As I have been doing lately when I go somewhere new in London (I can’t believe that after 20+ years there is still a lot of London I haven’t seen!), I took my camera with me and decided to go and explore a bit of the area around Clerkenwell Green and Farringdon Underground Station. It was cold and grey and I was hoping that my photos would turn out well.
Last Thursday I had a job interview in St. Johns Square, near Farringdon Station. I have never been in this area in the daytime, but I go there nearly every Saturday evening to dance Argentine Tango at The Crypt in St. James’ Church. Here is a link to a map so you can see where I was. I didn’t cover a lot of ground, but I did manage to stay out for 2.5 hours.
As I arrived quite early, I decided to get my bearings and find out where St. Johns Square was and then have a little look around the nearby streets. I walked up Jerusalem Passage across Aylesbury Street to Woodbridge and Sekforde Street.
Here is a download of a walk I found. I think I might research my areas beforehand in the future, as this could have been really useful, though probably not as fun as discovering something by pure chance. It seems that I ended up on nearly every street mentioned here anyway, but now I have more information on the history of the area than I had before.
I ended up backtracking to St. John’s Square for my interview and came upon the Docwra Family Memorial Gateway.
This family has a very interesting history, but the person that has influence in the area was Thomas Docwra, who was Grand Prior of the English Knights Hospitaller.
St. John’s Square is quite bland and not very interesting to look at, which is why I hadn’t taken a photo. There are a few old and modern buildings mixed with an assortment of cafés and restaurants around a paved open space with some seating.
I carried on across Clerkenwell Road to St. John’s Gate. The vaulted ceiling inside the gate has some lovely detail and is a pretty contrast to the brick surround. On the other side of the gate is the Museum of the order of St. John, St. John Ambulance. Entrance to the ground floor museum galleries is free so I decided to have a look around and learn something about the history of the building and the ambulance service. The first section on the left and to the right of the entrance deal with the history of the building and the Order of St. John’s or Hospitalliers. The exhibition is small, but very informative with paintings, sections of masonry, documents, medicine jars, and an assortment of miscellaneous items. There is another section next to the shop that tells the history of St. John’s Ambulance from 1877 to the present day. It is an interactive mulitmedia set up and contains lots of drawers full of medals and small items, computer consoles and flipcharts. I would have liked to spend more time here as it seemed very interesting, but it was too early in the morning for me. There are tours only on certain days and times for the rest of the building. I would certainly recommend coming here and think that children would like it, especially the interactive section. I also found the staff to be very informative, friendly and helpful.
I carried on down St. John’s Lane and made a right onto Eagle Court. There was a derelict building with boarded up windows which will probably be turned into something interesting in the future. There was some interesting graffiti on one of the doors which made it seem like the space was getting used in some way.
I carried on right along Peters Lane to Cowcross Street and Turnmill Street, then turned left along Cowcross. Off Cowcross there is a curios little dead end street called Greenhill Rents where I came across a huge painting on the wall of a building that was of Sampson and Delilah with a little plaque next to it adverting The National Gallery.
When I came to the corner of Cowcross and St. John’s at Charterhouse Street I looked across the road and found I had come up to Smithfield Market. (You can read about it here and here.) I first came across The Smithfield Market in November when I explored around The Barbican. I hadn’t realised how close Farringdon is to the Barbican and you can read more in my post A walk in London – Barbican and Smithfield. In fact, I happened to be on the other side of the market this time and had a chance to look around inside. There are large posters depicting the history of the market and the changes it has gone through to the present day. There is a fair amount of metalwork that is painted in various shades of purple, pink and green. I really liked it, and it certainly gives the place a bit of character.
I carried along Charterhouse Street and turned off left to Charterhouse Square. There were some lovely old buildings around the square apparently dating from the Tudor period. I wandered around the square and came to Suttons Hospital. It is rarely open to the public and I was only allowed to take photos of the outside of the property. The building has an interesting history and the website is particularly informative. Carrying on around the square I came to The Old Anatomy Building which is part of Queen Mary’s University of London. I passed a few minutes having a lovely chat with the gatekeeper, Edward, who happens to come from Tanzania. He spotted me taking photographs.
I made my way back onto Charterhouse Street and towards Farringdon Station to Turnmill Street. I made a right on Benjamin Street, then left on Britton Street towards Clerkenwell Road. I crossed over to Clerkenwell Green to The Old Sessions House which is now used as a Masonic Hall. I then carried on around The Green to St. John’s Church and then made my way back to the underground station.
Although after the fact, I was pleased to discover the rich history of the area. There are plenty of little alleyways and interesting streets that contain a mixture of old and new buildings. There are very many design and advertising agencies in the area and a wide variety of pubs, restaurants and clubs.
You can see my photographic journey here along with other photos of London.