A Clerkenwell Miscellany

It is has been some time since there has been a new post added from boz with the months of May and June being sadly lacking in discourse.

Much of this time has been taken up in the district of Clerkenwell and in particular the Craft Central building Pennybank Chambers 33-33 St. John’s Square. One of the fruits of a series of exhibitions has been a new screen illustrating the environs of Clerkenwell that LondonKillsMe are currently hawking.

City North print

During many visits to Clerkenwell sketchesbyboz has begun tentative probings into the history of the district. Beginning with St. John’s Gate as a result of a commission more of which at a later date, and inspired by small observations en route. As yet such musings as have been gathered are unsorted and form no coherent narrative, hence for the time being an anthology of miscellaneous snippets. Informed followers of this blog are thoroughly encouraged to contradict where necessary any errors that may be chanced upon.

Beginning with St. John’s Gate it was with great interest to discover it to be the childhood home of William Hogarth from 1701 to 1709 whose father had opened an unsuccessful coffee house in the building in 1703.  Also the home of Edward Cave St. John’s Gate became the first offices and printing house of The Gentleman’s Magazine founded 1731 and thus sometimes workplace of Samuel Johnson from 1737.

Old images found randomly on the internet employing the usual disorganised fashion of research favoured tell of business and trade activity in the building.

St. John's Gate c.1860

This earlier picture c.1860 shows the Jerusalem Tavern to the left of the picture. To the right S. Wickens Coffee and Dining Room which you can just make out etched onto the glass of the window above. Did Uggins sell Old Ale or where they in fact Huggins Timber – see the door on the right – Photoshop has yet to reveal what B. Foster were purveyors of and attempts at cross reference in Kelly’s Directory and the like have been little help thus far.

St. John's Gate c.1873

In the slightly later picture c.1873 from  London Transport Museum archive these have been replaced by the French Glass Grooming Works and Spectacle Eye Glass Factory of Maurice M. Grunfield.



Another Tavern of interest which appears to have met a sad demise is just around the corner off St. John Street in Compton Street is Comptons Bar.

Compton's Bar

We know nothing about this establishment other than pausing to take a photograph of the very nice building which contains it. It is hoped to uncover more before it is purchased by developers and turned into something dreadful in the name of luxury apartments. It would be a great to delight to hear from anyone who ever went there in the times it was a thriving concern.

Clerkenwell these days of course is a very desirable and fashionable part of town. To see it now you would be surprised to learn it was one of the biggest areas of concern for the Royal Commission for Housing the Working Classes 1884-85.  Charles Booth’s Poverty Map and Notebook of 1898 George Duckworth finds St. John Square to be coloured Purple a mixture of comfortable and poor with Jerusalem Court (leading off from the Tavern) as black:

“The blackest spot of all, you can’t paint it black enough, ‘savages’ said Zenthon a danger to the police” Survey into Life and Labour in London Notebook B353 pp150-151 (1898)

George Gissing’s publication of The Nether World (1889) also focused on Clerkenwell as an abject slum whilst presenting the new model dwellings to the area in a very unsatisfactory light. It is understood that Pennybank Chambers now artisan studios was originally a model dwelling which these pages intend to show more of.

We will be back in Clerkenwell on Monday 11 and Wednesday the 13 July next week for a further perambulation. This opportunity has arisen from taking part in a recycling exhibition at the Craft Central Showcase 33-35 St. John’s Square, EC1M 4DS


Do come and have a look but be careful if you encounter LondonKillsMe they may try to sell you a slate pot printed with Clerkenwell whether you want one or not.

Something Blue

Despite sketchesbyboz’s aversion to all things Royal Wedding related which we generally go out of the way to avoid, an exception was made on Tuesday for the opening day of a unique pop-up event at Clerkenwell Green.

Lah De Dah cup cakes

Taking place this week in the Craft Central Corner Shop is Something Blue. A positive confection of interior products in shades of teal; azure; royal; prussian and turquoise from designers Lorna Syson, Ellen Calvert, Sarah-Jayne Guest and Emma Britton. The opening commenced with Lah De Dah cup cakes also in shades of blue almost too pretty to eat but that hurdle was quickly overcome.  Lah De Dah cupcakes can be found at http://www.facebook.com/pagesladedahcakery
for beautiful cup cakes made in any colour you choose.

The theme of ‘Something Blue’ had been chosen as pertinent to Royal Wedding week but the unique designs on display are all elegant pieces for spring and summer.

From Lorna Syson were her signature wall sculptures. Absolutely stunning wall art made from eco friendly satin and wool.

Blue and Teal Satin Dahlia Lorna Syson

In addition to the gorgeous designs available in the Corner Shop Lorna undertakes bespoke commissions www.lornasyson.co.uk

Hand crafted upcycled home furnishings from Ellen Calvert included lovely knitted cushions (see final photo in post) and embroidered samplers. sketchesbyboz was particularly taken with this one:

Embroidered Sampler Ellen Calvert

Much more of Ellen’s intricate and distinctive work is at the Corner Shop this week and can be found www.ellencalvert.co.uk

Imaginative printed textiles by Sarah-Jayne Guest collection include spectacular cushions and lampshades.

Royal Duck cushion sjguest

Beautiful and fun printed textiles www.sjgeust.com

You will see in the picture below to the side of Sarah-Jayne’s lampshades a large glass wall panel. This is the the creation of Emma Britton whose amazing decorative glass designs combine aesthetic individuality with practical use. The large wall panel can be made to any dimension as a unique splashback and smaller pieces are available as surface protectors and coasters. There are a range of these on sale at ‘Something Blue’ and for bespoke designs to fit any interior space www.emmabritton.net

Foxglove Surface protector Emma Brotton

Sweet Pea surface protector Emma Britton

Something Blue runs until Sunday 1 May so if you are looking for something away from the television and the hype this weekend head over to Clerkenwell Green and see for yourself.

Craft Central Corner Shop, 21 Clerkenwell Green, London EC1R 0DX

'Something Blue'

Designer Maker Market

Last Saturday 2 April LondonKillsMe were very pleased to be able to participate in the first day of a new fixture taking place every Saturday through to September this year.

Flyer designed by James Brown at General Pattern

Saturday was a beautiful sunny day and the new Designer Maker market attracted a nice crowd conducive to a lovely friendly atmosphere for browsers and designers on the stalls.

The distinctive signage was designed and printed by James Brown at www.generalpattern.net whose striking prints are available to purchase at the market.

James Brown prints

Last Saturday included many talented designers. Exhibiting an array of unique screen prints was Mr Wingate including the very pertinent East End Pub range which can also be found at the Designer Maker market and www.wingateprint.com

George and Dragon cushion Mr. Wingate

Hand printed textile design Mr Wingate

One of our favourite ceramists Jo Davies took part displaying original and beautiful vessels and vases available at www.jo-davies.com

Zsa Zsa Vase Jo Davies

Jo Davis

LondonKillsMe had a collection of reclaimed slate planters for Spring. This coming Saturday we will include some new slate plant pots printed with the Truman chimney and containing a growing Hop plant.

Reclaimed slate planter Paris print LondonKillsMe








The market takes place in the Triangle just off Mare Street E8 immediately behind the London Fields public house. Hackney like much of East London is an area constantly undergoing change and regeneration as well as containing a wealth of history. Charles Booth’s 1897 description of the area is rather different to the picture you find now:

The Poverty Map of 1898/99 depicts the Triangle as being bounded by pink indicating a populace considered to be ‘Fairly comfortable. Good ordinary earnings’ however just behind the railway in Triangle Road and Triangle Place are shown as dark blue indicitive of ‘Very poor, casual Chronic want’

The corresponding description in the Survey notebooks does little to recommend the place. According to Inspector Fitzgerald who accompanied the investigator for this area it was “Very rough and very poor. As rough & poor as we’ve got it. Some no doubt live by their wits but I don’t know any of them personally”                                                                   Charles Booth Survey into life and labour in London (1886-1903) B347 pp36-37 http://booth.lse.ac.uk/

sketchesbyboz is interested to find out more about the history of the London Fields public house. All we have managed to learn so far is that it was renamed the London Fields in 1989 and was from at least 1915 the Warburton Arms briefly owned by jazz musician Art Christmas between 1952 and 1954.

Apparently there has been an inn on the site occupied by the London Fields since the sixteenth century. Although interestingly no such establishment is noted in the the Booth Survey notebooks, which is unusual given the investigators’ penchant for gleefully describing any den of iniquity they happened upon.

So we would be very pleased to find out more so if any historians of Hackney can enlighten us we would love to hear from you.

We will be returning to the Designer Maker market this coming Saturday so do consider a trip to Hackney to see for yourself how delightful it is and try out the excellent cake stall. All the details you need to get there are included in the flyer at the top of this post.

Paradise by Way of Kensal Green

This week LondonKillsMe set up a further Twitter account twitter.com/sketchesbyboz  for this  blog. To follow historians; writers; museums; historic societies and those informed in building restoration which may be pertinent for the building site. Much more of the building site (also known as the LondonKillsMe studio) in coming weeks and months . . . . but hopefully not years.

In choosing a suitable profile image for Twitter this put us in mind of another building site in Kensal Green which is now a finished project. Part of the interior design at the Kensal Green house detailed screen printed floors. The first was to the kitchen, reproducing two lines of the G K. Chesterton poem The Rolling English Road (1914). The screen for this had to be drawn by hand and an old french door served as the frame.

Paradise Screen

The result remains protected under varnish:

Kitchen floor

Following this we were delighted to be given a barely salvageble pub sign but salvage it we did. Rotted at one end and encrusted in cemented footprints a good application of two pack wood filler, a little bit of artistry with acrylic and varnish and around thirty six hours restored the primitive painted sign back to life. The end result completed the cemeterial theme for the kitchen of the house in Kensal Green.

In situ

Paradise by Way of Kensal Green

Incidentally G K Chesterton wrote Charles Dickens: A Critical Study (1906) and the entry for Charles Dickens in the 14th edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica (1929). And thus it seemed fitting to use Paradise as the image for the profile of sketchesbyboz who when in that part of town continues the occasional sojourn to Kensal Green Cemetary.

Creative Hearts

Queen of Hearts

Inspiration from Queen Elizabeth Chelsea Old Town Hall

Three weeks on, a very belated thank you to Rosemary Lucas for organising and curating the Creative Hearts exhibition which took place at Craft Central, St. John’s Square, Clerkenwell 1 – 13 February.

Creative Hearts showcased fifteen designer makers each creating a heart inspired range perfectly timed for Valentines Day of which five per cent of sales were in support of the British Heart Foundation 50th Anniversary Appeal. With generous contributions from local businesses Bellore www.bellore.com Lily Maila www.lilymaila.com Stuart R Stevenson www.stuartrstevenson.co.uk Bleeding Heart Restaurant www.bleedingheart.co.uk
and The Green www.thegreeec1.co.uk

Much of the inspiration for the ‘Queen of Hearts’ theme drew from an archive of illustrations from Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland spanning over a century of illustrators from the early John Tenniel through Arthur Rackham and Mabel Lucy Attwell to present day Helen Oxenbury. A collection of Alice in Wonderland editions from old and rare to recent publications provided an eclectic foil for the jewellery display in the foyer. 

Hearts and Books

LondonKillsMe were very pleased to be able to participate in Creative Hearts and had a thoroughly nice time working with Rosemary and the other participating designers.

The arresting window dressing by Keren Cornelius was based around a centrepiece Queen Of Hearts gown displaying the talent of costumier Anna Maria Geniusea.

Creative Hearts Window

Keren’s own exquisite jewellery designs were showcased,  created using textile based techniques inspired by the repertory costumes of the Royal Opera House. www.kerencornelius.com

200 Metres Keren Cornelius

Rosemary Lucas created an elegant silver cuff with pierced cardiogram design for Creative Hearts alongside her other meticulously hand crafted jewellery including the unique River Cuffs.

River Cuff City Rosemary Lucas

River Cuff can be commissioned from Rosemary to detail any section of any river. www.rosemarylucas.com

Nancy Waters experimental materials led techniques result in dexterously inventive beautiful pieces. For Creative Hearts Nancy designed embossed silver bookmarks in addition to her perfectly formed miniature fine silver books. www.nancywaters.co.uk

Fine Silver Book Necklace Nancy Waters

Ceramacist Namiko Murakoshi created a special range of covetable heart inspired sugar pots with a clever twist to consider your heart once you have consumed all the sugar! http://www.namnamceramics.com

For our own part we created a linen wall hanging. Entitled Hearts and Crafts and inspired by the traditional artisan printing techniques of the Arts and Crafts movement. A visual archive of some of our most popular screen prints to represent the ‘heart’ of LondonKillsMe.

Linen Wall Hanging LondonKillsMe in situ at Creative Hearts

Being involved in Creative Hearts was a great experience and we hope it’s success inspires Rosemary to extend her fabulous curatory skills into further ventures in the future.

First Paris cushion

We are pleased to report following Work in Progress that the first Paris cushion was completed. It was sold the following day on display at the Creative Hearts exhibition which took place at Craft Central  in Clerkenwell . . . . .  . more of this soon.

In our constant quest for perfection in textiles we are trying to decide which is considered the best material for cushion filler. Therefore we would welcome comments from readers as to which they find preferable from natural feather; hypoallergenic polyester; eco friendly/recycled or any other suggestions.

Work in progress

LondonKillsMe exhibited at Top Drawer last week . . . ..  .. . . despite our aversion to large corporate exhibition halls, we had a an enjoyable few days catching up with much valued longstanding customers and made new acquaintance with some lovely people.

Surprisingly the thing that attracted most interest was an unfinished article  . .. .  ….  . or if you will a work in progress . . … . .

One of our popular designs is the London River print  . . .. . . …  . sometimes seen in encapsulated form on a cushion or in it’s entirety so far as a wall hanging  .. .. . .. .  . and the header for sketchesbyboz.

The London River print already runs into four screens and will be an eight screen image by the time it is completed . . .. .  more of which later this year. It is, however, becoming unwieldy so it was considered a more compact less sprawling location could be desirable for a simple cushion.

New York was suggested  . .. . . . . however the illustrator was not confident that could be drawn with much feeling given the obstacle of never actually having been there . . . . . . although this did result in the suggestor creating a Manhatton screen as a prelude:

Rather better acquainted with Paris I felt up to illustration  in the same ramshackle manner as the London screens but not quite in time to be properly finished for Top Drawer.

This is the result which is to be a completed cushion soon.

Town House

As promised in last week’s post there follows more of the enchanting setting which played felicitous host to Joanna Moore’s City Sketches exhibition.

Town House at 5 Fournier Street, Spitalfields is a veritable cornucopia of delight. So much more than a shop, indeed LondonKillsMe have walked past on numerous occasions and assumed it to be the beguiling window display of an interior designers residence. So we are very pleased to find that the remarkable contents are for sale and available to be purchased and taken home.

The early eighteenth century building formerly housed The Market Cafe and is now the custodian of a rich mixture of objects encompassing fine antiques alongside vintage finds combining the unusual, the beautiful and the curious.

Discovering this emporium via the entrance to the exhibition at dusk on a rainy afternoon in December was an unexpected pleasure. The lighting at this time of day bordered on magical enhanced by a particularly interesting lamp. An antiquarian silk screen c.1920 has been backlit to become a magnificent wall light emanating a glow akin to candlelight through a rose scattered stencil.

This was of particular interest especially as it had once been a working textile screen. The screens at the LondonKillsMe studio are sadly not of the same elegance,  although  . . . . . . at least we like to think . . . . . producing pleasing results, the modern screen is not an object of beauty comparable to that on the wall at 5 Fournier St.

Just one example of the many intriguing artifacts available at Town House. For the rest you must make your way over to Spitalfields and have a look. The picture below hardly illustrates the captivating interior but does provide an idea of the allure of the shop from the street.

City Sketches was held in a charming building to the rear of the shop which is regularly the venue for distinctive exhibitions which can only enhance this fabulous establishment:

Town House 5 Fournier St London E1 6QE


Town Mouse

Many thanks to the Gentle Author of the wonderful blog Spitalfields Life for drawing our attention to the beautiful illustrations of London Life by Joanna Moore.

LondonKillsMe wantonly abandoned Christmas orders yesterday to visit Joanna’s exhibition in Spitalfields before it ends this Friday 18 December 2010.

The exhibition is a stunning display of distinctive drawings which perfectly capture scenes of daily life and buildings in the metropolis.

Joanna with Bar at Captain Kidd and St Paul’s Cathedral, City of London, by night in the background.

Each picture is drawn from observation and the delightful story of how this impressive collection came about can be read in spitalfieldslife.com. You can find Joanna’s own perfectly illustrated blog Town Mouse @ www.townmouse.co.uk

Tomorrow 18 December is the last day of the exhibition and well worth making time to visit before it closes.

City Sketches is housed in a beautiful setting, more of which to follow, at:

Town House, 5 Fournier St. London E1 6QE

10-18 December 11.30 am – 5.30pm

Snapshot of the exhibition refelected in the rear window of the beautiful Town House building at 5 Fournier St, London E1 6QE

This Year’s Robin

Blog has been sadly lacking in posts for a few weeks. Due to LondonKillsMe being out exhibiting at open studios for Christmas. More on this to follow for those who may be interested.

In the meantime ‘This Year’s Robin’ has proved very popular and will be gracing many overmantles for the festive season.