In spite of all the development in Westminster, the area around Great Peter Street had deteriorated and people lived in poor conditions. Dickens described the area as the ‘Devil's Acre’. This was appropriate as a house in Old Pye Street was used to give lessons in fobology or in other words, pickpocketing. In 1855, a lodging house in the area was reputed to have held 120 people. The area was also described as follows:
'It is in these narrow streets , and in these close and unsalubrious lanes, courts and alleys, where squalid misery and poverty struggles with filth and wretchedness , where vice reigns unchecked and in the atmosphere of which diseases are generated and diffused.'