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In Old Spitalfields

November 23, 2020
by the gentle author

Catherine Wheel Alley

Bishopsgate Institute has a magnificent collection of nineteenth century watercolours collected by the first archivist Charles Goss, which offer tantalising glimpses of the last surviving tumbledown pantiled tenements and terraces, crooked alleys and hidden yards that once comprised the urban landscape of Spitalfields.

When we think of old Spitalfields, we usually consider the eighteenth and nineteenth century fragments remaining today, yet there was another Spitalfields before this. Before the roads were made up, before Commercial St was cut through, before the Market was enclosed, before Liverpool St Station was built, Spitalfields was another place entirely. Lined with coaching inns, peppered by renaissance mansions and celebrated for its production of extravagant silks and satins, it was also notorious for violent riots and rebellion, where impoverished families might starve or freeze to death.

Sunday Morning in Petticoat Lane, 1838

Old Red House, Corner of Brushfield St by J.P.Emslie, 1879

Paul’s Head, Crispin St by J.T. Wilson, 1870

The Fort & Gun Tavern and Northumberland Arms, corner of Fashion St by J.T.Wilson

Dunning’s Alley showing Lucky Bob’s formerly Duke of Wellington, Bishopsgate by J.T.Wilson, 1868

Bell Tavern, Bell Yard, Gracechurch St by J.T.Wilson, 1869

Bishopsgate at the Corner of Alderman’s Walk beside St Botolph’s church by C.J.Richardson, 1871

House of Sir Francis Dashwood, Alderman’s Walk, by C.J.Richardson, 1820

Entrance from Bishopsgate to Great St Helen’s by C.J.Richardson, 1871

Devonshire House, Bishopsgate by C.J.Richardson, 1871

The Green Dragon, Bishopsgate, coloured by S.Lowell

The Green Dragon, Bishopsgate by T. Hosmer Shepherd, coloured by S.Lowell, 1856

The Bull Inn by T.Hosmer Shepherd, 1856

The Spread Eagle in Gracechurch St by R.B.Schnebblie, 1814

Sir Paul Pindar’s Lodge, Bishopsgate c. 1760

North East View of Bishopsgate Street, 1814

Images courtesy Bishopsgate Insititute

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Lost Spitalfields

7 Responses leave one →
  1. Lynne McBarron permalink
    November 23, 2020

    Fantastic images..
    I especially love the one of Paul Pindars lodge .. with no other buildings either side …
    Also the last image showing the curious tower on stilts.. I wonder what that was ?
    Really lovely to see them all .
    Thank you Gentle Author

  2. Jill Wilson permalink
    November 23, 2020

    Spooky – I was just about to write exactly what Lynne McBarron has said – charming paintings, and what on earth was that weird obelisk in the final image??

  3. November 23, 2020

    Thank you for sharing these wonderful photo’s of Old Spitalfields. I love old photo’s especially of old cities which are now modernized and lose their character altogether.

  4. November 23, 2020

    Thank-you for sharing these charming watercolours which show a more pleasant and human-scaled world which I fear is gradually being lost. Beautifully crafted architecture with adjacent spaces!

  5. Leanne Teves permalink
    November 23, 2020

    I’ve intently studied each of these. Although birn in America I have a deep deep connection to England that is difficult to understand. I am 3/4 English, 1/4 German…but my feelings go further than blood make-up. If there are past lives I imagine that’s the root of it for me.
    So- these paintings bring such familiar comfort, and tears quite frankly. For what I have lost in a subsequent lifetime and for what London has lost in the most recent last two centuries. I recognize the current changes over the years I’ve gone- from 1983 to 2016.
    Is progress really the way? In a world being taken over by faceless coorporations-we too have become faceless…almost meaningless… unless our hard earned cash is involved. Then we are elevated to importance- for just a brief moment…just enough for the exchange. Afterwards we slip back into the cracks. Into and away from the tangible experience. Screen and keyboard as our connection to last visions and present divisions.

  6. Pamela Traves permalink
    November 24, 2020

    Such Beautiful Vintage Paintings of Old London. I Love Them Very Much!! ThankYou!!????????

  7. November 24, 2020

    Wonderfully evocative

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