The Sekforde, Clerkenwell

I sketched The Sekforde, sitting on a step on the other side of the road.

The Sekforde, 34 Sekforde St, EC1R 0HA

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.

Brewhouse Yard, Clerkenwell

Looking up, I saw the clock.

The clock on 7 Brewhouse Yard

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:

Museum of the Order of St John – garden

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.

Screen Shot 2019-09-16 at 18.07.26.png
The logo of the Order of St John

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.

Screen Shot 2019-09-16 at 18.05.55
Map credit: website of the Museum of the Order of St John.