Clerkenwell House of Detention, ghost tales and mummified cats

As well as serving drinks to revolutionaries, the original Crown Tavern pub on Clerkenwell Green has the dubious reputation of having exhibited a mummified cat. Apparently during the 17th Century the cat “which some mason of John or Richard’s reign had cruelly buried alive in one of the walls of St. James’s Church, used to be solemnly shown there”.

Other mysterious events in and around Clerkenwell include the Cock Lane Haunting. The elaborate tale as thick as a modern day Eastenders plot began in 1762. Continue reading “Clerkenwell House of Detention, ghost tales and mummified cats”

More Clerkenwell history: the Russian connection and a musical coal man

The Musical Small Coalman of Clerkenwell

Where would you find Russian revolutionaries in the early 1900s? The biographies of the future leaders of the Soviet Union show that they were men well travelled as it was not easy to organise left-wing parties in Tsarist Russia, and radicals were often forced into exile. I wrote last week about Clerkenwell’s radical history, and in 1902, the leading Bolshevik Vladimir Lenin came here. He set about publishing the revolutionary newspaper Iskra (The Spark) to be shipped back to Russia.
Continue reading “More Clerkenwell history: the Russian connection and a musical coal man”

Clerkenwell Green: radical centre & relaxing spa springs

Wat Tyler killed at Smithfield, Clerkenwell

Clerkenwell as a haven from the urban bustle? It may be hard to believe it now, but Clerkenwell was once considered to be a country retreat from the city. King John stayed for a break in the Clerkenwell Priory in 1212. The area was also renowned for its relaxing spa springs and pleasure gardens during the 13th Century but its tranquility would soon be broken.
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Clerkenwell history: ghosts, cows, medical monks and revolution

Clerkenwell, St Johns Gate

Ever wondered what lies behind the name of the area you live or work in, what history is held by the streets you tread daily? In a rush to get around much of the time we remain unaware of the dramas of the past. Our office is based in Clerkenwell, a busy part of central London with plenty of fascinating stories to tell. The area has connections to the Knights Templar, historic revolutionary figures, legendary literary pickpockets, a notable musical coal-man and faked ghost appearances.

In this series of posts about Clerkenwell’s history I will reveal the identity of these coal-men, revolutionaries, pickpockets and more.
Continue reading “Clerkenwell history: ghosts, cows, medical monks and revolution”