41 Cloth Fair – The Oldest House in the City of London.
by Ben Johnson
Hidden down a small street in Farringdon lies a quite remarkable building – 41/42 Cloth Fair. Built between 1597 and 1614, this is the only house in the City of London to have survived the Great Fire of London in 1666.
Records tell us that the reason it escaped the brunt of the fire was due to it being enclosed within a large set of priory walls. Records also show that the building was originally part of a larger scheme of eleven houses featuring a courtyard in the middle, known as “The Square in Launders Green”.
By 1929 the building was under review for demolition by the City of London Corporation as part of their sanitary scheme. To make matters worse, the building had been served with a dangerous structure notice making its future even less certain. Luckily in 1995 the building was purchased by a new set of owners and subsequently underwent an extensive renovation. As a testament to the quality of the restoration, it was even awarded the City Heritage Award in 2000!
Some interesting facts about the house:
• A set of leaded windows within the property bear the signatures (etched with a diamond pen) of some rather famous visitors; Sir Winston Churchill and the Queen Mother to name just two!
• In 2000 the property received the City Heritage Award as the finest example of building refurbishment contributing to the enhancement of the environment of the City of London.
• There are rumoured to be skeletons in the foundations.