W. J. Loftie, adding to the incomplete work of Sir Walter Besant, in The Fascination of London, published in 1903, continues his survey of Holborn with this look at some streets, including Brooke Street:
Leather Lane is called by Strype “Lither” Lane.
Even in his day he reviles it as of no reputation, and this character it retains.
It is one of the open street markets of London, lined with barrows and coster stalls, and abounding in low public-houses.
The White Hart, the King’s Head, and the Nag’s Head, are mentioned by Strype, and these names survive (1903) amid innumerable others.
At the south end a house with overhanging stories remains; this curtails the already narrow space across the Lane.
On the west of Leather Lane, Baldwin’s Buildings and Portpool Lane open out.
The former consists largely of workmen’s model dwellings, comfortable and convenient within, but with the peculiarly depressing exteriors of the utilitarian style.
Further north these give way to warehouses, breweries, and manufactories.
East of its southern end in Holborn were two old inns, the Old Bell and Black Bull.
The former was a coaching inn of great celebrity in its day, and picturesque wooden balconies surrounded its inner courtyard.
It has now been transformed into a modern public-house.
It was the last of the old galleried inns of London.
The Black Bull was also of considerable age.
Its courtyard has been converted into dwellings.
Brooke Street takes its name from Brooke Market, established here by Fulke Greville, Lord Brooke, but demolished a hundred years ago.
It was in Brooke Street, in a house on the west side, that poor Chatterton committed suicide.
St. Alban’s Church is an unpretentious building at the north end.
An inscription over the north door tells us that it was erected to be free for ever to the poor by one of the humble stewards of God’s mercies, with date 1860.
Within we learn that this benefactor was the first Baron Addington. The church is well known for its ritualistic services.