Traces of A Different Use

I spent a few moments wandering around Clerkenwell Green a couple of days ago, and as always, when I pause to properly look around me, I saw traces of things I’d never noticed before.  This photo highlights some of the accretions of time which are present throughout the city.

The drinking and cattle trough must date from the time when the Green was used as a place to store and graze cattle and other livestock before they were taken to be slaughtered at the nearby Smithfield meat market. Now the trough has been prettied up and contains bedding plants.

Then there’s the clutch of telephone boxes; one of the instantly recognisable ‘symbols’ of Britain, but this overlooks the fact that they are really quite a rarity in our contemporary streets.  I wonder who uses these telephones?  It’s unlikely to be any of the people who work in the achingly trendy design and PR companies which occupy the buildings around the edges.

Maybe it’s the tourists who might be expected round here – the finger post direction signs indicate an expectation that strangers might happen by…….

Or maybe it’s just another unremarkable corner of central London.

Leave a comment


  1. Not so unremarkable. Your post made me take down Peter Ackroyd’s ‘London: The Biography’, which I finished reading only 3 days ago. Chapter 51 is about the history of Clerkenwell, and like almost every other nook and niche of London, the area is steeped in layers of events, myths and stories. FYI: “Just on the northern edge of the green itself can be found the original site of the medieval well from which the district derives its name; in the 18th and 19th centuries it was simply a broken iron pump let into the front wall of a tenement building but, since that time, it has been restored and preserved behind a thick glass wall.”
    Next time you’re there, go and have a look at the well for me!

    • Jill. I didn’t know that about the well there, and am not sure where it might be – but when I’m next in those parts I’ll check it out for you!


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