Stylish, young or just plain hipster, no matter how you see London’s Spitalfields one thing is for sure there is so much for you to feast your eyes on. It’s the sort of place where every person you see is larger than life and have travelled to Spitalfields to indulge their own set of niche interests. Whether a fashionista, foodie or comic book collector there’s no doubt this is the place to come to satisfy their passions in life.
Spitalfields is a place that seems to embody the classic London charm. It’s the perfect mix of modern style and classic European architecture. In the centre is Old Spitalfields market, where people travel far and wide to enjoy a range of boutique restaurants, quirky book stores and vintage style pubs are easily accesible. Cobbled streets surround the market, giving an insight into London’s Victorian past.
However this happy bohemian haven hasn’t always existed. This area used to be home to one of the poorest areas in London and it was instead home to multi-occupied slums. Spitalfields became a term for urban deprivation and houses were built closely together lead to a cholera epidemic. In fact one concerned writer, by the name of Henry Hetherington was prompted to write:
‘dilapidated are the doors and windows:- in every room of the houses, whole families, parents, children and aged grandfathers swarm together,’ in the weekly newspaper ‘the Poor Man’s Guardian.’ It didn’t take long for other time-honoured writers to comment on the degradation of Spitalfields. Jack London commented on the ‘Itchy Park’ next to christ church as a notorious place for homeless vagrants, in his classic novel ‘The people of the Abyss.’
Of course such a bleak place meant a rise in crime in the area. Spitalfields is well-known for infamous Victorian villain ‘Jack the Ripper.’ It was here that he preyed on one particular wench. The Ten Bells pub on Hanbury Street, is where poor Annie Chapman enjoyed her final drink on he 8th of September 1888. She became Jack the Ripper’s second victim. Although, this was the final straw for Spitalfields and lead to the destruction of some of the more derelict streets in the area.
It didn’t take long for Spitalfields to pull itself out of misery and decay. In 1860 an official treaty was drawn up with France, allowing the importation of silk. This lead to a rise of jobs in the textile industries including skilled work as Tailors. Jewish refugees were drawn to the area and eventually Spitalfields became the affluent area we all know and love today.