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Whitechapel (St. Mary)

WHITECHAPEL (St. Mary), a parish, and the head of a union, in the Tower division of the hundred of Ossulstone, county of Middlesex; adjoining the city of London, and containing 34,053 inhabitants. This populous parish extends in an eastern direction from Aldgate to Mile-End, a continuous line nearly a mile in length, and including Whitechapel High-street and Whitechapel-road, the former a noted market for butchers' meat, and the latter containing numerous manufacturing establishments. On the south side of the road is a long-established bell-foundry. In Fieldgatestreet, nearly adjoining, but within the hamlet of Mile-End Old Town, in the parish of Stepney, is a large ironfoundry, to which is attached a manufactory of gun-carriages and wheelwrights' work, this latter department of the concern being in Whitechapel parish. In Great Garden-street, on the north of the road, is a brassfoundry; and nearly opposite is a factory for every kind of furnishing ironmongery, smoke and wind-up jacks, scales and scale-beams, and other articles, upon a very extensive scale. Near this extremity of the parish, and bordering on Bethnal-Green, is the distillery of Mr. Smith, for British spirits and compounds, established in that family for nearly a century; the premises, which have been rebuilt on a commodious plan, occupy a large extent of ground, and contain two powerful steamengines. In Thomas-street are some starch-works, which have been conducted by the Leschers for half a century; a steam-engine of sixteen-horse power is applied to the grinding of wheat and to other purposes connected with the manufacture, and from 800 to 900 hogs are usually fed on the premises. In Osborne-place is a large establishment for dyeing woollen-cloth. In a southern direction, the parish extends to Well-Close-square, onehalf of which is within its limits; this portion comprises Goodman's-Fields and several spacious and wellbuilt streets, including Great Prescot-street, Lemanstreet, and Great and Little Aylie-street, in the neighbourhood of which are numerous establishments for the refining of sugar, which constitutes the principal trade of the parish. In Church-lane is the proof-house of the City of London Company of Gun-makers, originally erected by the company in 1757, and rebuilt in 1818. There are several manufactories of floor-cloth in Whitechapel-road, and some establishments of coach and coach-harness makers, with various other works in different parts of the parish. The Royal Pavilion theatre, on the north side of the road, is a commodious building, with a principal entrance between Ionic pillars supporting a cornice. In Leman-street is the Royal Garrick theatre. One of the county debt-courts established in 1847, is fixed at Whitechapel.

The living is a rectory, valued in the king's books at £31. 17. 3½.; net income, £700; patrons, the Principal and Fellows of Brasenose College, Oxford. The church, previously to 1329, was a chapel of ease to St. Dunstan's, Stepney, the rector of which parish, in that year, made Whitechapel a rectory; the ancient building was taken down, and the present church erected of brick, in 1673, by private subscription. It has a small tower at the west end with an illuminated dial, surmounted by a cupola; the interior is handsomely arranged, and the roof, which is partly arched, is supported on Corinthian columns. Near the altar is a mural monument by Banks, erected by the parishioners to the Rev. R. Markham, D.D., formerly rector; and in various parts of the church and in the burial-ground are other monuments. St. Mark's district church, on the Tenter Ground, was erected by the Metropolitan Church-building Society, and consecrated in May, 1839; it is a neat edifice of brick in the early English style, with a square tower surmounted by an octagonal spire, and contains 1200 sittings, of which 500 are free. The living is in the gift of Brasenose College; income, £150. An additional church, of which the first stone was laid at Michaelmas 1845, was erected partly by Her Majesty's Commissioners; it is in the early English style, with a tower at the south-west angle, was completed in 1847, and cost £8000. This is a free church, for mariners, and dedicated to St. Paul. There are places of worship for Baptists, Independents, Wesleyans, and other dissenters. In Little Aylie-street is the German Lutheran church, dedicated to St. George, a neat building with a campanile turret; and in Hooper's-square is a German Calvinistic chapel.

The parochial school, originally founded and endowed by the Rev. R. Davenant, rector of the parish in 1680, and which was handsomely rebuilt in 1818, has an income of £700, arising from benefactions and annual subscriptions. The free school in Gower's-walk was established in 1806, under the immediate superintendence of the late Dr. Bell, by Mr. William Davis, who erected the building at his own cost, and endowed the institution with £2400 three per cents.: the income, including the profits of a printing-office instituted by the founder for the use of the boys, is about £1200. The Whitechapel Society's Institution in Whitechapel-road was commenced in 1814, in union with the National Society, and is a spacious brick building with a cupola at the west end; the schoolroom is consecrated, and two regular services are performed every Sunday by the chaplain and superintendent of the institution. Almshouses were founded and endowed in Whitechapel-road, in 1658, by William Meggs, for twelve aged widows; the endowment, including subsequent benefactions, is £149 per annum. Eight almshouses founded by Thomas Baker, Esq., for widows, form a neat range in the Elizabethan style.

The London Hospital here owes its origin to Mr. John Harrison, surgeon, who, having conducted a small establishment of the kind near Upper Moorfields, removed it to Prescot-street, Goodman's Fields, in the year 1740, under the designation of the London Infirmary. An appropriate building upon a larger scale having been subsequently erected in the Whitechapel-road, the institution was removed to that place in 1758, and the conductors incorporated by the name of the Governors of the London Hospital. The buildings have been progressively enlarged, and are now adapted to the reception of 370 patients; the average number of in-patients is about 320, and of out-patients 7000 annually. The income, including contributions from public bodies and private subscriptions, is about £9000. The Sailors' Home, or Brunswick Maritime Establishment, is intended for the benefit of unemployed sailors belonging to the port of London; to provide them with board and lodging at a moderate charge, and with religious and moral instruction, while on shore; to procure for them employment in the navy or merchants' service, and to furnish such as are needy with the necessary outfits for the voyage. The building occupies the site of the late Brunswick theatre, in Well-street, London Docks, and has accommodation for 500 men; the first stone was laid in June, 1830. A model establishment of Baths and Wash-houses has been formed in Goulstone-square, the building covering about 13,500 square feet, and containing about 100 baths, each in a separate apartment, and 100 pairs of wash-tubs, each with a separate dryingcloset; the whole so arranged as to insure almost entire privacy to every person. The poor-law union of Whitechapel contains a population of 71,758; there are workhouses in Whitechapel and Spitalfields.


Transcribed from A Topographical Dictionary of England, by Samuel Lewis, seventh edition, published 1858.