Here’s a corner of Clerkenwell. Drawn from photo reference.
Here is The Horseshoe, in Clerkenwell Close.
I enjoyed the way the pub is slotted into that corner space, amongst the taller buildings. The building behind it looks as though it might be older than the pub. The arched window-alcove to the left, above the car, has been partly obscured by the wall of the pub. The purpose of this alcove is unclear. It isn’t an ordinary window, and can’t let much light into the building as it is so recessed. It looks as though it might have had some industrial purpose.
And much is happening at roof level. On the right of the pub, high up, someone has made a roof garden. They have a glasshouse, and a weathervane in the shape of a whale. Behind that, even higher up, is a huge bridge-like construction, with arched supports, which looks as though it is a roof on top of a courtyard, behind the buildings I could see. Notice also the formidable collection of communications equipment: a satellite dish and three aerials near the whale, and on the building in the background there were at least two mobile phone masts, with antennae like loudspeakers, pointing in different directions.
The pub itself has a roof garden, with brightly coloured bunting and many flowerpots. I drew this picture yesterday, during Lockdown 2, so sadly it is closed. However it is going on my “After Lockdown” list.
Here are maps:
Here are sketches of work in progress, and some snapshots of the location. I did a preliminary sketch on brown paper, as you see. It was cold, 6 degrees C. I didn’t manage to finish the colour outdoors, but scuttled home to complete the detail in the warm.
This picture took about 1 hour 45 minutes on location, including a chat with a friend who passed by on his afternoon stroll. Then another half hour at home working on the colour detail. The colours are: Phthalo Turquoise (W&N), Burnt Umber (DS), Mars Yellow (DS), Green Apatite Genuine (DS), Fired Red Ochre (DS), with some Perylene Maroon and Prussian Blue to get the greys, and a few dots of Transparent Pyrrol Orange, Hansa Yellow Mid, and Green Gold (all DS). The picture is size 7 inches by 10 inches on Arches Aquarelle 300gsm watercolour paper, in a Wyvern sketchbook (Sketchbook 9)
This is one of an emerging series of drawings of pubs in the Clerkenwell area. Here are some others in the series:
I sketched The Sekforde, sitting on a step on the other side of the road. The pub was closed today. It looked like a good pub. While I was sketching I received confirmation of this. Two portly men strolled past, paused, and asked me if I was waiting for the pub to open. I said … Continue reading “The Sekforde, Clerkenwell”
Here is a sketch of The Jerusalem Tavern, Britton St, Clerkenwell, made as the light faded. I find this a particularly lovely building. The curves over the windows are semicircles and there is a pleasing symmetry to the upper floors. The semicircle over St John’s Passage exactly matches the door to its left, on another … Continue reading “Jerusalem Tavern, Britton St”
Here is The Eagle. This is a very old pub, located at a significant junction on City Road. In the picture above, the alley on the right of the pub is called “Shepherdess Place”. It leads to a police car park, and several office blocks. I went down there to draw a picture of The … Continue reading “The Eagle, 2 Shepherdess Walk”
Here is a sketch of The Jerusalem Tavern, Britton St, Clerkenwell, made as the light faded.
I find this a particularly lovely building. The curves over the windows are semicircles and there is a pleasing symmetry to the upper floors. The semicircle over St John’s Passage exactly matches the door to its left, on another lovely house which has amazing tall windows on the first floor.
Britton Street was surprisingly lively on that Monday afternoon. There are offices along the street and people rushed in and out of doors, or came and stood on the pavement smoking. Delivery drivers were the main traffic, both vans and bicycles. They all seemed to know each other. A package was delivered to the office next to me. A woman came out to receive it. It was evidently expected. The driver returned to his van, and sorted more packages inside.
Here are some work in progress pictures and a map. I have just finished reading “Troubled Blood” by Robert Galbraith. If you’ve read the book you’ll know that much of the action takes place in these streets in Clerkenwell. As far as I can work out, all the streets mentioned in the book exist, and the routes described are realistic.
This drawing took about an hour. The colours are: for the walls – Fired Gold Ochre (DS), Mars Yellow (DS) and Phthalo Turquoise (W&N) , for the light in the windows Hansa Yellow Mid (DS). The drawing is 7″ x 10″, done in a sketchbook on 300gsm Arches Aquarelle Paper.
While I was drawing, I detected a movement in my peripheral vision. A spider of alarming size was climbing the wall against which I was leaning. It was making little spurts across each brick, then secreting itself into the mortar, trying to become invisible, before making its next jump. As I watched, it turned around meaningfully, and started heading down towards my rucksack, which was upright on the pavement, open, leaning against the brickwork like a spider-catching bucket. I moved the rucksack, and closed its flap. I was more-than-usually disconcerted, because we had been watching “Dr No” the previous night. I could recall rather too vividly that scene of the poisonous spider which crawls on James Bond while he is sleeping. I stood away from the wall, and monitored the spider’s progress. I did not have long to wait. It reached pavement level, no doubt disappointed that the bright yellow rucksack had somehow disappeared. Then it went into a pavement-level crack to decide what to do next. I decided to stop worrying about it.
To see the spider, scroll down – if you dare. Trigger warning: SPIDER.
I sketched The Sekforde, sitting on a step on the other side of the road.
The pub was closed today. It looked like a good pub. While I was sketching I received confirmation of this. Two portly men strolled past, paused, and asked me if I was waiting for the pub to open. I said I wasn’t because I guessed I was going to have to wait a long time. The men agreed, and informed me it was a good pub, and has “been here a long time”. As they retreated, one of them called back, “I was here when it opened!”
This is unlikely. This is a Georgian pub. It opened in 1829.
Back home I found out a lot more about the pub, and was then keen to visit it when it re-opens. It is privately owned, says its website, and “we aim to be an instrument of change within Britain and the world”. They do that by hosting lectures and debates on “some of the most difficult political, moral and scientific subjects of our time”. How have I not encountered them before?
They also donate all the profits to the Sekforde House Trust, an educational charity. It offers scholarships to students each year: the Sekforde Scholars. According to the Islington Tribune (2017)* this generosity is inspired by the owner’s grandmother, “eminent scientist Kathleen Lonsdale, who was from a poor Irish family but was awarded a scholarship to university in London when she was 16″.
The place underwent a redevelopment from 2015 to 2018. There is a guest suite, very modern, which is let out on AirBnB.
Here is a sketch map showing where the pub is, in case you also would like to go there, when it re-opens, for a pint and a debate:
*Islington Tribune (2017) describes the refurbishment by David Lonsdale, who bought the pub in 2015. He is a property lawyer, and lives in the area, they say.
Looking up, I saw the clock.
I sat on a convenient step to draw it. It was really hard to get all those perspective lines in the right place. While I was struggling with them, a car pulled into the silent square. It was shiny, gold metallic, and very clean. It came to a halt, and rocked a bit on its tyres. A man got out and disappeared from my field of view. I assumed he was the director of one of the architecture practices round there. I continued adjusting my perspective lines. Then I saw the man walking about photographing the car with a big digital camera. The camera made that artificial shutter-click, lots of times. He was taking a lot of photographs of the car. He moved it and photographed it from a different angle. It was a Citroen CX GT 2400. That was written on the boot lid. He must have seen me looking at it, because he came over and asked, very politely, if his car was in the way of my drawing. I was astonished, drivers are usually uncaring about parking in your sightline. But this guy cared. So I smiled and said that no, it was fine, I was drawing the clock up there, but thank you very much for asking. So he went on clicking, and I went on shifting the lines on my drawing, and we co-existed happily in the square.
He moved the car again and I thought he’d gone. But when I packed up my stuff and was examining the house I’d been drawing, he called out to me, “Did you get it?”. He meant, did I capture the view in my drawing. I said yes, and would he like to see the picture? He would. We talked about the house. He said it’s residential. Someone lives there. The resident had just gone out, in fact.
It’s clearly the former headquarters of the Brewers Yard. The door is very splendid. The pillar on one side has hops, and on the other side, barley and hops.
Here is a map showing where I was:
I drew this in the Cloister Garden of the Museum of the Order of St John, Clerkenwell, a beautiful tranquil place on a hot day.
It was a very hot day, and I’d left the flat in some irritation, after a series of frustrations, mostly computer-related. Then one of my favourite cafés charged me far too much for a coffee, and added service charge without telling me. So I went to the garden.
Because I’d left the flat in such haste, I’d forgotten to bring my water pot, which was going to be a problem. However by the time I’d done the pen sketch, the woman on the bench opposite had finished her lunch, and I was able to ask her for her empty drinks bottle. This she graciously gave me, commenting on how pleased she was that it was going to be re-used. If you are reading this, thank you.
The modern Order of St John is a charitable foundation. They are behind the St John Ambulance. This latter organisation has the commendably clear strapline: “We Save Lives”. They do this by educating people in first aid, and providing highly trained volunteers at events and disasters.
The Cloister Garden is by the Priory Church.