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Two Events At London Metropolitan Archive

May 7, 2019
by the gentle author

Spitalfields Life is delighted to participate in the WORD ON THE STREET festival which runs at London Metropolitan Archive in Clerkenwell for the month of May. These events are free but advance booking is essential.

Spitalfields Breakfast by Isaac Cruickshank, 1794



A lecture by Julian Woodford, author of The Boss of Bethnal Green

Saturday 11th May 1:30pm

The story of London’s wealthy silk merchants and their fine houses in Spitalfields is familiar, but the lives of the poor journeymen weavers who actually made the silk are less commonly described. Julian Woodford will outline the realities of their existence, how they lived, worked and died. As many as twenty-thousand weavers lived in Spitalfields, Bethnal Green, Shoreditch and Whitechapel at the peak of the industry in the eighteenth century, mostly Huguenots of French ancestry.

Click here to book for Julian Woodford’s lecture



Wednesday 15th May 6:00pm

This writing workshop with The Gentle Author will be a practical exploration of what constitutes a story and how to fashion a compelling narrative from facts and anecdotes. The session will be of special interest to those attempting to write their own family histories and anyone else who wants to tell a story.

Click here to book for The Gentle Author’s writing workshop


These events are presented in partnership with the Huguenots of Spitalfields

4 Responses leave one →
  1. Helen Breen permalink
    May 7, 2019

    Greetings from Boston,

    GA, regrettably I will not be in London this month. Otherwise, I would take advantage of these two offerings. I have intended to visit the London Metropolitan Archives for some time. Checking it out, I read that the LMA holds the the archives of the “Peabody Trust.”

    Have you ever heard of the American GEORGE PEABODY (1795-1869)? Of humble origins, young George (“with beautiful handwriting and exact ciphering skills”) made a fortune in the textile industry before removing to London for the last three decades of his life. Peabody endeared himself to Queen Victoria when he financed the first “housing estate” for the poor in Spitalsfield in 1864 consisting of “57 dwellings and shops.”

    His benefactions increased on both sides of the Atlantic. After an elaborate funeral in Westminster Abbey, Queen Victoria’s son Arthur accompanied the funeral cortege back to Peabody, Massachusetts where is was buried. I live in Lynnfield which is next door to the city of Peabody.

    An imposing statue of George Peabody by the American sculptor William Wetmore Story can be seen at the Royal Exchange in the City of London.

  2. Richard permalink
    May 7, 2019

    Hi Helen there are several Peabody housing estates in London. They are interesting to walk around. Brick blocks of apartments about four storeys high. Didn’t know Peabody was American or that he lived near you!

  3. Helen Breen permalink
    May 8, 2019


    I did not know that so many of George Peabody’s estates still survive in London – thank you. His benefactions (particulary libraries) on this side of the pond were enormous in dozens of US. cities.

    An untoward circumstance occurred at the philanthropist’s interment in his native Peabody in February 1870. A raging New England blizzard sprang up causing the royal dignitaries, including Prince Arthur, to seek shelter in the humble homes of local farmers. George Peabody still rests amongst his ancestors in the city named for him.

  4. sprite permalink
    May 9, 2019

    Helen, Peabody trust still builds dwellings with moderate rents and are generally well maintained, they are called Housing Associations.

    One was actually built after 1997 on the site of the Bethnal Green workhouse demolished a long time ago to make way for a council housing estate. A block of that estate, Fane House in Waterloo Gardens was demolished due to some stupid political issue round housing, and some of us fought very hard to save it, to no avail, but I was happier once I knew new housing for the Peabody would be built as opposed to the land going to private developper.

    So nice to hear more about the life of the man itself and a great anecdote about that hurricane on his burial day, like a wink from his philantropic soul.

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