From: “Fascination of London: Clerkenwell & St Lukes”, by G.E. Mitton, edited by Sir Walter Besant, 1906, as well as other sources
1000 The Green is open space near London and the shape of the Green today is defined by the religious orders of St Johns Priory and St Marys Nunnery built in the twelfth century.
12th Century St Mary’s Nunnery built
1185 Consecration of Priory Church by Heraclius, Patriach of Jerusalem . Actual extent of land given not traceable. By 7th Charter of Edward II all possessions were conferred upon the Hospitallers on the suppression of order by Pope Clement V
1381 The burning of St Johns Priory and houses in the village by Watt Tyler and the men of Kent.
1390 Clerks performed for 3 days the “Passion of Our Lord and the Creation of the World” before Richard II, his Queen and court.
1409 Another great performance lasted 8 days “was of matter from Creation of the World “seen by the most part of the nobles and gentles of England” (Stow)
1504 Sir Thomas Docwra, Prior, completed rebuilding including St. John’s Gateway.
1539 The Nunnery suppressed and shortly after Protector Somerset blows up much of the Priory.
1546 Priory suppressed by Henry VIII and estates confiscated to Crown. Site returned to Priory by Princess Mary (daughter of Henry VIII) and once more incorporated .
1557 There is a revival of the Order of the knights of St John of Jerusalem.
1560 Clerkenwell Green is formally recorded on a map.
1564 Sir Robert Chatloner publishes from Clerkenwell Close the “Right Ordering of the English Republic.
1598 Stow wrote about the church … “one great aisle fell down” but the part remaining saved as “a parish church for inhabitants of the near neighbourhood”. The St James’s Church remained in private hands until the parishioners purchased it in 1656 and it has been their property ever since.
1612 Sessions House paid and built by Sir Baptist Hickes of Kensington and “gave to the justices of peace of this country and their successors jro a sessions house forever 1916” (p.7). 26 Justices of the County of Middlesex met there for the first time on 13.1.1612.
1615 Clerkenwell Bridewell Gaol built, pulled down in 1679 and rebuilt as new prison to ease Newgate. Rebuilt again in 1757 and 1804. By 1893 became Hugh Myddleton School with special department for deaf, dumb and blind children.
1641 Earl of Elgin used it as private chapel, then was used by his son Earl of Aylesbury and known as Aylesbury Chapel.
1650 – 1661 Sir Isaac Walton before his 1650 retirement was a resident and issued his “magnum opus” from Clerkenwell.
1656 St. James’s Church remained in private hands until the parishioners purchased it in 1656 and it has been their property ever since.
1661 There were 416 houses in the “village of Clerkenwell. 31 houses were rated in Nunnery Close, probably built in time of Stuarts. In George I’s reign the new parish of St. John was formed, then there were 700-800 houses in each parish.
1665 Clerkenwell used as a market by royal decree to aid dispossessed of London following the Great Fire.
1670 Sawbridge, eminent bookseller lived there, when it was still surrounded by fashionable mansions.
1679 Clerkenwell Bridewell Gaol pulled down in 1679 and rebuilt as new prison to ease Newgate.
1688 Reign of James II convent established in St. John’s Square, destroyed during 1688 revolution.
1720 John Strype records of the well “The Parish is much displeased that it has gone into decay and think to make some complaint at a Commission for Charitable Uses, hoping by means to recover it to common use”….” the water being highly esteemed hereabouts”.
1721 George Pinchbeck, discoverer of useful alloy and famous for construction of musical clocks and automata.
1721 St. Johns purchased by Mr. Simon Michell who restored it, then sold to Queen Anne’s Commissioners in 1723 (when Parish of St. John formed) and reconsecrated by Gibson Bishop of London
1723 Parish of St. John formed.
1735-1820 Dr. Trusler, wrote and became a printer & publisher in Clerkenwell.
1737 Welsh Charity School for poor children of Welsh parents in or near London opened.
1742-1752 Mulberry Gardens referred to as being within walls of Clerkenwell Bridewell Gaol.
1751 After death of last Prioress manorial rights lay dormant for 50 years when by accident old documents were found to prove the Church of St. James was descendent of the old nunnery church as St. Mary’s had previously “dissolved”. After dissolution ground was possession of Sir William Cavendish (late Duke of Newcastle) who built family mansion on north side of church.
1753-1828 Thomas Bewick, famous wood engraver lived in Clerkenwell.
1755 Simon Michell presented ground of Benjamin Street public garden (additional burial-ground to St. John) to the parish, the ground was consecrated in 1755, but after being closed for burials was allowed to lapse and covered with workshops etc. Simon Michell bought St. John’s Church, then called Aylesbury Chapel, for the use of the parishioners.
1757 Clerkenwell Bridewell Gaol rebuilt again.
1757 Section of Fleet between Fleet Street and Holborn was arched over as a sewer. The rest was covered over after 1765.
1763 Parish burial ground consecrated in Ray Street for paupers. The Clerkenwell Commissioners allowed the Metropolitan Railway and Farrington Road to be built over it.
1764 The Grand Jury of the Sessions House identify New Wells London Spaw Clerkenwell where great numbers of disorderly people meet.
1768 Demonstrators in Woods Close near the Green shout for “Wilkes and Liberty” and the radical Wilkes elected with 70 votes of lesser property owners against 30 for the Kings candidate. Liberty could be a seditious word at that time.
1771-1857 Britton — author of numerous books on buildings and architecture lived in Clerkenwell.
1772 Larger Welsh Charity School built on freehold site in Grays Inn Road.
1779-1780 Present Sessions House designed by John Rogers was built.
1780 Jerusalem Passage gate at northern edge of priory, post taken down in 1780, known as ‘Little Gate’ and was probably older than St. Johns Gate. On northern side John Wilkes was born.
1780 Riots mobbed Clerkenwell Bridewell gaol and released prisoners.
1780 Gordon Riots result in break in to Clerkenwell Bridewell Prison and prisoners liberated.
1787 Woman in pillory on the Green pelted to death for perjury.
1787 Woman pelted to death in the pillory on Clerkenwell Green.
1788 Act of Parliament was passed to rebuild the St. James’s Church, 4 years later present fabric was completed. The churchyard outside is about three quarters of an acre and was purchased in 1673 and enlarged in 1677. Nunnery evidence was found in Newcastle Place and is preserved in Clerkenwell Free Library.v”Nun’s Hall”, eastern part of cloisters was still standing in 1773, used as a workshop.
1792 London Corresponding Society established at Bulls Head Jerusalem Passage in opposition to the war against revolutionary France.
1793 Newcastle House pulled down, its garden extended as far as St. James’s Walk (known also as Hart Alley and New Prison Walk previously).
1794 Battle Bridge recruiting offices near the Green attacked by large crowd.
1799 Soup house set up in Coppice Row for some 7,000 unemployed watch and clock makers in Clerkenwell following government tax on imported watch cases.
1800 William Bound and Joseph Bird Church Wardens record the moving of the parish pump to the “present location”.
1804 Clerkenwell Bridewell Gaol rebuilt again.
1809 Heavy rain caused The Fleet to flood as it receives the “rain drainage” of all this part of London and exists at Blackfriars Bridge into Thames.
1816 Henry Hunt (Orator Hunt) who spoke later at the Peterloo Massacre holds meeting of about 20,000 in Spa Fields north of the Green Meeting promoted by the Spenceans.
1816 Spenceans hold meeting in a tavern in St James Walk off the Green and proceed to break into gun shops in the City and there is a struggle with the police and cavalry and a discharged sailor is hung for breaking and entering.
1818 Clerkenwell Bridewell goal prison rebuilt on larger scale and enclosed.
1826 William Cobbett addresses large public meeting on the Green against the Corn Laws.
1827 The Illustrated London News records “In Clerkenwell there is grovelling starving poverty”.
1827 Order of St. John obtained freehold of old gate and made it their headquarters. Original site covered ancient priory court.
1830 St. James’s Walk houses built?
1832 Cobbett now leader of the National Union of the Working Class appears at the Clerkenwell Sessions House accused of riot, tumult and disturbance but is acquitted. Large crowd on the Green cheer his release.
1833 The NUWC hold a meeting at the House of Correction, now the Mount Pleasant Post Office, and police attack demonstrators and a policeman is killed. Jury at the Sessions House refuse to convict and hold the killing justifiable homicide due to the ferocity of the police.
1837 Charles Dickens novel is serialised in a magazine. Oliver Twist and sets Fagin’s Lair in Clerkenwell. The novel was written in part as a response to the Poor Law Act of 1834 which ended out door relief and introduced the workhouse. Reference to the Green and buildings in Clerkenwell is made in the novel.
1838 Large crowds attend a meeting on Clerkenwell Green welcoming back from Australia the Tolpuddle Martyrs transported for forming a union.
1838 Lunt’s Coffee House No 34 on the Green was where Cobbett first heard Richard Carlisle the Reverend Robert Taylor and others, and at 37 meetings were held in the Northumberland Arms and the coffee rooms at No 38. The Friendly Society of lronplate Workers met at the Pickled Egg Tavern in Crawford Passage.
1839 Chartist Convention with delegates numbering over 7000 from the North and Scotland held on the Green.
1842 As the Chartist demonstrations become more of a problem Prime Minister Peel prohibits the holding of public meetings on the Green. Meetings continue to be held. 1848 Fergus O’Connor holds mass meeting on the Green and the following week a further meeting is held with a march to Kennington Common where a major meeting takes place.
1845 Clerkenwell Bridewell Gaol rebuilt to approved prison construction as House of Detention.
1848 In the year of European Revolutions mass meetings are regularly held on the Green and three Chartists arrested for seditious speeches and unlawful assembly.
1848 In fear of revolution the army are ordered to control the Green and on the 2 June the Horse Guards occupy Clerkenwell Green.
1848 A hatter living in Aylesbury Street records “We had the police every night … we had the horse troops one nighf’. A retired policeman recorded as saying the police were always coming into conflict with the mob: “A famous battleground Clerkenwell Green … there was plenty of space on the Green for fighting”.
1848 The Duke of Newcastle notes in his diary the Chartist meetings are becoming quite troublesome: “…for they meet in Clerkenwell to the amount of some thousands — but they require much watching both by police and soldiers”.
1848 Again a soup kitchen gives relief to some 8,500 persons in Cobham Row. A trade union directory records 12 unions meeting in Taverns in Clerkenwell. The national impact has been quite significant, Hardy’s novel refers to the demonstrations in Clerkenwell (The Return of the Native). 11 June a large meeting held on Clerkenwell Green by the London Working Mans Association called for a conference of reformers which was joined by the Reform League.
1846 The Fleet flooded again.
1862 Good Samaritan Temperance Society erected drinking fountain on Clerkenwell green.
1863 Metropolitan Railway runs between the street and the bed of the Fleet River (now covered in) was opened.
1867 Fenians Explosion damaging wall of House of Detention (Bridewell Gaol), killing 3 and injuring 50.
1881 Benjamin Gardens rescued by Mr. Dawson, the Rector and laid out as today. Inscription on north wall records the date of Simon Michell’s gift of 1755.
1886 Holborn Union Offices (?The Red House) Clerkenwell Road mentioned.
1893 Clerkenwell Bridewell Gaol became Hugh Myddleton School with special department for deaf, dumb and blind children.
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