Down Your Alley: Blue Bell Yard

This area should be a hive of activity after the forthcoming General Election if the Torys win by a landslide for the Carlton Club, which was founded in 1832, and renowned as the oldest and most elite Conservative club in London is nearby. Until recently the club allowed women to hold the status of lady associate member but they could not use the gentleman’s bar, nor vote for club officials. All rather embarrassing as there have now been two women Conservative Prime Ministers.

[A] covered access from St James’s Street leads into this wide picturesque yard where many of the buildings are adorned with attractive foliage.

Blue Ball Yard has been here since at least 1680 when it partly consisted of a row of small dwellings, probably housing servants of the aristocracy who loved to boast of their royal neighbours at St James’s Palace.


At that time it was called Stable Yard being the place where carriage horses of the ‘royal neighbours’ were stabled. Its name was changed, probably in memorium, when the Blue Ball Tavern in St James’s Street was demolished in the late 18th century. Still surviving, on the left of the Yard, are some interesting stables of 1741 and above the stables are flats with a balcony supported on wooden brackets. The cobblestones which once served to prevent the horses slipping are now car parking bays for ‘authorised vehicles’.

To the south of Blue Ball Yard, at number 69 St James’s Street, is the Carlton Club. Founded by the Duke of Wellington in 1832, it became the principal establishment for Conservative Party gatherings. The site was once occupied by Arthur’s Club but the Carlton moved here after their premises on Pall Mall were bombed in World War II.

CabbieBlog-cabMuch of the original source material for Down Your Alley has been derived from Ivor Hoole’s GeoCities website. The site is now defunct and it is believed Ivor is no more. Thankfully much of Ivor’s work has been archived by Ian Visits and Phil Gyford.

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