Spitalfields

I was back in London for a day last week with work. As I had an early start, I went down the evening before and not being one for sitting around in a hotel room, I decided to get out for a wander. I was staying near Tower Bridge, but rather than stick to the more touristy areas nearby (especially busy at this time of the year) I wandered over to Whitechapel and then over to Spitalfields.

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The district was created in the 17th century and became populated with Irish and Huguenot silk weavers. The industry prospered for a while but went into decline, as did the area which became something of a notorious slum. Over time other immigrants moved in, Jewish and then later in the 20th Century there was an influx of Bangladeshi immigrants, who also worked in the local textile industry and made Brick Lane the curry capital of London.

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Today, like much of the East End, the area has been gentrified with the old Victorian market and surrounding streets being redeveloped. It’s quite a “buzzing” area at night, centred on the curry houses on Brick Lane, although they seem to be more up-market these days.

I had a good mooch around and took a few photos before heading back to my hotel.

A favourite building of mine is Hawksmoor’s Christ Church. One of the six, eccentric English Baroque churches for which he is best known. I’ll get a look inside one of these days (it’s never open when I’ve been there!)

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There’s quite a few streets where the 17th century buildings are still standing, with many having been renovated

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Street art too, especially around Brick Lane

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After had a good mooch, it was a short walk back to my hotel which was opposite this well known landmark

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12 thoughts on “Spitalfields

    • It’s an interesting area with a lit of history. Gentrification has benefits in that it’s preserved some of the old buildings but prices out the original population.

  1. Once again, I know this place! Have been here several times and love the street art. We found the old and still going Orthodox Jewish synagogue and were welcome to join for services. Also the old brewery that I think was turned into apartments. That was a day I made himself just wander and see with me. What we missed because it is closed is the old foundry in Whitechapel. I am not sure that Whitechapel is a place to wander at night still, and no! I am not the person to take on the Jack the Ripper tours around there.

  2. Apart from the church being closed you went at the right time of day. I’ve been twice to the area on Saturday day trips to London and unfortunately nothing was really open. My bad luck. I had hoped to see the famous Brick Lane market but It takes place on Sundays. Spitalfields market traders were only just setting up even though it was almost 11:00, and as I had other places to go to I couldn’t wait around. I was told that late afternoon/ evening is when the area comes to life.

  3. I love the walk from Liverpool Street to Brick Lane for a good curry. The transformation from the glass towers of the city through the old streets of Spitalfields and not the buzz of Brick Lane is great. I like that church as well. We were there last May and caught it just at the right time to catch the setting sun which lit it superbly. Like you I can’t settle when in a city and just love to wander the streets, there is always something interesting to look at.

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