This location is featured in Dicken’s ‘litle dorrit’. Up until the mid 19th century the area from what is now New Oxford Street to Farringdon Road was a maze of narrow streets and alleyways – an area know as the Rookery – or another name for a slum. The narrow streets would have been filled with cheaply built houses, in which each room would have been filled with one or more families. The area was cleared in the mid 19th century as part of the slum clearance plans.
The site of Fagin’s Den in Oliver Twist. This area was part of the Rookeries that stretched from what is now New Oxford St to Farringdon Road until the slum clearances in the mid 19th century.
Jersualem Tavern Britton Street Clerkenwell
The Jersusalem Tavern was named after the Priory of St John, around which the village of Clerkenwell grew. The Jersusalem Tavern has existed since the 14th century and has occupied several sites in the area. The current building was developed in 1719-20 and was originally a merchants house and workshop. The shop front was added in 1810
This garden was originally an overflow burial ground for St John’s Church
It is reputed that Lenin and Stalin met in this pub in 1903. Issues 22 to 38 of he party newspaper Iskra (the spark) where published in offices at 37a Clerkenwell Green.
The Peabody estate was established by the Anglophile American philanthropist George Peabody (1795-1869). The charity he set up was part of an enlightened impulse to combat the insanitary slums and chronic disease in industrialised London through improvements in public health and model housing. This model housing however was only available to industrious artisans who were a couple of rungs up the ladder from less skiiled, poorer workers.
Site the Clerkenwell House of Detention. The Hugh Myddleton School building, converted into flats now stands on the site but the cells remain below
This part of the close follows the wall of the former Clerkenwell House of Detention
Bunhill Fields – Dame Mary Page
Clerkenwell Road – opposite the gatehouse of the priory of the Knights of St John
The south gate, dating from 1504, is all that remains of the priory of the Knights of St John.
St Johns Lane Clerkenwell
The Fox and Anchor is one of the pubs that serves the workers at the Smithfield markets and is allowed to open at 5:30hrs. The pub has recently been renovated with the upstairs converted in high end hotel rooms
Edmund Martin Tripe dresser – Lindsey Street
Florin Court Charterhouse Square
Tart – Charterhouse Street Smithfield
Rising Sun Cloth Fair – St Bartholomew the Great beyond
Resurrection of Christ
Churchyard St Bartholomew the Great Smithfield
Carpark Smithfield market. This was formerly the location of the abattoir for the market
Crime, revolutions and executions seems an apt subtitle for Clerkenwell and Smithfield – a district that has housed prisons, acted as a site for public executions and has been the chosen residence of its fair share of revolutionaries over the centuries.
Clerkenwell (Clerks Well) and Smithfield (Smooth field) are two ancient districts on the boundaries of the City of London and over the centuries have seen multiple waves of development – from fashionable districts in the 17th century, through industrial revolution and post-war decline to come full circle to trendy districts in the 1990s. An example is the Clerkenwell house of detention – first a prison, later a school and now – luxury flats (though the prison cells remain in the basement).
Walking around the streets here you try to imagine the hemmed in feeling of the ‘Rookeries’ – the narrow streets and cheap houses that covered the modern day area from New Oxford street to Farrington Road. Many of the locations in the area feature in the writing of Dickens including; Saffron Hill, Bleeding Heart Yard and Clerkenwell Green, an odd name as it has not been ‘green’ for 300 years. This old village square of Clerkenwell has links with radical politics with the Bolshevik’s newspaper Iskra published here in the early years of the 20th century. The same building now houses the Marx Memorial Library. There is a local story that Lenin met the young Stalin in the Crown Tavern on the green in 1903.
Clerkenwell has a monastic tradition as well, acting as the home of the Knights of St John of Jerusalem – today only the southern gatehouse of their Priory exists but a link with the monastic order remains in the name of the district’s oldest pub – the Jerusalem Tavern, which has existed since the 14th century.
Smithfield, a popular site for the public execution of heretics and dissidents was until the 1850s open fields and the location of London’s meat market. Cattle were driven down to Smithfield via St John’s Street and slaughtered and sold on site. The area was also the location of two monasteries, Charterhouse – later an almshouse and St Bartholomew the Great.