Clerkenwell Wanderings

The route from Angel tube station to the Barbican takes you through the part of London known as Clerkenwell. It’s the sort of place in which you can easily forget that you’re in the heart of one of the Worlds busiest cities.

Clerkenwell Green, now built over, still retains the air of the former village green that it once was, the parish churches, dotted around still retain the character from yesteryear. Close to the Green is the original well from which the area takes its name and more information about the well can be found here in this post from London Unveiled.

The area is rich in history with the area around Smithfield Market in particular having a particularly gory past. William Wallace was put to death there and in 1381 Wat Tyler, the leader of the Peasants Revolt was stabbed and killed here. The area around Smithfield hosted tournaments, fairs and executions as well as being an important trading centre.

St. Barts Hospital, one of the countries biggest (and certinaly the oldest) hospitals just opposite Smithfields Market has a history going back to 1123 and the remnants of the priory of St.John can still be seen close by. The Museum on St Johns Square is a particular surprise with free access to the chapel, cript and small museum. The Knights of St. John were an order founded during the crusades, disbanded by Henry VIII and then refunded again in the 1800’s. Now they are best known for establishing the famous St. Johns Ambulance.

Although there are plenty of places to stop and rest in the area, the Curved Angel cafe next to St. James Church is certinaly somewhere I would go again. Good service combined by incredibly reasonable prices is always a winning combination.

In about two miles there is a lot to see so if you feel like spending a day wandering around this area it’s more than achievable. Theres even a little bit of street art. On Clerkenwell Green a portrait of Marlon Brando in the instantly recognisable style of Otto Schade can be seen and it’s a really good piece too.

image

Clerkenwell Green with St James Church

image

Red phone boxes in Smithfield Market

image

Interior of St Johns Chapel

image

Carving of St Bartholomew

image

Marlon Brando by Otto Schade