This is a modern yard in Aldgate named after a long-standing, and not standing anymore, pub of the same name, and had been a coaching inn of some sort ever since Tudor times.
The location at Aldgate, on the edge of the City of London, made it an ideal location for inns and hostels, and a lot of grand old buildings sprung up in the area, many surviving the Great Fire of London, right up to Victorian times.
The Saracen’s Head Inn actually faced onto Aldgate with a large courtyard behind but had a small rear entrance on the side street where Saracen’s Head Yard now exists.
The inn itself closed in 1867/8, and subsequently was used as a builders office, a restaurant and the yard and stable buildings were used as small warehouses. The increasingly dilapidated buildings were sold and demolished in 1913.
The side road where Saracen’s Head Yard is now found is Jewry Street, but was known as The Poore Jurie, as it was home to slums mainly owned by Jews. The row of old houses that used to line the street just a bit to the south where the Yard and offices are today was donated by Sir Moses Montefiore to be used as almshouses for the Sephardi poor in 1823. The almshouse charity merged with the Barrow’s almshouses in East London in 1894.
The whole area was flattened during WW2, and remained a bomb site, used as a temporary car park. A plan to build offices in the 1950s didn’t get past a few drawings. There was a more serious plan to build an extension of the Sir John Cass College on the site – which would have linked with the existing college building opposite with a 4th-floor footbridge and an underground subway.
This didn’t happen, and in the late 1970s the area was finally redeveloped as a mix of six floors of offices, and above that four floors of flats. The flats in the upper floors were converted into an extension of the office space, with a sports club and canteen included in 1982/3.
Today it can frankly be said to be exactly what it is — a very late 1970s office block with the yard still performing its post-war task of being a car park. Albeit for office users only now.
The dark brick walls are lined at the lower levels by dark marble with two arches leading to the yard behind.
Today one arch is a designated smoking area where the other arch has signs telling people not to smoke, and there’s a very attention grabbing sign in the middle of the yard by a solitary tree telling people not to smoke.
Otherwise, the yard is just a basic car park and service yard of minimal interest to passers-by.