Clerkenwell (pronounced Clarkenwell) is the area of London where the St John’s Medical Practice was situated and where Margot Bamborough was last seen in 1974.
The medical practice, which was at number 29 on St. John’s Lane, is described as being a brown brick building with metal framed windows. “They’ve remodelled the front of the building, obviously,” Strike tells Robin.
In chapter 13, Robin and Strike meet in St John’s Lane to take a tour of the route Bamborough would have taken in 1974.
As they walk down the road, they notice Passing Alley. “Good hiding place,” says Robin. They walk through the passage which has a “sunken garden area of concrete and shrubs that lay between two parallel streets.”
“Strike pointed to the road that ran parallel to St. John’s Lane, ‘Onto St. John Street, it would’ve been well-nigh impossible to go undetected.’”
They then return to St John’s Lane.
“They continued up the street and passed through St. John’s Gate, the ancient stone arch decorated with many small heraldic shields….”
While writing Troubled Blood, J.K. Rowling updated her Twitter header to an old sketch of St. John’s Gate.
“… emerging onto Clerkenwell Road, a bustling two-way street, which they crossed… “
“… arriving beside an old-fashioned scarlet phone box which stood at the mouth of Albemarle Way.”
“Instead of proceeding into a paved pedestrian area that Robin, from her own scant research, knew Margot must have crossed if she had been heading for the Three Kings, Strike turned left, up Clerkenwell Road. … pointing up at a top window on the building opposite, which looked like an old brick warehouse.”
They return to the junction of Albemarle Way and note the quietness of the side street, “but not that quiet” says Strike. “It was at that moment, as a cold breeze whistled up Albemarle Way, that Strike caught a whiff of what he had thought were the dying stargazer lilies, but now realised was coming from Robin herself.”
They proceed onto the pedestrian square. Robin stops in her tracks to look at the St. John Priory Church. “Thinking about her lying in a holy place?” Strike asks her.
“St. John Priory Church, a pleasingly symmetrical building of red brick, with long windows and two white stone pillars flanking the entrance.”
“Strike follows her through open gates into a small garden of remembrance, open to the public and full (as Robin read off a small sign on the inner wall) of medicinal herbs, including many used in medieval times, in the Order of St. John’s hospitals. A white figure of Christ hung on the back wall, surrounded with the emblems of the four evangelists: the bull, the lion, the eagle and the angel. Fronds and leaves undulated gently beneath the rain.” Troubled Blood, Chapter 13
They pass through a short pedestrian way called Jerusalem Passage and emerge onto a busy street called Aylesbury Street.
“Aylesbury Street was a wide road, lined with more office blocks and flats.”
They proceed through Clerkenwell Green, a wide rectangular square with trees, a pub and a café. “Two telephone boxes stood in the middle, near parked cars and a bike stand.”
They then turn onto Clerkenwell Close, a curving street that rises toward a large church.
“’A church handyman—yeah, I know,’” he added, in response to Robin’s startled look, “called Willy Lomax claims he saw a woman in a Burberry raincoat walking up the steps to St. James-on-the-Green that evening, around the time Margot should’ve been arriving at the pub.’” Troubled Blood, Chapter 13
“‘And now,’ said Strike, ‘we’ve earned a pint.'”
|The Three Kings – Where Strike and Robin go for drinks and to discuss the case.|
|Albemarle Way – Where the Athorns live.|
If you’d like to take the Bamborough route, you can find the area on the map below. Just don’t disappear.
You can also watch this YouTube video of a walking tour of Clerkenwell.