Spitalfields is one of the fastest changing areas in London. It seems that almost every week another gallery or attraction opens so there are guaranteed to be some new ones since this list was put together. If you know of any which you think should be featured please contact us and we’ll do our best to include them. Most of the places listed below are fairly small, and often quirky – it’s a good idea to combine visits too several of them, and perhaps to stop off in Brick Lane for a curry on your way. Don’t forget to check out the local street markets at the same time.
We do recommend that you check opening times and specific details before setting out on a long journey as limited staff numbers at some venues can mean their opening hours are sometimes a little erratic!
Most buildings in the area took place in the mid-17th century after the Great Fire of London. Spitalfields market was established in the 1680s. Spitalifelds became a parish in its own right in 1729 when Hawkesmoor’s Christ Church was consecrated.
Spitalfields lies at the heart of the East End, an area known for its spirit and strong sense of community. Through out its history, it has been an area of constant change.Following the edict of Nantes in 1685, the Huguenots fled France, bringing with them the skills of silk weaving and building the once grand houses in the conservation area around Fournier Street. Today’s leather and textile trades are a continuation of this earlier tradition of weaving.
The potato famine led to an influx of men from Ireland, bringing in workers to build the nearby docks. More recently, Bangladeshi settlers have contributed to the richness of life in the borough of Tower Hamlets, many of them establishing restaurants in and around Brick Lane.
Nowadays, the best way to explore Spitalfields and appreciate its rich history is on foot. It’s within a few minutes’ walk of several tube stations, as the map shows.