.’. Pistols Drawn Pickering Place .’.

Pay close attention when looking for this tiny courtyard tucked away behind swank St. James Street. If the gate is closed, the only indication you are at Pickering Place is the number 3 on it. The narrow, arched alleyway leading to the courtyard r…

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Pay close attention when looking for this tiny courtyard tucked away behind swank St. James Street. If the gate is closed, the only indication you are at Pickering Place is the number 3 on it. The narrow, arched alleyway leading to the courtyard retains its 18th century timber wainstcoting.

A relatively unspoil Georgian cul-de-sac still lit by original gaslights, Pickering Place is named after William Pickering, the founder of a coffee business in the premises now occupied by the famous wine merchants Berry Bros and Rudd.

In the 18th century, Pickering Place was notorious for its gambling dens. Its seclusion also made it a favourite spot for duels, although the limeted space suggests that fooling around with a kind of weapon – let alone pistols – would have been instantly fatal. It is claimed tht the last duel in England was fought here, although an episode with pistols between two Frenchmen at Windsor in 1852 is more likely contender.

Graham Greene, who lived in a flat in Pickering Place, housed his fictional character Colonel Daintry from The Human Factor in two-roomed flat looking out over the paved courtyard with its sundial. In real life, Pickering Place was the base of the diplomatic office of the independent Republic of Texas, before it joined the United States in 1845.

 

Author: Dani Middleton

I was born in Brazil in 1981 and lived there for 23 years before emigrating to the UK in 2005. I had read about England’s history since a young age however I moved here purely due to the history of London itself. Everything in this city fascinates me; from its parks, pubs and buildings to street names, post boxes and bollards. Watching children “beating the bounds” or the rose ceremony, you can never be tired of London. I love the quirkiness of the little alleys, the secrets of the forgotten architecture and how wonderful it can be to simply turn a corner and suddenly find a whole new world. I have worked in some remarkable places in London: museums, palaces, galleries, archives, even digging for the MoL on the Thames foreshore but I now work for Tower Bridge where, daily, I can see the City from a different point of view. Working for the City, learning its history and stories makes me eager to learn more. London is a flowing, living organism, with the old and new together transforming it every day, but always with its history at your fingertips. One step, an intricate Victorian coal hole; another step, an old Police box; yet another, an office block built seamlessly onto an old roman ruin. I am just a girl, lost in London trying not to find the way out but a way deeper, further inside what makes this city so… special, so… unique, so… me. I am a Londoner.

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