49 Cardinal Cap Alley, 51 and 52 Bankside

pen and ink drawing of Cardinal cap Alley by ronnie cruwys

49 Cardinal Cap Alley, Bankside, London


Cardinal Cap Alley and Bankside are tucked between the Globe Theatre and the Tate Modern on London’s South Bank.  I was intrigued to read the plaque on number 49 which looks fairly convincing but it turns out it isn’t exactly true.

christopher wren plaque cardinal cap alley


The writer and historian Gillian Tindall delved into the history of this building in her book ‘The House By The Thames: and the people who lived there’.

49 Cardinal's Wharf, Bankside

So who really lived here?

From her book, No.49 dates back to 1710 (now the oldest house on Bankside) the same year St Paul’s Cathedral was complete. This makes it highly unlikely that Sir Christopher Wren lived here during the construction period.

That said, Tindall believes the plaque originally could have stood on the actual house that Wren did live in, but a few houses east – situated where a modern block of flats stands today behind the Founders Arms pub. It is also likely that the owner of the property retrieved the plaque in 1945 when the original Wren building was demolished and placed it in turn on No.49. Tindall suggests that this simple act may have been the one thing that saved this building from all the demolition that went on in later years.

coat of arms cardinals wharf

There is a coat of arms above the door to no 49 which depicts what looks like crossed antlers on a blue background above three canon balls on a yellow background on a shield. To the right,  three ravens/crows sit below a five pointed star on a grey background, over a diamond shape. Both shields sit beneath a crown.  Do you know who might be associated with this coat of arms?

coat of arms

Coat of Arms above the door of No 49 Cardinal Cap Alley

red brick Georgian architecture of Bankside London

No 51 Bankside, London

Reading the blog written by Memoirs of a Metro Girl the author notes that this building dates back to 1712 and no 51: ‘was named as Provost’s Lodging in the 20th century, with the future Bishop of Salisbury, George Reindorp living there after the war-damaged No.50 and No.51 were purchased from Bankside power station in 1957 (who had owned them for 20 years) and knocked together. Due to its location, Bankside was not an appealing place to live in the 1960s and 1970s due to the constant humming noise from the power station.’

red brick georgian architecture bankside London

52 Bankside, London

Do you have any insights into the lives of any of these three buildings? I would love to hear from you.

Signed limited edition (set of 50) mounted prints are now available to order, presented in ivory white double mounts 16″ x 12″ for £70 each.  If you would like to see the drawing in full please visit www.drawingthestreet.co.uk 

Thanks for reading.


About ronniecruwys

Living and working in the Clyde Valley, South Lanarkshire, drawing, sketching, painting and exploring my new Scottish life and surroundings. Please visit my other blogs https://drawingthestreet.com https://drawingthedetail.com/ and main website https://www.drawingthestreet.co.uk
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2 Responses to 49 Cardinal Cap Alley, 51 and 52 Bankside

  1. katieemma says:

    I was the the U.K. passport office getting my newborn daughter her first British passport. The man who took our application was a rather interesting eccentric old chap. He grew up on Cardinal cap alley and remembers walking to school past bomb wreckage during the blitz. He went on to tell us that his father had been told by a neighbour about a thing called “television”. It was all about radio at the time. He remembers not being able to understand the extent of what this neighbour was telling them regarding this new television that was going to find its way to the masses. I wish I could have asked for his name and contact details as I would love to know more. He said to get a book about number 48 bankside/ cardinal cap alley (if I recall correctly)

    • ronniecruwys says:

      Hi Katie, thanks everso much for this info – it brings to mind a different time so vividly. I think I have found the book that he was referring to – called the House by the Thames. So much history in these few buildings. Thanks again. Ronnie

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