William Morris In The East End | Spitalfields Life

The presence of William Morris in the East End is almost forgotten today. Yet he took the District Line from his home in Hammersmith regularly to speak here through the last years of his life, despite persistent ill-health. Ultimately disappointed that the production of his own designs had catered only to the rich, Morris dedicated himself increasingly to politics and in 1884 he …

Source: William Morris In The East End | Spitalfields Life

The Still & Star Is Saved! | Spitalfields Life

Thanks in no small part to the hundreds of letters of objection written by you, the readers of Spitalfields Life, the Still & Star was saved from demolition this week when the City of London Corporation agreed to grant Asset of Community Value Status to this much-loved historic pub in AldgateStill & Star, 1 Little Somerset St, Aldgate.

There is very little left of old Aldgate these days – though the Still & Star, just opposite the tube station yet hidden down Little Somerset St, is a rare survivor. This tiny pub on the corner of two alleys is believed to be…

Source: The Still & Star Is Saved! | Spitalfields Life

The Publican & The Historian | Spitalfields Life

Portrait of Sandra Esqulant & Dan Cruickshank by Sarah Ainslie

In this extract from his newly-published book SPITALFIELDS, The History of a Nation in a Handful of Streets, Dan Cruickshank reflects on his friendship with Sandra Esqulant, landlady of the Golden Heart, and the changes they have seen in the neighbourhood over the last forty years…

Source: The Publican & The Historian | Spitalfields Life

A Brief History Of Bishopsgate Goodsyard | Spitalfields Life

Originally posted on Spitalfields Life.

There are many continuities that run through time in Spitalfields, yet the most disturbing is the history of brutal change which has been wreaked upon the neighbourhood over centuries.

The Hospital of the Priory of St Mary – from which the name Spitalfields is derived – was established in the eleventh century as a refuge for the homeless, conveniently one mile north from the City of London which sought to expel vagabond and beggars. Then Henry VIII destroyed this Priory in the sixteenth century and seized the ‘Spital fields which he turned over to usage as his Artillery Ground.

In the eighteen-thirties, the Eastern Counties Railway, cut across the north of Spitalfields to construct Bishopsgate Station on Shoreditch High St, pushing families from their homes to seek new accommodation in the surrounding streets. The overcrowded area to the north became known as the Nichol, notorious for…

via A Brief History Of Bishopsgate Goodsyard | Spitalfields Life.

Huguenot Summer | texthistory

Originally posted on texthistory.

This is from an article by Boyd Tonkin on events to honour the 330th anniversary of the arrival of 50,000 Protestants who fled the terror of France:

In the handsome 1720s house on Fournier Street where she runs an antique business and café, Fiona Atkins unrolls a large and beautifully detailed hand-drawn map. Created by the artist Adam Dant, it records the addresses of around 300 Huguenot families who lived in Spitalfields in east London.

They were part of the great wave of French Protestant migration that transformed London, and England, after Louis XIV in 1685 cancelled the civil rights granted to them by the Edict of Nantes. The map  is just one of 100 or so events in this year’s “Huguenot Summer” season. It remembers and celebrates their contribution, not only to London but to 20 towns where the French settled from Canterbury to Norwich, Plymouth to Rochester.

Organiser and Spitalfield resident Charlie de Wet, who staged her first festival in 2013, has just returned from a talk in Plymouth. There, after the diaspora took root, “a third of the population were Huguenots, and nobody knows about it@. when she started to arrange Huguenot themed event,s she began to realise that people didn’t now the value of the Huguenots or what their contribution was. ”

“All we want to do,” she says, is to give them credit for what they have done.” …On Brick Lane, walkers will pass the elegant temple that serves as the ultimate monument to London’s diversity. Built in 1743 as the Nouvelle Eglise for Huguenots, in 1809 i became a Wesleyan chapel; in 1898 the Great Synagogue of Spitalfields, and in 1976 the Jamme Masjid for the district’s more recent Bangadeshi incomers.

Still a lightning-rod for collective anxieties, the word “refugee” entered the English language when the Huguenots landed. About 50,000 French Protestants came to England.. Another 10,000 fled to Ireland, part of an exodus of perhaps 200,000. Other large contingents went to…

via Huguenot Summer | texthistory.

Upon The Origins Of Baddeleys | Spitalfields Life

Originally posted on Spitalfields Life

A mahogany four-train musical and quarter chiming longcase clock playing seven tunes, made by John Baddeley of Albrighton in Shropshire c.1760 (courtesy of Bonhams, London)

Last Sunday, I told the story of John James , the journeyman die sinker who rose to become Lord Mayor of London in 1922, and this week I explore the origins of this extraordinary family endeavour which spans five centuries and innumerable generations, and whose specialist printing business Baddeley Brothers still flourishes in Hackney.

The celebrated Engraver and Satirist, William Hogarth, was first apprenticed as a Silver Engraver, while his contemporary, William Caslon, the father of British Letter Founding, was originally apprenticed to a Gunsmith – thus it comes as no surprise to discover a certain Phineas Baddeley apprenticed as a Clockmaker. You only have to look at the elegant italic lettering upon the engraved face of this fine eighteenth century longcase clock by John Baddeley to recognise the seamless nature of related trades in this era and the possibility of advancement for talented artisans who could redirect their skills to the most advantageous reward.

A skill in the creation of intricate and precise metalwork serves a Clockmaker, but may also be lent to the design of instruments. While draughtsmanship and the ability to carve lettering into metal plates permits an Engraver to create attractive designs for clients, he is also able to produce…

via Upon The Origins Of Baddeleys | Spitalfields Life.

Huguenot Summer | Spitalfields Life

Originally posted on Spitalfields Life

The wooden spools that you see hanging in the streets of Spitalfields indicate houses where Huguenots once resided. These symbols were put there in 1985, commemorating the tercentenary of the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes which brought the Huguenots to London and introduced the word ‘refugee’ into the English language. Inspired by the forthcoming Huguenot Summer which runs from May to September, I set out in search of what other visual evidence remains of the many thousands that once passed through these narrow streets and Dr Robin Gwynn, author of The Huguenots of London, explained to me how they came here.

“Spitalfields was the most concentrated Huguenot settlement in England, there was nowhere else in 1700 where you would expect to hear French spoken in the street. If you compare Spitalfields with Westminster, it was the gentry that stayed in Westminster and the working folk who came to Spitalfields – there was a significant class difference. And whereas half the churches in Westminster followed the French style of worship, in Spitalfields they were not interested in holding services in English.

The Huguenots were religious refugees, all they needed to do to stop the persecution in France was to sign a piece of paper that acknowledged the errors of John Calvin and turn up at church each Sunday. Yet if they tried to leave they were subject to Draconian punishments. It was not a planned immigration, it was about getting out when you could. And, because their skills were in their hands, weavers could…

via Huguenot Summer | Spitalfields Life.

East End Soldiers Of World War One | Spitalfields Life

Originally posted on Spitalfields Life.

In the week of the centenary of the outbreak of World War I, I have compiled these biographies of just a handful of the thousands of those from the East End who served in the conflict. These photographs are selected from those gathered by Tower Hamlets Community Housing for their exhibition which runs until 29th August at 285 Commercial Rd.

George Gristey was born in Hackney on 13th March 1890. At the time of his death his mother, Laura, lived in Cranbrook Rd, Green St, Bethnal Green. George served as a Private in the East Surrey Regiment and was killed in action in Belgium on 23rd June 1915 and buried at Woods Cemetery, south-east of Ypres in West Flanders.

Read more East End Soldiers Of World War One | Spitalfields Life.

A Brief History Of London Crypts | Spitalfields Life

Originally posted on Spitalfields Life.

Celebrating the publication of his new book Crypts of London by History Press, Malcolm Johnson – formerly Rector of St Botolph’s, Aldgate, where he ran a homeless shelter in the crypt – offers this brief history of London crypts.

At St Clement, King Sq

At St Clement, King Sq

After the Great Fire of 1666, it was decided not to replace thirty-two out of those churches destroyed in the Square Mile, yet St Paul’s Cathedral and fifty-one churches were rebuilt by Sir Christopher Wren, Robert Hooke and others, and almost all of these new buildings were given a crypt of the same extent as the ground floor. This was also true for churches in Westminster and those on the edges of the City such as in Spitalfields, Shoreditch and St Clement, King’s Sq.

What were these spaces intended for? Charity schools? Storage? Meeting rooms? There was no chance of any of these, because the clergy and their vestries soon realised that good money was to be made by charging wealthy parishioners to stack coffins containing their dead family members under the church.

In doing so, they went against the advice and opinions of both architects and others, who doubted the wisdom of burying the dead among the living. In 1552, Bishop Hugh Latimer thought it “an unwholesome thing to bury within the city,” considering that “it is the occasion of great sickness and disease.” Mainly for architectural reasons, Wren and Vanbrugh were also opposed to burial in or close to a church, although when Wren was interred beneath…

via A Brief History Of London Crypts | Spitalfields Life.

C. A. Mathew in Spitalfields

London Historians' Blog

Exhibition: C.A.Mathew: Photographs of Spitalfields a Century Ago.

An on-the-tin title there. On Saturday 20th April 1912, Essex photographer C.A. Mathew unloaded his equipment at Liverpool Street Station and spent time taking pictures of the street scenes in Spitalfields. Nobody knows why or how many images he captured. But 21 of them have survived as prints in the Bishopsgate Institute. Some of them are in quite good nick; others somewhat less so. Recently they have been carefully scanned at ultra high resolution and digitally restored by local photographer Jeremy Freedman. The substantially enlarged versions on display are the basis of this remarkable exhibition.

The detail is so fine that you can clearly read text in shop windows and on advertising posters and the adverts on omnibuses. The cobbled streets strewn with horse manure. Ornate streetlamps and balconies. Children and parents, in their weekly best, walking to or from synagogue. In…

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