News and Announcements

Sylvia Pankhurst & Clerkenwell Green

Posted by Nick Frei, Saturday, 29th December 2018 @ 4:06pm

  • Dear Members and Friends of the Clerkenwell Green Preservation Society! 


    You may be aware of the idea of erecting a statue of Sylvia Pankhurst on Clerkenwell Green. Here is some background information:

    o   The Sylvia Pankhurst Memorial Committee has first suggested to place the statue on Parliament square. However, this was refused by Westminster Council. Clerkenwell Green is therefore “second choice” at best.

    o   Sylvia Pankhurst clearly deserves a statue. In fact, she is fortunate in the number of her memorials that do already exist: At her birthplace outside Manchester; in the East End of London where she pursued her public works;  and, on leaving London in middle age to live with her son in Ethiopia, she has a memorial at her place of death. What is particularly pleasing is that Emily’s face is now shown, together with other suffragists, at the base of the new statue of Millicent Fawcett on Parliament Square, unveiled in this year commemorating the centenary of women having the Vote. The Pankhurst Women will  never be forgotten.

    o   However: Sylvia Pankhurst has no connection to Clerkenwell Green whatsoever (except having visited on occasion the Mark library). She didn’t speak there - unlike the many celebrated persons, from Wat Tyler to William Gladstone, who have spoken on the Green for our laws and liberties.


    Fund-raising for the statue is currently in process. Should  sufficient funding be raised for a new statue of with a view to its siting on Clerkenwell Green, the Clerkenwell Green Preservation Society is planning to object on the grounds given above.

Congratulations To Ann Pembroke, B.E.M.!

Posted by Nick Frei, Saturday, 29th December 2018 @ 3:48pm

  • Dear Members and Friends of the Clerkenwell Green Preservation Society! 
    I’m pleased to inform you that the society’s Founder and Chairwoman, Mrs Ann Pembroke, has been recognized in the New Year’s Honours 2018. Ann has received the  British Empire Medal from H.M. the Queen, for public services to the Cultural History of the City of London (1978 -2017).   
    First of all, heartfelt congratulations to Ann, and of course this is also good news for our society as a whole.

Islington Council - public consultation for Clerkenwell Green improvements - please respond by 30 Oct

Posted by Nick Frei, Sunday, 29th October 2017 @ 1:39pm

  • Dear Members and Friends of the Clerkenwell Green Preservation Society! 

    Islington Council has published a proposal for public consultation and requires feedback by 30th October, 2017.   You may have already seen, or had delivered, their pack, which can be followed at www . islington . gov . uk/clerkenwellgreen.   

    Apologies for the short timeframe. The decision will not be made before Spring 2018, so there is a little leeway. 

    Our founder & president, Mrs Ann Pembroke, has written a thoughtful response which I copy at the bottom of this email.

    Best regards

    Nick Frei







    Many years ago Islington Council put forward plans to build a multi-storey building over the Public Conveniences on Clerkenwell Green.   George Jennings, who put the first Public Conveniences in Hyde Park for the Great Exhibition of 1851, designed this public facility to be underground to ensure prison officers would have a clear view from the Middlesex Sessions House.   

    Thus my foundation of The Friends of Clerkenwell Green which evolved into The Clerkenwell Green Preservation Society Ltd., a company (limited by guarantee), being the local community dedicated to maintaining Clerkenwell Green as an historic public open space. 

    I started a campaign to stop this unwanted commercial development, with the assistance of our local M.P. Chris Smith, then Minister for Culture, Heritage & Sport.    Displays by both parties were shown in The Old Sessions House and it became clear that the public wanted Clerkenwell Green to remain inviolate  in respect of those who, through the ages, from Wat Tyler to William Gladstone spoke there to give us the freedoms we enjoy today.    In fact, this public open space, a Place of Assembly, is maintained each May Day when protesters from all over the world flourish banners and placards, their children in national dress.     Clerkenwell Green is the site of the origin of free speech in this country, being open ground between the Benedictine Nunnery of St. Mary and the Priory of St. John, where, being outside the City Walls, speakers were unlikely to be subject to arrest. 

    More recently men were on the Green with a cement mixer to pour molten cement down the tiled steps of the Victorian Public Conveniences, closed by the Council for many years.    Seeking the advice of the Conservation Office, I proposed that metal sheets should be fixed over the steps which could be unlocked to allow access.   The steps were saved. 

    Current Proposal

    Islington Council has published a proposal for public consultation and requires feedback by 30th October, 2017.   You may have already seen, or had delivered, their pack, which can be followed at www . islington . gov . uk/clerkenwellgreen.   The decision will not be made before Spring 2018, so there is a little leeway. 

    As Director of The Clerkenwell Green Preservation Society, living and working on Clerkenwell Green since 1989, I was invited to be a member of the newly-formed Stakeholders’ Group.     It was clear that the Council had a pretty rigid design which, although bringing the public open space of Clerkenwell Green back to its size and status, held inappropriate materials and implants. 

    The Society is delighted that its promulgations of removing all parking and “through” traffic is accepted, but we are concerned: 

    1.      Trees     It is proposed to remove “low quality” mature trees central to the Green to allow a vista to The Old Sessions House.    This building occupying the entire west end of Clerkenwell Green is not  concealed by foliage  and, in the first Conservation Area designated by Islington Council in the Borough, there is no cause for  any such splendid trees to be cut down.   It would be vandalism.   The new planting of a tree on the corner of Clerkenwell Green and Clerkenwell Close is objected to as a tree has never taken up this site.    It would block the view of the Green and the root system could affect the old foundations of The Green House, with its Listed status.     Similarly, the proposal to plant five trees at the entrance to Clerkenwell Green from Clerkenwell Road, already the site of two mature trees at this juncture, would block the view across the Green to the tower and spire of the 18th century St. James’ Church, a Protected View, if ever there was one!   Approaching the village of Clerkenwell should not be obstructed by inappropriate planting.

    2.     Seating     Copying from St. John’s Square, lengthy, close-set slabs is space-consuming and uncomfortable to see the illustration of a young man sitting cross-legged on top of a slab, balancing like a monkey.   Individual seating, allowing privacy, with backs for support, are required as suitable for all ages.   Samples of styles to be produced to effect choice.  The slabs in St. John Square have been purposely damaged by knife, indicating disfavour.   Public seating should be relaxing and easy to use.   There is an opportunity to cover the stepped area around the Public Conveniences with flagstones as in Piccadilly Circus.

    3.     Surfaces for walking      The Victorian granite setts, partially covered and patched with worn asphalt, to be cleaned.    The proposed modern paviours in three colours are unsuited to this historic area as being more the style used at Supermarkets and, newly, at Waterloo Station.   Originally, York flagstones surrounded the Green, removed to be replaced by small uneven paviours and bricks.    Bring back the original York flagstones which match the period of the granite setts.    Small mottled coloured, bluish grey and cream tiles as proposed are unsuited to this ancient site.

    4.     Tree Pits    Not the modern cream-coloured gravel as photographed, but the traditional iron circular grids, sturdy and wholesome.

    5.     Loading Bays   That for the Old Sessions House to be sited at the rear in Farringdon Lane.  That opposite on the Green, to be removed. The current cobbled layby for the Crown Tavern being more practical, as adjacent to the pub.   The third loading bay to be sited beyond the Church in Clerkenwell Close, close to the Three Kings pub, as the narrow highway “pinch point” will not be a safe site.   Trundling beer barrels around Clerkenwell Green is not viable.

    6.     New Road, coloured grey on plan should be one-way , entering from Farringdon Lane, for use by delivery vehicles, ambulances and taxis only, traveling at 20 mph.   This area cannot support 2-way traffic.

    7.     Statue of Sylvia Pankhurst     This is a novelty, having not been introduced to meetings of the Stakeholder Group.     No reason is given, when it is clear that for 1,000 years of history  famed people spoke on Clerkenwelll Green, yet nobody considers the public open space of Assembly should be used hold statutary.     Whereas Sylvia Pankhurst has no connection with Clerkenwell, she was not born here, speak here, work here, nor die here,  which research at the Marx Memorial Library reveals.    It is embarrassing that when Sylvia worked in the East End of London, Islington Council should seek to immortalise her away from her base.   Is it because this statue, was intended by her supporters for Parliament Square, refused by the House of Lords, whereas that of  Millicent Fawcett’s statue will take this place?     Sylvia’s mother, Emily Pankhurst’s statue, is adjacent.      Clerkenwell Green must not be subject to such placements.   It is not the place for Sylvia’s statue.  It is important that Clerkenwell Green remains uncluttered by personal whims   It is a presumption to assume Sylvia’s statue will receive Planning Consent.

    8.     New Road from Aylesbury Street is to allow access to private garaging.    It must not be used by “through” traffic wishing to avoid traffic lights on Clerkenwell Road, by cutting corners.   Will a “No Entry” sign prevent this abuse?

    9.     “Explain the Social/Political History of Clerkenwell Green”, but no way forward given.    Such is the significance of this site as the Origin of Free Speech in this country that it is necessary to record this history on a free-standing metal plate, held by two rods in the ground.    As is the custom of London open spaces.    Please supply wording for approval.   Also, directions from Clerkenwell Green to the Clerks’ Well in Farringdon Lane, which will, hopefully be made more accessible for educational and touristic visits.     To retain the spirit of the scene, this historic open space is not to be used for commercial ends.

    10.  George Jennings Public Conveniences of the year 1900, when the locality of Clerkenwell Green was in acute poverty, homes without hygiene and sanitary facilities.    These Lavatories are not included in the Plan, although the sanitary fittings, pine panelling, brass and marble fittings are removed for conservation.   Councillor Alice states that they will not be converted to an unnecessary café with insufficient space for seating, to make an impact on existing businesses of Rate-paying pubs and cafes on Clerkenwell Green.   Alice tells me that £10,000 p.a. is required for wages of an Attendant.   Is there a Sponsor out there, who would wish to see the Public Lavatories restored for use?     Should my proposal, as a Governor of the Guildhall School of Music& Drama, 6th Formers act the Mystery Plays on the Green, as recorded in the 14th century.    George Jennings’ Public Conveniences would be much appreciated as Changing Rooms, etc.

    11.  Santander Bicycle Stand Obstructive on Clerkenwell Green and preferably to be moved to the corner outside the Churchyard.

    12.  Clerkenwell Green is so important universally that, with the retirement from office of the three elected Clerkenwell Councillors in May 2018, their Successors will have the knowledge and power to implement the above proposals.

    Ann M.F. Pembroke, OSt.J., 


    The Clerkenwell Green Preservation Society Ltd. 

Destruction of Public Lavatories on Clerkenwell Green - Planning Committee Meeting

Posted by Nick Frei, Sunday, 29th May 2016 @ 10:14am

  • Please be advised that the Planning Sub-Committee of Islington Council will meet on 7 June 2016, 7:30pm, at  Islington Town Hall, to decide on the planning proposal which will effectively destruct the historic lavatories on Clerkenwell Green.
    If you wish to speak at the meeting please email as you must register your intention to speak beforehand.

    Please check our website for materials on this matter:
    - Folder containing the excellent and detailed material from Alan Wippermann as well as the objection by Ann Pembroke
    - Pictures of the historic lavatories 

New Materials on the Clerkenwell Green website

Posted by Nick Frei, Tuesday, 2nd February 2016 @ 10:58am

  • Mr. Alan Wippermann has drafted a very professional and content-rich rapid assessment of the proposed sale & development of the public conveniences on Clerkenwell Green by the Islington Council.

    All materials can be found here:

Destruction of historic lavatories - register your objection now

Posted by Nick Frei, Monday, 14th December 2015 @ 12:42pm

  • Clerkenwell Green Preservation Society

    Dear Members and Friends of the Clerkenwell Green Preservation Society!
    Please find below a message from our founder & president, Mrs Ann Pembroke, who would like to bring to your urgent attention a planning application to essentially gut & destroy the historic lavatories on Clerkenwell Green.
    Time is of the essence, as comments must be made before January 7, 2016. If you would like to register your objection, please do so at the  Islington Council planning website, link:
    Thank you for your support!
    Ann writes:

    The Clerkenwell Green Preservation Society Ltd. Is calling to the Members' attention the details of the proposed LBI Planning Application to change the use of the George Jennings Public Lavatories to a cafe, which were constructed a century ago, to accommodate not only local people but the crowds who came to the Green to listen to the Orators who have given us the freedoms we enjoy today.
    Today, with the advent of the passenger influx of CrossRail, it is even more critical to restore the Lavatories for public use.  On inspection we find the original brass fittings, George Jennings' Victorian trade mark in the form of a disc on each of the ceramic urinals, pine panelled cubicles, tesselated flooring and glass blocked roof.  The attendant's cubicle remains and it would appear that this Aladdin's Cave is to be dismembered, removed and discarded.
    Clerkenwell Green and its area is not short of cafes, bars and restaurants.  In fact the Police say it is at saturation point. The loss of these Public Lavatories hits at the heart of the historic public space of the first LBI Conservation Area by such destruction.
    George Jennings, plumber and engineer, constructed the first underground Public Lavatories for the Great Exhibition held in Hyde Park in 1852. The first to "spend a penny". The Clerkenwell Green Public Lavatories were also built underground, to ensure that there was no impediment to the view of the Middlesex Sessions House. In prisoners being taken from local prisons and away to serve sentences.
    The Clerkenwell Green Public Lavatories are structures of the iconic history of Clerkenwell Green.  They are fit for restoration and use in their original form.  The underground space would illustrate the significance for justice and our laws brought through the ages to the public on the Green.  HRH Prince Charles called it the "First London Village" and the original site of Free Speech in this country.
    During 2015, I have held meetings on   Clerkenwell Green and its Public Lavatories for restoration to its original size and status with Council officers, our local Councilor, our M.P, Emily Thornberry, TfL, Cross Rail, Heritage England, the Masters of both the Plumbers' and Engineers' Liveries, the Governor of the Board of the Guildhall School of Music & Drama (producing Mystery Plays on the Green), the Guild of Parish Clerks (resuming the tradition of theIr Perambulation to the Clerks' Well in 2016), local frontagers, including Publica, Grangers and the Craft Centre who support the Society.  Helen and I recently met again the owner restoring The Old Sessions House.
    It will be necessary once more to mount an Appeal, by approaching "The Times" and "Guardian" Newspapers, as hitherto, when we stopped Islington Council building a multi-storey commercial block on the site of the Public Lavatories.

    The ruse of advertising such Planning Applications over the bank holiday periods of Christmas and New Year must be stopped.  Islington Council closed these public services forty years ago, plenty of time to keep them water-tight and to public use.

    You will know that I stopped the cement mixers on the public open space from pouring cement down the steps of the Lavatories, so much for the Council's care of public assets.  I proposed the steel plate covers instead so access was possible!
    I would be most grateful for you to publish a report to CGPS members on its web site, using the above material, stressing the urgency of making objections to Islington Council's Planning Application for the destruction of the Clerkenwell Green Public Lavatories to be replaced by a cafe.  

    Time being of the essence, not to miss the January 7 deadline.

    With thanks and all good wishes,
    Ann M.F. Pembroke, OSt.J., C.C.,
    The Clerkenwell Green Preservation Society Ltd.
    Registered Office:
    The Penthouse,
    42 Clerkenwell Green,
    London, EC1R 0DU.
    Telephone:  0207 490 2000

Next Meeting - at Publica, 10 Clerkenwell Green, London EC1R 0DU at 5.30 p.m. on Tuesday, 13th May, 2014.

Posted by Nick Frei, Sunday, 11th May 2014 @ 7:00pm

  • A G E N D A

    For a General Meeting of


    to be held at the offices of Publica, 10 Clerkenwell Green, London EC 1

    at 5.30 p.m. on Tuesday, 13th May, 2014


    1.     Apologies for absence.

    2.     Chairman’s opening remarks and introduction of new members

    3.     Activities since the CGPS meeting held on 10 10. 13.

    4.     Chairman’s reports on visits and meetings with:

    Crossrail x 3, Will Parkes

    Richard Parish, English Heritage

    Director, TfL

    Brian Kay

    Alec Forshaw

    Oliver and Ted Grebelius, Old Sessions House

    Lucy, Tierney and Cordula, Publica

    Alexander Neill, Covent Garden

    Michael Bardell, Sekforde Street

    Principal and Chairman of Guildhall School of Music & Drama (Mystery  Plays).

    5.     CGPS inspection visit to Public Lavatories on Clerkenwell  Green  15. 4. 14.

    6.     Renewal of licence for 6 tables and 24 chairs at Take-away.

    7.     Publica:  exposition on strategy and formation of Local Forum of business/residents.

    8.     Purchase of  the freehold of the Public Lavatories from Islington Council.

    9.     Localism Bill:  community right to buy – Stuart Wortley, property partner, Pinsent Masons.

    10.  Questions from the floor.

    11.  Any other business.

    12.  Date of next meeting

Next CGPS Meeting: November 14, at Publica on Clerkenwell Green, at 6.30pm

Posted by Nick Frei, Saturday, 26th October 2013 @ 10:34am


    Please be advised that the next CGPS meeting will take place on November 14, at Publica on Clerkenwell Green, at 6.30pm.

Plans for the Proposed Restauration

Posted by Nick Frei, Sunday, 15th September 2013 @ 10:50am

Next meeting of CGPS - 10 October 2013, 6.30PM, at Pinsent Masons' offices

Posted by Nick Frei, Sunday, 15th September 2013 @ 10:46am

  • The date for the next meeting of the Society has now been confirmed as 10 October 2013.  The meeting will start at 18:30hrs at Pinsent Masons’ offices: 30 Crown Place, London, EC2A 4ES.

Charterhouse Excavations

Posted by Nick Frei, Saturday, 13th April 2013 @ 5:42pm

Clerkenwell Green Preservation Society

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