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Stories Of Shoreditch Old & New

March 31, 2018
by the gentle author

Each Saturday, we shall be featuring one of Adam Dant’s MAPS OF LONDON & BEYOND from the forthcoming book of his extraordinary cartography to published by Spitalfields Life Books & Batsford on June 7th.

Please support this ambitious venture by pre-ordering a copy, which will be signed by Adam Dant with an individual drawing on the flyleaf and sent to you on publication. CLICK TO ORDER A SIGNED COPY OF MAPS OF LONDON & BEYOND BY ADAM DANT

1. Iron Age Man establishes a track along what is now “OLD STREET”.

2. Christian Roman Soldiers worship at the source of the river Walbrook, now St Leonards.

3. Sir John de Soerditch rides against the French Spears alongside The Black Prince.

4. Jane Shore, a goldsmith’s daughter & lover of Edward IV dies in “a ditch of loathsome scent.”

5. “Barlow” the archer is given the dubious title “Duke of Shoreditch” by Henry VIII.

6. Christopher Marlowe murders the son of a Hog Lane innkeeper, he escapes prosecution.

7. Plague burials take place at “Holywell Mound” by the Priory of St John the Baptist at Holywell.

8. Queen Elizabeth I on passing by medieval St Leonards is “Pleased by its Bells.”

9. The sweet water of “The Holywell” is spoilt by manure heaps of local nursery gardens,

10. James Burbage’s sons Cuthbert & Richard dismantle “The Theatre” in two to four days & transport it to the South bank of the Thames where it is rebuilt as “The Globe”.

11.  William Shakespeare enjoys a “bumper” at an inn on the site of the present “White Horse.”

12. Local Huguenot weavers riot for three days protesting against & burning “multi-shuttle looms”.

13. Thomas Fairchild, a gardener, donated £25 to St Leonards for an annual Whitsunday sermon titled “Wonderful Works of God in creation” or “On the certainty of resurrection of the dead proved by certain changes of the animal and vegetable parts of creation.”

14. Militia are called from the Tower  to quell four thousand Shoreditch locals rioting against cheap Irish labour being used to build the new George Dance tower of St Leonards.

15. Large lumps of masonry fall onto the congregation during a service at the collapsing old St Leonards.

16. The Huguenot speciality “fish & chips” appear at Britain’s first fish & chip shop on Club Row.

17. The many murders & muggings at Holywell Mount lead to it being levelled.

18. Local theatres such as The Curtain sink to become “no more than sparring rooms.”

19. Brick Lane takes its name from local brickfields, occasional location of furtive criminality.

20. Visitors to James Fryer’s land at Friar’s Mount wrongly assume a monastery stood there.

21. Joe Lee, the local horsewhisperer, coaxes improved productivity from working donkeys.

22. “Resurrection Men,” notorious body snatchers pinch recent interred corpses from St Leonards, some coffins in the crypt are found to contain bricks instead of bodies,

23.  Four thousand people are dispossessed as Bishopsgate Goods Yard replaces streets around Swan Lane & Leg Alley.

24. Mary Kelly’s funeral procession leaves St Leonards amidst huge crowds. The poor victim of Jack the Ripper is given a second funeral at her own catholic cemetery.

25. Oliver Twist is said to have resided in Shoreditch. Many other unfortunate children arrive each morning at The White St Child Slave Market seeking work.

26. So many unruly pavement-side street vendors populate Shoreditch High St that a regular uniformed Street Keeper is employed.

27. Horse drawn trams add to the general commotion bustle and smell of the High Street.

28. Cats meat sellers, watercress hawkers & dog breeders all cram into the Old Nichol’s filthy tenements.

29. Sir Arthur Arnold, head of the LCC main drainage committee is commemorated at Arnold Circus.

30. For decades the chalk horse on Eastern Counties Railway, Bishopsgate terminus is redrawn by unknown local artist.

31. Enthusiastic Anarchists hoping to bring political awareness to the Old Nichol proletariat through their Boundary St printing operation find the task “like tickling an elephant with a straw.”

32. Artist, Lord Leighton calls the interior of Holy Trinity, Old Nichol St, “The most beautiful in England.”

33. Arthur Harding’s memories of his slum boyhood, “van dragging” etc are recalled in “East End Underworld.”

34. Arthur Morrison pens his slum tale “Child of the Jago” following Reverend Jay’s invitation to the Old Nichol.

35. The chapel dedicated to Shakespeare on Holywell Lane is destroyed by a WWII bomb.

36. Syd’s Coffee Stall, now Hillary Caterers, is saved from destruction during an air raid as two parked buses shelter it from a bomb blast. Thomas Austen’s medieval chancel window is less fortunate.

37. Novelist Arthur Machen identifies a “leyline” running through the mystic ancient earthwork Arnold Circus.

38. King Edward VIII officially inaugurates Boundary Estate from a platform on Navarre St.

39. The Red Arrows pass over the bandstand en-route once more to the Queen’s Birthday.

40. Protestors eventually force the closure of Club Row animal market, once home to dogs, parrots, pigeons and the occasional lion cub.

41. Navarre St is used as a playground by children who carve their names into the brickwork.

42. Artist, Ronald Searle visits Club Row animal market to illustrate Kaye Webb’s “Looking at London.”

43. The resident Bengali flute player of Arnold Circus is often heard across the Boundary Estate on warm Summer evenings.

44. The IRA bomb which explodes on Bishopsgate disturbs the rats in Shoreditch who emerge in large numbers from the drains,

45. The great train robbers plan their notorious crime upstairs in The Ship & Blue Ball, Boundary St.

46. Jeremiah Rotherham demolishes the Shoreditch Music Hall for another warehouse.

47. Joan Rose‘s father proudly displays his fruit & vegetables on Calvert Avenue whilst she is sent to buy more bags at Gardners Market Sundriesmen (still trading today).

48. Every type of vacuum cleaner bag is sold by “Zammo from Grange Hill’s dad” at Shoreditch Domestics on Calvert Avenue.

49. The failed Suicide Bus Bomber is seen by security camera leaving the No 26 at Shoreditch.

50. Mono-recording virtuoso, Liam Watson strides past Shoreditch’s “Elvisly Yours” souvenir shop en-route to legendary Toe-rag recording studios in French Place.


Adam Dant’s MAPS OF LONDON & BEYOND is a mighty monograph collecting together all your favourite works by Spitalfields Life‘s cartographer extraordinaire in a beautiful big hardback book.

Including a map of London riots, the locations of early coffee houses and a colourful depiction of slang through the centuries, Adam Dant’s vision of city life and our prevailing obsessions with money, power and the pursuit of pleasure may genuinely be described as ‘Hogarthian.’

Unparalleled in his draughtsmanship and inventiveness, Adam Dant explores the byways of English cultural history in his ingenious drawings, annotated with erudite commentary and offering hours of fascination for the curious.

The book includes an extensive interview with Adam Dant by The Gentle Author.

One Response leave one →
  1. david donoghue permalink
    March 31, 2018

    Absolutely fascinating!

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