Once the stomping ground of famed English author Charles Dickens, Clerkenwell is now known as a centre of a different kind of creativity, attracting designers and architects in their droves.
This delightful London district – just north of Farringdon and just south of King’s Cross – is characterised by historic buildings, ornate churches and excellent gastropubs. Clerkenwell has retained a village-like feel despite its central location, with modern architecture often rubbing shoulders with more quaint, old-fashioned counterparts in its streets and squares.
Situated in central and north London, Clerkenwell is firmly within the zone 1 travelcard boundary. There are no tube stations in Clerkenwell per se, but it can be accessed via Farringdon station (serviced by Thameslink) or Barbican station (serviced by Circle, Hammersmith & City and Metropolitan lines). These are a 12-minute and 20-minute walk to Clerkenwell, respectively. Alternatively, you could hop on a bus as the number 55, 153 and 243 all stop along Clerkenwell Road.
Clerkenwell is a fascinating place to walk around, as it holds so much of the capital’s history. Tourists – and Londoners – can enjoy a wander through the Islington Museum (a bastion of local lore) and the Charles Dicken Museum (set in the very house the writer lived in between 1837 and 1839). The eminent Sadler’s Wells Theatre is also in the area, offering an ever-changing programme of contemporary dance and music performances.
Clerkenwell is home to such a thriving design scene, it even has its own Design Week every May. Other draws to the area include shopping opportunities in the form of amazing, independent shops like Present & Correct and the International Magic Shop.
There are enough offices and studios in the neighbourhood to support a thriving lunch business for restaurants. Evening dining spots (particularly with an al fresco culture) also do well and the aforementioned gastropubs are ever-popular.
From the bustling stalls of Exmouth Market and Leather Lane to the glittering tables of brick-and-mortar establishments, Clerkenwell really is a gastronomy hotspot.
Michelin-starred St. John has long championed simple, hearty dishes made with fine ingredients. Chef Fergus Henderson, author of Nose to Tail Eating, has made a lasting impression on the restaurant’s fare. His succinct menu (full of dishes like Welsh rarebit and devilled kidneys) is largely responsible for the resurgence in offal cooking. Everything is washed down with delicious wines chosen by Trevor Gulliver.
For a more relaxed bite, Granger & Co is hard to beat. This trendy Australian eatery has outposts all over London. Clerkenwell’s venue has pared-back interiors with windows framing the leafy calm outside. The kitchen rustles up all the cocktails, brunch staples and puritanical greens that have made this place a favourite hipster hangout.
Student halls and studios
With City University in close proximity, it’s no surprise there are quite a few halls of residence in the area. These are juxtaposed with more fashionable studios kitted out for creatives and young professionals.
The average house price in Clerkenwell is nearly £850,000, making it an incredibly desirable place to live and work as well as to visit for a dose of English charm. The arrival of a Crossrail station at Farringdon means that the journey to Canary Wharf will be cut from 25 minutes to eight, while travel times west to Bond Street and east to Woolwich will drop from 18 and 39 minutes to four and 17 respectively. This means that prices in Clerkenwell are likely to rise as a whole new crowd is introduced to this village-like corner of London.