peterborough Court, inscribed on the stonework of the old Daily Telegraph building.
The Inn of the Abbot of Peterborough stood in Fleet Street on a site just west of the junction with Shoe Lane. The abbots once owned land in Carter Lane, near St Paul’s Cathedral and that was the site of their London house from 1204 until 1420. That site later became the Bell Inn which is today marked by a plaque on the wall on the south side of Carter Lane. For some reason the abbots moved about 1420 to a new site on the north side of Fleet Street which they probably occupied until the 1540s.
Above: The medieval inn shown on a small part of Google maps. The short alleyway (in green) was the original Peterborough Court, now private premises.
Access to their inn was via a thoroughfare called Peterborough Court. Many thoroughfares in London called ‘Court’ are now actually narrow streets, sometimes accessible for traffic and sometimes pedestrianised. Peterborough Court has not been open for public access for many decades. Today it gives pedestrian access only to the large offices of Goldman Sachs International. Until the latter part of the 20th century the Daliy Telegraph had its offices on the site and the building still fronts onto Fleet Street today. The building was vacated by the newspaper in 1987 when it moved to new offices at Canary Wharf. The eastern side of the old building occupied the site of the ancient Peterborough Court and the name is still to be seen on the exterior.
There used to be a ‘comment’ column in the Daily Telegraph signed ‘Peterborough’ and the above history is obviously where the name was derived from. As with so many historical facts about London, it is good that streets and alleyways remain today with the ancient names. They help to keep alive London’s varied and fascinating history.