45a Cloth Fair

Smithfield, London EC1

About this Landmark

Facing the churchyard of St Bartholomew the Great in the historic City of London, it is an oasis of relative calm in central London, especially at weekends.

  • CotCot
  • Fire or StoveFire or Stove
  • BathBath
  • Bath with ShowerBath with Shower
  • MicrowaveMicrowave

Beds 2 Single, 1 Double

  • Sleeps 4
  • 4 nights from £964
  • equivalent to £60.25 per person, per night

Smithfield Market

Around the corner from the handsome Victorian buildings of Smithfield Market, Cloth Fair overlooks the churchyard of St Bartholomew the Great, a rare survivor of the Great Fire of 1666. This plain Georgian row of houses encloses (at No. 41) the only remaining house in the City built before the Fire and was rescued on this basis by architect Paul Paget, who eventually sold the row to Landmark.

Here long-established institutions, trades, houses, markets and peoples mingle just as they have always done. Set, as they always were, above businesses below, our two houses each have a respectable staircase, pleasant rooms and nice old joinery - wonderful bases from which to explore the whole of London.

Floor Plans

‘This house is a remarkable oasis in central London, particularly at the weekend.’

From the logbook

Map & local info

Cloth Fair, tucked away in the  City of London, was originally the site of the Bartholomew Fair, where merchants gathered each year in August to trade cloth. Around the corner from Cloth Fair are the Victorian buildings of Smithfield Market, one of the oldest of the many markets in London.

Across from 45a Cloth Fair is the churchyard of St Bartholomew the Great, the oldest parish church in the City of London. Explore the historic features of this wonderful church, founded in 1123, and admire its wealth of impressive architectural features. Visit St Paul's Cathedral and Temple Church too, both situated within walking distance of less than a mile from here. Experience more of the fascinating history of London from prehistoric times to the present day with a visit to the Museum of London.

Postman's Park offers a tranquil break from the hustle and bustle of everyday life in the City. For lovers of the performing arts, the Barbican Centre, on nearby Silk Street, is the largest multi-arts venue of its kind in Europe, offering a host of classical and contemporary music concerts, theatre performances, film screenings and art exhibitions. It is also a base for the London Symphony Orchestra.

 ​Take a look at our Pinterest map for more ideas of things to do and see during your stay at 45a Cloth Fair.

Please Note: The Landmark Trust does not take any responsibility and makes no warranties, representations or undertakings about the content of any website accessed by hypertext link. Links should not be taken as an endorsement of any kind. The Landmark Trust has no control over the availability of the linked pages.

See all our Landmarks at Cloth Fair

45a Cloth Fair
Smithfield, London EC1
Clear directions

‘This house is a remarkable oasis in central London, particularly at the weekend.’

From the logbook

Your questions answered

    What you need to know about this building

  • Does the property allow dogs?

  • How is the property accessed?

    Directly from the street.
  • What is the nearest railway station and how far away is it?

    Barbican (underground) – 0.2 miles
  • Is there car parking specifically for Landmark guests?

    No – there is on street parking (at cost) or local NCP car parks.
  • What type of heating does the property have?

    There is gas central heating and a gas fire.
  • What are the kitchen facilities?

    The kitchen is fully equipped with all plates, cutlery, fridge etc.
    There is also an electric cooker.
  • What are the bathroom facilities?

    There are two bathrooms, one with a shower over the bath and the other with a bath.
  • Does this Landmark have steep, narrow or spiral stairs?

  • Is there higher than expected background noise?

    Yes as this property is in a city and above a restaurant, you may experience a level of noise associated with an urban location.
  • Is there a garden or outside space?


    Booking and Payment

  • How can I pay?

    We accept Maestro (if issued in the UK), Visa, MasterCard, direct transfer and sterling cheques drawn on a UK bank. Cheques should be made payable to the Landmark Trust except for Lundy stays and boat/helicopter tickets which should be payable to The Lundy Company Ltd. All payments must be in sterling.
  • How do I create an account?

    If you have not used the Landmark online booking facility before and you wish to register in advance, you can set up an on-line account by following the instructions below:

    Go to the Landmark home page and click on Gift shop (located at the top of the home page in red).

    Select a gift (e.g. Landmark Handbook or Anniversary Mug) and complete the ‘Amount required’ box. There is no need to complete the purchase but this step is necessary in order to bring up the registration page.

    Click ‘Next Step’ at the bottom of the page.

    This will bring you to the ‘Your details’ page.

    Please complete all the fields (name, address, contact details and create an account). Click on the green ‘Create Account’ button once you have finished.

    At the top of the page headed ‘Your details’ there will be a grey box saying ‘Signed in’ and underneath this it will say ‘you are currently signed in as ….

    Here you will also have the option to ‘Sign out’. Please do so and that is your registration completed.

    Please return to the Landmark home page.

    To check your registration or update your account details at any time please ‘Sign in’ using the icon in the top right-hand corner of the home page.

    If you experience any problems in registering or setting up your on-line account please contact [email protected]
  • How do I pick up the key?

    There are various arrangements for picking up keys. To arrange to get into the Landmark, please contact the housekeeper at least two days before your stay
  • Can I pay a deposit?

    If your stay starts more than three months from the date you make the booking, you are required to pay a deposit of one third of the cost of your stay (or £100 per booking, if greater) at the time of booking. Camping on Lundy must be paid for in full at the time of booking.
  • How can I cancel or change my booking?

    If you wish to cancel or change your booking, please contact our Booking Office on 01628 825925
  • What if I arrive late?

    Please let the housekeeper know if you are going to arrive late and s/he will leave a key for you in a suitable place.
  • Do you accept payment in other currencies?

    At the moment we only accept payment in sterling.
  • How far in advance do I need to book?

    It depends. Some of our most popular Landmarks are booked up a long time in advance, but many can be booked at short notice. We will always have Landmarks free for the coming weekend so it’s always worth checking our availability list.
  • Do you have to be a member to book a Landmark?

    No, Landmarks are available to be booked for anyone.
  • Do I need a Handbook to be able to book?

    No, all the information you need can be found on our website, although we’d like you to buy one anyway as it will be a pleasure to own!
  • What happens if I can’t get to the Landmark due to bad weather?

    If the weather is bad, please contact our booking office who will be able to tell you whether the Landmark is accessible. If the housekeeper can safely get to the building to prepare it then we consider that it is open and available for guests. However if we cannot undertake a changeover then we will do our utmost to transfer your stay to another Landmark, depending on what we have available. It may not be of a similar size or in the same part of the country as your original booking. If the building is accessible but the customer cannot travel due to poor weather in his/her local area then please be aware that Landmark will not provide a refund. However the customer may be able to claim on his/her own travel insurance. We recommend that all guests take out travel insurance when they first secure a booking.

    Staying at a Landmark

  • Are Landmarks accessible for people with disabilities or limited mobility?

    Some of our Landmarks are suitable for people with disabilities or limited mobility. However, many Landmarks have steep or narrow staircases, uneven floors and thresholds, changes of level, low ceilings or beams, as well as indistinct colours on steps and in corridors. We recommend that you call Booking Enquiries on 01628 825925 if you would like to find out the suitability of a particular Landmark for anyone with a specific disability.
  • Are Landmarks only available as self-catering accommodation?

    Yes, Landmarks are only available as self-catering accommodation. We do not offer bed and breakfast.
  • Do you provide catering?

    Landmark does not provide catering, but we can recommend Greycoat Lumleys who can arrange for expert and well-trained staff to cater for one evening or for your entire holiday. Their cooks and chefs are able to work with you to meet your specific requirements
  • Do you allow dogs?

    You may bring up to two dogs to properties where dogs are allowed (please see specific property details for exemptions however dogs are not permitted on Lundy except assistance dogs). They must be kept off the furniture and under proper control.
  • Can I bring a pet?

    Apart from two dogs (see above) no other pets are permitted.
  • Am I insured if I break something?

    We do not carry insurance for breakages. However we appreciate that accidents do sometimes happen. If you have a breakage during your stay, please let the housekeeper know and if appropriate we reserve the right to invoice you accordingly.
  • Are Landmarks suitable for children?

    Yes, most of our Landmarks are perfect for children, with gardens to play in and secret places to discover. Our furniture is surprisingly robust and we positively encourage families to stay. However, some of our buildings may not be suitable for small children; for example, some of them have steep or uneven spiral staircases. We recommend that you call the Booking Enquiries team if you would like to find out the suitability of any of our Landmarks for young children.
  • Can I get married in a Landmark?

    Unfortunately, most of our Landmarks are not licensed for weddings. However, you may get married on Lundy.
  • Can I hold a big party in a Landmark?

    All our larger Landmarks are perfect for gatherings of family or friends. You may invite an additional two guests to visit you during your stay, however they must not stay overnight. This is very important because our fire regulations specifically note the maximum number of people in any one building. In addition our properties are prepared, furnished and equipped for the number of people specified and greater numbers cause damage and excessive wear and tear to vulnerable buildings. Should this condition be ignored we shall make a retrospective charge per person per day (whether or not they stay overnight) for each guest over the permitted limit, the charge being pro-rated on the total cost of your booking.
  • Are there televisions in the buildings?

    We deliberately do not provide televisions and find that most people appreciate this.
  • Why are your access tracks sometimes difficult?

    One of the challenges of restoring unloved buildings is gaining access to them. We frequently have to negotiate rights with our neighbours and share tracks with them. In many cases tracks do not belong to us and we have no right to maintain them. Wherever possible we work with our neighbours to provide you with a good quality surface, but where this is a problem then you will be warned at the time of booking.
  • Will there be sockets for my electrical appliances?

    Yes, we have standard electricity sockets for UK appliances. If you are coming from outside the UK, you will need to bring your own adaptor plug(s).


  • Are the kitchens and bathrooms restored to a modern standard?

    Sometimes our kitchens and bathrooms have to be imaginatively fitted into the available space in buildings where before there were none, but they are all planned and equipped to a high and modern standard.
  • Is linen provided?

    Yes, Landmarks are fully equipped with sheets and towels. All the beds are fully made up for your arrival.
  • Are the kitchens fully equipped?

    Yes, our kitchens are well equipped with cookers and fridges. There are freezers and dishwashers (in larger buildings) and, where space allows, microwaves as well as a wide and standard range of utensils. A full equipment list is available at time of booking.
  • Do you provide logs for the open fire/stove?

    Logs are provided at many of our Landmarks for an additional cost.
  • Will there be a mobile signal in the Landmark I book?

    Mobile coverage varies. Some Landmarks have an excellent signal, but others have none at all. If you are concerned, you can check with the housekeeper before your arrival.
  • Is there Wi-Fi in your buildings?

    No. At the moment, we have decided not to implement Wi-Fi in our buildings following a consultation with our customers. Many said that they would find it useful, but many also felt that it would somehow damage the experience of staying in a Landmark. As the responses were so split, and as we have so many other initiatives requiring funding, we have decided to put this on hold for the time being.
  • What should I bring with me? Are there lavatory rolls, soap, shampoo, milk, teabags, coffee, hairdryer?

    A welcome tray with tea and sugar awaits your arrival and you will find a pint of milk in the fridge. We also provide lavatory rolls and a bar of soap, per basin but no other toiletries. We do not provide hairdryers.

A survivor of the Great Fire of London

Cloth Fair is a solitary survivor in London’s City of the Great Fire of 1666. Although Nos. 41 and 43, present more of an 18th-century air today, the timber frames encased behind the later facades date from around 1600. 


On the site of St Bartholomew’s Fair 

The row stands almost in the shadow of St Bartholomew the Great, once church to a mighty Norman foundation, which has also withstood Fire and Blitz alike. Even in the priory’s days, this was an area of bustling commerce rather than cloistered seclusion; nearby Smithfield was a noisy livestock and meat market from the 12th century, and once a year, the priory held a great cloth fair on its patron saint’s day, 24th August, and this explains the name of the street built within its precincts.


Built by an Elizabethan speculator

At the Dissolution, the priory, a plum site, was bought by Sir Richard Rich, Chancellor of the Court of Augmentations and Thomas Cromwell’s right hand man. Rich moved into the prior’s lodgings in 1540, but it was his grandson, Robert, 3rd Baron Rich, who began to build seriously on the priory grounds, throwing up speculative housing of grand tenements three and even four storeys high, on 31-year leases. Today’s Cloth Fair holds these behind the later brick facings. 


Narrowly saved from demolition

The crowded Elizabethan houses around Cloth Fair had become squalid, overcrowded tenements by 1913, understandably vulnerable to the strictures of a more sanitary age. Cloth Fair, with its acquired 18th-century proportions, stood its ground rather better than the ramshackle alleys behind it, which the Sanitary Committee for the City Corporation condemned for demolition in 1914. The timber-framed tenements behind Cloth Fair were felled, and Cloth Fair itself might have gone the same way had salvation not arrived in February 1930 for No. 41-42, ‘the last Jacobean house in London,’ in the shape of architects Paul Paget and John Seely. The houses had been scheduled as dangerous structures but Paget and Seely had the vision, and the professional skills, to see that they could be saved. The acquisition of others in the row soon followed.


Former home of John Betjeman, poet & campaigner

Cloth Fair also stands as something of an emblem for the conservation battles of the twentieth century, and not just by the virtue of its survival. The restoration of St Bartholomew’s first focussed attention on the area in the 1880s. In 1954, Paget came into contact with one of England’s most effective architectural conservation campaigners, the poet John Betjeman (1906-1984), through ‘a battle about a television mast in the Isle of Wight.’ ‘Of course I have to live here,’ said Betjeman when he visited Cloth Fair, and he took a lease on the upper floors of No. 43, which he used for the next twenty years as a convenient London bolthole from which to conduct his affairs and campaigns. John Betjeman represents a distinctively English aspect of building conservation. Through his poetry (he was appointed Poet Laureate in 1972), and eventually his radio and television programmes, Betjeman chronicled his own time with affectionate insight: the ‘Metro-land’ of the commuter belt, and life in the suburbs as the creep of ribbon development reached deep into Middlesex.It was from Cloth Fair that Betjeman campaigned to save Euston Arch, demolished in 1961, one of the most bruising deliberate architectural losses London has suffered.  Betjeman was more successful in lobbying for the late Gothic Revival glory of St Pancras Station, now triumphantly restored and redeveloped as the Eurostar Terminal, where he is captured posthumously in bronze. Landmark’s involvement with the Cloth Fair houses began in 1970, and we even briefly occupied the offices at No. 43. Seely and Paget moved out in 1976, and tenants came and went, Landmark taking its chance to refurbish and restore the flats and offices when it could. In 1981, 45a became a Landmark, and this was followed in 1986 by No. 43 where John Betjeman lived. The building was cleverly strengthened and extended to create a wine bar on the ground floor with flats above. Betjeman’s flat still looks much as it did when he lived there. The wallpaper in the sitting room was, appropriately enough, a William Morris design called Acorn, the colourway specially reprinted for us.

An important street in the history of London

The Landmark Trust bought Nos 39-45 Cloth Fair in 1970 from Mr Paul Paget.  Mr Paget had bought and restored No 41/42 in 1930, to serve both as a home for himself and John Seely (later Lord Mottistone) and as an office for their architectural practice.  It is reputedly the only house in the City to date from before the Great Fire of London, the last survivor of many such houses that stood in the street until the early 20th century, and it might well have been demolished too had Seely and Paget not come to its rescue.  

He told the story of how it came about in an interview that he gave to Clive Aslet shortly before his death in 1985, which appeared in the Thirties Society Journal for 1987

When the practice was going reasonably well the partner said:

"You know I think we ought to be in the City". He gave the word, and every weekend was spent in hunting round for a possible property in the City. And there again it was quite incredible luck because we chanced across this ancient little street with a pre-Fire of London house for sale for £3,000 freehold. It's unbelievable. We persuaded the parents to provide the necessary cash, and of course it did prove to be wildly rewarding - a wonderful shop window. We spent blissfully happy years there.

We went there in 1930. Then my father, who was on the point of retiring from being Bishop of Chester, was like most bishops and had got nowhere to go. He got rather miserable about the thought of retiring. We were able to buy the next door property, so I had some very beautifully engraved notepaper with the heading 39 Cloth Fair; and I wrote to him and said "Here is your new address".

My father was very, very reluctant, so I employed an artist [Roland Pym] to do a decoration for the bathroom.  I remember offering an illustration of this to the then very popular weekly glossy called The Tatler and this was published as the frontispiece of that week's issue under the caption "Bathroom for a Bishop".  You can imagine that my father found it of some embarrassment when facing his other bishops at the Athenaeum Club."

Most of the other houses in Cloth Fair had been demolished during the First World War and afterwards, leaving only this small group of houses at the western end; it is possible that Nos 43-45 would have gone as well, if they too had not been bought by Mr Paget:

In the end we bought the street. John Betjeman,with whom we had come into contact over a battle about a television mast in the Isle of Wight, came down to lunch and said: "But of course I've got to live here". So in he moved next door [in 1954]. We really had very pleasant neighbours. The houses were so close that the neighbours across the alleyway could see us carving the Sunday joint - it was so close that you almost felt as though you should hand a plate across.  So when eventually we got possession of the house on the other side of the alleyway, we decided that this should never happen again and we blocked up the window. This was such a terribly gloomy aspect that we got Brian Thomas to paint a scene of the Sailor's Return. This was a lovely thing to look out at. I used to hear the tourists being conducted round the City and the guide would stop and say: "Here is a very interesting case of a window that was blocked up at the time of the window tax". Brian Thomas was a mural and stained glass painter, some of whose work can be seen in St Paul's.

At No 40, underneath No 39, the cloth warehouse of Mitchell, Inman & Co, served as a reminder of the traditional trade of the area, but in general by 197O the tenor of the street was more literary and professional.  An antiquarian bookseller, Frank Hollings, occupied No 45, Sir John Betjeman still lived on the upper floors of 43, with the quantity surveyors Godfrey Smith in the offices below, and the firm of Seely and Paget continued to occupy No 41.  The nurses of St Bartholomew's Hospital had a hostel at No 39. 
Changes have occurred since then, as tenants have come and gone, and the Landmark restoration work has been carried out.  For a time the Landmark Trust itself occupied the office at No 43.  The firm of Seely and Paget moved to Christchurch Tower in 1976, and after failing to attract a City Livery Company or some such institution to take their place, it was decided in 1980 that the buildings in this block - the Jacobean
house and the warehouse - should be sold.
In 1974-75 No 45 was restored and refurbished - the only change in appearance being the restoration of glazing bars to the windows.  The rest of the work was stuctural - rebuilding parapets and chimneys, strengthening the front of the building over the shop front and repairing the roof; while inside the kitchen and bathroom were improved but otherwise the existing arrangement of rooms was kept to.  When the work was completed Mr Heath of Priory Antiques moved in on the ground floor and the flat above was let to Miss Jean Imray, who worked for the Mercers Company and who had lived at No 44 (now 46) for many years.  When she left in 1981 the flat became a Landmark.

After much thought and many changes of plan work started on the remaining buildings in 1986. These included No 43a - now 8, Cloth Court - which had been a butcher's shop since before 1900, and was bought by Landmark after the last owner, Sivier's, moved out in 1973. The idea was to convert the whole of the ground floor area into a wine bar, while making three flats on the floors above.  This meant extending the single storey extension behind No 43 to run right across behind the two houses (which may originally have been one), at the same time creating a flat area which could become a roof garden for the flats.
As with No 45, the main work was structural; a number of steel ties and joists had to be inserted to strengthen the floors and in particular to give extra support to the wall above the shop front; and the parapets of both houses had to be taken down and rebuilt, along with the gable end of No 43, which was bulging badly.
A new door and a second window were made at the back of 43, to give access to the roof garden and to allow the bathroom a window of its own.  Otherwise everything was left as little disturbed as possible, all original fittings being retained.  The flat was redecorated, but still looks much as it did when lived in by Sir John Betjeman.  To achieve this some problems had to be overcome:  the wallpaper in the sitting room, for
example, a William Morris design called Acorn, was no longer made in exactly the same colour, but Sandersons agreed to print it specially. 
The wine bar windows are new, but the facia (apart from some of the brackets which had to be replaced) is original, dating from around 1800, as does the back entrance to Sivier's in the passage.  Sivier's front entrance in Cloth Court was also left as it was, although it is of later date than the other shop fronts, probably dating from the 1890s, when Maples & Co, Meat Contractors, set up business there.

Select a changeover day to start your booking...

What's a changeover day? and Why can't I select other dates?Explain MoreQuestion

A changeover day is a particular day of the week when holidays start and end at our properties. These tend to be on a Friday or a Monday but can sometimes vary. All stays run from one changeover day until another changeover day.