Place:Spitalfields, London, England

Watchers
NameSpitalfields
Alt namesSpitalfieldssource: from redirect
Spitalfields Christchurch
TypeParish
Coordinates51.5191°N 0.0735°W
Located inLondon, England     (1889 - 1965)
Also located inMiddlesex, England     ( - 1889)
See alsoOssulstone Hundred, Middlesex, Englandancient subdivision covering the area until 1894
Stepney, Middlesex, Englandparish in which Spitalfields was located until 1729
Stepney (metropolitan borough), London, Englandmetropolitan borough of which it was part 1900-1965
Tower Hamlets (London Borough), Greater London, EnglandLondon borough in which it has been located since 1965
source: Family History Library Catalog


The map is based on one in A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 11, Stepney, Bethnal Green from the Victoria County History Series provided by British History Online.




Spitalfields (#3)was originally part of the parish of Stepney, becoming a separate parish in its own right in 1729. In 1889 it was transferred from Middlesex to the newly-created County of London and in 1900 became part of Stepney Metropolitan Borough. Stepney Metropolitan Borough was abolished in 1965, and became part of the London Borough of Tower Hamlets in Greater London.

the following text is based on an article in Wikipedia

Spitalfields was a civil parish, partly in Central London and partly in the East End of London, near to Liverpool Street station and Brick Lane. The Liberty of Norton Folgate and the neighbouring Liberty of the Old Artillery Ground were merged into Spitalfields in 1921.

The area straddles Commercial Street and is home to several markets, including the historic Old Spitalfields Market, Brick Lane Market and Cheshire Street. Petticoat Lane Market lies on the area's south-western boundaries.

Spitalfields was the centre of the area where a French Protestant community (Huguenots) of silkweavers established themselves at the end of the 17th century. The records of a number of the churches of this community have been retained. [More details in the History section from Wikipedia and under "What links here".]

History

the text in this section is copied from an article in Wikipedia

Origins

The area that is Spitalfields was covered with fields and nursery gardens until late in the 17th century when streets were laid out for Irish and Huguenot silk weavers. The Romans had a cemetery to the east of the Bishopsgate thoroughfare, which roughly follows the line of Ermine Street: the main highway to the north from Londinium.[1] The cemetery was noticed by the antiquarian John Stow in 1576 and was the focus of a major archaeological excavation in the 1990s, following the redevelopment of Spitalfields Market. In 2013 lead isotope analysis of tooth enamel, by Dr Janet Montgomery of Durham University, led to the identification of the first person from Rome known to have been buried in Britain. She was a 25-year-old woman who was buried in a lead-lined stone sarcophagus, with unique jet and intricate glass grave goods, around the middle of the 4th century A.D.


In 1197, a priory, "The New Hospital of St Mary without Bishopsgate", latterly known as St Mary Spital, founded by Walter Brunus and his wife Roisia, was built on the site of the cemetery. It was one of the biggest hospitals in medieval England and had a large medieval cemetery with a stone charnel house and mortuary chapel. The chapel has 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 priory maintained an autonomous administrative status as the Liberty of Norton Folgate. The adjacent outer precincts, to the south, were re-used as an artillery ground and placed under the special jurisdiction of the Tower of London as one of its Tower liberties. Other parts of the priory area were used for residential purposes by London dwellers seeking a rural retreat and by the mid-17th century further development extended eastward into the erstwhile open farmland of the Spital Field.

In 1729 Spitalfields was detached from the parish of Stepney becoming as a parish (with vestry) with two churches Christchurch Spitalfields and St Stephen's Spitalfields. The church of St Stephen Spitalfields was built in 1860 by public subscription but was demolished in 1930. The adjacent vicarage is all that remains. In 1911 the parish of St Mary Spital (the merged former ex-parochial liberties of Norton Folgate and the Old Artillery Ground) became part of the civil parish of Spitalfields. Spitalfields as a civil parish was abolished in 1965 on the establishment of the London Borough of Tower Hamlets.

Huguenots

Spitalfields' historic association with the silk industry was established by French Protestant (Huguenot) refugees who settled in the area after the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685. By settling outside the bounds of the City of London, they hoped to avoid the restrictive legislation of the City Guilds. The Huguenots brought with them little, apart from their skills, and an Order in Council of 16 April 1687 raised £200,000 to relieve their poverty. In December 1687, the first report of the committee set up to administer the funds reported that 13,050 French refugees were settled in London, primarily around Spitalfields, but also in the nearby settlements of Bethnal Green, Shoreditch, Whitechapel and Mile End New Town.

The late 17th and 18th centuries 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 Bishops Square which adjoins the short section of the main east-west street known as Spital Square. Christ Church, Spitalfields on Fournier Street, designed by the architect Nicholas Hawksmoor, was built during the reign of Queen Anne to demonstrate the power of the established church to the dissenting Huguenots, who had built ten chapels in the area. More humble weavers dwellings were congregated in the Tenterground. The Spitalfields Mathematical Society was established in 1717. In 1846, it merged with the Royal Astronomical Society.

Spitalfields Market was established in 1638 when Charles I gave a licence for flesh, fowl and roots to be sold in what was then known as Spittle Fields. The market currently receives around 25,000 visitors every week.[2]

Huguenots of Spitalfields is a registered charity promoting public understanding of the Huguenot heritage and culture in Spitalfields, the City of London and beyond. They arrange tours, talks, events and schools programmes to raise the Huguenot profile in Spitalfields and to raise funds for a permanent memorial to the Huguenots.


From the 1730s Irish weavers came, after a decline in the Irish linen industry, to take up work in the silk trade. The 18th century saw periodic crises in the silk industry, bought on by imports of French silk – in a lull between the wars between the two rivals; and imports of printed calicos. The depression in the trade, and the prices paid to weavers, led to protests. In 1769, the Spitalfield riots occurred, when attempts were made to break up meetings of weavers, called to discuss the threat to wages, caused by another downturn in the market for silk. This resulted in an Irish and a Huguenot weaver being hanged in front of the Salmon and Ball public house at Bethnal Green.[3]

Price controls on amounts master weavers could pay journeymen for each piece were established, removing all incentive to pay higher wages during good times. During bad times workers had no work. As the price was per piece, there was no incentive for using machinery, as the master would have to pay for the machine and still pay the same price per piece to journeymen. By 1822 labour rates were so above market labour rates, that much of the employment in silk manufacture had moved away. Remaining manufacture focussed on expensive fashion items, which required proximity to court and had higher margins.

Victorian era

By the 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 about a London cholera epidemic 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 with France allowied the import of cheaper French silks. This left the many weavers in Spitalfields, and neighbouring Bethnal Green and Shoreditch indigent. 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.[3]

By the later 19th century inner Spitalfields had eclipsed rival claimants to the dubious distinction of being the worst criminal rookery in London and common lodging-houses in the Flower and Dean Street area were a focus for the activities of robbers and prostitutes and in 1881 was "perhaps the foulest and most dangerous street in the metropolis". Another claimant to the distinction of being the worst street in London was Dorset Street, which was highlighted by the brutal killing and mutilation of a young woman, Mary Kelly, in her lodgings here by the serial killer, Jack the Ripper in the autumn of 1888. The murder was the climax of a series of slayings of prostitutes that became 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. Deprivation continued and was brought to notice by social commentators such as Jack London in his The People of the Abyss (1903). He highlighted 'Itchy Park', next to Christ Church, Spitalfields, as a notorious rendezvous for homeless vagrants.

Modern Spitalfields

In the late 20th century the Jewish presence diminished and was replaced by an influx of Bangladeshi immigrants, who also worked in the local textile industry and made Brick Lane the curry capital of London.

Another development, from the 1960s onwards, has been a campaign to save the housing stock of old merchant terraces west of Brick Lane from demolition. Many have been conserved by the Spitalfields Historic Buildings Trust which has led to gentrification and a large increase in property prices.

In the 21st century large modern office blocks were built between Bishopsgate and Spitalfields Market. These represent an expansion of the City of London, northwards. A rear-guard action (contravailing planning policies) insisted on by conservationists resulted in the preservation of Old Spitalfields Market and the provision of shopping, leisure amenities and a plaza (urban square) beside the blocks.[4] Permission was granted to demolish the Fruit and Wool exchange on the edge of old Spitalfields market to provide office buildings by developer Exemplar.

Since 1998 the area has formed part of the Spitalfields and Banglatown electoral ward; the last name first arising in use in the late 20th century caused controversy between the cores of both neighboring communities but the unit boundaries less so, an effect of avoiding malapportionment, that is differing size of electorates. Communities widely accept the end of the Anglican parish-based naming.

In April 2016 the London Borough of Tower Hamlets approved and designated the Spitalfields Neighbourhood Planning Forum to monitor and enhance local planning policies.

Greater London Research Tips

A reminder that Greater London was not formed until 1965 and covers a much greater territory than its predecessor, the County of London formed in 1900. The City of London was only a part of the County of London. A map of the boroughs of Greater London is reproduced on all Greater London borough pages. A map of the boroughs of the smaller County of London is reproduced on all County of London borough pages.


Researching ancestors in London will probably be more successful than researching ancestors in the rest of England, particularly for the period before 1837 and the advent of civil registration. Baptisms, marriages and burials are available online for County of London parishes, and possibly for parishes throughout Greater London as well.

  • Anglican Parishes in London is a wiki here on WeRelate listing the places of worship of the established church throughout London. The churches are grouped within the post-1965 boroughs and for each is the street address, a link to the Booth Map (inner boroughs only), the time span for which the database AIM25 holds records, the FamilySearch Wiki link (see below), the Wikipedia link, and further notes. This is a work-in-progress and not all churches are listed as yet, but it is a guide to a great deal more information on those for which information has been gathered.
  • The London Metropolitan Archives (40 Northampton Road, Clerkenwell, London EC1R 0HB) holds records relating to the whole of Greater London. Ancestry (subscription necessary) has produced transcriptions and provides images of lists of baptisms, marriages, and burials in churches across Greater London. Many of these lists start in 1813 and stretch into the 20th century; some start even earlier.

Maps

  • A street-by-street map of London (both sides of the Thames, and stretching from Limehouse, Stepney and Greenwich in the east to Hyde Park and Kensington in the west) drawn by Edward Mogg in 1806. Blows up to a very readable level. Highly recommended viewing. Shows named areas on the edge of the County of London (1900-1965) as the small villages they were in 1800. Streets in the City are named, but churches are missing.
  • The Phillimore Atlas and Index of Parish Registers edited by Cecil Humphery-Smith and published by Phillimore & Co Ltd (edition of 1995) provides a map of the City of London indicating all the parishes and includes dates of commencement of registers for parishes formed before 1832.
  • Wikipedia has an expandable map of the area of devastation of the 1666 fire. The map includes the location of Pudding Lane where the fire started.
  • A map of London in the 1890s provided by the National Library of Scotland. There are a few steps between the home page index and the individual maps which may be difficult to follow for those who don't know London, but the maps themselves are produced at the scale of 5 feet to the mile on the original and are very clear. Houses on streets are marked, but not numbered.
  • Ordnance Survey map of London 1900 (provided online by A Vision of Britain through Time) showing London parishes just after the reorganization of 1899. The map was originally drawn over a street map at a scale of 1 inch to the mile and can be blown up to inspect a single borough. Only the major streets are marked and are only visible at maximum magnification. The City of London is an inset in the top right hand corner.
  • Ordnance Survey map of Middlesex 1900 (provided online by A Vision of Britain through Time) showing the parishes remaining in Middlesex after the reorganization of 1899 when much of the former area of Middlesex had been transferred into London.
  • Ordnance Survey map of Surrey 1900 (provided online by A Vision of Britain through Time) showing Surrey parishes (chiefly Southwark) just after the reorganization of 1899 when the most urban parts of Surrey were transferred into London.
  • Ordnance Survey map of Kent 1900 (provided online by A Vision of Britain through Time) showing Kent parishes just after the reorganization of 1899 when the western part of Kent had been transferred into London.
  • Ordnance Survey map of Essex 1900 (provided online by A Vision of Britain through Time) showing Essex parishes (West Ham, East Ham, Ilford) which were absorbed into Greater London in 1965.

Registration Districts

  • Registration Districts in London, Registration Districts in Middlesex, Registration Districts in Surrey, Registration Districts in Kent, and Registration Districts in Essex are lists of the registration districts used for civil registration (births, marriages and deaths, as well as the censuses). There are linked supporting lists of the parishes which made up each registration district, the dates of formation and abolition of the districts, the General Register Office numbers, and the local archive-holding place. This work has been carried out by Brett Langston under the agency of GENUKI (Genealogy United Kingdom and Ireland) and UKBMD - Births, Marriages, Deaths & Censuses on the Internet, and has been updated into the 21st century. If the only information about an individual has been obtained from UKBMD, the name of the registration district is considered a "placename" within WeRelate and can be used to provide a broad estimate of the location.

Cemeteries

  • Deceased Online includes four of the "Magnificent Seven" cemeteries (Brompton, Highgate, Kensal Green, and Nunhead) in its inventory of 65 London cemeteries. Transcripts for Abney Park are free with registration online at www.devsys.co.uk/ap/. Ancestry (international subscription necessary) has "London, England, City of London and Tower Hamlets Cemetery Registers, 1841-1966". That leaves West Norwood without comprehensive online access to burial records. (Deceased Online and Ancestry may have increased their provision since this was written in 2016.)
  • As of October 2019 Ancestry has a file titled "England & Scotland, Select Cemetery Registers 1800-2016" which includes Abney Park Cemetery, Greenford Park Cemetery, Acton Cemetery, Ealing & Old Brentford Cemetery, Havelock Norwood Cemetery, Hortus Cemetery, South Ealing Cemetery, Queens Road Cemetery, and Chingford Mount Cemetery.
  • The City of London Cemetery, at Manor Park, near Wanstead in the London Borough of Redbridge also contains remains transferred from former parishes in the City of London whose graveyards have been replaced by streets and commercial buildings.
  • Brookwood Cemetery, beyond the Greater London borders in Surrey, was opened in 1854 for burials for Londoners. See the Wikpedia article.

Other online sources

  • See the FamilySearch Wiki under "London" and also under "Middlesex", "Surrey", "Essex" and "Kent" for key information about Greater London's jurisdictions and records, plus links to indexes, reference aids and Family History Library holdings.
  • GENUKI has a long list of websites and archive holders in addition to London Metropolitan Archives above. (The list from GENUKI is not maintained so well that there is never a dead link in it. However, it is often worth googling the title given on the page just in case the contributor has reorganized their website and GENUKI has not picked it up.)
  • GENUKI also has a list of the Archives and Local Studies Libraries for each of the boroughs of Greater London.
  • The London Encyclopaedia by Ben Weinreb and Christopher Hibbert. An e-book available online through Google, originally published by Pan Macmillan. There is a search box in the left-hand pane.
  • London Lives. A very useful free website for anyone researching their London ancestors between the years 1690-1800. This is a fully searchable edition of 240,000 manuscripts from eight archives and fifteen datasets, giving access to 3.35 million names.
  • London Ancestor, a website belonging to one of the London family history societies, has a list of transcriptions of directories from the 18th century, listing in one case "all the squares, streets, lanes, courts, yards, alleys, &C. in and about Five Miles of the Metropolis..." In other parts of the same website are maps of various parts of 19th century London and Middlesex.
  • The proceedings of the Old Bailey, London's central criminal court, 1674-1913. A fully searchable edition of the largest body of texts detailing the lives of non-elite people ever published, containing 197,745 criminal trials held at London's central criminal court. This website is free to use.
  • A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 11, Stepney, Bethnal Green from the Victoria County History Series provided by British History Online.
This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The original content was at Spitalfields. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with WeRelate, the content of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.