Walking along its warren of pretty streets today, you would never know that Clerkenwell used to be notorious for its slums and criminality.

The former brothels of Turnbull Street – now Turnmill Street next to Farringdon station – are even referenced by Shakespeare in Henry IV, Part 2.

At this time, the River Fleet, which runs through the neighbourhood, had become increasingly like a sewer, no doubt giving the area a distinctive stench.

But all that is history – the river was enclosed, and the slums cleared by the end of the 19th Century.

And now, perhaps reaching the pinnacle of its ascent, the area has been named as The Sunday Times best place to live in London.

Here we take a look at some of the reasons Clerkenwell has transformed from London’s most depraved neighbourhood into its most liveable.

Exmouth Market

Islington Gazette: The view of Exmouth Market from Mikkeller BrewpubThe view of Exmouth Market from Mikkeller Brewpub (Image: Alex Marsh)

A trip to Clerkenwell would not be complete without a visit to this food and drink mecca.

From established chains such as Caravan to popular local joint The Street Easy – there are plenty of culinary offerings to get your teeth into.

A multitude of pubs and bars, including the ever-popular Mikkeller Brewpub and Exmouth Arms, also line the street. Locals are certainly spoilt for choice.

Personal favourites are Mexican restaurant Taqueria, a spin-off of the original in Westbourne Grove, and laid-back bar Coin Laundry.

The Barbican Centre

Islington Gazette: The Barbican's Martini Bar is a firm favourite The Barbican's Martini Bar is a firm favourite (Image: Alex Marsh)

Satisfying all your cultural needs just a short walk from Clerkenwell, The Barbican Centre has become a much-loved institution over the past 42 years.

Once rather unfairly voted ‘London’s ugliest building’, the Brutalist centre includes a theatre, art gallery, cinema, conservatory and cocktail bar.

If you are aged 14 to 25, make sure you sign up to Young Barbican, which will give you £5 tickets to new release films and exhibitions.

Having spent many a night in the Martini Bar, the Barbican is close to my heart – and I wouldn’t say no to one of those Grade II-listed flats either.

The best of the rest

Islington Gazette: Singin' in the Rain at Sadlers Wells Theatre in 2021Singin' in the Rain at Sadlers Wells Theatre in 2021 (Image: PA)

If the Barbican isn’t showing a production you fancy, it’s worth checking out the programme at Sadler’s Wells Theatre.

Then, take a short stroll down St John Street and you will reach the campus for City, University of London around Northampton Square, as well as popular student hang-out the Dame Alice Owen pub.

Further over, towards Old Street, you can take a relaxing break at Ironmonger Row Baths, which recently reopened after being damaged by a fire.

The judging panel of this year’s Sunday Times guide claim that “affordability” was considered in its selection process.

According to Rightmove, the average house price in Clerkenwell comes in at a whopping £889,000. Maybe the judges get paid a higher salary then me?

But given how much the area has to offer it’s hard to argue with the panel’s choice – even if we can’t all afford to live there.