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Peta Bridle’s East End Sketchbook

January 12, 2022
by the gentle author

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Every few months, Peta Bridle sends me a collection of her sketches and here are some of the latest

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View Over Spitalfields

During Open House weekend I was granted this magnificent view. Far below, a man leans against a bollard in Puma Court while, to the right, the rooftops of Fournier St meet Brick Lane Mosque and the former Warner Bell Foundry chimney. At the end of Puma Court is Wilkes St with chimney stacks and weaver’s lofts, while to the left, someone is crossing Princelet St. In the distance, Spitalfields’ old terraces recede to meet the tower blocks of Whitechapel.

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Fleur De Lis Alley

With its three tottering lampposts, this ancient paved alley once linked Shoreditch High St and  Blossom St in Norton Folgate. I wandered round here photographing the black-bricked Victorian warehouses and cobbled streets before the redevelopment, but now all I have are my old photos to remind me.

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Liverpool St Station

Pigeons swoop from one end of the roof of Liverpool St Station to the other as if in a giant aviary. From my position on a raised walkway, I could observe the continuous rush of running feet, bicycle wheels, pushchairs, wheelchairs and suitcases crossing the concourse beneath. This station is like a glass cathedral supported by decorative ironwork and flooded with light.

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Three  Pots On A Sill In Fournier St

I met Rodney Archer only once when he had a sale at his home of art, antiques and collectables, where I bought a small paper pattern for silk weaving. Now I regret not asking if I could visit to make an etching of his beautiful house. After he died, I returned but the atmosphere was sombre, so just I took a photograph of these flowerpots on the sill overlooking the garden. As I took my pictures, one of Rodney’s cat sat on the stair and pawed my hair clip through the bannisters, wanting attention, so I stopped what I was doing and gave him a stroke.

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The Society For The Protection Of Ancient Buildings

This is the last Georgian house in Spital Sq which was once lined with fine mansions built by silk merchants. It was the attractive contrast of the blue railings and shutters against the red painted doorway that caught my eye.

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Wilkes St

Two trips were required to render these beautiful terraces. I pencilled them in on one day and returned another to ink in my sketch.

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The Still & Star, Aldgate

I took shelter under the arch of Little Somerset St when it started to rain but a few drops splashed onto my picture and I had to retreat further. Many passersby stopped to talk to me about this historic pub and its pitiful fate. Hoardings surround the development site and I was surprised to see the pub still standing, so I took the opportunity to make this sketch before its demolition.

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The Whitechapel Bell Foundry

I sat with my back to a large lamppost facing the long foundry wall to make this sketch. Many locals stopped to express their disappointment and sadness that the foundry has closed and the resultant loss to the community. Currently the building is occupied by property guardians and, after the pandemic, I wonder if the threatened redevelopment into a boutique hotel will ever go ahead.

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Brussel Sprouts & Cabbages, Spitalfields City Farm

An occasional East London Line train rattled past beyond the fence as I was drawing. After I finished, one of the gardeners kindly showed me around, pointing out what was growing and how to cook it. Even though the brussel sprouts have not yet appeared, there was already an abundance of green leaves in the cabbage patch.

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The Vegetable Patch, Spitalfields City Farm

Over the summer I made many visits to the farm as it offered such a lovely environment for drawing. On my first visit, I made this sketch overlooking the vegetable beds with the pigsty in the background. That day, there was a party of school children in the yurt, mums and dads exploring with their babies and toddlers, with the sound of chickens, ducks and sheep in the background.

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Bella The Cat, Spitalfields City Farm

In the poly-tunnel, there were chard, courgettes, sunflowers, cucumbers supported on string and sticks, and a hefty kodu dangling on the left. Although summer rain drummed on the roof, I was quite dry inside. Some school children took shelter briefly too, followed by Bella the farm cat, who sat staring out of the doorway, waiting for the shower to pass. I took the opportunity to include her in my picture but, when I looked again, she had disappeared.

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Chard, Spring Cabbage & Sunflowers, Spitalfields City Farm

On each visit, the scenery changes at the farm, with plants sprouting profusely, accelerated by alternating bouts of rain and sunshine. Plastic bottles rattled gently on top of the canes amongst the greenery, while – on this day – a group of gardeners were busy digging and harvesting.

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Arnold Circus

An unusually mild day in October granted ideal conditions to visit Arnold Circus, as leaves from the plane trees were falling and the wind was sending them skittering around the pathways. The bandstand sits on top of a circular mound, which was made from the demolition pile of former slum housing, when the area was cleared to build the red brick council dwellings that surround the gardens today.

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The Master’s House, St. Katharine’s Precinct, Limehouse

I found a shady corner of the garden to sketch, when the lawns were dappled in shade and a few people sat outside enjoying the tranquillity. Yet, above the noise of birdsong, I could hear background traffic and the Docklands Light Railway trains. A robin perched on a chair next to me to observe what I was doing, and a very peaceful and enjoyable day was spent at St Katharine’s Precinct.

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Paul Gardner, Gardner’s Bags, Leyton

Paul’s family ran a bag and market sundries shop in Spitalfields for one hundred and fifty years. Just before the pandemic, he moved out to a new shop in Leyton and it was a pleasure to visit him there. Plastic bags on strings hang like bunting overhead and rolls of fluorescent stickers are stacked up on the old wooden counter. Paul stands with a large set of green scales in front of him with his old greengrocers’ fruit and vegetable signs displayed behind him. He has made use of all his available wall space to create a gallery of the many artworks that have been done celebrating Gardner’s Bags.

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Drawings copyright © Peta Bridle

You may also like to take a look at

Peta Bridle’s Riverside Sketchbook

Peta Bridle’s Gravesend Sketchbook

Peta Bridle’s City of London Sketchbook

Peta Bridle’s New Etchings

Peta Bridle’s Latest Drypoint Etchings

Peta Bridle River Etchings

9 Responses leave one →
  1. Saba permalink
    January 12, 2022

    Peta, I do love the dramatic black and white in the Fleur de Lys drawing. I also love the shades of grey and blue grey mixed in with many of the other drawings. I was just talking today to someone about how sending one’s work out to others completes the artwork, so I gratefully receive your wonderful drawings and send good wishes back to you. Saba

  2. January 12, 2022

    Beautiful work Peta!

  3. Sue Merrick permalink
    January 12, 2022

    I love your drawing style Peta, beautiful flowing works of art that will help preserve our history.

  4. Jill Wilson permalink
    January 12, 2022

    Great drawings as usual Peta!

    I just wonder how many of the buildings will survive into the future. Is the Star and Still the pub which is going to be facaded into that ridiculous Aldgate development?

  5. Susan Levinson permalink
    January 12, 2022

    I would love it if a book of Peta’s artwork was published.

  6. Peter Hart permalink
    January 12, 2022

    Wonderful drawings Peta thank you.

  7. D P Cat permalink
    January 12, 2022

    Lovely drawings of London, particularly like the blue ink images.
    Very nice art as always in Peta’s distinctive style.

  8. Cherub permalink
    January 13, 2022

    I love all the beauty of the plants and foliage in these drawings. This is the first thing I have looked at today and it’s made me feel cheerful.

  9. January 13, 2022

    Great drawings. I particularly liked The Still and Star – what a great name that was for a pub – Arnold Circus, Rodney’s plants and The Master’s House but there are all so very good Paul looks so warm and friendly.

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