This handsome Grade II-listed, late-Georgian house lies on the coveted raised terrace of Wilmington Square in Clerkenwell. Wilmington Square is one of the earliest developments in the area and is regarded as one of its most important and historic squares. This four-bedroom house has been beautifully preserved; almost all original chimneypieces are still in place, as are windows, shutters and panelled casements, plus cupboards, cornicing and pitch pine floorboards. Incredibly peaceful for such a central location, the house has no road to the immediate fore — and therefore no traffic — and looks directly out to the verdant square. Laid out over four levels, the south-facing house extends to over 1,800 sq ft internally. There is a courtyard garden and separate ‘garden house’; a two-storey Victorian annexe that makes for wonderful secondary accommodation or a home studio.
Setting the Scene
The house is positioned in the centre of the terrace and built from yellow stock brick laid in Flemish bond, with banded stucco on the ground floor and stucco dressings. There are two cast-iron Juliet balconies on the first floor and original iron spear railings with urn finials at street level. At the entrance is a beautiful neo-classical doorcase with an arched fanlight, which is supported by a slim architrave and recessed fluted half-columns. For more information on the square itself, please see the History section below.
The Grand Tour
The front door, original to the house, has antique ironmongery and Banham security locks. It opens immediately to the spacious hallway, where pitch pine floorboards run underfoot and traces of the original decorative stencilling that once covered the walls are uncovered and framed as if artworks. A section of original Georgian panelling lines one wall, with the staircase lying directly ahead and entry to the garden house at the rear.
The kitchen and dining room are positioned to the left of the plan. The dining room lies at the front, looking out through a roundhead box sash window to the square’s gardens. This leads in turn to the kitchen to the rear, forming one large, open space, perfect for social dining and cooking. The dining room has a typically Georgian green marble bullnose chimneypiece, with original cupboards set into alcoves on either side. Grand wedding doors set in a deep architrave open to the kitchen, where old mahogany work surfaces sit atop cream-painted wooden cupboards.
The south-facing drawing room is positioned on the first floor and has an incredible quality of light, which filters through the greenery of mature trees framed by two full-height sash windows. Walls are papered in a beautiful yellow patterned design and a Carrara marble chimneypiece acts as a centrepiece. A bedroom lies at the rear of this floor, painted in a charming plaster pink.
The main bedroom is on the top floor; this has elegant glass-fronted cupboards and a built-in settle positioned centrally. Views to the treetops and open sky create a sense of airiness, while the south-facing aspect ensures differing shades of light throughout the day. The wonderfully spacious bathroom is also positioned on this floor, with a bath boxed in butt and bead panelling plus an antique Doulton sink.
The lower ground floor contains two well-proportioned rooms. The larger room lies at the front of the plan and has a French enamel stove; there is also a separate wet room. Currently used as independent studies, these rooms could easily make excellent additional bedrooms.
This is the only house on the square to have separate secondary accommodation in the form of a garden house, accessed from the main hallway and through the courtyard garden. The structure was originally a Victorian workshop and the sliding sash windows and ironmongery have been beautifully preserved, lending a sense of light-industrial charm and character to the building. Enamel clock faces were originally made here (Clerkenwell was the centre of London’s clock manufacturing business), and later silk flowers. A beautifully patinated plank door opens to the ground floor hall and leads to the bedroom and shower room, with an open-tread wooden staircase ascending to the open-plan living room and kitchen.
The Great Outdoors
The shaded courtyard garden is brilliantly positioned to offer cool refuge on hot summer days and nights. Paved in York stone, it is the perfect spot for entertaining and acts as an informal interim outdoor room of sorts, connecting the main house and the garden house.
Wilmington Square gardens were reserved for the exclusive use of residents when the houses were built. They are laid out on a D-plan, with the flat side to the north. The square was given to the public in 1885 and reopened with a new layout, designed by the noted garden designer Fanny Wilkinson – responsible for similar important squares throughout London at that time. Children were not admitted without an adult initially, though that happily changed in the early 20th century.
Out and About
Wilmington Square is brilliantly located, equidistant from Islington and King’s Cross to the north and Clerkenwell Road to the south. It is on the periphery of an area renowned as a hub for the creative, design and tech industries, and for the quality and variety of its bars and restaurants. Exmouth Market is a one-minute walk away, with firm local favourite restaurant Moro among the original inhabitants of the street. St Paul’s Cathedral, Smithfield Market and the City are within easy reach to the south. Additionally, the Barbican Centre, with its world-class cultural programme of cinema, music, theatre, talks and exhibitions, is within walking distance.
Angel is the closest tube station – less than 10 minutes’ walk – and runs Northern Line services citywide. Nearby Farringdon and King’s Cross stations (Circle, Metropolitan and Hammersmith & City Lines, and National Rail/Thameslink) provide quick access to locations across London and, as of 2022 (from Farringdon), Heathrow Airport, care of the forthcoming Elizabeth Line (Crossrail). Journey times to main terminals will be less than 30 minutes. The Eurostar is available at King’s Cross St Pancras, a five-minute drive away from Wilmington Square.
The north side of Wilmington Square has 13 terraced houses, originally built for merchants between 1829-1831, and is uniquely on its own private pathway. Legend has it that the developers lacked the necessary funds to continue the road around the square fully, with the grander south side being built first; therefore the northern aspect today enjoys no traffic, uninterrupted views to the garden square and almost total privacy.
Spa Fields, the immediate area Wilmington Square lies within, was owned by the Earl of Northampton, with the square named after his country estate – Wilmington, in Sussex. Wilmington Square was one of London’s first post-Waterloo residential developments, and the local area was the site of great assemblies in support of universal suffrage as well as mass assemblies of great moments in the history of English popular radicalism.