SECRET LONDON x OUR HOME CLERKENWELL
My holiday on the Suffolk coast is over and I am back to Clerkenwell, my London home and home to MAYVEDA. Clerkenwell is special, this area of London sits immediately North of the 'City' London's financial district, bordered by the Smithfield meat market and St Bartholomew hospital along it's southern border, Hoxton to the East, the 'Angel' Islington to the North and the famous jewellery district, Hatton Garden to the West.
Think 'Dickensian London' and you have a pretty accurate picture, Victorian warehouses and factories' mostly converted into stylish apartments. I live for part of the time in a converted gin factory not far from the meat market. I cannot smell the old distillery, but the ambience is special. Nowhere in London can you feel history through your feet quite like Clerkenwell - down each cobbled street, down each cul-de-sac, looking up to the converted warehouses.
One of my favourite bars is the Oriole named after an exotic bird, this cocktail bar and jazz venue is accessed through a simple door, under the meat market. Smithfield comes alive at midnight as the lorries bring in meat from all over the country, white coated market traders work throughout the night before retiring to the pubs and cafes open until the early morning, to meet their needs. Splashed with blood on their overalls, it is a ghoulish reminder of the nature of their jobs and the tough area.
Jewellery is the lifeblood of Hatton Garden and the surrounding cobweb of streets, if you want a stone set into a ring, just pop into one of the many workshops in Hatton Garden. Men and women work hidden in the underground workshops with their specialist equipment and magnifying spectacles creating pieces of artwork out of gold and gemstones.
Exmouth Market, at the centre of Clerkenwell, a street market in the day and a destination at night for some of the trendiest restaurants and bars in the whole of London. My favourites include Caravan when I feel like tapas, Santore who serve yard long pizzas to share with friends or more recently, Shawarma which does amazing Lebanese food, great for Vegans!
I think Clerkenwell is at its best, mid-morning on a Sunday. Pick up a copy of The Clerkenwell Post from any of the local shops, enjoy the quiet winding streets, brunch at Gail’s Bakery and a walk in the Spa field parks which are dotted around the area. The best part about Clerkenwell is even some Londoners do not know where it is.