Great Scotland Yard

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Great Scotland Yard
Great Scotland Yard SW1 - - 1623573.jpg
Great Scotland Yard, at the junction with Scotland Place
Location St. James's, Westminster, London, England
Postal code SW1

Great Scotland Yard is a street in the St. James's district of Westminster, London, connecting Northumberland Avenue and Whitehall. It is best known as the location of the rear entrance to the original headquarters of the Metropolitan Police Service of London.


Street sign of Great Scotland Yard

Although the etymology is not known for sure, according to a 1964 article in The New York Times, the name derives from buildings in the area being used to accommodate the diplomatic representatives of the then Kingdom of Scotland and occasionally Scottish kings when they visited English royalty[1] – in effect, the Scottish Embassy, though this institute was not yet formalized.

By the 17th century the street had become a site of government buildings and residences for civil servants. The architects Inigo Jones and Christopher Wren once lived there. From 1649–51, the poet John Milton lived there during the Commonwealth of England under Oliver Cromwell's rule. By the time of the late eighteenth century the district was associated with prominence and prestige; hence for example in the 1790s in his satirical A Tale of a Tub, Jonathan Swift ironically claimed the regard of " worthy brethren and friends at Will’s Coffee-house, and Gresham College, and Warwick Lane, and Moorfields, and Scotland Yard, and Westminster Hall, and Guildhall; in short, to all inhabitants and retainers whatsoever, either in court, or church, or camp, or city, or country...".[2]

According to the London Metropolitan Police Service (MPS), the original Metropolitan Police Commissioner's office was located at 4 Whitehall Place, with a rear entrance on Great Scotland Yard. An 1862 map of Westminster shows this location.[3] Over time, the name Scotland Yard came to be used generally as a metonym for the police headquarters.[4]

"The Clarence" pub at the corner of Great Scotland Yard and Whitehall

Richard Horwood's 1799 map of London shows Great Scotland Yard on the eastern side Whitehall, opposite The Admiralty just like today. Below it are two more streets that are cul-de-sacs: Middle Scotland Yard, located where Whitehall Place runs today, and Lower Scotland Yard, with entry from Middle Scotland Yard. Lower Scotland Yard was located where the War Office building was erected in 1906,[5] but was, according to the 1862 map, renamed Middle Scotland Yard when Whitehall Place, originally also a cul-de-sac, took the place of the original Middle Scotland Yard.[3]

The Clarence pub dates from 1896 and was named after the Duke of Clarence. At that time it was attached to the opposite corner across Great Scotland Yard by an archway. In 1908 the archway was removed in the redevelopment of Great Scotland Yard, the end of the building was refaced with newer and slightly different coloured bricks.

Interior of Clarence Pub

Since 1953 The Civil Service Club has been based in the Old Fire House, located at numbers 13–15, and is a social club for current and former members of the UK civil service.

Filming location[edit]

A World War II scene in the 2007 movie Atonement with Keira Knightley and James McAvoy was produced in this road as was a scene from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1. The road was also used as part of the car chase scene from James Bond's Skyfall.


  1. ^ Farnsworth, Clyde H (15 May 1964), "Move is planned by Scotland Yard", The New York Times 
  2. ^ A Tale of a Tub. Jonathan Swift, retrieved 24 July 2010 .
  3. ^ a b Stafford – London & is suburbs (image database), Motco, 1862, retrieved 21 December 2010 .
  4. ^ Great Scotland Yard, Metropolitan Police Service, retrieved 24 July 2010 .
  5. ^ Horwood, Richard (1799), Map of London (image database), Motco, retrieved 21 December 2010 .

External links[edit]

Media related to Great Scotland Yard at Wikimedia Commons

Coordinates: 51°30′23″N 0°07′32″W / 51.5064°N 0.1256°W / 51.5064; -0.1256