Skip to content

In Old Spitalfields

May 9, 2023
by the gentle author

Click here to book for my Spitalfields walk next Saturday and beyond


Click here to book for my next City of London walk on 4th June


Catherine Wheel Alley

The 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

You may also like to take a look at

Lost Spitalfields

4 Responses leave one →
  1. Bernie permalink
    May 9, 2023

    Exceptionally clear and attractive illustrations today!

    It would be interesting to see how many can be paired with a present-day photograph.

  2. Adele Lester permalink
    May 9, 2023

    Wonderful illustrations!

  3. Tim Terrell permalink
    May 9, 2023

    Absolutely wonderful watercolours!

  4. May 9, 2023

    It is fascinating to see old London. I sometimes struggle with road names and end up searching for old maps online. It’s always a joy to find a road with some historical buildings that was significant to my family. Even if not their actual address, it helps me to build a mental image of how the road might have looked. Thanks GA.

Leave a Reply

Note: Comments may be edited. Your email address will never be published.

Subscribe to this comment feed via RSS