infobox UK place
country = England
map_type = Greater London
london_borough= Tower Hamlets
Spitalfields is an area in the borough of Tower Hamlets, in the East End of
London, near to Liverpool Street stationand Brick Lane. The area straddles Commercial Street and is home to two markets, the historic Old Spitalfields Market, founded in the 17th century, and the Brick Lane Marketon Brick Lane and Cheshire Street.
The name Spitalfields is a contraction of 'hospital fields', in reference to "The New Hospital of St Mary without Bishopgate" founded here in 1197. [Thomas, Sloane and Phillpotts (1997) "Excavations at the Priory and Hospital of St Mary Spital, London". Museum of London: London: 19-20] .
Spitalfields was the location of one of
Roman London's large extramural cemeteries, situated to the east of the Bishopsgatethoroughfare, which roughly follows the line of Ermine Street: the main highway to the north from Londinium.
The presence of a Roman cemetery here was noticed by the
antiquarian John Stowas far back as 1576 and became the focus of a major archaeological excavation in the 1990s, following the redevelopment of Spitalfields Market. Perhaps the most spectacular find was the discovery in 1999 of a sarcophagus containing the remains of a high status, silk clad, Roman lady, complete with jet accessories and a unique glass phial. [cite book
title= Life and death in London's East End: 2000 years at Spitalfields
Museum of London Archaeology Service
pages= pp. 7-29] [ [http://www.museumoflondon.org.uk/learning/features_facts/digging/people/s1.html Discovering people at Spitalfields market] ]
In 1197 the former Roman cemetery became the site of a priory called "The New Hospital of St Mary without Bishopgate", latterly known as St Mary Spital, founded by Walter Brunus and his wife Roisia. [Thomas, Sloane and Phillpotts (1997) "Excavations at the Priory and Hospital of St Mary Spital, London". Museum of London: London: 19-20] . This religious foundation was one of the biggest hospitals in medieval England and was the focus of a large medieval cemetery which included a stone
charnel houseand mortuary chapel. This latter has recently been uncovered by archaeologists and preserved for public viewing. The Priory and Hospital were dissolved in 1539 under Henry VIII. Although the chapel and monastic buildings were mostly demolished the area of the inner precinct of the priorymaintained an autonomous administrative status as the liberty of Norton Folgate. The adjacent outer precincts of the priory, to the south, were re-used as an Artillery Ground and placed under the special jurisdiction of the Tower of Londonas one of the Tower liberties. [Thomas: pp. 30-75]
Spitalfields' historic association with the
silkindustry was established by French Protestant ( Huguenot) refugees who settled in this area after the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes (1685). By settling here, outside the bounds of the City of London, they hoped to avoid the restrictive legislation of the City Guilds. The late 17th and 18th century saw an estate of well appointed terraced houses, built to accommodate the master weavers controlling the silk industry, and grand urban mansions built around the newly created Spital Square. Christ Church, Spitalfieldson Fournier Street, designed by the architect Nicholas Hawksmoor, was built during the reign of Queen Anne to demonstrate the power of the established churchto the dissenting Huguenots. More humble weavers dwellings were congregated in the Tenterground[Thomas: pp. 76-95]
Old Spitalfields Market, which receives 20,000 visitors every Sunday, was founded on
29 July 1682on an undeveloped part of the fields - but near a former informal market. Construction began in 1684. The market was originally for both meat and vegetables, though by the 19th century the meat market had disappeared and fruit and vegetables became the staple product sold. In 1991 the wholesale fruit and vegetable market moved to New Spitalfields Marketin Leyton. The originally open site was converted into a covered market 1875-93 by Robert Horner and further redeveloped by the Corporation of London 1920-1935. [Thomas: pp. 96-97]
From the 1730s Irish weavers came here, after a decline in the Irish linen industry to take up work in the silk trade. In 1769, the
Spitalfield Riotsoccurred, where attempts were made to break up meetings of weavers, called to discuss the threat to wages, caused by a downturn in the market for silk. This ended with an Irish and a Huguenot weaver being hanged in front of the Salmon and Ball public house at Bethnal Green.
Victorian era, the silk industry had entered a long decline and the old merchant dwellings had degenerated into multi-occupied slums. Spitalfields became a by-word for urban deprivation, and by 1832, concern of a London choleraepidemic, led "The Poor Man's Guardian" (18 February 1832) to write of Spitalfields:
"The low houses are all huddled together in close and dark lanes and alleys, presenting at first sight an appearance of non-habitation, so dilapidated are the doors and windows:- in every room of the houses, whole families, parents, children and aged grandfathers swarm together".
In 1860, a treaty was established with France, allowing the import of cheaper French silks. This left the many weavers in Spitalfields, and neighbouring
Bethnal Greenand Shoreditchindigent. New trades such as furniture and boot making came to the area; and the large windowed Huguenot houses were found suitable for tailoring, attracting a new population of Jewish refugees drawn to live and work in the textile industry. [ [http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=22161 "Industries: Silk-weaving", A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 2: General; Ashford, East Bedfont with Hatton, Feltham, Hampton with Hampton Wick, Hanworth, Laleham, Littleton (1911), pp. 132-137] accessed: 12 September 2008]
By the later 19th century inner Spitalfields had eclipsed rival claimants to the dubious distinction of being the worst criminal rookery of London with
common lodging-houses in the Flower and Dean Streetarea being a focus for the activities of robbers and prostitutes. The latter street was dubbed in 1881 as being "perhaps the foulest and most dangerous street in the metropolis". [cite book
title= London in the Nineteenth Century: A Human Awful Wonder of God
pages= p. 323] Another claimant to the distinction of being "the worst street in London" was nearby Dorset Street, which was highlighted by brutal killing and mutilation of a young women named
Mary Kellyin her lodgings here by the serial killer known as Jack the Ripperin the autumn of 1888. ["The Worst Street in London" Fiona Rule (Ian Allan Ltd, 2008) ISBN 978-0711033450] This was the climax of a whole series of slayings of local prostitutes known as the Whitechapel Murders. The sanguinary activities of "Jack" was one of the factors which prompted the demolition of some of the worst streets in the area 1891-94. [White: p. 331] Deprivation, however, continued and was brought to notice by social commentators such as Jack Londonin his " The People of the Abyss" (1903). He highlighted 'Itchy Park', next to Christ Church, Spitalfields, as a notorious rendezvous for homeless vagrants.
In the later 20th century the Jewish presence diminished, to be replaced by an influx of Bangladeshi immigrants, who also worked in the local
textile industryand made Brick Lane the currycapital of London.
Another development, from the 1960s onwards, has been a campaign to save the housing stock of old merchant terraces to the west of Brick Lane from demolition. Many have been conserved by exponents of a 'New Georgian' ethos, such as the architect and TV pundit
Dan Cruickshank. Such gentrificationhas, however, caused massive inflation in house prices and the removal of the last of the vagrants from this area.cite book
title= This Bright Field: A Travel Book in One Place
Current 'urban regeneration' has also seen the erection of large modern office blocks, between Bishopsgate and Spitalfields Market. These represent, in effect, an expansion of the City of London, northwards, beyond its traditional bounds, into this area. However, a rear-guard action by conservationists has resulted in the preservation of Old Spitalfields Market and the provision of shopping, leisure amenities and a new plaza behind the city blocks.
The area within Tower Hamlets, now forms part of the council ward of Spitalfields and Banglatown. Representing the modern association of the Bangladeshi community to this area, and neighbouring Brick Lane.
The area is well known for its arts scene.
Whitechapel Art Galleryis located at the bottom of Brick Lane, and amongst the many well known artists living in Spitalfields are Gilbert and George, Tracey Emin, and Stuart Brisley.
TV presenter, architecture expert and Georgian fanatic Dan Cruickshank was both an active campaigner for Spitalfields, and continues to live in the area. Dennis Severs forswore modern comforts at 18 Folgate Street, living a unique life. The house, a
time capsuleof the 18th century, is now open to the public.
Jeanette Wintersonturned a derelict Georgian house into an organic food shop, Verde's, as part of the Slow Foodmovement.
Spitalfields figures in many classic and contemporary works of literature, which reflect its sense of mystery and its fascinating multicultural heritage, including:
A New Wonder, a Woman Never Vexed" (performed 1610-14; printed 1632) by William Rowley- this is a dramatisation of the foundation of St Mary Spital by Walter Brunus
Children of the Ghetto" (1893) by Israel Zangwill
The People of the Abyss" (1903), the journalistic memoir by Jack London
* "Hawksmoor" (1985) by
The Satanic Verses" (1988) by Salman Rushdie
City of the Mind" (1991) by Penelope Lively
* "Downriver" (1991) by
Rodinsky's Room" (1999) by Iain Sinclair and Rachel Lichtenstein
The PowerBook" (2000) by Jeanette Winterson
* "Brick Lane" (2003) by
19th century Spitalfields was recreated as the setting for the film "From Hell" about Jack the Ripper. This included a reconstruction (in
Prague) of the notorious Ten Bells pub (still extant on Commercial Street): alleged to have been a rendezvous of some of the Ripper's prostitute victims, before they were murdered. In the film Johnny Depp(as Inspector Abberline) is seen drinking there with Ripper victim Mary Jane Kelly.
Notable people associated with Spitalfields
Wolf Mankowitz(1924 - 1998), writer, playwright and screenwriter, of Russian Jewish descent, was born in Fashion Street in Spitalfields.
Tracey Emin(1963 - ), artist, resides in Fournier Street.
*Gilbert & George (1943 - ;1942 - ), artists, reside in Fournier Street.
Basil Henriques(1890–1961), for whom Henriques Street(formerly Berner Street) is named.
*Dennis Severs (1944 – 1999), lived at 18 Folgate Street 1979 - 1999.
Dan Cruickshank(1949 - ), lives in Spitalfields.
Jeremy Bentham(1748 – 1832), philosopher, was born here.
Jack Sheppard(1702 – 1724), highwayman and multiple absconder, born in White's Row, Spitalfields.
Benjamin Truman(1699/1700 – 1780), brewer.
Mary Wollstonecraft(1759 – 1797), was born in Spitalfields, possibly at 21 Hanbury Street.
Obadiah Shuttleworth(d.1734), musician
Jack the Ripper: all of his victims or presumed victims lived in Spitalfields and two (Chapman and Kelly) were murdered there (the others being murdered in nearby Whitechapel):
Annie Chapman(c. 1841 - 1888), victim of Jack the Ripper, resided at a common lodging house at 35 Dorset Street, Spitalfields. Her body was found at 29 Hanbury Street, Spitalfieldscite book
last= (ed.) Sheppard
first= F. H. W.
title= 'The Wood-Michell estate: Hanbury Street west of Brick Lane' Survey of London: volume 27 - Spitalfields and Mile End New Town
pages= pp. 189-193]
Mary Jane Kelly(c. 1863 – 1888), victim of Jack the Ripper, lived, and murdered, at 13 Millers Court, just off Dorset Street
Martha Tabram(1849 - 1888), possible victim of Jack the Ripper, resided at a common lodging house at 19 George Street, Spitalfields. [Stewart Evans and Donald Rumbelow (2006) "Jack the Ripper: Scotland Yard Investigates": 51-55]
Mary Ann Nichols(1845 - 1888), victim of Jack the Ripper, resided at a common lodging house at 18 Thrawl Street, Spitalfields. [Stewart Evans and Donald Rumbelow (2006) "Jack the Ripper: Scotland Yard Investigates": 56-62] [Paul Begg (2006) "Jack the Ripper: The Facts": 42]
Elizabeth Stride(1843 - 1888), victim of Jack the Ripper, resided at a common lodging house at 32 Flower and Dean Street, Spitalfields.
Catherine Eddowes(1842 - 1888), victim of Jack the Ripper, resided with her partner John Kelly at Cooney's common lodging house at 55 Flower and Dean Street, Spitalfields. [Stewart Evans and Donald Rumbelow (2006) "Jack the Ripper: Scotland Yard Investigates": 114-40]
Bethlem Royal Hospital
Old Truman Brewery- The "Black Eagle Brewery" on Brick Lane, and into surrounding streets.
List of schools in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets
Stepney Historical Trust
* [http://www.vads.ahds.ac.uk/collections/EEP.html London Metropolitan University East End Archive: The Paul Trevor Collection] - photographs of the Spitalfields area from the 1970s to the 1990s.
* [http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=50149 The Priory of St Mary Spital]
* [http://www.spitalfields.org.uk/ spitalfields.org] TH Council website
* [http://www.spitalfieldscityfarm.org/ Spitalfields City Farm]
* [http://www.19princeletstreet.org.uk/ 19 Princelet Street] Unrestored Huguenot Master weaver's house, with synagogue. Rarely open to the public at present, but eventually to become a museum of immigration & diversity.
* [http://www.dennissevershouse.co.uk/ Dennis Severs' House] 18th century time capsule
* [http://www.jacktheripper.de/schauplaetze/nachtaufnahmen Nighttime photos of Spitalfields, Whitechapel, etc.] ; a German language website, but mostly photos
* [http://www.kinetica-museum.org/ Kinetica Museum]
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Look at other dictionaries:
Spitalfields — … Deutsch Wikipedia
Spitalfields — [Spitalfields] a district of east London, England, east of the City. It used to be famous for its large fruit and vegetable market, which moved to north east London in 1991. Spitalfields still has Brick Lane, one of London’s largest ↑flea markets … Useful english dictionary
Spitalfields — (spr. ßpittelfīlds), Stadtteil im O. Londons, im Verwaltungsbezirk Stepney. S. ist ooch einem Augustinerkloster mit Hospital zu St. Marien (1197 errichtet) benannt; doch ist es erst seit 1650 angelegt und wurde von den aus Frankreich… … Meyers Großes Konversations-Lexikon
Spitalfields — district east of London, famed for the work of Huguenot refugee weavers who took up residence there, from St. Mary Spital, a M.E. shortened form of HOSPITAL (Cf. hospital) … Etymology dictionary
Spitalfields — 51°30′59″N 0°4′30″O / 51.51639, 0.075 Spitalfields est un quartier de Londres dans le district de Tower Hamlets. Il … Wikipédia en Français
Spitalfields — Commercial Street, Spitalfields. Spitalfields es un área en el Municipio de Londres de Tower Hamlets, en el East End de Londres, cerca de la Estación de Liverpool Street y Brick Lane.Entre la Comercial Street cerca de dos mercados, el histórico… … Wikipedia Español
Spitalfields — a district of east London, England, east of the City. It used to be famous for its large fruit and vegetable market, which was moved to north east London in 1991. Spitalfields still has Brick Lane, one of London’s largest flea markets (= markets… … Universalium
Spitalfields — On the east side of Spital Churchyard (the churchyard of St. Mary Spital with the Pulpit Cross in it) lieth a large field of old time called Lolesworth, now Spittlefield (S, 170). Warrant issued in 1673 to enclose certain ways through… … Dictionary of London
Spitalfields — Spit|al|fields a place in East London where there used to be a market selling fruit, vegetables, and flowers. There is now a new market which sells ↑organic vegetables … Dictionary of contemporary English
Spitalfields Market — may refer to:* Old Spitalfields Market, a covered market in Spitalfields, just outside the City of London * New Spitalfields Market, a market in Leyton, East London which opened in 1991 … Wikipedia