From a Clerkenwell Rooftop

This week, on the first day of bright warm weather we’ve had this month, I went to a talk about the history of Clerkenwell on the roof of one of the buildings at the centre of the area.

Only 6 floors up the views were not quite panoramic, but still I could see many of London’s main landmarks, although, interestingly, not the London Eye, which usually pops up in places I’d never have expected to see it.

Clerkenwell’s history spanned from when Katherine Parr, Henry VIII’s widow chose it as the place for her retirement because of its clean air,and the proximity to the local churches and monastery, through to when it was the haunt of Victorian cut-throats and thieves, living beside the stagnant and filthy ditch that the River Fleet turned into, and on to a place where honest craftsmen set up shop outside the City walls and away from the domination of the City Guilds.

I remember when I first came to London this area was a bit run down, with many boarded up shops and one or two restaurants that one felt quite adventurous to find, and now it is a design hotbed, home to lots of small businesses, and teeming with bars and restaurants, and where one of the biggest holes I’ve ever seen has been dug up as part of the process to gussy up Farringdon station beyond recognition into some kind of major transport hub.

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3 Comments

  1. margaret

     /  May 25, 2012

    Love the idea of looking at a district and peeling away the layers of history.

    Reply
  2. Jane

     /  August 23, 2012

    Hello – I am trying to research what happened to Catherine Parr’s homes – I have found a comment that she lived in Clerkenwell. Please please tell me how you know, and whereabouts she lived. Can you tell me any more ?
    Many thanks, Jane

    Reply
    • Hi Jane, thanks for visiting my site, but I’m afraid I don’t know anything more. I got my information from the guide who spoke to us on the rooftop. I don’t recall her name, but the talk was arranged by craft central http://craftcentral.org.uk/ based in Clerkenwell who may be able to help you. Good luck; it’s an interesting subject to research. Rowena

      Reply

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