Don’t be taken in by those who claim Clerkenwell as their own secret little cool spot. It’s old news. Clerkenwell became fashionable way back in the 17th century when it was hugely popular with many prominent aristocrats of the time.
Charterhouse is a former Carthusian monastery in London, located between Barbican and Smithfield Market, and to the north of what is now Charterhouse Square. Since the dissolution of the monasteries in the 16th century the site has served as a private mansion, a boys’ school and an almshouse, which it remains to this day. Today the Charterhouse is home to a community of Brothers who benefit from the charity established by Thomas Sutton early in the 17th century.
It is possible to visit the historic site on pre-booked tours, hire areas for private functions and attend services in the chapel.
Sadler’s Wells is a truly wonderful place to see brilliant dance performances and, at the other end of the spectrum, Exmouth Market is a great place to browse, shop, eat and people watch, with hip cafes and coffee shops, indie boutiques and food stalls everywhere.
Clerkenwell Green is pretty much the centre of the old village and is a cool, trendy area with old, renovated warehouses and factories. Snug little gastropubs rub shoulders with stylish eateries and when nighttime falls, the bars and clubs start cranking up the music.
Don’t be misled by the name, though, as there is no green in Clerkenwell Green; there hasn’t actually been grass here for 300 years! It was right here in Clerkenwell Green, in Dickens’ Oliver Twist, that Fagin coerced poor Oliver into the dark art of pickpocketing…“They were just emerging from a narrow court not far from the open square in Clerkenwell, which is yet called, by some perversion of terms, ‘The Green.’’’
Dickens certainly knew the area well!