The King’s Great Wardrobe was originally a large house with shops and other adjacent properties, looking out on to a small square. It was built in the early 1300’s by Sir John Beauchamp, younger son of Guy, Earl of Warwick, governor of Calais and a hero of Edward III’s French wars.
On Sir John’s death the site was sold to King Edward III who used its spacious rooms for the Great Wardrobe.
The initial purpose of the King’s Wardrobe was as a branch of the Exchequer for the receipt and disbursement of monies for the personal expenditure of the Sovereign. It was also used to store furniture, tapestries, clothing, cloth, silk, canvas and furs. Over time it was enlarged to store, repair and make armoury, tents, harnesses and saddles. It became the official residence of the Keeper or Master of the Wardrobe.
The Great Fire of London in 1666 devastated the King’s Wardrobe as well as much of the local area including the church of St Andrew-in-the-Wardrobe.
A survey conducted in 1677 shows the area of the King’s Wardrobe as flattened ground. The northern part of the site is shown with five properties and a passage into an open area which would later become Wardrobe Place.
The area was rebuilt in the late 17th and 18th centuries by which time more than half of Wardrobe Place had been built as Georgian houses. Late in the 19th century, Wardrobe Place and the surrounding streets were developed as commercial buildings housing a variety of businesses.
The premises fronting Addle Hill were rebuilt as a terrace of Edwardian shops with living accommodation above. “Ye Olde Bell Hotel” was located at the bottom.