Whitefriars is named for a pre-Reformation house of the Carmelites (Whitefriars) that used to be located in the area. The area originally fell under the jurisdiction of the friars. The area’s residents continued to claim exemption from the city's jurisdiction long after the friars had moved on, but their anomalous status was abolished in 1697.
Hanging-sword Alley lay south of Fleet Street and ran east off Whitefriars. It has been built over since Dickens’ time. Even then, however, it would have been difficult to locate - its opening was a mere crack in the wall. The Hanging Sword house, from which the street took its name, can be traced to the 1560's.
For many years the alley hosted ‘Blood Bowl House’. In 1743 Captain George Morgan was returning home along Fleet Street in the early hours of the morning when he spotted a lost old lady. He offered to escort her home. She led him round the corner to Blood Bowl House where he was set upon by a gang, robbed and thrown into the Alley almost dead.