Hidden History Walk Spitalfields And Whitechapel: Part One

Welcome to the Friday post and it's time I think for us to take some time out and look ahead to the weekend.

Today I have a little London history and exploration in store for you. So come take a walk with me as I explore the hidden London surreptitiously tucked away on the streets of Spitalfields and Whitechapel in the East End of our capital.

Spitalfields Market.

Spitalfields Market.

Just a little while ago I Instagrammed a picture of a purchase I had just made of this intriguing little publication - London's Hidden Walks. Recently I finally got around to trying out my first walk inspired by the book and it really was quite a fascinating journey around a part of London that I had not previously spent an awful lot of time in. I managed to convince my Dad to join me on a day trekking around these East End streets and tracking down the landmarks in the book - my little stepper gadget told me we managed 22,698 steps so it was a pretty full day of exploration!

If you want the full details of the route then I definitely recommend checking out the book, I have Volume 1 and there are 3 in total - but to get you inspired here are a few pictures and details from the day that transpired before us.

The Bishopsgate Institute.

The Bishopsgate Institute.

Our journey began just outside Liverpool Street Station where we took a left towards Bishopsgate Institute pictured above. Opened in 1894 and now an Institute offering a wide number of courses aimed at adults, it's distinctive style can be seen in other parts of this area of town, designed by Charles Harrison Townsend.

Dennis Sever's House.

Dennis Sever's House.

We continued on to Folgate Street and came across the fascinating Dennis Sever's House a brilliant example of an early 18th-century Spitalfields house. Unfortunately we were unable to go in as they have very specific opening times to enhance the naturally-lit interior, as restored by Sever, making the house exactly as it would most likely have been for a French Calvinist family (Huguenot) between around 1719 - 1914. If you want to take a tour try and coincide your trip with their opening times as detailed on the website: www.dennissevershouse.co.uk

Dennis Sever was an eccentric American who bought and restored the house in the 1970's.

Nicholas Hawksmoor's Christ Church Spitalfields.

Nicholas Hawksmoor's Christ Church Spitalfields.

Of course Spitalfields market itself (picture at the beginning of this post) is a great place to wander away many an hour. With an array of wonderful restaurants, this one time fruit and vegetable market now holds court to a variety of stalls depending on what day you visit. We could easily have spent the whole day in the market but onwards we went to the next location.

A. Gold Deli.

A. Gold Deli.

At the quaint little A Gold Deli on Brushfield Street I popped in and bought a bottle of Mushroom Ketchup as a gift to take back to Dan - an ardent fan of Heston Blumental, Mushroom Ketchup has been on his radar for a while now so I thought this would be an interesting purchase! The deli is small but perfectly formed with a delicious selection of traditional British foods and some real old classics. It's well worth stopping by if you're ever that way. They call themselves 'a village shop in the City where you can buy a sandwich made to order, a cup of slow-brewed Monmouth filter coffee, a bag of traditional sweets and a homemade Scotch egg for later' and that perfectly sums up all that is sweet and historic about this little stop.

Carrier bags made to order!

Carrier bags made to order!

We passed the old Donovan Bros shopfront on Crispin Street the 'noted house for paper bags' where the brothers' original business began. The shop still retains it's original signage and was one of my favourite stops along the way. Click on the link above to find out some more about the interesting history of this location.

Sandy's Row and Artillery Passage.

Sandy's Row and Artillery Passage.

Along we then travelled to Sandy's Row and past Sandy's Row Synagogue, one of only four that survive in the East End and sadly currently fighting closure. Next we found ourselves exploring Artillery Passage, Gun Street and Artillery Lane. Gun Street is so named because of the Guild of Artillery of Longbows who Henry VIII gave rights to practice their archery on St Mary Spital's fields - later developed into the Honourable Artillery Company - the oldest regiment of the British Army.

There is a lot to be seen around these tight knit little streets amazing architecture and historical wonders (but I'm not going to spoil it all for you here - you'll have to go explore for yourself!)

Unusual preserved exterior wrapped around the new.

Unusual preserved exterior wrapped around the new.

Made us smile - in an odd way!

Made us smile - in an odd way!

Next we found ourselves on Tenter Ground - yes the very Tenter Ground where the saying being on 'Tenter Hooks' comes from. This originates from the medieval textile workers that used to live in this area who would stretch out their cloth on wooden frames or 'tenters' as they were known.

At this point all of the walking, gift buying and knowledge absorption was calling for a quick pit stop and a swift half so into the pub we headed for a brief respite from our tour so far. We stopped at the historic Ten Bells pub on Commercial Street, a lovely little pub with a notorious story to behold! 

Quick stop at the Ten Bells.

Quick stop at the Ten Bells.

Ten-Bells-Sign.jpg

In the 1880's it was here where many of the 'ladies of the night' who walked the Spitalfields streets would socialise and conduct their business. The night before her death, Annie Chapman, the second victim of Jack the Ripper was seen drinking here and another victim Mary Jane Kelly was a regular with her 'pitch' directly outside.

It has a lovely vibe and all was fine with me and it's slightly gruesome history until I descended into the dimly lit underground toilets and saw the line 'have a shot of gin and remember Mary Jane Kelly' suddenly a little wave of spooked-out-ness came over me. Needless to say I was very swift and descended into the light as quickly as possible.

Spooky!

Spooky!

And so it is with this thought and here at the Ten Bells I will leave you for today!

The sights and sounds of this walk are too many to fit into one post and I would really like to share a few more pictures - so until next time have a happy Friday and a wonderful weekend whatever you are doing. Look out for Part Two coming very soon.