Smithfield and Cloth Fair

Bartholomew Fair 2023 comes back to the original home of the Fair in Cloth Fair and Smithfield in its third week – on September 14, 15, 16.

Setting up in ClothFair and Smithfield 14 September

Click sidebar icon top left for list of locations

Click sidebar icon top left for list of locations

Cloth Fair is a complementary programme with events in St Bartholomew the Great on September 14 and 15, followed by a Music Festival.

Yvonne Courtney has a Reinvented Cloth Pop Up Shop just around the corner at 38 Bartholomew Close EC1A 7HP. See location here.


History of the Fair

Cloth Fair

The Fair was first staged in Cloth Fair in 1133 to raise funds for the Priority Church of St Bartholomew the Great, and in particular the Hospital which became Barts.


The Smithfield area

Smithfield history overview

Wikipedia provides an overview of Smithfield history and development. British History Online has a section extracted from Old and New London 1878. For a comprehensive review of the area I recommend Alec Forshaw’s book Smithfield: past, Present and and Future. The London Society has a report of a talk that Alec gave in 2018. 

Blog posts on Smithfield history 

In the Smithfield category of Know Your London, lecturer on London history Adrian Prockter offers learned articles on Smithfield Market, Smithfield in Medieval and Victorian times, St Bartholomew’s Hospital, St Bartholomew the Great and the Less, Livery Halls and lots more.

The City Gent has a number of blog posts on Smithfield reporting on his wandering around the area. He covers the history of Smithfield and the market, the main buildings and memorials, Smithfield stories both cheerful and gruesome, and some Livery Halls.  

Smithfield Martyrs

Hundreds of men and women were put to the fire for their faith in the 15th and 16th centuries – many of them in Smithfield. Virgina Rounding’s book The Burning Time tells the story of the Smithfield Martyrs, both Catholic and Protestant, the times they lived in, and the stories of two key figures: Richard Rich, Thomas Cromwell’s protégé, and John Deane, Rector of St Bartholomew’s.  

The History of England tells the story ofAnne Agnew, the best known of the martyrs, burned in Smithfield in 1546.

Gillian Tindall recalls Smithfield’s Bloody Past in a post for Spitalfields Life. I suggest a further Smithfield search on this my favourite blog for many more engaging articles about the area by The Gentle Author and his guests.

Smithfield pubs

The City Gent also provides a guide to the architectural and historic attractions of Smithfield pubs in two articles: first a mention for The Bishops Finger and the Hand and Shears in Smithfield stories (some a bit gruesome) and then more in Another look at Smithfield Pubs including the Fox and Anchor, Smithfield Tavern – now Simmons, The Red Cow, The Sutton Arms, The Rising Sun and The Hope.

A London Inheritance features The Bishops Finger, St Barts, Butcher’s Hook and Cleaver, The Rising Sun, The Old Red Cow, and The Hand and Shears.


Smithfield Market and the New Museum of London

John Morgan wrote A Potted History of Smithfield Market for The Clerkenwell Post, and although the website is now down, you can find the text on The Wayback Machine.

A new museum for London: “We have embarked on an extraordinary journey to create a new museum for London. It will sit in atmospheric but currently dilapidated market buildings, at the heart of one of the capital’s most historic and creative quarters, Smithfield General Market, forming an integral part of the Smithfield area next to Farringdon”.

Smithfield Market: monks, meat and merriment. Three articles by curators at the Museum of London, which is moving to Smithfield and reopening in 2026.

Three videos about Smithfield and plans for the new Museum

David Wilcox