Tuesday, April 04, 2023

Oldest House in the City of London

London The Unfinished City
41-42 Cloth Fair

Wandering, as I do, along the labyrinthine streets of London I always discover something to which I was unaware. This is exactly what happened whilst I walked from Farringdon towards Barbican.

Having headed south from Farringdon station and along the Grand Avenue, that divides Smithfield Market, I headed onto West Smithfield and turned onto a narrow road named Cloth Fair. 

As I approached the courtyard of the Priory Church of St Bartholomew the Great I noticed a timber framed building to my left. It was unlike any other building on the street, so I took some photos.

Admiring this building, as I was, I was approached by an elderly lady out walking her dog who told me that this is "the oldest house in London". How cool?!

London The Unfinished CIty
41-42 Cloth Fair

A few more photos and I was soon on my way, looking for more hidden gems.

Brief History - 41 Cloth Fair

The house was built between 1597 and 1614 and was the only house to survive the Great Fire of 1666. This was due to its location within the large priory walls of nearby St Bartholomew the Great.

More surprising is that it was once part of eleven homes that surrounded a courtyard named 'The Square in Lauders Green', all of which have long since gone.

The City of London Corporation marked the building for demolition in 1929 as it had been served with a dangerous structure notice. Fortunately, this demolition, obviously, didn't happen.

London The Unfinished CIty
The oldest house in London.

It wasn't until 1995 that it was purchased by new owners who set about extensive renovations of the building. So good were the renovations that they were awarded the City Heritage Award in 2000.

There are some interesting facts that I discovered, too.

  • There are said to be skeletons in its foundations
  • Sir Winston Churchill and the Queen Mother have etched their signatures in some of the leaded windows.
  • The architects John Seely and Paul Paget were former residents
  • John Betjeman lived in a flat next door.


  1. Another fascinating bit of London history.

    1. It was a building that I was unaware of until I stumbled upon it.