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Fashionable Clerkenwell's Markets, Open Spaces and Historic Sites

A historic, buzzing neighborhood for business, leisure and underground secrets
Rating: 4 out of 5 by EveryTrail members
Difficulty: Easy
Length: 6.3 miles
Duration: 1-3 hours
Family Friendly

Overview :  This tour reveals some of the stories behind the buildings, streets and spaces in Clerkenwell. It was inspired by the knowledge of... more »

Tips:  Take your camera--there's plenty to see.

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Points of Interest

Sadler's Wells is a leading venue for the performing arts and dance in London. Its cutting-edge mind-set as proven when Matthew Bourne premiered his all-male "Swan Lake" here in 1995.

Although today's building is contemporary, there long has been a theater on this site. In 1683, entrepreneur Dick Sadler erected a Musick House on what was then a... More

In the 1800s Exmouth Market was a principal shopping street with jewelers, chemists, grocers and butchers as well as a street market with more than 100 stalls. Its contemporary version is a pretty semi-pedestrianized thoroughfare with lots of independent cafes, restaurants and shops.

A fine example of a venue sensitive to its history is bar and... More

3. Spa Fields

This park was originally a 17th century pleasure garden for the spas in the area following the arrival of the artificially created New River. The river was engineered to provide a new supply of drinking water for London. It then became a burial ground before it was turned into a children's playground in 1896.

The gardens were extended in recent ... More

4. Finsbury Health Centre

In the late 19th and early 20th century, this area was an overcrowded borough, with slum housing and serious health problems. Left-wing local government councilors of the 1920s developed what became known as the Finsbury Plan, an ambitious scheme for new health facilities, public buildings and housing, all funded through a local tax.

This fine... More

5. Clerkenwell Green

Clerkenwell stretches down from the confines of Exmouth Market along what were once the banks of the River Fleet and are now the pavements of Farringdon Road and Farringdon Street.

You then arrive at Clerkenwell Green, an open space that lies at the center of the old village of Clerkenwell. It is made up of a fine mix of 18th century houses and a... More

The largest wholesale meat market in the United Kingdom, pounds of flesh have been bought and sold at Smithfield for 800 years. This is the place to indulge your inner carnivore.

St. John's is highly regarded meat restaturant and bar that makes a good stop as the place to indulge in some fine eating and drinking. Chef Fergus Henderson believes... More

7. Charterhouse Square

This medieval square once housed a plague pit, the largest mass grave in London during the 1348 outbreak of the Black Death as the plague was known.

The name comes from La Grande Chartreuse, whose monastic order founded the monastery here. It is now a quiet oasis amid the busy streets of the area and its buildings are used for a mix of business... More

8. The Barbican

The 1960s Brutalist concrete complex of housing and cultural centers that makes up the Barbican was part of the Modernist architects of the post-World War II period's Utopian dream for London. It was envisaged as a genuinely residential neighborhood composed of housing, schools, shops and open spaces all hewn around an impressive cultural complex.... More

Whitecross Street has hosted market stalls since the 17th century and it's still going strong today, kept alive by a wide array of archetypal market characters. There is a small general market that takes place each weekday. Come at lunchtime on Thursdays and Fridays to enjoy a plethora of delicious street food choices. These include a... More

10. St. Luke's Church

Famed 18th century church architect Nicholas Hawksmoor designed St. Luke's Church with John James; it was constructed between 1727-33. It is typical of his grand scale and it features an interesting obelisk spire. Hawksmoor, passsionate about religious architecture, was famously a freemason and had a fondness for pagan symbols.

The church, which ... More