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The Interregnum In Spitalfields

February 2, 2024
by Philip Marriage

This month’s talk in the Spitalfields Series at the Hanbury Hall will be local resident Dame Siân Phillips interviewed by Basil Comely about her life and career, next Tuesday 6th February at 7pm.

Click here to book a ticket

Portrait by Lucinda Douglas Menzies


Today Philip Marriage introduces this series of photographs published for the first time here.

“These photographs were taken almost thirty years ago, 1994-5, during what I think of as ‘The Interregnum’ – the period after the old Spitalfields Market had moved to Leyton but before the wholesale redevelopment of Brushfield St and its inexorable gentrification. A period of quiet, almost emptiness, when traditional businesses serving the old market closed but new businesses had yet to emerge to replace them.”


My favourite photo of an almost empty Brushfield St with a bleached Christ Church, Spitalfields, at the end, resplendent in the sunshine beneath a threatening sky.


Artillery Passage looking towards Widegate St and Bishopsgate with the three traditional bollards, replaced nowadays by two.


Artillery Passage with Grapeshot’s Wine Bar on the left and The King’s Stores pub on Widegate St beyond.


Marsh Mushroom & Salad Sales, Crispin St, for sale before it was transformed into the ‘English Restaurant’.


Brushfield St with, on the right, The London Fruit & Wool Exchange first opened in 1929. This fine building has now gone with only the façade remaining. When this photo was taken the trees outside had yet to be planted and thankfully some of these survive today.


Brushfield St with Christ Church, Spitalfields, and the London Fruit & Wool Exchange. Once the market moved away to Leyton, Brushfield St was much tidier but often near empty when I visited – here with just three people visible and even some empty car parking spaces.


Artillery Lane with, on the left, the old Samuel Stores shop restored by the Spitalfields Trust in the eighties. In the background, across the road, can be seen the ornamental stone scrollwork of the ‘Artillery Tavern’, 1 Gun St, which, prior to 1884, was the ‘Cock A Hoop’ pub. This was the back of the Providence Row Night Refuge, largely demolished in 2004, leaving the grotesque remnants of the pub as a freestanding façade subsequently pinned to the outer wall of the new Lillian Knowles House.


Verde & Company Ltd on the corner Brushfield St junction with Gun St. The Victorian street sign for Gun St has been replaced by a tinpot Tower Hamlets Council substitute leaving the shadow of its predecessor remaining above.



Photographs copyright © Philip Marriage

You may also like to take a look at

Philip Marriage In Spitalfields

Philip Marriage, Photographer

Photographs Of Time Passing in Spitalfields

Spitalfields In Kodachrome

4 Responses leave one →
  1. February 2, 2024

    It is very interesting to see how some things change over time, but others, like Christ Church, remain the same. Thank you Philip and the GA.

  2. Andy permalink
    February 2, 2024

    The photographs eclipse for me sites of memories minus the characters I saw and some I knew .
    Haunting , much like Dickens chose to walk the evening streets and pursued twenty five or thirty miles .
    From this came his world famous book “A Christmas Carol”.

  3. February 2, 2024

    The Grapeshots Wine Bar on Artillery Passage — how clever!

    Spitalfields Market is all glossy and pristine these days, but more homogenised, somehow.

  4. February 2, 2024


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