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Bethnal Green, Middlesex

Historical Description

Bethnal Green,  a parish of London, 2 miles NE by E of St Paul's. It was at one time a hamlet in the parish of Stepney, but was constituted a separate parish in 1743. Area, 755 acres; population, 129,132. It has a soil all of gravel, and as it is more than 20 feet above the level of the Thames, it ought to be one of the healthiest parts of London. Part of it is densely edificed, part consists of airy streets. Formerly many of the inhabitants were journeymen silk weavers, who worked in their own houses for the master weavers in Spitalfields, but this industry has greatly declined. These weavers were Huguenots who took refuge here with their silk trade after the revocation of the Edict of Nantes. Spitalfields comprises, strictly speaking, not only the parish now so called, but all Bethnal Green. The church called Spitalfields is properly Christ Church, Middlesex. The Columbia Buildings are a fine group of industrial dwellings, with a massive tower, erected in 1864-69, by the Baroness Burdett-Coutts.  There is a branch of the South Kensington Museum in Bethnal Green, which is much frequented. The best part of Victoria Park is also in the parish. Bonner's-Fields, in the E, one of the assembling-places of the Chartists in 184:8, took their name from an old mansion removed in 1851, said to have been the palace of Bishop Bonner. Pepys, in his Diary, 26th June, 1663, records going to Sir W. Rider's house at Bethnal Green, and says that the house "was built by the Blind Beggar so much talked of and sung in ballads," and this " beggar " is said to have been the son of Simon de Montfort, Earl of Leicester, in the time of Henry III. Sir T. Gresham resided in Bethnal-Green, and Ainsworth the lexicographer kept a school in it. Among others who lived in Bethnal Green was Pickersgill the artist, who was born there; Cruden, who wrote bis " Concordance" there, and Dollend of telescopic and microscopic fame. The living is a rectory in the diocese of London; value, £400 per annum. The proper name of the parish is St Matthew Bethnal Green.

Bethnal Green Parliamentary Division of London.- Under the Redistribution of Seats Act of 1885 Bethnal Green was constituted into a parliamentary borough, and returns two members to the House of Commons, one for the north-east and one for the south-west division. Population of the north-east division, 62,397, and of the south-west, 66,735.

Transcribed from The Comprehensive Gazetteer of England & Wales, 1894-5


The following is a list of the administrative units in which this place was either wholly or partly included.

Ancient CountyMiddlesex 
Ecclesiastical parishBethnal-Green St. Matthew 
Poor Law unionBethnal Green 

Any dates in this table should be used as a guide only.

Directories & Gazetteers

We have transcribed the entry for Bethnal Green from the following:

Land and Property

A full transcript of the Return of Owners of Land in 1873 for Middlesex is online.

DistrictTower Hamlets
CountyGreater London
Postal districtE2
Post TownLondon