What to see in Clerkenwell, London, England
So much more than a ‘well’
Old Sessions House
It appears to be a little hazy at times, where the borders of Clerkenwell start and finish. But I don’t think I’m going to get into that right now!
Wherever the boundaries are we loved our little jaunt around Clerkenwell.
Want to discover more than about London?
We have a little book on our shelves that we sometimes delve into when we're about to hit an area of London.
Packed full of historical facts, and broken down into the different regions of London, it's a great resource to help you see what's hidden in plain sight.
Available in Kindle & Hardback editions, it's an excellent addition to anyone's collection who loves London.
Well, well, well
There’s no better place to start than the beginning, and that’s at the actual “Clerk's Well” at 16 Farringdon Lane. The well which this area was named after was rediscovered in 1924, dates from the Middle Ages.
The Clerks’ Well blue plaque
There is a blue plaque on the wall, so you’re able to locate it; however, you can now only see it behind glass. Unless you have made prior arrangements to visit.
Old Sessions House
Opened in 1782 and formerly Middlesex Sessions House. This striking building located at one end of Clerkenwell Green was once the seat of Middlesex Quarter Sessions. It served as a courthouse hearing many criminal cases from local ne’er-do-wells.
Old Sessions House from the Green
Just up from Old Sessions House in Clerkenwell Green, although very little “green” is actually to be seen. This is where Charles Dickens literary characters of the Artful Dodger and Fagin introduced Oliver Twist to the art of pick-pocketing.
The Crown Tavern
Just on the corner here is The Crown Tavern pub and history tells us that Vladimir Lenin and a young Joseph Stalin had a tête-à-tête here in 1905.
Did you know?
That Clerkenwell Green has had no grass for over 300 years.
The new church of St. James which dates from 1792, dominates the skyline here. It has a delightful green, within its grounds and a play area and café. A lovely place to sit and watch the world go by.
St. James’s Church
Streets of London
Around here are some still very traditional old London streets that conjure up various images of days gone by. While we were strolling around Clerkenwell, there was a film crew prepping for TV series “Gangs of London”.
St. John’s Ambulance
Heading over to St John’s Square, we came across an interesting archway and thought we’d pop through. Only to find a peaceful little cloister garden to the Order of St John, and dedicated to St. John’s Ambulance Brigade, which dates back to the 1880’s.
Entrance to St. John’s cloister garden
Let us know
If you’ve visited any of London’s fascinating districts with so much history, we’d love to hear about them?
St John’s Gate
Formerly, St. John’s Gate was the main entrance to a Grand Priory of the Order of the Hospital St John of Jerusalem and was erected in 1148. It was then burnt down by Wat Tyler in 1381 (he was subsequently murdered at Smithfield).
St John’s Gate
Rebuilt in 1504, although overtime and various iterations the gate has been restored and very little of the stone facing is original. However, it’s still pretty impressive to see.
I just love all the street names in London, particularly in the City of London where there are no streets named “Road” they are often called something quirky.
Now we’re getting close to the edge of the City of London, and some may disagree whether this is Clerkenwell or Smithfield, either way, come take a look.
The view from Charterhouse Square
The Charterhouse is a historical set of buildings dating from 1348 and almost looks out of place to its other surroundings. Once a monastery, a private mansion and also a boy’s school (which has since relocated to Surrey), it is now home to Almshouses.
It’s only since January 2017 that you are now able to visit London Charterhouse, the chapel and museum are free of charge.
If you’re in Charterhouse Square the beady eyed amongst you will have noticed the beautiful lines, on the Art Deco building of Florin Court. The exterior of this eye-catching structure dating from 1936, was used for filming for 24 years as the residence of Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot.
London's Little Italy
During the 1850’s in London, the south-western part of Clerkenwell was known as London’s 'Little Italy'. There was a population of around 2,000 Italians, and in 1863 this led to a beautiful basilica-style church being built along Clerkenwell Road.
St. Peter's Italian Church
Inside St. Peter's Italian Church
St. Peter’s Italian Church may easily go unnoticed, however, take a step inside and you’ll be amazed at the size, as the chapel runs horizontal to its façade.
Clerkenwell is another incredible district in London that holds so much history on the streets and behind its closed doors.
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Inspired to visit Clerkenwell district?
The nearest underground and overground station to Clerkenwell is Farringdon Station.
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Ah love this – to me Clerkenwell was just a name of a district and I knew nothing more, now I really want to go wander its streets and take it all the history and stories you’ve shared! Thanks for this great post! #FarawayFiles
I’m really please you enjoyed it, I just love strolling around the different districts of London. It’s amazing sometimes that just within a few streets how much history there is. I hope you get to go soon, Smithfield is also has some incredible history too.
It’s such a great idea to focus on one area of a big city. This is a good guide to Clerkenwell and you’ve included lots of details that I didn’t already know. A great share for #FarawayFiles as you’ve tempted me to revisit.
Thanks Clare, it’s such an interesting part of the city. So often we just wander through these districts and not quite notice the small things. I’ve certainly been guilty of that.
Love the deep dive on a specific place in London – it’s so big I love the idea of concentrating a bit more in one area. Adore the Art Deco building – almost doesn’t look like it fits here. Thanks for sharing with #FarawayFiles, Erin
Yes it’s great concentrating on one area, you find out so much more. Florin Court is beautiful, if you’ve see the Poirot series it is so distinctive.
I love Clerkenwell but have yet to visit the Charterhouse. Pinned, great post. #FarawayFiles
Thanks very much, it really is an interesting part of London with the mixture of old and new.