Facts about Clerkenwell
The Monastic Order of the Knights Hospitallers of St John of Jerusalem had its English headquarters at the Priory of Clerkenwell. St John’s Gate survives in the rebuilt form of the Priory Gate. Its gateway, erected in 1504 in St John’s Square, served various purposes after the Dissolution of the Monasteries. For example, it was the birthplace of the Gentleman’s Magazine in 1731.
In modern times the gatehouse again became associated with the order and was in the early 20th century the headquarters of the St John Ambulance Association. An Early English crypt remains beneath the chapel of the order, which was otherwise mostly rebuilt in the 1950s after wartime bombing. The notorious deception of the “Cock Lane Ghost”, in which Johnson took great interest, was perpetrated nearby.
Clerkenwell was an ancient parish from the mediaeval period onwards, and now forms the south-western part of the London Borough of Islington. The well after which it was named was rediscovered in 1924. The watchmaking and watch repairing trades were once of great importance.
Goswell Street formed the eastern boundary of the Clerkenwell parishes, with the River Fleet, now buried beneath Farringdon Road and other streets, forming the western boundary with Holborn and, in part, St Pancras. This western boundary with both neighbouring areas is now used as part of the London Borough of Islington’s western boundary with the London Borough of Camden.