There is a curious little passage located to the north of the City of London. It is called Myddelton Passage, and, at first glance, it looks like any other narrow passageway in London.
It is located close to the Sadler’s Wells Theatre, and it is a short , brisk walk from either Farringdon or Chancery Lane Underground stations.
THE SECRET OF MYDDELTON PASSAGE
To be perfectly honest, were I to encourage you to go there and walk along it, you would probably return and fire of any angry letter email me to scold me for having wasted a few hours of your precious time.
However, that would be far from the case, as you can see in the following video on the passage.
THE SECRET OF MYDDELTON PASSAGE
But Myddelton Passage has a secret, and one that will keep you engrossed here for a good twenty or so minutes, if not for the best part of an hour.
As you enter the passage, you pass the Shakespeare Pub on the right. On the left side, there is a long wall, that, as with the case of the passageway itself, looks like any other brick wall in any other passage or street in London.
However, this wall is no ordinary wall, and is very unlike any other wall in London.
For, as you start to walk past it, you start to notice – if you look carefully, that is – numbers, letter, years and dates are carved into the wall.
It is these carvings that are the secret of Myddelton Passage.
THE POLICEMAN’S WALL
The carvings were, in fact, the work of 19th and 20th century police officers, the majority of them part of the Metropolitan Police’s “G” Division, under whose jurisdiction Myddelton Passage came.
That is why so many numbers have the letter “G” carved after them, as is the case in the above image, whilst the numbers that precede the “G’s” are the collar numbers of the individual police officers who carved them.
In short, when you survey the brickwork you are actually looking at acts of wanton vandalism, done by the very people whose job it was to stop such blatant acts of anti-social behaviour!
WHY DID THEY DO IT?
As to the reason why the graffiti was done by those long-ago police officers, well, we simply do not know their reasons, and can, therefore, merely speculate.
One consensus holds that, in the 19th century, Myddelton Passage had a very unsavoury reputation for nefarious night time activity, so much so that an officer of the law was given the night duty of guarding it to ensure the ne’er-do-wells of the district didn’t get up to anything untoward. It was a duty that they found so boring that they carved their collar numbers, division letter and, occasionally, there initials and the date they “woz ‘ere” into the brickwork, just to give themselves something to do.
Another belief is that this was the last stop on several of the night time beats in the area, and so the constables would mark the end of their night shift with the carvings on the wall before heading back to their King’s Cross Police Station.
WE DON’T REALLY KNOW
Of course, this is little more than idle speculation, and, the truth is, we simply do not know with any degree of certainty the exact motivation that led to this “wall art.”
But, one thing is certain, thank the heavens that they dis it, whatever their reason, or reasons, for doing so.
Because they have left us with a unique record of their presence here, whoever they were.
So, now you know, why it is worth taking a little time to make your way to this nondescript London passage.