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Adam Dant’s Map of Clerkenwell

May 12, 2011
by the gentle author

After the tremendous popularity of his Map of Shoreditch last year, Adam Dant has now created this Map of Clerkenwell and it is my great delight to publish here it for you today. (Click on the panels below to enlarge them.)

1. 1390. The annual Clerkenwell Mystery Play “Matter from the Creation of the World” is performed by parish clercs whose well can be be seen at 14 Farringdon Lane.

2. 1246. The Knights Templars of St John’s Priory return from the Crusades to present Henry III with a crystalline vase containing “blood of the saviour.”

3. 1290. Wat Tyler, leader of the Peasants’ Revolt is killed in Smithfield by Mayor William Walworth whose sword can be found at the Fishmongers’ Hall and on the City of London flag.

4. 1381. In the reign of Edward I, the water from the Fleet river is already so impure and containing such noxious exhalations and miasma that it kills many hooded brethren.

5. 1527. Sir Thomas Docwra, the last grand prior of the English Knights’ Hospitallers and architect of St John’s Gate is buried in the prior church.

6. 1123. Rayer, Henry I’s jester founded St Bartholomew’s Hospital.

7. Through the ages, great crowds have arrived at Smithfield for the St Bartholomew Fair, tournaments and for public burnings, such as Queen Mary’s two hundred and twenty-seven victims.

8. 1613. Some of the earliest female performers appear on stage at the Red Bull Theatre, Woodbridge St.

9. Nearby Bagnigge Wells House, home of Nell Gwyne, a black woman called Woolaston sells spring water from a fountain known as “Black Mary’s Hole.”

10. 1617. Seventeen bowling alleys at Bowling Green Lane are licenced by James I.

11. Charles I stops to enjoy a Dorset delicacy, “the pickled egg,” at Crawford’s Passage or “Pickled Egg Walk.”

12. Jack Adams, “The Clerkenwell Green Simpleton,” is regularly mentioned in pamphlets during Charles II’s reign.

13. 1747. The last tree on the North side of Clerkenwell Green is blown down during a storm.

14. The level of Cloth Fair remains much higher, even today, due to the accumulation of rubbish, dust and ashes.

15. 1610. Hick’s Hall, in the middle of St John’s St, was the last purpose-built sessions house, the point from where all distances from London were calculated and where criminals were dissected.

16. 1600-12. Shakespeare’s revels are rehearsed in the Great Hall at St John’s.

17. 1636. Henry Welby, the Hermit of Grub St, unseen by any human for forty years dies having bought, read, and mostly rejected all new books published.

18. 1641. Fleet Prison is reserved for debtors. 1726. Hogarth immortalises, in his engraving, the ghastly disclosures of witnesses, “fettering, spunging, damp and stench.”

19. 1709. Christopher Preston, bear gardens proprietor, is attacked and almost devoured by one of his own bears.

20. 1743. Henry Carey, for some time considered author of “God Save the King,” pens “Sally in our Alley” in Great Warner St.

21. Thomas Britton, “the musical smallcoal man,” whose musical club hosts Handel concerts is scared to death by a ventriloquist’s trick premonition.

22. 1737-41. Dr Johnson toils for Edward Cave’s “Gentleman’s Magazine” in St John’s Gate, where Garrick makes his London theatrical debut in Fielding’s “Mock Doctor.”

23. 1740. “Scratching Fanny,” the celebrated “Cock Lane Ghost” promises to manifest itself to Dr Johnson and friends at St John’s church.

24. Popular pamphleteer, Daniel Defoe is pelted with flowers rather than the usual household waste when put in the pillory for publishing ” The Shortest Way with the Dissenters.”

25. 1812. Once occupied by Colonel Magniac, maker of automaton-clocks for the Emperor of China, the birthplace of John Wilkes is pulled down.

26. 1908. The vast roof of the GPO sorting office is used as a rifle club shooting range.

27. 1820. Thistlewood and the Cato St conspirators are kept at Coldbath Fields Prison, home of the first treadmill.

28. 1903. Lenin meets a young Stalin at the Crown & Anchor pub (The Crown.)

29. Clerkenwell’s Italian community erect a life size “presepe” nativity scene every Christmas at St Peter’s Italian church.

30. TV presenter Graham Norton collects the empties at pioneering “gastro-pub”  The Eagle.

31. 1917-19. Zeppelin raids destroy buildings in Passing Alley and St John’s Lane.

32. 2006. Rock star Pete Doherty is banned from The Malmaison after trashing a room at a cost of four thousand pounds to the Charterhouse Sq Hotel.

Map copyright © Adam Dant

You may also like to take a look at

Adam Dant’s Map of the History of Shoreditch,

or his Map of Shoreditch in the Year 3000,

or his Map of Shoreditch as New York,

or his Map of Shoreditch as the Globe,

or his Map of Shoreditch in Dreams.

13 Responses leave one →
  1. melbournegirl permalink
    May 12, 2011

    Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant. Thanks to you both.

  2. May 12, 2011

    Aren’t these just fabulous…

  3. May 12, 2011

    Adam Dant is one of my all time biggest art heroes. He just keeps on getting better!

  4. May 12, 2011

    A stone face behind a bus-stop on the wall of a house between Numbers 63 & 65 King’s Cross Road indicates Bagnigge Wells and is London’s oldest piece of advertising. The well, along with the Saddler’s Well and the Clerk’s Well, are springs along the route of the old River Fleet which originates at the ponds at High-gate and Hampstead.

  5. May 13, 2011

    More brilliant cartography from Mr Dant. And how nice to see it in conjunction with his advertising for Drake’s ties…….

  6. Funky Dunky permalink
    May 15, 2011

    Any plans to publish a nice print of these great maps?

  7. April 16, 2012

    What a treat these are: I’ve seen the Shoreditch versions in poster form but never one that I could buy – or not yet – so here’s hoping!

  8. Ewan permalink
    May 3, 2012

    I would love to buy copies of these maps for the walls of my wee Clerkenwell house – can I get them somewhere?

  9. Mike and Ruth Scott permalink
    January 27, 2013

    Like others who have commented, I would love to be able to buy a print of this brilliant map — saw one on the wall of Stirling Ackroyd and just loved it.
    Anyone got any ideas if that’s possible?

  10. Clerkenwell resident permalink
    September 22, 2013

    I’m sorry to say the story about Lenin and Stalin meeting at the Crown is simply not true. As an experiment to see how much the internet can spread misinformation I made it up and inserted it in the Wikipedia page for Clerkenwell about 8 years ago. Since then this complete fabrication has appeared in print many times and is all over the web. The pub itself has a framed explanatory note about the fictional meeting on the wall. Oops. That got out of hand.

  11. alison homewood permalink
    December 2, 2013

    Yes, please Gentle Author, now you are a publisher – publish these! I think there should be a plan to uncover Bagnigge Wells (hot springs at Kings Cross, they feature prominently in the Georgians exhibition at the British Library. Who would have thought London had these….

  12. Pauline Taylor permalink
    May 5, 2014

    I love maps and these are great, thank you Adam Dant. It is fascinating to see that you have included building along Whitecross Street as this is where my grandfather was born in 1874.

  13. Mike Charlton permalink
    January 29, 2015

    Adam Dant, these maps are magnificent! I discovered this marvellous blog three days ago and have been on it ever since. Gentle Author, you are a national treasure and should be highly commended for producing this website – it’s positively addictive! Your beautifully-cadenced words are a delight to read. Having lived in London for 14 years, I fell in love with the old, beautiful, sprawling, history-filled city, and now that I live in Leeds I miss her terribly. I love to visit whenever I can and walk around the myriad streets till my feet are bulbous with blisters. Having said all this, I have spotted a mistake above that the mediaeval historian in me must point out for reasons of accuracy: The years for numbers 3 and 4 above are the wrong way around – Wat Tyler died in 1381 and King Edward I was around in 1290. I’m sorry to be a pedant, but that’s what I am – it’s too late for me to change now. I suppose you could call this a small Pedant’s Revolt! I’ll get my coat.

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