This is the 23rd station I've visited on the Circle Line.
The area around the station is known as Clerkenwell.
It has a small and intimate interior.
Leaving the Tavern I walked through the narrow St John's Path which brought me out near St John's Gate.
It is a small museum but very informative charting the history of the order. The order of St John was founded in Jerusalem to care for pilgrims travelling to the Holy land. As the order grew they were given lands in England and other parts of Europe which provided food, money and people for their work. The order of St John has occupied land here in Clerkenwell since 1140 when the land was donated to the Knights for the building of their Priory which became the Knights English headquarters. Three religious communities resided here - the Priory of St John, the Nunnery of St Mary and later the Charterhouse.
Just across the Square from St John's Gate and the museum is the Priory Church of the order of St John of Jerusalem. It was consecrated in 1185 but destroyed by enemy action in 1941. However the 12th cent crypt still remains.
When Henry VIII broke from the church of Rome and became Head of the Church of England in 1534 he began to close religious houses and communities throughout England and Wales with all their wealth transferring to the Crown.
In 1540 King Henry VIII took the order's property including the Priory at Clerkenwell.
The founders of St John wanted the organisation to resume the original ethos of caring for the sick as well as being an order of chivalry. The organisation was the first to give medical knowledge to the public in the form of First Aid classes. The founders also set up Britain's first system of care and treatment for victims of accidents. In 1877 St John Ambulance Association was formed.
Next to the library is Scotti's snack bar. It has been here for decades and has hardly changed since the 1950s. It is a great place for a cup of tea and a sandwich and a friendly chat with the owner.
If you stop and look in through the window you can just about see a well in the basement.
Through the office window I could see into the hall where there is more information about the well.
This board high up on the wall gives you an idea of some of the legacies left to support the church.
I continued along Farringdon Lane passing lots of new and converted buildings. Hard to believe this was a slum area where many of the poorest people in London lived. It was round here that Dickens walked and gained an insight for his descriptions of Victorian London for books such as Oliver Twist and Great Expectations
St Peter's Italian Church. At the time the church was opened in 1863 this was the only church in Britain designed in the Roman Basilican style. The church was built to serve a large Italian community that had settled here in the early 19th century. The area became known as Little Italy.
Diagonally opposite the church across Clerkenwell Road is Saffron Hill, a reference to the days when saffron was grown here in the 18th century. In the days of Dickens the narrow Saffron Hill was notorious as a rookery (a dense collection of overcrowded, dilapidated housing) and home to Fagin's Den.
“A dirtier of more wretched place he had never seen. The street was very narrow and muddy, and the air was impregnated with filthy odours. There were a good many small shops; but the only stock in trade appeared to be heaps of children, who, even at that time of night, were crawling in and out at the doors, or screaming from the inside. The sole places that seemed to prosper amid the general blight of the place, were the public-houses; and in them, the lowest orders of Irish were wrangling with might and main. Covered ways and yards, which here and there diverged from the main street, disclosed little knots of houses, where drunken men and women were positively wallowing in filth; and from several of the door-ways, great ill-looking fellows were cautiously emerging, bound, to all appearance, on no very well-disposed or harmless errands.” (Oliver Twist)
How the area has changed over the years. It is now full of offices and apartments. Perhaps its most well known building is the Ziggurat building, once an art deco print works, it is now an expensive apartment block.
At the other end of Saffron Hill is The One Tun
The One Tun started trading as an ale house in 1759 and although rebuilt in 1875 it has always traded on this site under the same name. The name refers to the largest of the range of casks used to store beer or wine. It can hold 252 gallons. Charles Dickens used tp drink here between 1833 and 1838. The pub was mentioned in his book Oliver Twist under the fictional name of The Three Cripples.
I went back up Saffron Hill and took a left turn onto Greville Street to have a look at Bleeding Heart Yard.
Elizabeth Hatton was the wife of Sir Christopher Hatton, who gives his name to the nearby Hatton Garden.
Hatton Garden is famous as London's jewellery quarter and the centre of the UK diamond trade. In April 2015 four elderly, experienced thieves burgled the underground Hatton Garden safe deposit company and walked away with £200,000,000! It became known as the largest burglary in English Legal history.The men were caught and pleaded guilty. A film about the heist was released in 2017.
A plaque on the wall tells us:This building, reputed to be from the designs by Sir Christopher Wren was erected as a church by Lord Hatton to serve the needs of the neighbourhood after St Andrew's Holborn had been destroyed in the Great Fire of 1666. It was adapted for use as a charity school about 1696, was severely damaged by incendiary bombs during the 1939-45 war and has since been reconstructed internally to provide offices. The original facades being restored and retained. The figures of the scholars in 18th century costume taken down and sent for safe keeping during the war to Bradfield College, Berkshire have been replaced in their original positions as a memorial of the former use of the building.
The Stuart coat of arms.
The stained glass is modern but the window tracery is said to be the finest in existence.
With dusk falling it was time to return to the station and make my way home.