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My Promise

Umbra Sumus – ‘We are shadows.’  These are the words on the sundial here in Fournier St.


Over the coming days, weeks, months and years, I am going to write every day and tell you about life here in Spitalfields at the heart of London. How can I ever describe the exuberant richness and multiplicity of culture in this place to you?  This is both my task and my delight.

Let me disclose to you the hare-brained ambition I am pursuing, which is to write at least ten thousand stories about Spitalfields life. At the rate of one a day, this will take approximately twenty-seven years and four months. Who knows what kind of life we shall be living in 2037 when I write my ten thousandth post?

I do not think there will be any shortage of material, though it may be difficult to choose what to write of because the possibilities are infinite. Truly all of human life is here in Spitalfields.

If you wish to direct me to write about someone or something in particular, please let me know, because the days go by quickly and I am always eager to discover more stories. And it is through meeting people and learning more that my understanding will grow, and this project can evolve. I am open to all approaches.

It is my custom to walk everywhere in London and I discover things on my walks, so you will also find stories here from places that are within walking distance of Spitalfields.

Like Good Deeds and Everyman in the old play, let us travel together. I promise to keep writing to you every day and it will be an eventful journey we shall have together.


I am your loyal servant

The Gentle Author

Spitalfields, 26th August 2009


Read my Annual Reports

First Annual Report 2010

Second Annual Report 2011

Third Annual Report 2012

Fourth Annual Report 2013

Fifth Annual Report 2014

Sixth Annual Report 2015

Seventh Annual Report 2016

Eight Annual Report 2017

Ninth Annual Report 2018

Tenth Annual Report 2019

Eleventh Annual Report 2020

239 Responses leave one →
  1. Beth Henley permalink
    October 25, 2009

    I love you gentle author. I read Spitalfields Life when my heart is worn. It makes me think of you and how remarkable the beauty. 2037 indeed. Hope I’m here.

  2. December 6, 2009

    I have just stumbled across your blog whilst checking out an email sent me by Spitalfields music – I am entralled! … love your posts and hope to follow them now I have found them….

  3. Anne Forster permalink
    December 9, 2009

    Gentle author, I have paused awhile to read what you have written, it seems only polite to do so. i don’t live in London but I was browsing around looking at Spitalfields history. I think it must be a wonderful place to live and so interesting as i love buildings of the 18th C. I suppose i got interested in the area knowing that Dan Cruikshank lives there in a house that is unchanged. I imagine the silk weavers going about their business and how different life must have been then, very hard i imagine.
    I shall look in again soon.

  4. Rhianwen Guthrie permalink
    December 20, 2009

    Gentle author…
    Your blog has become a daily joy I look forward to savouring. It’s a bit like a grown-up (and sometimes not-so grown-up) advent calendar. I open it with the same anticipation, and delight in all you share with us (whoever we all are)… You have brightened up my winter no end.
    Long may you continue feeding our souls with Spitalfields life.

  5. Ann Bergstrom permalink
    January 16, 2010

    I wonder if I am your only Seattle reader? I was introduced to your work by my daughter, an LSE grad student. Now, even at this great distance, I feel I have a London home in the sense that I know something of the soul of one wonderful neighborhood. I hope to visit sometime this year. Your daily observations are a pleasure for me to read. More interestingly, it has made me observe my own city in a different way. I am going to start a series of architecture tours to learn more about my own locale’s individual quirks. Best wishes to you and Mr. Pussy.

  6. Joe permalink
    January 20, 2010

    I have only just come across your blog, but like most of these other people find it heartwarming and very eloquently written. I look forward to many a future read!

  7. January 22, 2010

    I think Spitalfields has in you a worthy chronicler. When I first moved to London in the 1970s I might have taken up residence there but instead I have ended up in the Smithfield area! The scale of the recent redevelopment of Spitalfields is at first blush overpowering, but I find in your pen portraits you describe a place with deeper historic and human roots.

    Sam Ignarski

  8. March 7, 2010

    I am completely enchanted by your writing, it’s beautiful, poetic, honest and so completely different to anything I have seen out there in “blog land” Wow. I just don’t know where you find the time to write so much on a daily basis… I will keep reading and add you to my list of blogs. Thanks for all the wonderful stories so far.

  9. Ros permalink
    March 31, 2010

    What a delight to open up the computer to something of such quality as Spitalfields Life. I’m a new reader and your beautiful blogs are giving me great pleasure. Please go on and on….


  10. March 31, 2010

    I have been following for a few weeks, and am delighting in all your posts. Having lived in London for over 30 years after arriving there as a student, I moved to Salisbury, a few years ago. I love your tales of Spitalfields which I have only visited a couple of times and both before the refurbishment of the market. Thank you!

  11. April 15, 2010

    I would like to add my heartfelt appreciation to those above for your eloquent words and glorious descriptions of life around you. Having found your site, it is a pleasure for me to escape to your world and read of the wonderful characters who inhabit it. Thank you

  12. April 16, 2010

    I’m sitting here in hot and dusty Qatar, thoroughly enjoying the read. I am also a walker and, on my trips home to London, exploring old haunts for changes and the changeless is my greatest pleasure. Thank you for creating this site!

  13. Davidde Grove' permalink
    May 8, 2010

    Thank you for the reminder that it is we, ourselves, who choose the lens through which we see life. You have introduced me to a London that is gentle, intrigueing and civilised rather than the less desirable option, that is often portrayed.

    So if you don’t mind, I will adopt a similar approach, as I say farewell to my beloved Africa, and start a new love affair with London.

  14. May 10, 2010

    How many weeks are there until 2037? How big is your garden?
    I am saddened that I am unlikely to be here to find that final post in which you are revealed. But you never know.
    In the meantime I am thoroughly enjoying the daily introduction and tour.
    Thank you.

  15. May 10, 2010

    Dearest gentle author,
    I live in beautiful North Carolina, US, and have always dreamed of traveling and living in the UK. I stumbled upon your blog last fall and committed myself to reading it every day-it’s like I live there, just outside London, too. Thanks for opening the window to a simple, yet rich, life.

  16. October 3, 2010

    I have an ancestor who lived close to you and left almost twenty diaries. The article on the mudlark struck a chord because my ancestor was an antiquarian and collector. When he worked at the East India Docks Company he was always being brought interesting finds to buy and identify.

  17. Mick permalink
    October 7, 2010

    Brilliant blog (the only one that I think is worth subscribing to). You’ll never have the time to go out and get a proper job.

  18. betsy barker permalink
    October 10, 2010

    what an enchanting blog….thank you for this delightful bit of living history.

  19. Margaret Lambert permalink
    October 15, 2010

    It might be possible for someone nearly anywhere to write the ongoing story of their neighborhood, but they don’t. I stumbled across your blog a while ago and it has become a part of my morning routine. Surely we all crave a sense of belonging somewhere, and having neighbors whom we would actually choose, for all their delightful variety? I am endlessly fascinated with your little corner of the world.

  20. Pete permalink
    October 21, 2010

    Gentle Author…
    I had the pleasure of meeting with you briefly when you attended the “Thames and Field” evening for your mudlarking piece. I’m now hooked on this wonderful blog and often find myself in a spare 15 mins picking my way through the archive pieces..such a pleasure. Long may you continue to shine a gentle light on Spitalfields and London life.

  21. October 26, 2010

    Dear Gentle Author
    I have recently discovered your blog and love reading it. Long may it continue, and thank you for making it so interesting. I’m learning photography on a City and Guilds course, and thought about concentrating on Spitalfields and markets as my theme for my end of course assessment. You make it all seem so interesting, maybe I will do it.
    Best wishes
    Martina x

  22. annie permalink
    November 17, 2010

    Gentle Author,
    I have just discovered your blog and enjoying reading some of your archives – very interesting and so well written with great photos!
    I am from the Midlands but now live in the London borough of Hackney and I often get the bus to Spitalfields for a walk around so I know quite a few of the places you write about. I look forward to reading future articles – thanks so much!

  23. November 19, 2010

    Bravo! It’s bloody brilliant what you’re creating here. Thank you and greetings from Melbourne, Australia.

  24. Barry Derbyshire permalink
    November 22, 2010

    Gentle Author

    Lovely to stumble across your blog and refresh the memories of the East End. Moved down to Brisbane from London a few years ago – nice to feel the heart and soul again. Please keep writing.

  25. Anne D. permalink
    December 3, 2010

    Je me régale chaque jour en vous lisant.
    Un autre monde s’ouvre à moi, plein de détails croustillants et de personnes chaleureuses. C’est un défi pour mon anglais mais j’ai un bon dico.
    Grâce à vous, je commence à voir d’un autre oeil les Anglais qui parfois, nous semblent si étranges. Humour et amour à toutes les pages. Comment faites-vous cela ? quelle créativité.
    Du fond de ma campagne au pied du Luberon.

  26. December 21, 2010

    Gentle Author,

    It was a great pleasure and lovely surprise to see what you have been doing these days. Knowing you, I can recognise the talent behind the writing. The photos are brilliant as well.

    With all best wishes,

  27. December 26, 2010

    Gentle author,

    For one year now I have been receiving your daily Spitalfields newsletter and I love it. It is always an interesting start of the day. It is very moving to read the portraits of the London inhabitants and their way of life, or to see the plants and flowers on Columbia Road. My husband and me even made a trip from Belgium to Spitalfields to learn more about that interesting and vivid part of the city. By reading all those articles, one can imagine what is going on behind closed doors and windows. Places I visited for the first time looked strangly familiar. You write with much love for people and places. I am sure your positive way of looking at life influences others more than you can imagine. When I look back on this past year with all it’s ups and downs, I come to the conclusion that many of those ups began with reading your morning pages. I want to thank you for that and congratulate you with your work. You make this world a better place.

    Best wishes for 2011.

  28. December 28, 2010

    You should check this out:

    It’s an old Renegade Soundwave track about the Krays. It captures the dread I think. But your interviews/profiles of Criminal Life also catch the dread about the dread.

    This is brilliant stuff. My dad used to play snooker in South London and hang out with hard men in Battersea, though like you (and me) he found violence abhorrent.

    Your writing reminds me of things from my life in London, but also of a past that came before me. Thank you.

  29. Robert Dye permalink
    January 1, 2011

    I have to say that I love this blog. I have always loved London and the East End especially. I will confess my first interest involved that famous crimewave from yesteryear. I had a chance a few years ago to visit London and spent a very limited time in the East End. Your blog makes me see the living history and only increases my desire to get back to London and explore more and your blog will certainly help me when I do.

    Thanks for your effort and I LOVE your photographs


  30. January 4, 2011

    In 2037 I will be a very old lady! but now I have found you, I will follow you as long as my life allows me.

  31. Amanda permalink
    January 9, 2011

    I arrived at your website from a Twitter post…..the wonders of modern technology! I have been completely captivated all weekend by your stories and photographs. So charming and eloquently written. My teenage daughter loves photographing old buildings and unusal features in architecture so she has loved some of the photographs you have taken. She particularly liked the manhole covers!

    I am working my way through the archives and enjoying every step through time. Just beautiful. Well Done and long may it continue.

  32. Laura permalink
    January 21, 2011

    Thank you! as a passionate seeker of stories, adventures, history and sights of east london & spitalfields life I am glad that we share the same interest. avid reader x

  33. Bari Watts permalink
    January 22, 2011

    This is one of the best sites on the net…….keep it up!

  34. February 3, 2011

    Dear Gentle Author,

    Thank you for such a nice blog. I recently started my own “blog”, but I am not a writer, so I just have pictures. You are a writer and you have very nice photos.


  35. merzak permalink
    February 4, 2011

    i want to tell you something :))).congratulations and prosperous health to you.

  36. JOAN BARNETT permalink
    February 4, 2011

    I came across your site by chance.Wonderful in every way the manner you describe the characters and their businesses is truly as is.
    Being in fashion design I am so PLEASED that you found the two greatest characters left in clothing fabrics.I mean Philip and Martin at CRESCENT TRADING in Quaker Street.Martin an eccentric 79 going on 50 year old whose experience of the textile industry is unreal and he is so happy to share it with you.Philip whose humour matches any comedian sells fabric in a way that you must purchase and I do.
    Textiles being a dying trade these two OLD CODGERS need to be made known to anyone in the clothing trade.
    Please silent author give them some credits,and to you, keep on finding more hidden gems.

  37. February 7, 2011

    Dear Gentle Author

    Because of you and your most excellent bloggage, I have found myself wandering the streets when I need to clear my mind from the toil and burden of the grindstone, in search of the places and people you describe.

    Thank you.

  38. February 7, 2011

    Your wonderful stories have hijacked my day, gentle author and I am very excited about your work which is utterly moreish. I know the thrill of storygathering as I’ve been doing that in Hackney, Newham and Waltham Forest while working as Writer in Residence with Immediate Theatre – some of the material is on the company’s website. Now I’m about to work with writers at Cardboard Citizens and maybe you could meet some of them…although you seem to already know the extraordinary Terry O’Leary. Despite my deep envy of your lucid, vivid and personable writing I am unable to stay away from your blog. Good hunting!

  39. Elaine Chalus permalink
    February 9, 2011

    Lovely, gentle, insightful historical fragments, oddities and tales. Thank-you!

    I was brought to the blog via Twitter and am sharing the gift by passing the link on to my friends, my uni students and ex-students.

  40. Bruce Mack permalink
    February 10, 2011

    Dear Gentle Author,
    Thank you for the plenitude and warmth. Wintry Minnesota is London for a few minutes every day.

  41. Suemck permalink
    February 20, 2011

    Thank you so much for your commitment to this beautiful blog. It lights up my day!

  42. March 10, 2011

    In direct contrast to many of your neighbours, I grew up in England but have spent over half my life in Asia. However, after “discovering” your blog today, I have a sudden urge to move back to London. Wonderful stuff!

  43. Marc permalink
    March 26, 2011

    Discovered your site by the little/long blue flyer on a visit to the market last year and have dropped in sporadically ever since. I have to commend your diligence and fortitude in this great endeavour, keep at it so I can live vicariously through these until I return. Really well written, lots of great human stories and photos, I think you are taking John Berger to the next level.

  44. Roger Stockley permalink
    April 4, 2011

    Love your site. My son Ben [Photographer] lives nearby. Always wonder whether other Stockleys are related in some way.

  45. Moira Allen permalink
    April 10, 2011

    What an amazing collection! I expect to spend some long hours reading these stories.

  46. April 10, 2011

    Oh, good. Insight into a far different and probably better culture than Alaska, (we have culture?), written by an articulate, observant person. What better way to live in a city without having to give up my magnificent mountains and large mammals? Thank you.

  47. April 12, 2011

    I am so pleased to have found your blog, every word rings true.

  48. Hex permalink
    April 14, 2011

    Gentle author,
    I live on the other side of the world, I might never make it to London (but it is, and always has been a dream of mine to do) reading this blog has made me intensely happy. Every time I read a new post it makes me want to travel more than ever, and in doing so encourages me to work towards my dream.

  49. jen permalink
    April 14, 2011

    beautiful writing. thanks for sharing your big and small thoughts and walks.

  50. April 26, 2011

    From the bottom of my heart – Thank You for this wonderful site and your passion for a story well told.

  51. Vicky permalink
    May 13, 2011

    What a wonderful writer our Gentle Author is! I’m new to this blog but am catching up fast; I could read this all day and get nothing else done. A poet, a lyricist, a wordsmith. A delighter of man. We lucky readers are the privileged few. I’ll be there to the end.

  52. May 26, 2011

    An incredible website. You clearly put a lot of effort into your articles and it really makes a difference to read something so well written and researched. Whenever I see my mum she often says excitedly, “have you seen Spitalfields Life today?!!” and tells me all about it if I haven’t had time to check my rss reader – she looks forward to her daily emails. Excellent job, keep up the fantastic work.

  53. Jackie Siess permalink
    July 3, 2011

    Dear Gentle Author, it is always such a delight to receive your e-mail every day. I don`t always read your blogs straight away but often leave them to savour later…..a little bit of East London in the Tirolean Alps.

  54. Paul permalink
    July 14, 2011

    Just a quick note to say that the Latin for ‘we are shadows’ would be ‘umbrae sumus‘. Umbra sumus‘ is actually part of a quotation from Horace: Pulvis et umbra sumus – ‘we are [but] dust and shadow’ (Diffugere Nives, [‘The Snows Have Fled’] Odes: Book IV.vii, line 16). Having said all that, it’s only fair to mention that A E Housman, who thought this the most beautiful poem in classical literature, renders Pulvis et umbra sumus as: ‘We are dust and dreams.’

  55. Ruth permalink
    July 18, 2011

    Fabulous blog, always fascinating. A daily treat when I get up to see what you’ve written about this time. Won’t you publish a book? There’s a publishing company in Fournier St, Elephant Books.

  56. Sally Baldwin permalink
    July 21, 2011

    What a miraculous find!
    I’m starting at the beginning and catching up.
    I’ll be 100 years old in February 2037; I wonder if I’ll miss any final chapters?
    Thank you for this gift to the world.

    Belfast, Maine, USA

  57. Racheal permalink
    July 22, 2011

    Loving this concept. It reminds me to open my eyes to the world around me and that everyone and everything has a unique story. Its too easy to journey through life not noticing what is happening around us and your stories have inspired me to slow down and wonder more about the life around me. I look forward to the coming years.

  58. July 27, 2011

    What a wonderful blog, Gentle Author, it’s been a delight to find you.

    I wonder, do you know Thomas Hawk? he is doing something similar taking the most wonderful pictures around his home town of San Francisco. You two should meet!

    Thank you for breathing such depth of feeling into this blog. Your artistry becomes both you and the special place you live in.

  59. Bigbri permalink
    July 29, 2011

    O de li altri poeti onore e lume,
    vagliami ’l lungo studio e ’l grande amore
    che m’ha fatto cercar lo tuo volume

  60. Itziar Urrutia permalink
    August 18, 2011

    Thanks for the effort, creative and energy that goes into each blog entry. I’ve been enjoying discovering Spitalfields and the East End through your eyes and words enormously, despite having lived here for over 15 years and being fond of going on my own wanderings and discoveries. Thanks for Spitalfields Life!

  61. roger pettet permalink
    August 23, 2011

    Thank you for the continued daily pleasure that you give me.

  62. August 26, 2011

    Dear Gentle Author,
    you are my find of the year. I love your generosity and curiosity. What a project you have there. I can understand your infatuation with London. When my parents first moved to London in the early 1960’s, my father customised his bicycle by adding a child seat on the front of his bike. At weekends he would take us children in turn to explore London, all it’s nooks and crannies. As bored teenagers on a Sunday, when everything used to be shut, my brother and myself used to get on any bus and go to the end of the route. We would then find our way home without a map, winding our way through London, across the river and back to Brixton. This is how we found that the only cafe open for miles was The Dunkin’ Donut on Blackfriars Bridge, where we would invariably stop for refreshments.

  63. Ree permalink
    September 4, 2011

    This looks like it’s going to be a continual fun read with “Spitalfields Life”…Glad I found it today…Look forward to reading all the old posts and the future posts to come…I am SOOOOO jealous of those who get to live in MY LONDON…I’ve visited several times and look forward to more visits…Until I win the lottery and move to London to stay…Thank you Gentle Author…

  64. Lorraine permalink
    September 9, 2011

    Dear Gentle Author,

    Thank you for taking the train to forgotten Walton. Only ninety minutes as you say from London and yet worlds apart. Only a stones throw from the renowned Frinton on Sea and its well publicised “gates.” You have sypathetically touched on some of the many attributes of our little town.
    Many travel from London to the beautiful and famous Brighton, but forgotten Walton has some of the most beautiful and clean sandy beaches in the country.
    We are so glad that you found us and enjoyed your day.
    Come back again soon.

  65. Avis Judd permalink
    September 10, 2011

    I have just stumbled on this blog, it is just wonderful! I lived yards from Columbia Rd from 1985 to 2005. I moved there not knowing the flower market was so near, until I got up on my first morning in my new home and went foraging for milk and papers and thought ‘what’s that noise?’ and there it was. I still live nearby. Many of the places mentioned I know, I even know some of the people featured. This blog is a work of love and simply wonderful, keep up the good work. Wish I could take photographs that are nearly as good.

  66. October 7, 2011

    I love Spitalfields having lived around the corner off Bethnal Green Road over 8 years ago. You make the place come alive – a truly gorgeous blog.

    Thank you and I’ll keep reading

  67. Annie permalink
    November 12, 2011

    You and your blog are a panacea for all ills, the philospher’s stone, the elixir of life.
    When life seems a bit much, a stroll down the city streets with you fixes it.

  68. Irene permalink
    November 17, 2011

    I have just discovered your blog and am delighted to have done so. I am a Londoner but left the city for the countryside 35 years ago and miss its buzz. I am also an auto/biographer and oral historian and your daily blog is fascinating in that respect. All those lives recorded. I love it.

  69. January 4, 2012

    As a man Shoreditch-born who has gone sour on the Hoxton of his youth in recent (faddish and fashonable) years you might just sweeten me back up. Ta.

  70. January 10, 2012

    Spitalfields Life has changed my breakfast routine. Instead of the newspaper that rendered me simmering but helpless, I am now transported each morning to a place where history both recent and ancient lives and breathes, and that, gentle author, leaves me inspired. Thank you.

  71. Angela permalink
    January 12, 2012

    Dear Gentle Author,

    Thank you so much for sharing your beautiful images and words each day. It is a joy to read each day and “visit” these fascinating people and places that I hope to do in actuality one day. I look forward to the release of your much anticipated book. Have a lovely day from Detroit!


  72. paul lucas permalink
    January 22, 2012

    As a resident of Spitalfields, thank you so much for your work on this website. Your work as an historian is immeasurable. Eagerly awaiting the book.

  73. Stuart Salmon permalink
    March 3, 2012

    I unearthed a single copy of the treasure that is Spitalfields Life in the Southend-on-Sea branch of T. K.Maxx for only £9-99. Without the money to buy it there and then, I hid the book behind larger designer cookery and travel books. Having to suppress my eager anticipation and fear of losing it, I had to wait almost a week before I could recover the volume from the safety of its hiding place and gorge on its contents.

    Markets are the street theatre of retail and independent / family traders are the more human face of commerce. Thank you for reminding us what we have lost and must strive to protect.

  74. Alexandra Mann permalink
    March 6, 2012

    I live in a little town in Australia, and was sent a link to you, by a friend in London.
    I look forward to checking my email each day, and reading your words and hearing
    your stories. It keeps me linked in to London, which I left 30 years ago. I would love
    have been at the book launch. It looks like it was a wonderful evening, filled with all
    those amazing people. Please don’t stop writing………… thank you.

  75. Ron Pummell permalink
    March 7, 2012

    Good Morning Gentle Author.
    I have enjoyed reading and making minor contributions to your site for about 2 years now but it is only today that I have read for the first time the messages shown above. You should be very pleased with yourself for the pleasure that you have given around the world.
    I also send greetings from my friend Mr. Max Lea MBE.

  76. March 15, 2012

    I saw your book in a window last week and was delighted by it. After doing a little research, I found your blog. Delightful!

  77. Eva permalink
    March 21, 2012

    I’m so happy I found your blog! One of my first jobs as a young engineer back at the tail end of the 1980s was the masterplanning for the redevelopment of Spitalfields Market. Back then it was the point where the old East End met the new brash city, and it was then that I fell in love with the area. I was broken hearted at the idea of the market being razed to the ground and replaced by the extension of the Broadgate buildings and ashamed of the role we were playing in it. Thankfully the plans ended up being toned down and thanks to your blog I’m delighted to see that the glorious and messy web of human relationships is still there. I can’t wait to work my way through your posts. Thank you.

  78. March 21, 2012

    I sense an immediate connection: I lived in and around Bethnal Green for over 15 years. Spitalfields and its wondrous characters thread in and out of my memories. I sensed that same vibrancy. I now write from Uganda, the Pearl of Africa, and I am similarly entranced.
    Churchill himself wrote: “Uganda is alive by itself. It is vital …”

  79. Nome De Plume permalink
    March 21, 2012

    Dear Gentle Author:

    Reading your words brought great joy – thank you!

  80. jiecin manadero permalink
    March 31, 2012

    Love to read all your story and achievements.

  81. charlesdickenslondon permalink
    April 22, 2012

    What a fascinating website good sir! Researching further for my Talks about the one and only Charles Dickens, I stumbled upon this delightful font of knowledge and experience. I am taking the liberty of referring to your site on my blog, for others to share, and look forward to visiting regularly. Marvellous, marvellous.

  82. Mary Bellingham permalink
    April 22, 2012

    Bless you for this blog. I may be a floating Angel by 2037, but soon as I arrive, I will join the army urging on the final publication of your completed Spitafields Life…

  83. Talitha permalink
    April 27, 2012

    I used to live at 79b Brick Lane and miss it very much, I have lived in many places and Brick Lane felt like home. I am a silk weaver so this may be why. I saw the article about this site in The Guardian and am hooked. Thank you Gentle Author XX

  84. Carole permalink
    May 1, 2012

    Your emails brighten up my day! I never know what to expect but they are all fascinating.

  85. Sarah Catterall nee ( Hooper -Gilvear) permalink
    May 1, 2012

    Dear Gentle Author ,
    I was brought to your blog last year by the article regarding Stanley Rondeau and the Heugenots . I am related to the Rondeaus and your article uncovered a wealth of information previously unbeknown to me and for that I thank you greatly.
    I now have another mystery to solve . My ancestor was one Benjamin Hooper who married Elizabeth Rondeau they had 13 children ( and Im still discovering more ) Their addressess are stated as Red Lion Court and Paternoster Row. I believe these to be between Brick Lane and Fleet Street.They were married at Christchurch Spitalfields and all their children were baptised there. His occupation was an Apothecary Chemist, The Royal Society does not have a record of him however I am keen to trace some information about him his family and his business as I am uncovering information about other Hoopers such as Hoopers Pills and a Joseph Hooper as on who was an apothecary chemist . I wonder if Culpepper was an apprentice of his and I know one of his sons was a Ships Surgeon. Any information gratefully received
    best regards
    Sarah Catterall

  86. Giuseppe Marini permalink
    May 15, 2012

    Carissimo Gentle Author,
    per un italiano amante dell’Inghilterra il Suo blog è un’occasione unica per approfondire la conoscenza di una piccola ma affascinante porzione del suo affascinante Paese.
    Grazie del Suo quotidiano lavoro, veramente pregevole nei testi e nelle foto

  87. Trish Urquhart permalink
    May 23, 2012

    I have just come across your blog (and most fabulous project) by way of the interview with Tim and the poster image on flickr. The joys of the internet – makes my heart sing. Thank you

  88. sigrid permalink
    June 11, 2012

    Love to read your stories – i hope till 2037.
    I´m from Austria and a great London fan.
    So, keep on writing and Thank you

  89. June 14, 2012

    found your page via retronaunt – what a wonderful site. thank you!

  90. isabella permalink
    June 18, 2012

    Thank you for this delightful blog I love the stories and enjoy the black and white photos.I love London and your blogs are a treat I am enchanted.

  91. Ruh Al-Alam permalink
    June 24, 2012

    As a local Spitalfieldian over at Folgate Street, I absolutely love this blog, will surely buy the map and book. Well done and keep it up. So much history, cultures and stories, simply captivating.

  92. June 26, 2012

    A truly superb website you have going here……

    I found you by accident…….what a stroke of luck…!!!

    Many names and faces I know from being a born and bred Shoreditch boy.

    Please feel free to get in touch if you need some future material I’d be only to pleased to help.

  93. July 5, 2012

    Gentle Author, I had a surreal few minutes in beautiful Christchurch church on Tuesday listening to a wonderful young pianist who had apparently “wandered in from the street”. This young fellow played the most hauntingly beautiful piece of classical music which had several people enthralled. Those who, like me, had wandered in to admire the lovely church interior sat in a pew and listened, and even gave him a round of applause as he got up and casually wandered back out onto the street. I e-mailed the church website, but they don’t know him either. I thought of you immediately, I really hope you read this e-mail as I’m sure there is a story in there somewhere! His photo is on my Deviant Art gallery.

  94. July 15, 2012

    Found you in the recent issue of “World of Interiors”. Looking forward to learning more. Are Hugenot silk weavers still a force in the neighborhood?

    Yours from Nagles’ Addition in Seattle,


  95. leonie vingoe permalink
    August 24, 2012

    Dear Gentle Author
    Thank you for enveloping me in to a world of graciousness,timelessness and impeccability .I love how your pen and photographs colour,expand and still my world .whether drifts of bluebells or chefs from brick lane.
    Warm regards

  96. Jake Seaman permalink
    August 28, 2012

    Never stop writing and I will never stop reading………….thank you.

  97. September 5, 2012

    I regularly enjoy reading through your articles. I have been reading through this blog every chance I get. Thanks for the effort you put in. Cheers!

  98. Gerard permalink
    September 15, 2012

    Dear GA,

    I came across your site as a result of googling ‘London street cries’ and was immediately captivated by the blend of images, graphics and words. It is entrancing. I’m born and bred in Melbourne, Australia, but have always felt like a Londoner in exile. Your words and images conjure precisely what London means to me. Warmest regards,

  99. Hannah permalink
    September 23, 2012

    Dear Gentle Author,

    I received your book yesterday as a birthday gift from my children. I read your blog, if not every day, as many times during the week as I can and often mention posts I have enjoyed.

    I am thrilled to now have your splendid book and especially pleased that one of my very favourite blog posts is in there: the one about your quilt. It moved me to tears when I first read it and your description of your childhood and thoughts of your parents still touch me now.

    Thank-you for everything you do to enrich and edify the lives of your readers, I feel very fortunate to be one of them.

    with very best wishes,

  100. David Whittaker permalink
    October 18, 2012

    Wonderful site…so interesting.

  101. October 24, 2012

    How lucky for me that I accidentally stumbled across your marvelous site this past weekend!
    I’ve enjoyed strolling through Spitafield several times during my travels, and your stories remind me of the memories I made while I was there.
    Thank you for that!

  102. November 1, 2012

    Dear Gentle Author

    I can’t begin to express my feelings and appreciation of your wonderful photo’s and discriptions of this part of London, it fills my imagination with longing to return to my true spiritual home (I had to leave 7 years ago)
    My yearnings to again be one with the dear old city is great indeed, until that day comes, your wonderful and generous blogs, given freely for so many to enjoy is indeed a true labour of love, long may you continue to inspire and inform your readers of the area’s rich history.
    I feel really fortunate to have stumbled accross your website a year ago, so full of many wonderous stories of ‘the times’.

    sincere heartfelt thanks


  103. November 6, 2012

    Hi there, love all this my friend in Chicago put me on to this. I wondered if you heard of “the Vesta Tilly ” which was a drinking club in Spitalfields must be 70’s or 80’s, he was a loveable rogue called Johnny Bear. Best wishes RM

  104. George Lloyd permalink
    November 7, 2012

    Having lived in Whitechapel and Bow for a period of my life,when my environment was of secondary importance,despite an acute awareness of the “living history”surrounding me,your “Work”serves to emphasise how for granted I took thing then.

  105. November 24, 2012

    Hi there Gentle Author
    I feel moved to write since reading your post today 22nd November on the streets of Old London. I was born and have lived most of the past half century in Stepney. I love this area of London – its speaks to me and I am aware, like you of the layers of generations and past lives that have inhabitated the streets.
    I love the layers of grim, the closeness of buildings, the tooth by jowl proximity of different cultures and the stories of past generations that are but a scratch under the surface.
    I am also very proud of my East End heritage, not wanting to have come from a rich, privileged or honoured background, but happy with my honest, working class predecessors.
    Thank you for this vivid post, i recognise almost every scene – your blog brings these people’s existence alive again and us lucky people to have chanced on this portal should be less enriched without you. Keep writing 🙂

  106. Amoret Tanner permalink
    January 21, 2013

    Dear, dear gentle author – However depressing life and the world may be, your daily posting puts it all into happy perspective – may it continue like this until 2037

  107. Liz St.John permalink
    January 27, 2013

    My apologies for coming in your back door when I was looking for a map of old Hackney – but now I’ve make myself comfortable in your front room. Thank you for such an intriguing site. I meant to stay just a few minutes, but…my research today has been blown off course as I enjoy your stories. Best wishes!

  108. February 19, 2013

    Dear Gentle Author,

    I am your Brazilian reader, but maybe not the only one in this part of the planet. Though I lived in the Marble Arch area from 1994 to 1998, and then again from 2003 to 2006, I enjoyed going to Spitalfields, mainly in the weekends. I had long walks around by the main historical and not so historical places in East End. Your blog helps me a lot to know more about London life and its real characters. I found very moving descriptions of people who are in fact quite interesting and would remain anonymous if you had not spotted them. I don´t see anonymity as a problem, but your blog simply shows me the diversity and depth of everyday life. Thanks a lot for your time and journalistic talent. I will be following you until 2037.

  109. Misty Poss permalink
    February 27, 2013

    I recently received my copy of The Book in the mail, here in the middle of Tennessee. I just wanted to let you know that it is already my favorite possession and has traveled side by side with me throughout every day since. Your website nourishes me, I sink into it after a long day and it takes me to a special place…I want to just LIVE inside of it. Now I can carry it around with me. 🙂 I’ll be in London on my honeymoon in September, and have made special concession to visit the Antiques Market…I can’t wait. Maybe I’ll walk by you and not know it…

  110. Shelley Skrepnek permalink
    March 7, 2013

    Somehow I surfed in here while checking out Henry Walpole from p 325 of Nigel Jones’ “Tower An Epic History of the Tower of London.” There’s not much an Albertan has in common with Spitalfields but I could visit England vicariously through your blog. My great grandmother came to Canada from Durham via Scotland as a home child.

  111. Irene Manners permalink
    April 22, 2013

    I am thoroughly enjoying your book and believe my mother should be part of it. Briefly she was born in Spitalfields in 1920, the seventh daughter (no sons) of Isaac and Hannah Levy. She spent the first 35 years living ‘down the lane’ and then moved to Whitechapel. She now, aged 92, lives in Bow. If your are interested in my mum’s stories, of which there are many, please contact me.

  112. Jeff Skinner permalink
    April 22, 2013


    It is with no small amout of delight that I discovered your website during a moment’s idleness at work, and I am writing in the hope that you might be able to shed some more light on the details of my Spitalfields ancestors’ lives.

    I found through a recently published book, “American Phoenix” by Sarah S. Kilborne (my fourth cousin through the same ancestors) that the Skinner family had its origins in a silkweaving family who lived in Spitalfields in the 1820s and 1830s. The original Skinners, John and Sarah (née Hollins) were married in St. Leonard’s Shoreditch in June or July 1820. Among their children were three brothers – William, Thomas, and George B. – who emigrated to America in the 1840s. William went on to found and operate what would become one of the world’s largest manufacturers of silk goods in the 19th and 20th centuries; his brother Thomas (my great-great-grandfather) worked for him as the master dyer.

    If you have the opportunity and the inclination, any information you might be able to find on these three brothers, or their siblings, or the family in general, would be warmly welcomed.

    Thank you for your thoughtful and informative look back on the life and times of this corner of London. I look forward to browsing your site over the coming weeks.

  113. heather jones permalink
    May 26, 2013

    Have just come across this blog having read about Jocasta Innes in the Times this weekend . I live in Wales miles from a city and am interested in London. Thank you for a great blog

  114. Rosemary Hoffman permalink
    May 28, 2013

    My ancestors lived in Gun Steet and also in Brick Lane where my Gt Gt Gt grandfather had a glass warehouse. I lived briefly in Sptalfields in the 1950s, when my parents managed a pub.

  115. June 17, 2013

    The Gentle Author

    Although I know not of your name and even less if you have fame.
    The characters of the End End are a plentiful and varied.
    The pen it thrills with such delight, the mind it race at torments night.
    Oh gentle author you are a one, for you the word is like the sun, fired and flared, the imagination. For some it is just a wonderful read, to others it is a need to tell their story far and wide. No one exempt from their tale to tell. A history, a living hell, a nightmare or a journey fair. You had a dream of one day past, a story to tell that forever would last. Your pen, your mind, a tribute send. Oh gentle author indeed a friend.

    The Cockney Bard

  116. Jasper permalink
    June 20, 2013

    Dear gentle author

    What a fantastic website -fascinating, useful and credible. A very valuable piece of work.

    I wonder if you might be able to assist? I am trying to investigate ways of preserving Canalside Studios -a rather beautiful red, black and white building overlooking the Regent’s canal (south side) on Orsman road. Doubtless you will have seen how the rest of the canal has been rapaciously developed over the years. This is practically the last remaining original building on this stretch. It also has a vibrant , diverse and passionately local community. Sadly it also now has a greedy, insensitive and bullying landlord/owner who would ideally like to demolish the site but in the meantime is exploiting current high rents whilst allowing the building to slowly crumble. Any help or advice you can offer would be greatly appreciated.

    With kind regards


  117. Maria permalink
    August 4, 2013

    I feel I could look at this site forever, I never seem to tire of it. Thank you for enriching my mind.

  118. manolo permalink
    August 18, 2013

    Its seems as Umbra Sumus is part of another quote from Horace in his Odes:

    Pulvis et umbra sumus: We are but dust and shadow.

    Well, kind of dark meaning…Yes, our lives may look as such if we do not make them worth living…Like the lotus flower, we must overcome the mud of our lower emotions and mental self inflicted tortures and become mature spiritual beings…

    Thanks for mentioning this quote, it really has brought me some hope, light and peace when reflecting on it.

    All the very best to all in here!

  119. Swift Nick permalink
    August 19, 2013

    Dear Gentle Author,

    You write with great humanity and a profound understanding of the fabric of the community, both historic and current. There is a gentle eloquence that permeates your prose which slowly and systemically saturates the reader’s senses and stirs their spirit

    This is a rare gift indeed

    Thank you

  120. beth mcgowan permalink
    September 11, 2013

    Thank you so much for your fantastic web site! I was browsing the web the other day and happened upon it and was simply thrilled. I have traced my Fossey relatives back to the 1700’s, most of whom lived in the Tower Hamlets area for many, many years. Your site provides me with the opportunity to view their neighborhoods and important landmarks as they were then.

    What a jewel you have created!

  121. james miller permalink
    October 18, 2013

    Your blog is wonderful, I’m always impressed by the content and photography, but even more so by your choice of topics! Thank you.

  122. Christine Francis permalink
    October 25, 2013

    I think Spitalfields Life is absolutely brilliant! As a regular visitor to London from Derbyshire it gives me a real insight into Spitalfields life.

    Carry on the great work and THANK YOU!!!!!

  123. C.Band permalink
    November 2, 2013

    Came across the book “Spitalfields Life” and was fascinated. When in London in October I simply had to visit Spitalfields and some of the wonderful places “The Gentle Author” described. Now I regularly read the blog and love it!

  124. November 28, 2013

    Your blog is an inspiration to find interesting topics about which to write well. I’m so impressed by every aspect of it.

  125. Paul-o from Port Adelaide permalink
    December 10, 2013

    Dear Gentle Author,

    I recently discovered that my great x 6 grandfather was a blacksmith in Spitalfields who ended up dying in the Christ Church parish workhouse in 1808. Subsequent families lived in Shoreditch before my great x 3 grandfather became a child sailor and jumped ship here in Port Adelaide in 1854 at the age of 14.

    As such, I am a descendent of the Spitalfields diaspora.

    I wonder is there a person in Spitalfields, possibly even from Christ Church, who deals with enquiries from people such as me who are trying to find out information about their ancestors who were in the local workhouses. I understand there were a few in the area. Could you take us into the archives? Where were the workhouses? Does anything remain of them now? Do many people seek to find out what happened? What records are there? If I travelled to Spitalfields in the future is there a way for people like me to research those details? What might I discover?

    With regard to Shoreditch I am fascinated by the fact that it was a rival to the West End theatre district in the Victorian era. Is there someone who is expert on that era who has stories to tell about the theatre district, the types of shows they had and why it fell into decline?

    Information on these two issues would be much appreciated.

    Thanks and best wishes…

  126. Melanie Gadsdon permalink
    December 20, 2013

    Dear Gentle Author
    I want to thank you so much for writing about Peter Gadsdon and his article on The Gadsdons. You have made it so interesting and fascinating. Your website Spitalfields Life is excellent and so many facets to the social history. It is nearly always the people that make history so fascinating that everyone who is interested in this website wants to know more You write beautifully and almost poetically. Like you I have also got a passion for salt glazed pottery and I have got one, a Doulton blue bowl with very strange markings round the rim and rather curious because I don’t know what they are meant to be. I have tried to find the bowl in books but I can’t find it anywhere.
    Kind regards
    Melanie Gadsdon (Peter’s wife)

  127. Elaine thaddeus permalink
    December 31, 2013

    Hello Gentle Author
    I’m really enjoying your fascinating facts about Spitalfields – in fact, I’ve just sent off for the ‘Spitalfields Life’ book and I’m look forward to reading it when it arrives in a few days time.

    I love the history of London, and have a particular interest in your subject as we are related! I remember your dear mum, (great) Aunt Ada well – she celebrated many a Christmas with us at 168, being my nan’s sister. I often heard her mention Wag, but never met him, so it was good to put a face to the name when I saw his photographs here.
    My dad (Leslie) was your cousin (we did meet briefly when you came to his funeral in 1991)- I’m so pleased that you have created such a wonderful record of the family and the area- my dad would have enjoyed seeing all that you have written. My brother who lives in London got a copy of Spitalfield’s life for Christmas, which I know he will love.

    Keep up the good work Gentle Author.

  128. January 25, 2014

    Oh Gentle author. How I’ve loved sitting here in Northcote, Victoria, Australia and reading your beautifully written posts.
    I left England December 2012 after living there happily with my husband Richard (now deceased) for 10 years. Though I lived in a tiny village in Norfolk, your writing reminds me of all I loved about England. People in Australia often ask why I loved living there …. I’ll now direct them to your blog.
    It’s a large task you’ve set yourself to write every day, as you never seem to cut corners on the research. So take heart & keep up this wonderful work.
    Your ever-reading friend in Northcote.

  129. Wayne permalink
    January 28, 2014

    Dear Gentle Author

    You make my day I love reading all your posts
    Your warmth and commitment take me away from daily life
    Please keep writing and sharing all your treasures with us
    This is such a beautiful site and As I read your readers comments I can tell that they feel the same as I
    Thank you so much


  130. Mark C. permalink
    January 30, 2014

    I’m not sure HOW I stumbled across your site, but in my crossreferencing sites, came in the door, and am delighted with what I’ve read so far. I, too, am half a world away in South Central Tennessee, USA, and being allowed to walk through the streets of Old London has been an eye opener. Thank you for sharing your world with us out here in the ‘hinderlands’. I have enjoyed my stay so far.

  131. Trisha permalink
    February 3, 2014

    Gentle Author,
    I am one of your gentle readers, someone who begins each day here in Oregon, Wisconsin by checking out your site. It has been a constant source of delight meeting the many fascinating people you have introduced me to and making my way through the streets and shops of London. In fact I have become so “homesick” for the people and places you’ve written about that I am determined to plan a trip to London sometime this year just to experience some of your wonderful world for myself. …. and to purchase some of your books!

  132. April 21, 2014

    I was trying to find out if Syds coffee stall was still open as I have never seen it open as yet.That’s how I came across your blog and what a delight it was!

    I don’t know your age but you write as someone who seems very comfortable with life.Maybe its the title of your blog!

    Anyway,Keep writing and blogging……….. thank you

  133. Pauline Taylor permalink
    May 11, 2014

    Well, what can I say, I agree with every word written here, this is the most fantastic and interesting site, so well done gentle author, long may you continue to write all these fascinating articles. I would find it all a treat even if I did not have such strong family connections with the East End and even more with London in general, from an ancestor who was a waterman on the Archbishop’s barge at Lambeth, one who left so much money that his ‘poor relatives’ can still claim a pension after more the 300 years, and even one, who if I am right, was Handel’s favourite tenor and the manager of Covent Garden. With many others who were shipwrights, mariners and ferrymen I sometimes think that I may have Thames water mixed with blood in my veins, I know for sure that a love of London history is certainly there so thank you again for all that you are doing to add to my knowledge. Keep up the good work.


  134. May 30, 2014

    I came across your website purely by accident. I was trying to research life in Chelsea around 1910 so I could get an impression of what life was like as I attempt to start writing my family history. So thank you for all those photo’s they really have helped paint a picture. I look forward to following your posts in the future.

  135. Jessica permalink
    July 1, 2014

    What a delightful find on my Tuesday afternoon. I hope I am here in 2037 to enjoy this…

    Could you please do a piece on the Roebuck Pub on Great Dover Street? I would love that.

  136. July 4, 2014

    What a wonderful story and how wonderful the pictures are. I am so impressed, both by the the look and stare of the children in Horace Warner’s portraits, but also by your blog and method. I would love to make something similar one day in my city, Stockholm.

  137. July 14, 2014

    I chanced here via some background research, as I am just starting to read the draft autobiography of a Cockney who once lived in Prince’s Square, before it became Swedenborg Square.

    It looks to be an interesting read, as is your site. Thank you!

  138. barry permalink
    July 15, 2014

    My nan was born in whitechaple infirmary 1884 when my g-nan registered her 3days later the address was 55 Flower and Dean Street I have just found this site .

  139. Anne permalink
    July 31, 2014

    Thank you Gentle Author! I am reading WG Sebald’s Austerlitz and he mentions “the opening lines of one of my favorite poems…And so I long for snow to sweep across the low heights of London…” When I did a search your site popped up, with article about the fascinating Stephen Watts. I have saved the text for my book club and am signing up for your daily letter. Thanks again from Sweden, Anne

  140. August 3, 2014

    Dear Gentle Author,

    I faithfully read your miraculous blog … each one gently shepherds me through a looking-glass into another world across the vast sea and into a culture I fondly recall from a long-ago journey to Hampstead Heath and round about London. I am so grateful to you for your singular aesthetic consciousness and your desire to share with so many across the planet.

    Wonder if I am the only one from Mississippi, USA who escapes into your beautiful world?

  141. Spence permalink
    September 17, 2014

    Read every blog, love’m, Have ordered my tickets for the Nippers!

  142. William permalink
    September 25, 2014

    Dear Gentle Author

    I have only just come across your very interesting website via your piece, written some time ago, about Edward Greenfield. I live in Oxford and so also enjoyed your article about the West London Stables (though was sad to read of its impending forced closure unless the local council sees sense).

    I salute your discipline in promising to write an item each day and will visit ‘Spitalfields Life’ regularly from now on!

    With best regards, and all power to your typing!


  143. Carrie Reid permalink
    October 5, 2014

    Dear Gentle Author,
    I absolutely love this site. It is inspiring me to want to write the stories of the families who lived in this area in the 18th Century. Imagine the situation Lydia Coppendale was plunged into, as heavily pregnant with her 3rd child, having lost the first child and her young son only 1 year old, her business[owning husband William, lay dying at the age of 33 in 1763. Real people who lived and ran businesses in White Lion Yard, Blossom St and Norton Folgate from early 1700’s to about 1795.

  144. Pandora permalink
    December 8, 2014

    I have always been aware of the fact that if London was a person, I’d dream of a secret romance. Reading your stories shows so many facets of this beautiful old town – I’m falling in love over and over again with. Thank you very much – but also thank you C.H. for introducing me to this wonderful piece of literature. I’m looking forward to 2037 and at least 10,000 more entries to come ….

  145. Deb Donnelly permalink
    January 5, 2015

    I love the wonderful old photos, especially the ones of Bishopsgate in the 1850s. I am writing a family history for my children. Some of our ancestors lived on Bishopsgate in the 1850s and your pictures from this period help us to imagine what their lives were like. I am wondering how I can go about getting permission to include a few of them in my family history? I don’t see any copyright notices and will credit your website, but I want to make sure I have your permission to use them. Thank you very much for the wonderful work.

  146. Vicki Lovell permalink
    March 14, 2015

    After coming across your blog, whilst writing some of my father’s side Kentish family history from 1839 here in Australia, (in a very sad blog compared to your own wonderful work), I subscribed to your blog, and now everytime I get the email to say there is another post, I end up spending hours digging back into your archives. And now, I find you yourself have written a book The Album, which I must add to my collection, in memory of my East End London ancestors. My great great grandfather (who no one seems to know what became of him here in Australia! but after he had assisted in producing my grandfather), and my own grandfather, mum’s dad, (and mum’s mum died when she was young, ) had collected letters and bits from family in East End apparently. However when she passed away grandpa remarried and the horrible woman apparently burnt her predecessor’s letters. So sadly I have no personal memorabilia from those hearty souls who resided there since 1802. Visiting London in 2008 I sadly did not get to see much of the East End so my goal must be to make it back there and stroll, and ooh and ahh and research and just enjoy. Your blog, and again, as the family resided Spitalfields, takes me on the journey I failed to make in 2008, and for that I am eternally grateful. I love your blog and the life and atmosphere that seems to preside over the East End is surely a testament to those who went before, and toiled. If only they could see what happens there now….what a wonderful story you weave. Thank you.

  147. Denise Bryant permalink
    March 18, 2015

    Dear and Gentle Author,

    I treasure your deep compassion and concern for all that had made London an astonishing
    city and gentle place to live and flourish. It must be protected with hoops of steel from the
    always restless hands of greed and corporate power.
    I remember long ago being driven through Spitalfields and Hampstead Heath well before dawn
    and the air was ice and bit at my cheeks and I have never felt so alive . I watched as
    golden lights punched the darkness through not yet drawn curtains and flickered through
    the hedgerows only seen in this city .
    Spitalfields is a national treasure and the depth of its history and each and every life touched
    by its wise experience is to be protected as it is now and forevermore.
    Never allow such profound history to be stolen from you …
    My city is now hideous and unrecognisable . History bulldozed for the erection of visual
    and cheap ugliness which is all that empty and greedy men can see as there are aspirations
    are dust. And so many people displaced.
    I will return to live in this most beautiful and accepting of cities .

    And , after the loss of history and beauty …

    ” What is there now but a vast shambles of the heart?
    Filth, squalor, and a world of little men .”
    Mr Peake

    You are standing on the right side of history .
    I shall spread your words .

  148. Lucy Woodbridge permalink
    April 23, 2015


    Thank you so much for your commitment to this beautiful blog – I really love reading your posts! As part of my final project for University, I am creating a film on the history of Spitalfields, and would love the chance to interview sometime if you are available?

    Thank you so much again, I look forward to the future posts!

  149. Justin Oh permalink
    June 27, 2015

    Got acquainted with TGA via Paul at Gardners’
    yesterday. Lovely!!! Warms the cockles……..
    Was ejected from Spitalfields 20 years ago,
    sort of getting back on my feet,
    occasional visit but nothing more, perhaps a
    samosa and bagel or two? And bits of textiles.
    Friday first contact after 2 decades, Paul and
    finds your blog!
    Needless to say, much has changed.
    Bring on 2037+++ I say!!!
    Thank you.
    Thanks Paul, at Gardners’

  150. Bernadette Hancock permalink
    June 29, 2015

    Love the blog.
    The ‘In the midst of life ……’ quote – where/who is it from?

  151. Jenny Sternling permalink
    August 4, 2015

    Dear Gentle Author,
    Thank you for this amazing and wonderful site and for your efforts to protect the buildings that adjoined The Pavilion Theatre in Whitechapel. I visited that spot last week as part of a (theatre history) research trip from far away Idaho in the USA. I was overjoyed to see that the area is being preserved – thanks in no small part to your efforts. Well done!

  152. Kendra Natoli permalink
    October 23, 2015

    Gentle Author,

    I’ve been following your blog for years, I echo what so many others have said (esp. what Beth Henley said in Oct. 2009 (quoting above): Beth Henley permalink

    October 25, 2009

    I love you gentle author. I read Spitalfields Life when my heart is worn. It makes me think of you and how remarkable the beauty. 2037 indeed. Hope I’m here.
    I lived a year in London 1978/79 and didn’t want to leave. I’ve only been back once (1997). Am pining to go back, this time with my husband. I thank you enormously for this gift of love and life you provide!! Each one is a treasure, and, you are doing a service, preserving history, time, and educating people!! (and reminding us of our commonality and humanity). Today’s post on Ancient Graffiti in the Tower was so compelling, I forwarded it onto my three NON-Anglophile, sports loving brothers, believing it’d help them get some perspective on life!
    I have also loved every post about Rodney Archer, who I had the distinct pleasure of studying with during my year in London.
    Bravo to you and thank you and look forward to reading many more of your wonderful posts in years to come. Take care!
    Ms. Kendra (U.S.A. east coast)

  153. November 22, 2015

    Wonderfully well written, this makes me feel more of a witness than a reader.

  154. December 11, 2015

    I am sure you’ve thought of this already but Flittner’s barbershop (86 Moorfields) is real bit of city life. It’s over 110 years old and the barbershop furniture, cabinets, sinks etc seem to date from the beginning of the 20thC. All of the barbers are “characters”. I always have my haircut there when in London- it’s a lost world of hot towels, cut-throat razors, talcum powder puffers, etc. It’s well worth a look.


  155. Shawdian permalink
    December 14, 2015

    From 2015 to 2016; may your writings flourish and be as intruiging as the very first year. Looking back, you are still as fresh as the day you started 🙂 How the years flash by… and
    “What Larks Lay Ahead”. My BIG THANK YOU & my HUG for Mr Pussy 🙂

  156. Jean Webster permalink
    January 8, 2016

    What an amazing challenge you have set yourself, Oh Gentle Author! Ambitious and brave and so original. Is anyone else doing something similar?

    Congratulations! Well done! 10 / 10.

    You are quite a find for me as I have started my journey as a blogger on 1st January 2016. I am setting it up as I write. It is more complicated than I thought BUT I have had some brilliant help already off virtual strangers. Such kindness from the blogging community is appreciated.

  157. Sarah Parry permalink
    February 21, 2016

    Dear Gentle Author: I have just found your website and blog having been directed there by St. Pauls and the wonderful blog you did on the needlepoint ladies.

    I am from Toronto, Canada ( with a British background) but I had always heard about the “East End” and that it was not such a great part of London.

    However, when my daughter moved to London to attend law school, she ended up living in the Nido residence in Spitalfields. I had not realized how vibrant and wonderful the East End is! She loves it and has since moved into an apartment there.

    I have browsed your website and love the stories you publish. I am looking forward to enjoying many more!

    Sarah Parry

  158. May 8, 2016

    hello gentle author
    i stumbled upon your site a year or so ago
    and now am so happy to be able to read about spitalfields
    and, especially, viscountess boudica.
    thank you for your wonderful site
    and may it continue for a long long time to come.
    [madison, wisconsin usa]

  159. Robert Spellman permalink
    May 10, 2016

    Dear gentle author, I think this a brilliant idea and the site is wonderful. I just want to tap your knowledge if I may. Looking at Christ Church from Crispin St there is an area of fenced off land and the facade a long building to the left of the church. Do you know what the facade is? And what was on that land? Many thanks.

  160. Diana Buck permalink
    August 14, 2016

    I look forward to your daily blog.
    Diana Buck

  161. john evans permalink
    October 20, 2016

    truly admire your work and have been passionately interested in the very same london you write about .. i used to live in brick lane with the head of a, very well known at the time, gang ( could write a very interesting book) … if you’re interested i have a very nice london fair wagon which was owned by Freddy Buckle who used to run a throwing the bottle stall from its side, the wagon was made in 1896 and is in a fully and sympathetically restored state, its quite big and spectacular but i have a vintage lorry to tow it with so could bring it to the east end or perhaps you would like some pictures to add to your works, the inside hasn’t changed for over a 100 years

    ps i used to be friends with mick taylor who’s in your book i notice .. currently trying to save the still and star pub in aldgate

  162. October 29, 2016

    You remind us all that the best things in life are free. To write, to walk, to dream, to imagine, to smile. Thank you. Peter.

  163. Steve permalink
    November 26, 2016

    Have just found your blog by accident, looking into some photos on a news webpage. Completely enthralled by the words, the photos and the atmosphere you create in your writing.
    Have subscribed. Look forward to more stories.

  164. Jenni G-L permalink
    December 5, 2016

    Thank you, Gentle Author! You are giving me a great deal of pleasure as am learning so much from you about my old haunts of many years ago.

  165. RENA COREY permalink
    January 17, 2017

    In the continuing search for more information about my family in Spitalfields in the 19th century,I was amazed to find,”In Dutch Tenterground”, August 10, 2014.Imagine: a map of the very streets on which they lived albeit a much later rendering. Can you tell me if the streets–not the buildings– in that area still exist?I have found Palmer but cannot find Freeman Street.Those are the addresses I have found for my great grandfather and grandfather in the 1871 and 1881 census records.
    Many thanks.

  166. John Daltrey permalink
    January 20, 2017

    Hello G.A.

    I have been reading your latest posting this morning which as always I enjoyed, its a great idea to try and save what we can. But what I wanted to say is Thank You, I don’t think I have ever done so. I have been reading your thoughts daily almost since the beginning and I find it almost impossible to say what it means to me. You are truly unique and I appreciate your writing so much.
    I was born and lived in Bethnal Green in 1944 until I married and moved in 1965. I do not live far from London and still visit London at least once a month and am still learning. Your daily writing and your determination to save what is left in this wonderful historic area means so much.
    So I thank you
    John Daltrey

  167. Lorraine Allen-Jones permalink
    February 1, 2017

    Hello G. A.

    Thank you so much for this wonderful blog.I, too, have stumbled upon it by accident. It has made my heart sing.

  168. June 6, 2017

    Love the blog, lived in UK for two years while completing my Masters of Ceramic Design degree. I am enjoying reading this great blog, which I came upon accidentally while researching the New Designers fair. Am enjoying it immensely. Thanks

  169. July 7, 2017

    Today, I am building a mythical museum, inspired by your daily blog. The structure, a rescued vintage building-slated-for-destruction, would house the regalia of the arcane businesses and noble trades that you have written about. There would be a vast central gallery/atrium where the truly-gigantic equipment/artifacts would be arranged — and then smaller galleries as well. One large room would be chock-full of old wooden cabinets and filing drawers, rescued from the various offices, garages, factories, and ship yards. Another room would have walls totally covered in documents…….hand bills, bills of lading, business cards, invoices, correspondence. Another would have all the specialized out-dated tools, gloves, ropes, straps, chains, etc. Another would be floor-to-ceiling shelves with ledger books, and (be still my heart) sample books, and sketch books with plans and diagrams. A library full of books about London. A vaulted gallery full of signs – large wooden outdoor signs, small signs and labels, hand-lettered signs, and scribbled signs, and weathered “remains” of signs. Another gallery would be full of architectural fragments — magnificent salvage, wood/metal/stone.
    I’ll keep dreaming — You keep writing. Many thanks!

  170. Michael Baron MBE permalink
    July 29, 2017

    My friend ,,Barbara Lane who has lived in West Coast USA since she was 22, but was born in 1957 in Fulham, close to Bishops Park, was very moved by your words about revisiting London. When she visits, she is so struck by change that ,as she mailed me today, “I could weep”. She would love to know your name for you write such perfect prose about then and now… and all your photographs and paintings are quite splendid. I suppose that my late father knew the East End pretty well.. he was born at 54 Great Prescott Street to immigrant parents in 1893. Later they did the traditional thing. moved northward to Finsbury Park, and then to Finchley; while he furthered the trajectory and ended up in Kensington.

    Both of us enjoy all that you write and depict; and hope you will reveal your name to us.

  171. Keith May permalink
    August 13, 2017

    Dear Sir/Madam,
    I have just stumbled across your beguiling web site, where have I been for the last few years ?
    The market aspect particularly interests me, as I worked in Smithfield Meat Market from 1972 to 1984, but as generations of my family worked there, my first visit was at the age of five years old. It is so difficult to describe the immensity of the marke, the smell, the noise, and the humour, which I retain to this day. So some of your photos and stories of Spitafield Market bring that lifestyle flooding back to me.
    Thank you so much.

  172. Margaret Thurgate permalink
    August 17, 2017

    Even on the hottest of days in high summer here in Australia I settle down for my daily read of life in Spitalfields. I am transported back to a place and often times when my German immigrant four times great grandparents struggled to make a living in East London far from their own land. I know I walk with them through Spitalfields, feel their battles and face their fears. A long haul to Australia in a convict ship was not the ultimate destination they had hoped for when they fled Germany during the Napoleonic upheaval. May I be so bold as to suggest more stories of these early German sugar bakers, the Union workhouse, now no longer standing near Artillery lane, and the reunification scheme that eventually reunited the convict families half a world away. Decisions made at the Old Bailey still have repercussions far down the centuries.
    I bless you.

  173. Judy Stevens permalink
    October 4, 2017

    Thank goodness for your daily blog! It remains a constant trip of loveliness in sometimes what seems a broken world. And it inspires my magazine ‘I’d rather be in Deeping.’x

  174. Mike Barlow permalink
    October 18, 2017

    The sheer delight one gets reading the articles and looking at the images here is truly joyous and cannot be viewed without all sort of thoughts passing through me.
    I only worked in London in the 1970’s but loved the Brick Lane Market on a Sunday, Bloom’s in Whitechapel for a bowl of Borscht and Salt Beef off white starched linen, with flat footed waiters who served you with disdain and indifference, but always on time.
    It was still a time before every place had a blue plaque or a tourist sign and was dressed in aspic. The places you describe just were and the people were and then were not. It was a time before people not from these villages in a city came without feeling and tore the places up for money and threw the echoes away with the plaster and wallpaper. Progress? I suppose you can delude yourself that it is! Money is all I can think of. Thank you.

  175. Roger Girouard permalink
    October 28, 2017


  176. George Theo permalink
    November 21, 2017

    The best blog on the internet. Dense, rich, lovely writing full of place and culture, humanity and history. Obviously intensely researched and studied. The Gentle Author doesn’t put a word wrong. A daily inspiration.

  177. Rebecca Wolfrum permalink
    April 27, 2018

    I have just found this wonderful blog and have enjoyed everything I have read and the photos I have seen. I will continue to follow the Gentle Author as my interest in social history and the lives of ordinary people will be brought alive by your research and writing. Thank you so much.

  178. Jan Perry permalink
    May 2, 2018

    Dear Gentle Author,
    I have just this minute subscribed, having just found you.
    In the early nineteenth century, there was a court or alley in Spitalfields named Red Lion Alley. It must have been very skinny as it is always difficult to find on maps. My great grandfather’s mother, Sarah Diston Penry was born there and lived there until she was 16 (1832 – 1848). Her parents Mary Ann and William James Penry had a beer and coffee house there. Sarah was one of eight children. Five survived.
    Mary Ann, Sarah’s mother, had been born in Queen Street Aldgate, daughter of Thomas Diston and Sarah Russell.
    Thomas Diston was born in Farmer Street Wapping, parallel to Gravel Lane. His parents were mariners.
    By 1850 the family had moved to Charles Street Hoxton.
    I am trying to imagine what growing up in a beer and coffee house in a narrow lane in Spitalfields in London must have been like. In (more modern) photographs the area appears to be very dark.
    I look forward to learning more about them (thank you), especially Spitalfields.
    Regards and thanks,
    Jan (Adelaide)

  179. Venetia Horton permalink
    May 30, 2018

    Dear Gentle Author
    I have only recently found your blog and am enjoying it enormously. Do you by any chance know where the first Baptist Church was? It was founded by Thomas Helwys in 1611/12 in Spitalfields and was there until the end of the 19th century.

  180. July 12, 2018

    I love the idea of one post per day but having just deleted my last ten years of blogs I only manage 1900 posts in that time I wish you well. I have dropped in and out of reading for several years but only discovered YOUR PROMISE today. I can’t promise to read everyday but having learned of your task I now want to read as much as possible before my demise (I will be 81 on completion of your mission) and aim to read more about an area that I quiet like. I now live in Margate and 35 years ago used to be a regular in Brick Lane buying clothes to sell. I loved the area then but expect much has changed in the ensuing years. Good luck with everything. XXX Don

  181. Bob Phillips permalink
    July 31, 2018

    My great-great-great-great grandfather was rabbi of Spitalfields. That is how it is described in the annals of my family, but, truthfully, with over 90 synagogues in Spitalfields in the mid-19th century, it may be more accurate to say that he was a rabbi in Spitalfields: leader of one of these congregations.

    There is a splendid photograph of him, taken at the end of that century; an old man in caftan and hat, with his son (rabbi in Adelaide, Australia) and his grandson (rabbi in Glasgow) and his great-grandson on his knee (to become a civil servant in London).

    I don’t know if this makes a story. But I would like to find which synagogue; and you might like the photo. I can’t snip or attach it here.

  182. November 4, 2018

    There is beauty strength and a deep honour in your work and promise. I look forward to walking with you. Peter.

  183. Marilyn Skeggs nee Bernstein permalink
    December 18, 2018

    As a young child, my father would take me to visit his mother, my Bubba or Bubbula. Her home was a small rented ground floor tenement flat in Wentworth Street. On a Sunday morning it was filled with her adult children and their children. It was always a hub of noise and gossip. A huge stockpot of chicken and vegetables were always simmering away on an ancient stove in her very small kitchen. The steam from the pot hung from the walls and veiled the small paned windows. We children were ushered out to play in the area to the back of the flat. The only to access this little oasis was climb through an opened bedroomed window. The older children were allowed to wander the ‘Lane’ as that area was affectionately called. Special times.

  184. Philippa Parker permalink
    March 7, 2019

    Clare Winsten drawings exhibited at Fournier Street May 2015.

    I am researching this artist and would like to know where the drawings shown now are. Presumably, they were the originals?

  185. Nafisa Tosh permalink
    March 27, 2019

    Dear Gentle Author,

    I read today’s article and it reminded me of own Mother’s attempt at home sewing which weren’t as succuful.
    However, I’d like to offer you my services should you require them in the future to repair your fishing collar edges.
    I would cover the edge with a silk strip and hand sew it into position to increase the lifespan of such a beautiful shirt.
    I’d rather this wasn’t put up on the Spitalfields page if you don’t mind.

    Kindest regards,

    Ms Nafisa Tosh

  186. March 30, 2019

    I fully approve of the campaign re the Whitechapel Bell Foundry – what a disgrace it is being abused and closed. I will write to TH planning. You must widen your appeal. First I have heard of it. As a former tour guide of the Jewish Eaat End where I grew up, I am angry this has happened. Well done and please keep me informed of progress

    Martin Sugarman (Archivist of AJEX and Author)

  187. Peter Manwaring permalink
    May 15, 2019

    Good morning, my wife bought me a copy of Doreen Fletcher’s ‘Paintings’ for my seventieth birthday. It’s a lovely book and equally, Doreen comes across as a lovely person. Please thank her for signing my copy. I recently came back to the UK for one of my rare visits but not in time unfortunately to see her paintings on display at the Nunnery Gallery.
    Best wishes, Peter.

  188. jennifer prior permalink
    June 2, 2019

    Dear Gentle Author,

    How did I discover you. I was travelling down the avenues, high roads and biways of the Internet and rounded a corner and there you were. What a delight ! I am fairly new to your posts. So far my favourite is the one about the common community garden where so many fascinating people have plots. You included photos and lovely little bios of each one of the gardeners photgraphed. Delightful.

    I live in Owen Sound, Ontario in Canada. I have just recently got a plot in the community garden … just a few blocks from me. It is all planted including snow peas and heritage yellow beans. Despite the tardy spring, still cool and wet here, everything is doing well except the beans which need heat.

    Would love to hear from you. Jennifer

  189. June 22, 2019

    Your site is superb! I am struggling with some Huguenot ancestry so I shall watching it regularly. Here is my 4xgreat grand uncle, John Robert Sollicoffre being apprenticed to a City Cabine Maker:-


    3rd May 1774 John Robert Sollicoffre Son of Henry Sollicoffre late of Spitalfields Silk Dyer
    deceased was bound to George Speer of Tower Street London Cabinetmaker & also
    Cit & Carpr . of London Consideration £20.


    His mother Judith Esther Dorothea (nee Faure) married Henry Sollicoffre in the Fleet in 1753 (Register of William Wyatt) and John Robert was born in the London Lying in Hospital in 1758, sponsored by the Duchess of Portland.

    His mother was a redoubtable lady who, after more that 17 years of widowhood, married again aged 65 but separated, writing a fascinating will with bequest to a well-know miniature painter and a German bookseller.

    Sollicoffres hailed from St Gallen in Switzerland, and when he was born his parents did claim that they were married there, but a Swiss expert has sadly knocked that on the head! It’s a most elusive story, but I keep trying!

  190. July 19, 2019

    Greetings from Australia, I started my blog as a “Ten Pound Pom” which branched out into full on Ancestry research focusing on my mother who was born in Poplar. I have been following your stories ever since. As is common to ancestry researchers a common cry is “Why didn’t I ask Mum when I had the chance?” Well, I can’t ask Mum so I was hoping you may know anything about the “Silvertown Coaches” I have a lovely photo of Mum on a “Sharra” outing and your post about the “Empress Coaches” motivated my query. Thank you for your stories. Regards, Just Vicki

  191. Lynne Mapp permalink
    July 19, 2019

    Hi. Thank you for writing about this subject.

    My great grandfather Charles Thomas Kenny has his name inscribed on this memorial in Spitalfields. Only problem is his name is spelt incorrectly…..Kenney instead of Kenny.

    My son is a history teacher and just loves walking around London and the East End where I grew up in Shoreditch. He has taught many lessons on the subject.

    There is a picture in the Whitechapel Art Gallery which has been used as a book cover and Charles Thomas Kenny is in the picture along with one of his daughters.

    I came across this by chance as my grandson is visiting Theivpal Cemetery with his school tomorrow 20 July and I was just looking up some information. This is perfect for him.

    Thank you so much for writing about these heroes. It may be a long time ago but they must never be forgotten. My poor nan was left without a dad at a very young age and her poor mum a widow at 33.

    I sincerely hope this email reaches you.

    Kind regards
    Lynne Mapp

  192. ellen duncan-norden permalink
    July 30, 2019

    Thank You so much for devoting time to such an interesting and touching history. Could you tell me what ” Echo England’s Welcome Echo” means? I saw it in one of the photos as a sign a child was holding.

    Again Thank You for your devotion.

    The Best to You,

    Ellen Duncan

  193. The Artful Wanderer permalink
    November 5, 2019

    Hello Gentle Author,

    I have followed your blog for the past ten years beginning with my purchase of a copy of your book Spitalfields Life. I live in Melbourne, Australia, where I wander the inner city area often taking photographs of the disappearing history of my town. My great-grandparents came from the East End of London and there is still a hint of the cockney in our accents. I love reading about the lives of the people who live where my ancestors came from.

    Many thanks for many hours of enjoyment.


    The Artful Wanderer

  194. Nick Murray permalink
    December 20, 2019

    I go to a happy yoga class at Age UK in Bow and this year have been rewarded with a Christmas present that’s blown my mind, so this comment is not about the blog but about ‘The Gentle Author’s London Album’. After opening it, I didn’t get out of my chair for 3 hours! I can’t get over the writer’s all-embracing love of everything that happens in these parts, his capacious heart always ready to collect and cherish a new photo. He really does live up to that old claim from the News of the World “All human life is there.” After living here nearly 40 years the place will look different now. Heart-warming. Thank you, Father Christmas!

    Nick Murray

  195. December 25, 2019

    Hello and Happy Christmas – I have been reading your stories for a few months now. You give me such a feeling of home, of the past, of the Heart. A melancholy sadness but yet with a joy of remembering all that has gone before. Everyday, I read something of your writings and have the strength to face this “modern world” for a few more hours. Thank you – please don’t ever stop. My greatest wish is to live long enough to someday visit you in London and see and feel the East End for myself. If the Gods are willing……….

  196. March 1, 2020

    Firstly thank you so much for all the hard work and diligence that has gone into your site

  197. March 13, 2020

    Lovely website, which I found when searching for 18th c. maps of Shoreditch.
    I am sure you know that this year, 2020, is the 250th anniversary of the death of the Bristol boy poet, Thomas Chatterton. He lodged in Shoreditch high street in the house of a plasterer named William Walmsley 1770. The yearly rent was £21. Apparently it was the house on the site of number 48, which crosses Webb Square, in Tallis’s Street views of London. I am guessing that there are no images of the house from 1770, but would be greatly delighted if you could prove me wrong.
    I am hoping to launch the new Chatterton website this year, was hoping for 20/3/2020 but other issues might delay me until a few months later. The website home page is already up and working.
    Best wishes to you.

  198. Stephan Schmid permalink
    April 3, 2020

    Dear Gentle Author,thank you very much for this wonderful Blog.
    I`m writing from the South of Germany. Since my Grandpa took me to London in 1982 when I was 11 years old I`m obsessed with this City. He lived there from 1945 to 48 as a Prisoner-of-War and worked in the City and the East. Christmas 1947 he was invited by an english Family an made good Friends till his Death. He loved London and the English Lifestyle. From the 1960s he visited London nearly once a Year. He passed the Love for this great City to me.Initially I planned a Visit this Year to show it my Nephew…But now your Blog is my daily Escape from this dark and troubled Times
    Thank You and stay healthy!

  199. Hopeful in North Finchley permalink
    April 29, 2020

    Dear Gentle Author,

    I have recently discovered your site – an absolute treasure! Your writing is getting me through these times in isolation. I live in North Finchley and sorely miss my daily commute into the city. Reading your posts, I feel reconnected with the streets of Spitalfields and its fascinating history. It fills me with hope and positivity, thinking about all there is yet to explore when the pandemic restrictions are lifted – and the stories you’ve shared will be carried with me. I hope you never give up on your mission; this means so much to us all. What a remarkable legacy it will be, and a fitting tribute to the city we love so much. Thank you, sincerely.

  200. Steve Green permalink
    May 4, 2020

    I saw your article about graffiti at the Tower of London from December 6 2011, and was hoping to get some further information. Through my grandmother on my mothers side, I am a descendant of Edward Cuffyn who left graffiti in the Beauchamp Tower – his name and the date 1562. In your article, you wrote that he was tried for conspiracy against Elizabeth the First and that he passed out his days in the Tower. I spent a day searching at the National Archive when I visited London last year (I am from Australia), but was unable to find any further information.
    I would love learn anything you can add, especially the nature of the conspiracy, and anything about his arrest, his trial and how long he was incarcerated before his death. If you could suggest any possible avenues of inquiry that would also be very much appreciated. The nature of the charge in particular, as this would tell me in which court he was tried and I could search those archives. Thank you for your time, kind regards, Steve Green

  201. May 13, 2020

    Dear Gentle Author,
    I’ve always lived in an ordinary, mid-sized city in mainland Spain. I’ve visited London twice, for a total of 10 days, including the mandatory visit to Spitalfields and the East End.
    However, I have been a regular vistor of your blog for years, due to reasons unknown to me. Therefore, when, some weeks ago during lockdown (we have it here, too), I found that your page was unavailable, I felt, mysteriously, a little homeless. I deeply missed the tone, the colours, the people, the pieces of your blog and, of course, the sweet ghost of Mr. Pussy prowling around the place.

    Without any hopes, yesterday I tried to visit the site again but, to my surprise, I found it’s back; thank Mama.
    Now I feel, somehow, home again.
    Thank you for publishing. I’ve been missing this a lot.
    With very best wishes to all of you around


  202. Michael permalink
    May 15, 2020

    Desire Pahs are also known as ‘natural desire lines’. In Balham, London SW12, the Council has used them sensibly in highway improvements along Bedford Hill by positioning pedestrian crossings where people naturally want to cross the road, as distinct from where the Council would like them to cross.

    Here in Ledbury Herefordshire, the natural desire line is at the widest and most risky/dangerous part of the High Street. Risky/ dangerous because it also faces a busy junction. I find that the safest time to walk the line is very early morning or evening.
    In olden days, there was a stream above ground running down from behind the church via Church Lane to the river beyond. The pond that feeds the stream is still there but the water is piped underground.

    I enjoy reading SL, thank you; albeit most print to pdf for future reference. A recent article about Broadway Market interested two of my clients who have deep connections with the market. Sometimes I post links to articles I find particularly interesting on the internet forum I inhabit so some might have joined the mailing list.

    Best wishes


  203. Alexandra Fiona Dixon permalink
    June 23, 2020

    I was born in London (North St. Pancras, so I’m told), spent the first four years of my life in Hampshire, then emigrated to the United States. I am thinking about retiring to England.

    I found your blog years ago and became enchanted with it. I get daily reminders via email. I don’t always click through but I think the titles themselves are so lovely and evocative that they uplift my day anyway.

    I added your blog to the Spitafields Wikipedia page; it might be removed, because Wikipedia has arcane rules which I don’t understand, but I thought it was worth a try.

    Thank you for doing this!

  204. Annie Green permalink
    July 22, 2020

    I have just read The Life and Times of Mr Pussy with great enjoyment. Such a good looking book, such a handsome cat, such a studied life. I have a cat who looks the same but smaller as she really is a girl and am pleased to notice that she has the same love of rules and routines, such joy in just being around us and the home she has taken as her own…we know our place. The sharp intelligence of black cats may be one reason why they are not as popular as other breeds but that is fine by me. Regards to both you and Schrodinger.

  205. Jane permalink
    July 28, 2020

    I, too, awoke to find myself in the midst of life living in the East End. I live very close to Broadway Market by Regents Canal. I always feel such a yearning for bygone times reading your blog and your book ‘Spitalfields Life’. Just the other day I was lamenting the loss of so many great old characters and the eccentricity that one just doesn’t seem to encounter these days. I was woken from this thought by the roar of an old WW2 motorbike and looked up to see a Great Dane dog riding pillion; driver and passenger both wearing driving goggles. Just then George rode by on his bicycle playing a tune and selling his lemon ice as I believe he has done – up and down the canal – for 58years. That this vision played out as I was showering seagulls with water from my water gun to try and keep them from stealing coot chicks only added to the irony. Perhaps there are still eccentric characters to be found in East London after all.
    Thank you for your words and devotion GA.

  206. July 29, 2020

    What a joy this website is. I only discovered it today. Wish I had discovered it before! Thankyou. From an ex East London girl now living a rural life but feeling her roots!

  207. Diana Thompson permalink
    August 19, 2020

    I have just received my copy of “Spitalfields Life” and I want to say how absolutely enchanted I am with this fascinating book. It is beautifully written of course, described by you so entertainingly and heart-warmingly as always, but it far exceeds what I was expecting, though of course I knew it would be good if written by you!

    It fulfils a need in me to read about so many personal stories with the wonderful photos and illustrations too, and I am now searching for new copies in the local bookshop for several Christmas gifts which I very much hope I will find since you are sold out. For anyone my age particularly – I am seventy-eight – it brings back so many memories too, for instance the hot chestnut sellers on every corner of London streets and numerous other delights to recall.

    I adore your site, a daily treat to wake up to! Thank you for all the real pleasure you give through your writing and through your infectious love for London’s past.

  208. October 29, 2020

    I love your blog! So inspiring. Thank you!

  209. Ann Gombert permalink
    November 25, 2020

    Hello, I have just discovered your site because I was preparing a lesson with my students about London street food and I happened upon the characters, cries and cigarette cards. What a treasure!!! I teach English in France. When I go to London, I go to the East Side, I enjoy the ambiance, and when I can travel again I will definitely go to the market in Spital Fields. Thank you very much, I also loved your pomegranate story, being a major fan of that fruit since ..well, a while. Beautiful work, I will come back and visit to catch up.

  210. December 7, 2020

    My family lived in Spitalfields 100 years ago. Surname Rothenberg, the men were cabinet makers. I don’t have an address yet but I’m working on it.

  211. Alan permalink
    December 7, 2020

    Re. your “Alphabet of Lost Pubs”. The Golden Anchor 221 St.John Street , Clerkenwell.
    Whilst researching my family tree I discovered my great-great-grandmother is listed in the 1861 census as running the above mentioned pub. I have found what information is available on the internet concerning this pub and , your site and all other sites that mention this pub state it has been demolished. I have found this not to be the case as a quick run on “Streetview” proves by comparing your photograph of the pub with the current premises . The building still stands although it ceased to be a pub many years ago.

  212. January 7, 2021

    Hello Gentle Author. A couple of reasons for making touch. I don’t know if you ever crossed paths with the poet and social worker David Amery. He lived at Heneage Street for well over 30 years and sadly died on 10th December, aged only 65. I think he would be worthy of a post on your site. He wrote many books of poems and performed regularly in East London and beyond. He only saw his final book – OUR WORLD TO LOSE, which he was determined to finish in spite of serious illness – in his mind’s eye. It went to press a couple of days before he died. His partner of many years, Nicola Samson, put a copy of the printed book into his coffin. I was at his funeral on 30th December – a slightly strange, socially distanced, masked affair, but one in which deep appreciation for David’s kindness, commitment to helping people in Tower Hamlets and outsider poet identity was expressed. If you are interested, there’s a recording of the ceremony here: I knew David from The Basement Writers. which met in Cable Street for many years. When he and I were regulars at that group it was run by Sally Flood, who I know has featured on your site. Sally is the second reason why I wanted to contact you. We were in contact for many years but I have been unable to track her down in recent times. I know she was quite unwell when we last spoke – perhaps three years ago. Do you have any news of Sally, I wonder? If she is still with us, I’d like to make touch. Please let me know if you’d be able to pass on a message. Thanks and all best, Sean T

  213. Frances Soar permalink
    January 15, 2021

    I am so glad I found your site when I searched online for Lilo Blum today during a nostalgic afternoon browsing some of my old albums. Back in the mid-1960s I was a pony mad girl from Yorkshire on a rare visit to London with my parents and elder brother. As a very special treat, my father booked me a Rotten Row ride at Lilo Blum’s Riding Establishment, and I shall never forget the thrill of riding from the stables at 32a Grosvenor Crescent Mews to Hyde Park.
    Thank you for publishing Miss Blum’s story and those of so many more. What a wonderful record you are creating.

  214. Philip Glassborow permalink
    February 8, 2021

    Dear Gentle Author

    I’m enduringly grateful to you for your Gentle Writings and ongoing, meticulous, magnificent documenting of Spitalfields and its environs and its history and beauty. I’m working on a musical version of the Wolf Mankowitz story, A Kid For Two Farthings, which is set in and around Fashion Street and Club Row Market in the 1950s. (Wolf was actually born in Fashion Street, and the story mentions the gentleman with a gramophone on a perambulator. He is seen in the John Allin painting of Fashion Street, and he was also portrayed in the 1950s film version of the story.) We’d be very grateful if anyone can help us with memories of the area in the 1950s as we develop the musical. It will hopefully be seen – Government guidelines permitting – in a festival which will open the new Arcola Outside theatre space later this year.

  215. March 3, 2021

    Hello Gentle Author!
    I can’t tell you how excited I was to find your site! During this time of continued quarantine to see Spitalfields in the header, discover that you are the purveyor of books (a love passed on to me by my mother)-well it took me on a memorable journey! And now I am inspired to keep reading your posts and discovering!
    I look forward to reading more!
    Warmest regards,

  216. March 14, 2021

    I came across your wonderful site looking for the burial place of my Gtx4 grandfather in 1823. He was buried in the Gibraltar Burial Ground. This was on Gibraltar Way, I gather and closed in 1855 (see London Gazette) when I suspect the current artisan cottages were built. Great sketch on Gibraltar Way, but I am struggling to find the exact location of the cemetery.

  217. David Masters permalink
    April 21, 2021

    Hi – I just wanted to say thank you for sharing the information about the VOICES FROM BRICK LANE’S JEWISH PAST webinar held yesterday through The Spitalfields Trust. Both speakers were excellent, as was Dan Cruikshank as ever as the host. The resources that were mentioned – ‘Zangwill’s Spitalfields’ & ‘A Memory Map of the Jewish East End’ are both excellent!

    There are various family members that have lived in the area at various times since 1900. Ironically enough, I ended up working for a company that was based in several of the ‘eye-sore’ offices in the area. However this gave me an opportunity to start to explore the area, finding locations where my ancestors lived, seeing the various remnants of Jewish life in the area, and more broadly, the many interesting sites. I was very pleased to stumble across your blog a number of years ago and have continued to receive it, even though, sadly, our company moved to Canary Wharf over a year ago. It has been inspirational in my exploration, not only of Spitalfields but other areas in London.

    As a keen record collector, I still frequent the Friday music fair at Spitalfields Market, as well as some of the other music shops in the area. However I do miss working there, as I have lost the opportunity to wander around and continue to explore there. I will continue to read your articles with interest and look for opportunities to return there when I can.

    Thank you again

  218. Barbara Kedward, permalink
    May 2, 2021

    I have only recently stumbled across Spltalfields Life and I am absolutely enchanted by it , I’m finding it very difficult to do anything with my days than wander through your fascinating pages. I’ve recommended it to my lovely teenage grandson who ,sadly has been badly affected by the lockdowns and has become a sort of recluse…maybe he’ll be another Proust.

  219. June 18, 2021

    I found you quite by chance after Googling “Mulberry Green 1930s” after reading an online discussion relating to “A Brave New World” and the fact that, yes, there’s not only the colour mulberry (purple) but mulberry green (no one ever said this was going to be an interesting post). Long story short, your May 6th/21 article popped up and here we are. A new subscriber from Canada!

  220. Sail Smith permalink
    August 22, 2021

    Spitalfields Life is my favourite publication on the internet.
    Each morning I look at it while I have my cup of Assam tea.
    Never know what I’m going to read & see….always confident it will be informative & inspiring. Thank you Gentle Author, from a 1950s Whitechapelite.

  221. March 8, 2022

    Great website. Thinking about moving to the area and found your website by chance. Keep up the good work!

  222. Letitia Coker permalink
    March 14, 2022

    I am just looking for some information on life in the Spitalfields in the 1770s onwards after the riot of 1769 with the weavers. This is a time that my family’s ancestors live there. Our direct ancestor, Jane Lloyd was born in 1770 and her parents lived there. She was transported to Australia on the second fleet in 1794. The trial involved William Garrow who was it seems to be her lawyer defending her. I was after what her life would have been like growing up in this area after the riots and wondered if you could direct me to where I could find out any information. Many thanks Letitia

  223. Jane permalink
    March 27, 2022

    A lovely ‘manifesto’ promise!
    So many wonderful articles, thank goodness I found them by chance.
    Light in a dark world…really uplifting.
    Thank you very much.

  224. Dorothy permalink
    August 19, 2022

    Thank you for your promise

  225. Hazel Carr Leroy permalink
    November 5, 2022

    I just stumbled across your wonderful site while looking for visual content to enhance upcoming lectures in my Theatre History I class. I am an adjunct professor at a small conservatory of performing arts in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. I must run to catch a show in which one of my students is appearing tonight, but I promise to return and to spend many a happy hour wandering through your archives. For the moment, let me thank you for digitizing all of Laroon’s engravings. My costume design students will be particularly glad.


    Hazel Carr Leroy

  226. Rondeau Baker permalink
    December 5, 2022

    Hello Gentle Author

    I enjoy reading Spitalfields Life each day.
    My ancestor was Sexton at Christ Church Spitalfields in the 1700’s.
    I met you there at the Rondeau Family reunion in 2011 when
    our plaque was presented to honour Jean Rondeau.

    Thank you
    Rondeau Baker
    Whitby, Ontario, Canada

  227. Jeremy permalink
    January 7, 2023

    Your daily bulletin is always a joy to receive, and ever so informative.

    My grandfather was the boxer Young Johnny Brown, whose brother was Johnny Brown.

    If you’ve any history to share on the lives of boxers from the East End, it would be much appreciated.

  228. Lorraine Apps permalink
    February 28, 2023

    I’m a South London girl – who adores London and it’s history which is why today I cannot believe that I’ve only discovered your writing. I’ll be busy for the next year just catching up, I’m excited to begin my journey of discovery. Thank you

  229. yvonne cullen permalink
    June 9, 2023

    Found you via your Twelfth night post which i adored, as a student of music hall and variety life. So glad you are still writing!! Signing up now! From a day-case hospital bed, much thanks!

  230. Sally permalink
    August 6, 2023

    I’m in love with this website. I especially love the cute Cockney accent. May you never loose it. This may not be that interesting to anyone else, but my great,..great grandfather was just 11 years old when he was caught pick pocketing in the East End of London. He was sent to Australia as a boy convict. I like to think, I wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for him.

  231. August 26, 2023

    I stumbled on this website, and have just starting browsing, while looking up Richard Whittington and his cat and the Bow Bells while explaining to my husband what makes a true cockney. That in itself was a distraction from something else I was looking up. Anyway, my husband and I lived in London for a short while many years ago. We lived near Smithfield; I worked on Houndsditch. I can’t wait to go back to London, and more of England, to see good examples of adaptive reuse and to walk all over. Having grown up in Greenwich Village, London fit me much more than anywhere. We live in Buffalo now where I really appreciate good adaptive reuse – keeping the delights of the old industrial buildings but repurposed. I want to go to the northern towns as well for this.
    My hometown is turning into on big glass box.

  232. Robyn permalink
    August 27, 2023

    Thank you for today’s fascinating post about William Morris. I had some knowledge of William Morris, particularly relating to textiles, but I knew very little of the information you wrote about today. You may know there is a collection of his work in Adelaide, South Australia – another interesting story.
    Kind regards
    Robyn, Sydney

  233. Lydia Deane permalink
    November 18, 2023

    I can only guess at how Jonathan Pryce has come to be reading your Christmas story at its book launch but I LOVE it! Pryce is such a class actor and perfect for such a reading! Well done, all around!
    Lydia Deane
    Eugene, Oregon USA

  234. florian karl paul seubert permalink
    January 7, 2024

    a fantastic treasure trove and what a worthwhile endeavour!

  235. January 29, 2024

    Thank you for providing secondary research for our Year 12 Geogrpahy research on Brick lane, very much appreciated. Continue the hard work!

  236. Maria Stevenson permalink
    January 29, 2024

    Thank you, Gentle Author. Your stories have richened my perspective on Brick Lane. You are indeed very gentle!

  237. Ian Cochrane permalink
    February 23, 2024

    My wife and I own a fruit, veg and flower shop in Rochester, Kent. My father, in law, Colin Hansford was a wholesale greengrocer and used to visit Spitalfields Market from the 1940s (as a boy, helping George Ongley, who became his father in law) George Ongley had been buying from Spitalfields since the 1920s.
    We have an original market porter’s barrow that we used to display outside our shop, but it is now languishing in our garage in need of major repairs, we would be happy to donate it to a museum or similar institution, or sell at a low price to someone who would put it to good use.
    Hope this comment is acceptable.

  238. Susan E Oliver permalink
    April 4, 2024

    If it mentions on your marriage at St Dunstan’s Stepney you are a rope maker where would you have worked and lived in the Eastend i cannot read where he was from but I think it ends in (atolip) I cannot understand the first letter.
    I could send you a copy of the entry if I can have your email.Mine is

  239. Carol Barton permalink
    April 11, 2024

    Good evening, Gentle Author! My granddad has a tobacconist’s shop in New Street, Spitalfieds, in 1913, according to my late uncle’s birth certificate. I was told to ask you about it (and delighted to have such a great recommendation). My dad was born in the Rothschild Buildings, God rest his soul, but he never spoke of the area, so I didn’t know it was in Spitalfields-or in Jack the Ripper’s territory!–until many years after he was gone. I did take (my own) walking tour of the area in 2008, but didn’t know about Granddad’s shop at the time. Anything you can tell me about the area in the 1920s-1940s will be most gratefully received!

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