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Clerkenwell is mainly known for its abundance of wonderful places to eat and drink, but there is also a variety of interesting things to do and see in this central neighbourhood. What makes this part of the city such a noteworthy place to visit is the wealth of history that its cobbled streets hold.
A fascinating place for historians is the Museum of the Order of St John. Dating back to the sixteenth century, St. John’s Gate once formed the entrance to the Priory of Clerkenwell, which dates back even further, to the eleventh century. This was the headquarters of the ancient Order of St. John, where knights would set off to Israel, Cyprus, Rhodes, and Malta. The museum is open from Monday to Saturday from 10AM to 5PM, but a tour is recommended (Tuesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays) for an informative and educational visit.
For more of a literary experience, The Charles Dickens Museum is just down the road. Visit the author’s beautiful townhouse on Doughty Street for an insight into his life and the inspiration behind his famous works.
If it’s good shopping that you look for in an area, the small-village feel of Clerkenwell adds charm to its array of delightful independent shops. Design specialist Magma, on Clerkenwell Road, shouldn’t be missed; it has a diverse collection of magazines, DVDs, toys, pinhole cameras, and a series of limited-edition posters. Exmouth Market is a must for gift shops; head to In With The Old for some lovely stocking fillers this Christmas.
London is hardly short on food markets as it is, but Clerkenwell has three of the best in the city. Famous Smithfield Market, a Grade II listed building, was designed by a Victorian architect in the nineteenth century. It is not only the design of this market that is fascinating, though; Smithfield is now the city’s main wholesale market, known mainly for its daily cuts of exquisite, quality meat.
For a quick market lunch, don’t miss Leather Lane, historically a bric-a-brac market, but now the epicenter of street food in central London, with stalls serving cuisine from Mexico, Thailand, India, Indonesia, and Greece, among other nations. Exmouth Market is a calmer option during the midweek lunchtime rush; Culture Trip advises trying Hummus Bros for a delicious Levantine lunch.
Once home to hundreds of Italian families that migrated to London in the 1870s, Clerkenwell still has the Italian charm that was brought to it all of those years ago. The city’s oldest Italian delicatessen is situated on Clerkenwell Road, next to the beautiful St Peter’s Roman Catholic Church. Terroni is the perfect place to pick up cured meats, cheese, and pasta or just grab a coffee in a unique, continental setting.
It is no secret that tourists flock to Farringdon station on the weekend, making their way to London’s most famous nightclub. Fabric hosts world famous DJs and is open until 6AM, giving its guests the opportunity to literally dance all night.