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Spitalfields, Middlesex

Historical Description

Spitalfields, a parish in Middlesex. It lies on the G.E.R., and to the S of it, 1 mile ENE of St Paul's, London, includes at Lolesworth the site of a Roman cemetery, where urns, stone coffins, lamps, pottery, and coins were found in 1576, had an Augustinian Priory and hospital founded in 1197 by Sheriff Brune, had also in Spital Square a preaching cross, where sermons on the resurrection were delivered called " Spital sermons," and which afterwards were delivered in Christchurch, Newgate Street. It was mainly open, unedi-ficed ground without the city walls till 1685, began then to be extensively settled by French Protestants, mostly weavers, driven to England by the revocation of the Edict of Nantes, became speedily a great seat of silk manufacture, but after much fluctuation the trade has now become one of very little importance. Many of the old houses with then" wide "weavers' windows" still remain in the parish, and weaving is still carried on in a small way. Other occupations akin to the silk manufacture, or connected with it, are also carried on in the parish. Truman, Hanbury, Buxton, & Co. Limited, have an enormous brewery here, and the G.E. R. have a large goods station with some huge granaries and warehouses. The Spitalfields Market is one of the chief marts of London for potatoes, fruit, and vegetables. The parish is now and long has been all compactly built, presents on the whole a crowded and poor appearance, and has in the neighbourhood of Brick Lane and Commercial Street many lodging-houses of the lowest class. During recent years, however, many of the streets of poor houses have been demolished to make way for huge blocks of dwellings of the "model lodging-house" type, and the district in consequence is rapidly becoming the most densely populated portion of the whole metropolis. Very many Jews live in Spitalfields,. and they have several synagogues and some large elementary schools. Brick Lane is one of the busiest "street markets" of the east end of London, and Hare Street, which crosses it, is largely occupied by dealers in birds, rabbits, guinea pigs, poultry, &c. On Sunday mornings the street and neighbourhood are thronged by bird fanciers and dealers, and a lively trade is carried on until the time arrives for the opening of the public houses. Spitalfields was part of Stepney parish till 1723, and is now ecclesiastically divided into Spitalfields Christchurch, Spitalfields St Stephen, and part of Spitalfields St Mary, the rest of which comprises the liberties of Old Artillery Ground and Norton Folgate. Christchurch was built in 1723-29, after designs by Hawksmoor, was restored in 1866 at a cost of £6680, and has a Doric portico, and a tower and spire 234 feet high. St Stephen's church was built in 1862, and is in a peculiar Gothic style, with remarkable apse and curious tower. Acreage of parish,. 73; population, 22,859. The living of Christchurch is a rectory, and the livings of St Stephen and St Mary are vicarages, in the diocese of London; net value of Christchurch, £230 with residence; of St Stephen, £300 with residence; gross value of St Mary, £233 with residence.

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 parishSpitalfields Christchurch 
Poor Law unionWhitechapel 

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

Directories & Gazetteers

We have transcribed the entry for Spitalfields from the following:

Land and Property

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


Online maps of Spitalfields are available from a number of sites:

DistrictTower Hamlets
CountyGreater London
Postal districtE1
Post TownLondon