Whitefriars is located on the site of a former monastic complex occupied by the Austin friars, or ‘white’ friars, whose monastery was dissolved by Henry VIII in 1538.

The friary site became home to Sir Henry Finch and his family and was noted for its fine gardens and orchards. In the late 19th century, the Simon Langton Girls and Boys Grammar Schools were established on the site.

The Whitefriars area was extensively damaged during Second World War bombing raids and was gradually redeveloped between the 1950s and 1970s with a mix of offices and retail units and a multi-storey car park.

This redevelopment proved to be largely unsuccessful, both from an economic and visual perspective, and the decision was taken to redevelop the site in the 1990s to provide a new scheme more in-keeping with its historic setting and the demands of modern retailing.

Enabling works for the new scheme began in late 1999 and the new Whitefriars was finally completed in September 2005.