41-42 Cloth Fair

Text from City Courant: Cloth Fair

Easy to pass by unnoticed, 41-42 Cloth Fair opposite the Church of St Bartholomew the Great has two claims to fame. Besides being the oldest inhabited house in the City of London (built between 1597 and 1614), it’s also believed to be the only private house still standing to have survived the Great Fire of 1666. Originally a cloth merchant’s, the property has in its more than four century history been many things, including a pub (The Eagle and Child), a woollen draper’s shop and a cutlery workshop. Under threat of demolition by the City of London Corporation in the 1920s the house was saved by two architects, Seely and Paget, who restored the building, and lived and based their practice there. It’s currently the home of Common Councillor Matthew Bell (see The Bart of the Matter). Over the years 41-42 has been visited by a wide variety of notables, among them Methodism founders John and Charles Wesley, playwright and novelist J. B. Priestley, Prime Minister Winston Churchill, actress Joyce Grenfell, the Queen Mother, and more recently film director Ken Loach, MP Tony Benn, Irish President Mary Robinson and first Mayor of London Ken Livingstone, who accidentally locked himself in the loo.


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