I just need to visit one more area in Clerkenwell before returning to Islington with Mr Bradshaw!
The Nunnery of St Mary, ‘..a house of Augustinian canonesses, [some say ‘Benedictine’..?] was founded shortly after the adjacent Hospitaller priory of St John in about 1144 by the same man, Jordan de Bricet, the lord of Clerkenwell manor. It stood to the north of the priory, in a field next to the Clerks’ Well..’. The precinct and buildings are thought to be as above, in the early 16C. [Or was he ‘Jorden de Briset’, a Norman knight?]
The nunnery was ‘dissolved’ in 1539 and the property given to the Duke of Norfolk. After the dissolution the close became a residential area for the wealthy, with the nunnery chapel becoming the parish church. (More here.) Newcastle House was probably built in the early 1600s, according to British History Online, by Sir Thomas Kitson of Hengrave Hall, Suffolk, and sold to William Cavendish, 1st Duke of Newcastle.
In the picture below the building on the left of the tower is the nave of the nunnery church.
St James’s Church, Clerkenwell, 1788-92, is the third church on this site, built over the foundations of the nunnery chapel. It was designed by James Carr and the spire imitates that of St Martin in the Fields. James Carr might have been the surveyor to the Apothecaries’ Company and was a Trustee of the City Road Turnpike.
The garden was rather bleak when I visited, perhaps just the end of the day bleakness, but even gravestones were laid flat. The plane trees are old, and the railings are 19C, perhaps from the time the gardens were opened to the public in 1890.
There is still a sense of the past here, in the wandering pattern of the streets, in the atmosphere, and in the quiet residential streets around the church – an area which surprised me.