Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Clerkenwell, a district and outlying parish of the City of London, comprised within the Metropolitan borough of Finsbury. Situated on the east bank of the Fleet, it derived its name from one of the springs that fed the stream. The Fons Clericorum was marked until recent years by a pump. The Priory of St. John, the chief abode in England of the Knights Hospitallers, was founded here in 1100, but the gate that now exists, and belongs to the modern representatives of the order, dates only from 1504. It is a fine specimen of the Perpendicular style. Here Dr. Johnson used to write for Cave, the founder of The Gentleman's Magazine, and in a kind of museum on the upper floor his chair and other relics are preserved. At the end of the sixteenth century the neighbourhood contained many aristocratic residences, as is testified by the names of several of the streets. It acquired later on a very evil reputation, more especially that portion of it known as "Hockley in the Hole," a haunt of thieves until late in the present century. The modern Sessions House occupies the site of Hick's Hall, an older judicial building within which Lord William Russell was tried and condemned. The House of Detention, formerly in the neighbourhood, is memorable for the attempt made by the Fenians to blow down its wall in 1867. The church of St. James (1788-92) stands on part of the ground occupied since 1100 by a Benedictine nunnery, of which several interesting memorials are still preserved. For many generations Clerkenwell has been the chief centre of watchmaking and jewellery manufacture. Most of the practical work of these trades in London is done here.