A Clerkenwell Walk

Route & what to see


A 2 mile linear walk from Farringdon to Barbican Stations. It can be continued through Finsbury to Liverpool Street Station (total 3 miles). Some locations also feature on Crime & Punishment walk.

Exit the station and cross to view the frontage.
London's first section of underground railway opened in 1863 between Paddington and Farringdon. The Metropolitan Railway was constructed using the cut and cover system and operated by steam trains. The station was rebuilt in 1922.

Go west along Cowcross Street, crossing Farringdon Road then left down Saffron Hill.
This is the setting for Fagin's Den in Dickens 'Oliver Twist'

At the end go up the steps, right along Chartehouse Street and right into Ely Place.
At one time this area, belonging to the Bishops of Ely, was considered part of Cambridgeshire. On the left the RC church of St Ethelreda's was originally the bishop's chapel.

Go into the narrow passage of Ely Court.
Ye Olde Mitre Tavern, built in 1546, has the trunk of a tree in the bar around which Elizabeth I is supposed to have danced.

Exit into and go right along Hatton Garden.
Christopher Hatton, a favourite of Elizabeth I, was granted land to build a house and garden here in 1576. It is now noted for its jewellers shops. Wren House on the corner of Cross Street was a former chapel and parish school.

Go right at Cross Street, right along Kirby Street and left into Greville Street.
Bleeding Heart Yard to the right featured in 'Little Dorrit' by Charles Dickens.

Continue across Farringdon Road and along Cowcross Street past Farringdon Station.
The Castle pub on the corner of Turnmill Street was granted a pawnbroker's licence by George IV.

Follow Turnmill Street and go right into Benjamin Street.
The garden on the left was an overflow burial ground for St John's Church. On the corner of Britton Street is an unusual house designed for Janet Street-Porter by Piers Gough. Opposite is the Goldsmiths' Centre. A new four storey building has been linked to a renovated Grade II listed Victorian Board School. The cafe and exhibitions are open to the public.

Go left along Britton Street.
Elements from the Booths Gin Factory, originally in Turnmill Street, have been incorporated into a new building on the left. These include the frieze depicting processes in gin distilling designed by FW Pomeroy. There are 18th century houses including the Jerusalem Tavern on the right.

At the end go left along Clerkenwell Road and cross to Clerkenwell Green.
On the west side is the former Middlesex Sessions House, now used by the Freemasons. On the north side the former Welsh Charity School of 1737 is now the Marx Memorial Library. In Farringdon Lane the Clerk's Well which gave the area its name can be viewed in the basement of an office building.

From the Green go into Clerkenwell Close and follow this through. .
On the left Oliver's old-established shop was next to the Three Kings pub (notice the unusual sign - can you identify the three kings? - answer at the end). St James's Church was built by James Carr in 1788-92 to replace a nunnery church that had been used by the parish since the Dissolution. Further along there are Peabody flats to the left. The Hugh Myddleton School building, now converted into flats, stands on the site of the Clerkenwell House of Detention, whose cells remain below.

Go right into Corporation Row.
The Fenian Society, in trying to release prisoners, placed a bomb against the prison wall which destroyed houses in this road in 1867.

Continue along Skinner Street, go right into St John Street and right into Sekforde Street.
The corner building was the Ingersoll watch factory, now apartments. Further along the former Finsbury Bank for Savings, used by Dickens, is now offices.

Go left at Woodbridge Street
The Woodbridge Chapel of 1833 became a Medical Mission. Near this site was the Red Bull Tudor playhouse (it did not impress Pepys who visited in 1661!)

Go right at Hayward's Place and left into Sekforde Street.
There is a blue plaque to John Groom who set up workshops for disabled women in the corner building.

Go left at Aylesbury Street and right through Jerusalem Passage.
This would have been a covered way into the Priory of the Knights of St John of Jerusalem. The priory church was rebuilt after WWII bomb damage but the circular shape of the 1140's church is marked in the cobblestones of St John's Square.

Cross Clerkenwell Street into St John's Lane.
The former priory gatehouse has served as an office for the Master of the Revels and the Gentleman's Magazine as well as a coffee house and tavern. It is now part of the Museum of the Order of St John along with the neighbouring Edwardian building.

Continue along St John's Lane.
The junction with St John's Street marks the location of Hicks Hall, a forerunner of the Middlesex Sessions House.

At the end of St John's Street cross Charterhouse Street into the Grand Avenue of Smithfield Meat Market.
The building was designed by Horace Jones in 1878 with refrigerated storage and rail links. Until 1855 cattle were brought into Smithfield to be slaughtered.

Exit into West Smithfield.
This has been a site of meetings and executions. The Protestant Martyrs and William Wallace are commemorated with plaques by St Bartholomew's Hospital. The hospital was founded along with the church by Rahere, once jester to Henry I. The hospital has a museum and the church is usually open to visitors.

Go along Cloth Fair
Sir John Betjamin lived in this street. Further along on the right is the Founders Livery Hall.

Go left through the passage and left at Long Lane then right into Lindsey Street. Cross Charterhouse Street into Fox and Knot Street and go right into Charterhouse Square.
A Carthusian Monastery was founded here in 1370. It was purchased by Thomas Sutton in 1611 to provide a school and almhouses. The school moved to Godalming in 1872 but pensioners still live at Charterhouse although many buildings had to be rebuilt after war damage. On the east side Florin Court was used in the filming of TV's 'Poirot'. [

From the Square go left along Carthusian Street. BARBICAN STATION is to the right. To continue the walk go left along Aldersgate Street and right at Fann Street. Cross Golden Lane and continue ahead through the park.
Fortune Street to the left was the location of the Fortune Theatre built for Edward Alleyn and Philip Henslowe in 1600.

Go right at Whitecross Street (there is a market to the left) and left along Chiswell Street.
Whitbread & Co, the largest brewery business in London, operated here 1750-1976.

Go left into Lamb's Passage and follow this through. Go left at Bunhill Row then through Bunhill Fields Burial Ground to the right.
This unconsecrated ground was used by non-conformists. There is a map locating notable graves at the central building.

Exit into City Road.
Opposite is Wesley's House and Chapel. Both are open to the public and there is a museum of Methodism in the chapel crypt.

Go south along City Road.
The Honourable Artillery Company occupy the castellated building on the right, built as barracks in 1857.

Go left into Finsbury Square.
This has attractive central gardens.

Exit into Sun Street at the SE corner, go right along Wilson Street and left into Eldon Street.
On the left the church of St Mary Moorfields is worth visiting.

Continue ahead to Liverpool Street Station.
The Broadgate area to the left has public spaces and works of art.

* The Three Kings are Henry VIII, Elvis Presley and King Kong!


london-footprints.co.uk 2012

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