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A Walk Through Time In Spitalfields

January 4, 2024
by the gentle author


Archivist Stefan Dickers will be giving a lecture at the Hanbury Hall in Spitalfields next Tuesday 9th January at 7pm entitled THE TREASURES OF THE BISHOPSGATE INSTITUTE. As well as its celebrated London Collection (including C. A. Mathew’s photographs) featured in these pages, the Bishopsgate Archive houses Britain’s largest LBTQ+ collection.


Click here to book your ticket for THE TREASURES OF THE BISHOPSGATE INSTITUTE


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

10 Responses leave one →
  1. JAMES HURLEY permalink
    January 4, 2024

    A very atmospheric series of montages – thank you,

  2. January 4, 2024

    These photos are brilliant! I have stood in exactly the same places and taken my own photographs although I try to conjure images of my own ancestors and identify buildings that they would have known.
    Sadly I won’t be able to make the talk but thank you for sharing these marvellous montages.

  3. Kate Bacon permalink
    January 4, 2024

    What beautiful and atmospheric images!

  4. January 4, 2024

    The combination of new and old is fascinating and I was amazed to see what has been accomplished.
    Rod in Hampshire.

  5. Cynthia permalink
    January 4, 2024

    No words…they are there though you can’t see them…these amazing images make tangible the feeling of the souls who passed through time in a given place. We are but a moment. And all part of it. Those of the past and present.

  6. January 4, 2024

    I so admire the creativity and skill of these montages. The placements and combinations here are masterful, achieving an end result that is so captivating. In the top photo, just a smidgen of color forms a beating heart of a sepia-cloaked young girl. Remarkable. I did a double take.

    This post captures what Spitalfields Life is about — a celebration of past and present, combined with artistry and optimism.

  7. January 4, 2024

    These pictures are wonderful…. they convey a sense of history like nothing else… this must be what is truly meant by “a picture is worth a thousand words…”

  8. Marcia Howard permalink
    January 4, 2024

    Such interesting images, with ghosts from the past. Yet another wonderful post from the Gentle Author. Wishing you, and all your readers, a good new year and throughout 2024

  9. Tanya permalink
    January 4, 2024

    There’s something so evocative about these images. Having lived in this are most of my life I see the streets this way; in modern terms, but with a hint of bygone years. (Of course, my memories do not go back quite this far! But my imagination does).
    Thank you for posting these haunting images

  10. Tanya permalink
    January 29, 2024

    This is where my 2GG walked and lived from 1855-1900.

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