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Walk Through Time With The Gentle Author

December 12, 2021
by the gentle author

Map of the Gentle Author’s Tour drawn by Adam Dant

In celebration of the festive season, I shall be hosting a walk on Boxing Day at noon.

Ramble with me through two thousand years of culture in the streets of Spitalfields and encounter some of the people and places that make this historic neighbourhood distinctive.

I invite you to join my tour in the footsteps of all those who came before, with a keen eye and an open heart, to discover the manifold wonders of this place.

Tickets cost £50 and include a signed copy of one of The Gentle Author’s books of your choice as a souvenir. To book please email

Sandys Row from the north

After seeing the work of photographer C.A.Mathew in these pages, Adam Tuck was inspired to revisit the locations of the pictures taken over a century ago. Subtly blending his own photographs with C.A.Mathew’s images of Spitalfields in 1912, Adam initiated an unlikely collaboration with a photographer of the beginning of the last century and created a new series of images of compelling resonance.

In these montages, people of today co-exist in the same space with people of the past, manifesting a sensation I have always felt in Spitalfields – that all of history is present here. Yet those of the early twentieth century ago knew they were being photographed and many are pictured looking at the camera, whereas passersby in the present day are mostly self-absorbed.  The effect is of those from the past wondering at a vision of the future, while those of our own day are entirely unaware of this ghostly audience.

It is hard to conceive of the meaning of time beyond our own lifespan. But these photographs capture something unseen, something usually hidden from human perception – they are pictures of time passing and each one contains more than a hundred years.

Sandys Row from the south

Looking from Bishopsgate down Brushfield St, towards Christ Church

Looking down Widegate St towards Sandys Row

Looking down Middlesex St towards Bishopsgate

From Bishopsgate looking up Middlesex St


In Bell Lane

In Artillery Lane looking towards Artillery Passage

From Bishopsgate through Spital Sq

Frying Pan Alley

Montages copyright © Adam Tuck

C.A.Mathew photographs courtesy Bishopsgate Institute

You may like to read the original stories

C.A. Mathew, Photographer

In the Footsteps of C.A.Mathew

7 Responses leave one →
  1. Ann V permalink
    December 12, 2021

    These images are wonderful. Thank you for sharing them. We too shall be history one day.

  2. Jill Wilson permalink
    December 12, 2021

    Fantastically spooky images!

    And I highly recommend the Gentle Author’s tour of Spitalfields as the area is literally steeped in history with a whole variety of stories and characters to discover and enjoy.

  3. December 12, 2021

    Deeply interesting. I always think when I see people in old photos: my goodness, if you knew that this moment of your life can still be seen in more than 100 years …

    In the field of moving images, you can find an infinite amount of material reconstructed with the most modern technology, which blows your mind. One example is recommended here. I find myself waving to the funny little lads from 1901 who are making their jokes in front of the camera and also waving “into the future”…

    Love & Peace

  4. December 12, 2021

    “Time present and time past/ Are both perhaps present in time future/ And time future contained in time past./ If all time is eternally present/ All time is unredeemable.” (TS Eliot, Burnt Norton)

    These images are wonderful, there is the oddest sense that present people are seeing those past and vice versa in some of them

  5. December 12, 2021

    Inspired by today’s blog entry about the people of London’s East End 120 years ago, I created a little video. — Victorian working-class children from the past wave to the camera and into the future to the wonderful music of the band ALT-J:

    Love & Peace

  6. Stephen Baisden permalink
    December 13, 2021

    This is so spectacular. I’m living in Florida (USA) and miss England so much. My wife and I were fortunate enough to visit twice years ago. My ancestors came to America in about 1680 but I somehow have a homesickness for London and the UK. I highly recommend seeing Achim’s (above) video. It is superb and evocative.

  7. Elba permalink
    December 23, 2021

    Your blog was just a delicius serendipity!!!
    I was looking after shade garden ideas and found a gentle author…
    Thanks for that!!! I live in South América and the gap is now a bit shorter!!!
    Best wishes for you an londoneers!!!

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