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London Branch of the Welsh Family History Societies
Cangen Llundain o'r Cymdeithasau Hanes Teuluoedd Cymru

A Welsh Walk Through The City And Clerkenwell

1. St Benet's Welsh Church
• St Benet, Paul's Wharf, is the Welsh church in the City of London. Services have been held here in Welsh since 1879 when Queen Victoria granted the Welsh community the right to worship here in their own language.
St Benet's, Paul's Wharf

» Walk up St Peter's Hill, past St Paul's & up Old Bailey

2. St Paul's / Smithfield/ Barts
• St Paul's Cathedral: Inside there are monuments to Sir William Jones (1675-1749) of Llanfihangel Tre'r Beirdd, Anglesey, (mathematician, philologist and vice president of the Royal Society) & Sir Thomas Picton (1758-1815) of Poyston Hall, Rudbaxton, Pembrokeshire, (General, Military Governor of Trinidad, killed at Waterloo).
St Paul's
• The earliest Welsh Calvinistic Methodist cause was at Cock Lane, 1774, off Smithfield
• Welsh drovers walked from all parts of Wales to sell cattle at Smithfield. Dickens, in Oliver Twist, describes the scene at the market:

"It was market morning. The ground was covered nearly ankle deep with filth and mire; and a thick steam perpetually rising from the reeking bodies of the cattle, and mingling with the fog, which seemed to rest upon the chimney tops, hung heavily above ..."

"Countrymen, butchers, drovers, hawkers, boys, thieves, idlers, and vagabonds of every low grade, were mingled together in a dense mass: the whistling of drovers, the barking of dogs, the bellowing and plunging of beasts, the bleating of sheep, and the grunting and squealing of pigs; the cries of hawkers, the shouts, oaths, and quarrelling on all sides, the ringing of bells, and the roar of voices that issued from every public house; the crowding, pushing, driving, beating, whooping and yelling; the hideous and discordant din that resounded from every corner of the market; and the unwashed, unshaven, squalid, and dirty figures constantly running to and fro, and bursting in and out of the throng, rendered it a stunning and bewildering scene which quite confused the senses."

» Walk along Long Lane to Aldersgate and up Aldersgate Street to Fann Street.

3.Jewin Chapel, Fann Street
• This Welsh Calvinistic Methodist chapel is the successor to first chapel at Cock Lane and a later chapel (built 1785), at Wilderness Row, at the north wall of Charterhouse.

» Walk up Aldersgate and Goswell Road,left along Clerkenwell Road (built in 1879 to replace slums & rookeries) to Clerkenwell Green.

5. Clerkenwell Green/ Marx Library (formerly the Welsh Charity School)
• Clerkenwell Green: Welsh small traders and craftsmen came to the area in large numbers in the later eighteenth century, creating a flourishing society. The 1851 census shows a milk trader called Catherine Price at No. 7.
• Welsh Charity School: The Society of Ancient Britons (1715) established a charity school here in 1717, for which the school was built in 1737. The building, on the north side of the Green, survives; the central first-floor window was originally a niche housing the wooden image of an apprentice boy. Girls were admitted in 1758 and rapid growth forced the Charity to move to Grays Inn Road in 1772. The school was used by the Ancient Britons and by the Cymmrodorion Society, who kept their library here. The building was later associated with radical movements and socialism (Lenin published Iskra - the Spark - here) and since 1933 the building has housed the Marx Library in London

» Walk past St James parish church - site of the Benedictine Nunnery of St Mary, founded c. 1140 and head north to Roseberry Avenue.

6. New River Head
• The Welshman Hugh Myddleton (1560-1631) brought the first assured drinking water supply to London. He was one of three sons of a prominent Denbigh family who were sent to London as apprentices in the late sixteenth century. The water came from Amwell, in Hertfordshire, 38 miles to a reservoir in Clerkenwell (New River Head) from where it was distributed to the city in wooden pipes. The scheme was opened by his brother, Sir Thomas Myddleton (1550-1631), Lord Mayor designate of London. There is a statue of Hugh Myddleton at Islington Green, a short walk away.
Sir Hugh Myddleton

» Walk up Amwell Street

7. Lloyd's Dairy
• The Welsh in London have been involved in dairying since early the nineteenth century. 'Dairy fanners' kept cows behind small shops and Welsh girls became familiar in every street as milkmaids. By 1900 half the dairies in London were Welsh, and even by 1950 there were still well over 700 Welsh dairies.
• Lloyd Baker St: The land on which this and the surrounding streets are built was once owned by William Lloyd (1627-1717), Bishop of St. Asaph (1680-92).

» Walk along Calthorpe Street to Gray's Inn Road

8. Grays Inn Road: Second Charity School and London Welsh Centre
• Grays Inn: Grays Inn was particularly favoured by the Welsh, who had a reputation for being litigious, and between 1600 and 1700 registered 753 Welshmen out of a total of 1030 for all four Inns.
• Second Charity school (on the site opposite the London Welsh Centre): The success of the Clerkenwell School led to the building in 1772 of a handsome new residential school, under the patronage of the Prince of Wales. The school also served as a centre for the Society of Ancient Britons until 1783 and housed the library of the Cymmrodorion Society until this went to the British Museum. By 1857 the school had again outgrown its building and moved to Ashford in Middlesex.
9. London Welsh Centre
• Emrys Jones, The Welsh in London 1500-2000, University of Wales Press 2001, ISBN 0708317103
• Mary Cosh, An historical walk through Clerkenwell, Islington Libraries 1980
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This page was last revised 3rd April 2016
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