‘Clerkenwell was right outside the London city walls, but close enough to it, so was ideal for monasteries. With four or five in the area, people came to serve them, shops opened and you had quite a nice little village.’
A medieval well lies hidden inside a brick office block on Farringdon Lane. It may look a little more than a hole in the ground, but it’s from there that Clerkenwell came to life.
‘The parish clerks from the City of London would come to perform plays and read from the Bible and, because they gathered around this particular well, it became known as the well of the Clerks,’ explains Mark Aston, local-history manager for Islington Council, under which authority Clerkenwell falls. ‘It’s not only water that sprung from it, but Clerkenwell’s name itself.’