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Neil Hatton

CDW – Discover ‘alternative’ facts about the amazing Clerkenwell…

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Now, we know that you are no stranger to the amazing and creative experience that Clerkenwell Design Week brings to visitors. It is often described as the most concentrated place on Earth for designers and architects alike, being home to more creative businesses and architects per square mile than anywhere else on the planet, a fact that can often be heard.


So, here at Showcase Interiors, as often is the case with every project we encounter, we searched for ‘alternative’ facts about Clerkenwell – those little-known details that often shed light, educating and enlightening in equal parts… read on to find what we discovered.


Famous former residents include; Gillian Anderson (American Actress), Charles Dickens, Michael Fagan (Buckingham Palace intruder), Anthony Horowitz (novelist) Oliver Cromwell (1599-1658), William Hogarth (1697-1764), Vladimir Lenin (1870-1924), Zaha Hadid (1950-2016) and of course Janet Street Porter!


  1. The River Fleet still flows through Clerkenwell but now runs underground. It can be heard in front of The Coach pub through a grating on Ray Street.
  2. Well Court is located on Farringdon Lane. The name ‘Clerkenwell’ derives from ‘Clerks’ Well’, a spring around which sacred plays were performed by clerics in the Middle Ages. A cleric was commonly referred to as a clerk, and the plural form was ‘clerken.’ Clerks’ Well was lost until its rediscovery by builders in 1924. It is now incorporated into a building called Well Court on Farringdon Lane and can still be seen through one of the ground floor windows and from the street level of Farringdon Lane.
  3. Clerkenwell Green is known for its historical significance. Lenin resided on Percy Circus, located half a mile north of Clerkenwell Green, and he would often enjoy a pint in The Crown and Anchor Pub on the Green (now known as The Crown Tavern). Rumour has it that Vladimir Lenin and Joseph Stalin had their first meeting at The Crown Tavern in Clerkenwell. Additionally, Clerkenwell Green is where Fagin and the Artful Dodger induct Oliver Twist into pickpocketing in Charles Dickens’s novel, Oliver Twist.
  4. The Holy Tavern is the oldest pub in the area. You will find it halfway down Britton Street. While on Britton Street, look up and to the right, and you will see the restored 1901 façade from the former Booth’s distillery on Turnmill Street.
  5. While zipping through the alley down the side of the Holy Tavern, you will arrive at St John’s Square. This historic square is home to St John Gate and some of London’s most ancient hostelries. The Clerkenwell Priory, which served as the headquarters of the Knights Hospitallers during the Crusades, dates back to that time. Its modern incarnation is St John Ambulance.
  6. While walking south on St. John’s Lane, you will reach Smithfield Meat Market. The market has existed for over 800 years and is famous for its listed façade and roof. It is also where William Wallace, Scotland’s ‘Braveheart,’ was hung, drawn, and quartered in 1305. The market will soon become the home of our new Showcase Group Office. We will inform you when it is ready!
  7. Moving east, you will find Charterhouse Square, once home to a monastery and a Plague Pit dating back to 1348. It is thought to be London’s largest Black Death mass grave site, discovered during the excavation for Crossrail.
  8. The Castle, located on the corner of Cowcross Street and Turnmill Street, has three golden balls hanging next to the pub sign. This is the sign of a pawnbroker. Inside, there is a large picture showing an unscheduled visit by George IV. Having gambled all his money away at a local cockfight, he needed more funds and visited the pub to pawn his watch at the bar. As a reward, he granted the landlord a pawnbroker’s licence, which is still held to this day.
  9. Clerkenwell is famous for many film locations. On St John’s Street, Vic Naylors Bar gained fame for being featured in ‘Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels!’

If you have any outstanding, unusual and intriguing facts why not get in touch and join the conversation…,

Showcase Interiors Head Office:
Paslow Hall Farm Estate
King Street
High Ongar
Essex CM5 9QZ

T: 08458 336 515
F: 08458 336 516
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