Last Tuesday I was working in the east of London, in Aldgate. After work, I still had 2 and 1/2 hours to kill before my train so, as it was a pleasant afternoon, I decided to have a wander around Spitalfields, a short walk away.
In the 17th and 18th century the area was associated with silk weaving after Huguenots fleeing from persecution in France settled here and brought their skills with them. Later, Irish linen workers settled here. In the Victorian period, following the decline of the silk and linen industries it became something of a notorious slum. There were further waves of Jewish and then Bangladeshi immigrants bringing new cultures and energy to the area. Today, like much of the East End it’s become somewhat gentrified. The old Victorian market and surrounding streets being redeveloped.
It’s an interesting place to walk around, with some historic buildings and modern street art to look at.
For me, the star of the show is Hawksmoor’s magnificent gleaming white Christ Church
one of the six, eccentric English Baroque churches for which he is best known.
There’s an interesting war memorial in the church yard.
Close by, on Commercial Street, the Fruit and Wool exchange building has been controversially redeveloped against local opposition, over-ruled by the former Mayor of London and current “Clown Secretary”. The white neo-Classical façade has, fortunately, been preserved.
A number of old commercial buildings nearby have also been preserved
I quite liked this building with it’s neo-Gothic features
and these more modern flats with an Art Deco look
There’s street art dotted around the redeveloped market. Here’s a selection I spotted.
The Spitalfields Goat by Kenny Hunter
A pear and a fig by Ali Grant
Dogman and Rabbitgirl with coffee by Gillie and Marc
Wooden Boat with Seven People by Kalliopi Lemos, features an authentic boat that was used to transport refugees from Turkey to the shores of the Greek islands. The installation aims to reflect Spitalfields’ rich history of providing shelter for successive waves of migrants across the centuries.
I couldn’t find out who had created this “steampunk” motorbike
I love Spitalfields and the area around. We found the old Orthodox Jewish Synagogue-Sandys Row Synagogue and were able to have a look around, but didn’t stay for the service. It’s still going strong and has services about noon every (almost every?) day and more. We found Poppy’s nearby-still selling Fish and Chips in paper cones, and we had wandered in from our hotel-near (not in!) Whitechapel via the old brewery Truman’s. Loved Brick Alley and all the street art.
oops, meant, Brick Lane…
Didn’t get down Brick Lane this time as I only had a little time to explore. I have been there before but never had time to sample a curry! Didn’t know about the Synagogue so must take a look next time I’m around there.
Do you know about the Dennis Severs house in that area? Also the Geffrye, although its closed right now. This is a good blog on the area: http://spitalfieldslife.com/
I wasn’t aware of either of those! The Dennis Severs House looks really interesting. Will have to find to visit when I’m down in London. Thanks for the blog link too 🙂
That’s an area i’d love to wander round having followed the Spitalfields Life blog for a while.
Clown Secretary? Whatever can you mean? 😉
Just added Spitalfields Life to my “blog roll”.
And clowns can be scary.
It’s a great blog, I see someone else recommended it too. That clown is bloody terrifying.
We’re off to London for a weekend in May, I’ll have to have a wander around here, looks interesting
There’s too much to see in London! But if you’re nearby worth a look. The market looks like it worth a gander. It was shutting up when I was there but looked like the stalls sold arty, crafty, non-mainstream fashion sort of stuff. And there are some trendy shops
The market certainly used to be interesting, but I haven’t been since my brother left London, which is quite a long time ago!
There’s always something of interest to be found in an odd moment and you found loads in that short window. Ddid you see the footage of The Speaker laying into the Clown Secretary (I like that)? Very entertaining, it’s just a shame that you can’t see the prat in question squirming as he gets lambasted.
Yes, I did see it on the news. He’s a disgrace and to think he represents this country overseas.