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The well after which this part of central London is named was only rediscovered in 1924 – part of it still visible through a window of Well Court, a 20th-century building in Farringdon Lane. Before Clerkenwell became built up with breweries, distilleries and printing works, it had a reputation as a fashionable place to live, a pleasant area just a short walk from the city with its chalybeate springs, tea gardens and theatres; Sadler’s Wells is a survivor of this tradition. Cowcross Street, now full of bars and restaurants, was a drovers’ route for cattle on the way to Smithfield Market, at more than 800 years old, one of London’s oldest markets. Now fashionable again, the roll call of restaurants in Clerkenwell include Michelin-starred St John and Club Gascon, famous chefs like Bruno Loubet at The Zetter hotel, hard-to-book hot spots such as Sushi Tetsu and the no-reservation hit, Polpo Smithfield.
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