In the 17th century George Villiers Duke of Buckingham owned York House in London, which stood on land between The Strand and the River Thames. The Duke disposed of the property in 1672 to a developer, Nicholas Barbon, on condition that the new streets be named after himself: George Street, Villiers Street, Duke Street and Buckingham Street. Adjoining Buckingham Street, Barbon made a narrow lane called Of Alley. John Roque’s map of London of 1746 shows the plan.
It would have been nice if Barbon had arranged the streets so as to write the Duke’s name and title in order across the map, or to allow a person to make a circuit in the correct order: George, Villiers, Duke, Of, Buckingham. But he did not. Villiers Street and Buckingham Street still carry their names today. Of Alley was renamed in the 19th century, but the modern street sign says ‘York Place, formerly Of Alley’. It is a grim little passage lined by the backs of tall office buildings