Londonist's Back Passage

By M@ Last edited 144 months ago
Londonist's Back Passage

A tribute to the capital’s alleys, ginnels and snickleways


22. Cloth Court

Where? Barely visible on most maps, this little dog-leg sits within the precincts of the ancient St Bartholomew's Church, Smithfield.

What? This is one of our favourite parts of town for poking around and feeling the history. The nearby church is one of London's most beautiful, and to step inside when the incense is burning can bring tears of wonder to the most hardened atheist. Cloth Court is one of numerous surviving passages and courts in the area. The cloth association comes from the ancient Bartholomew Fair, which for 700 years was one of Europe's biggest textile markets. This was finally banned by the no-fun Victorians, who wanted to stamp out the chaos and crime associated with the event. Many London Greats have lived nearby. Inigo Jones, Ben Franklin, William's an impressive list. The blue plaque you see in the photo is to poet laureate John Betjaman, who lived on the corner above what is now an outlet of Jamie's wine bar, bearing his name.

Why use? Well, it doesn't really go anywhere, so your visit here is simply to breath in the history...and/or the stench of stale urine.

See each and every one of our back passages mapped here

Last Updated 24 January 2007