This information comes from the display board at the site provided by Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer (the law firm whose offices house Whitefriars Crypt):
WhitefriarsThis site was first home to a religious institution in 1253. This crypt, thought to date from the late 14th century, constitutes the only visible remains of a medieval priory that belonged to a Carmelite order known as the White Friars. At its height, the priory stretched from Fleet Street to the Thames, bounded by the Temple in the west and Water Lane (now Whitefriars Street) in the east. The ground contained a church, cloisters, garden and cemetery.
When Henry VIII dissolved the priory in the middle of the 16th century, he gave most of the land to his doctor, William Butte. The buildings soon fell into disrepair. Indeed, this crypt appears to have been used at one time as a coat cellar. The great hall, meanwhile, was converted into the Whitefriars Playhouse, which was home to a succession of companies of child actors.
Eventually, speculative builders moved in, filling the site with a warren of cheap housing. By the 1830s, when Charles Dickens wrote about the district, Whitefriars had developed a seedy reputation as the last refuge of criminals and drunkards.
This crypt, which stood beneath the lodgings of the prior (the head of the friary), was unearthed during building works in 1895. It was cleared and restored in the 1920s, when this area was redeveloped on behalf of the newspaper News of the World.
On the Move
How to Find Whitefriars Crypt
Whitefriars Crypt is at the back of the offices of international law firm Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer at 65 Fleet Street, London EC4Y 1HS.
Turn off Fleet Street and walk down Bouverie Street. Look out for Magpie Alley on your left. Turn in and when you reach the courtyard look over the wall to the basement. There are steps to your left so you can get a closer look at the remains of Whitefriars Crypt.