Route & what to see
From 1685 Huguenots fled persecution to London many settling in Spitalfields where they worked as silk weavers. These were to be followed by Jews and later Bengalis. In the 1880s the district became notorious as Jack the Ripper's victims were found in its back streets. A hundred years after this Broad Street Station closed to be replaced with the large scale Broadgate complex. Most recently some of the former market buildings have been replaced by the Bishop's Square development of Foster & Partners. The main feature of this walk is the contrast between Spitalfields and the new developments around Bishopsgate. There are numerous refreshment places. Choice may be limited at weekends.
But first when to go - The markets (except Leadenhall) are at their best Sundays but very little is open in the City at the weekend (good for taking photos!). For 'open all hours' establishments try Liverpool Street Station and the area around it.
The 2.5 circular walk is from Liverpool Street Station (Underground or mainline). Cross Bishopsgate into Devonshire Row and continue into Devonshire Square (see text)
The 4 mile linear walk from is
London Bridge Station. This takes in a number of city churches.
Exit London Bridge Station into Tooley Street. Go through the Cotton's building or take an alternative to the Thames Path and go left along this. Take the steps up to London Bridge and cross the river. Outside Adelaide House go down steps to Lower Thames Street.
The church of St Magnus the Martyr was built by Wren in 1671-87. The projecting clock would have been over the footway of the old London Bridge.
Turn right to join the
Thames Path and follow this left
The early Billingsgate Market dealt in various produce including fish and until 1850 consisted only of sheds. A market house was then built but replaced by the present Horace Jones building in 1877. In 1982 the market moved to the Isle of Dogs and the building was converted for commercial use.
Go alongside the market back
to Lower Thames Street. Cross to St Mary at Hill and take first
right into Dunstan's Lane
The old church of St Dunstans-in-the-East was repaired with Portland Stone in 1633 so the main part withstood the Great Fire although the tower and steeple were rebuilt. It was largely destroyed by WWII bombing and the remains were incorporated into a garden opened in 1971.
Return and take the alley
alongside St Mary's into Lovat Lane.
This church was founded in the 12th century and rebuilt in the 15th. It was restored by Wren and others after the Great Fire but its fine interior was lost to another fire in the late 1980s.
Go right to Eastcheap and
right along Great Tower Street
St Margaret Pattens is named after wooden soles to protect shoes from the mud which were made nearby. It was rebuilt by Wren post-fire in 1699-1703. Its features include an glass to time the sermon, wig hooks, a punishment bench and canopied pews.
Left into Mincing Lane
Minster Court is a striking building clad in Brazilian marble with 3 large bronze horses at the entrance. Further along is the Clothworkers Hall designed by H Austen Hall in 1954-8 and refurbished 1985-6. The present hall is the sixth the previous one having been destroyed in 1941.
Cross Fenchurch Street into
Fen Court and go left along Fenchurch Avenue
Lloyds which deals in insurance (originally marine) began in a London coffee house in the 1680s. The landmark building by Richard Rogers replaced the 1928 premises in 1978-1986 retaining only the entrance. The interior which incorporates a Georgian boardroom is worth seeing but sadly the public are generally excluded. It does however sometimes open for London Open House in September.
Cross Lime Street into
Leadenhall Place and continue through the market
Leadenhall Market is named after a lead-roofed house where outsiders were allowed to trade. It was sold to the City Corporation in 1411. The market was rebuilt after the Great Fire and again in 1881 by Horace Jones. The site is that of the Roman basilica and market place.
Go right into Gracechurch
Street, which becomes Bishopsgate beyond the road junction. Go
right into Great St Helens
St Helens Church has an unusual double nave. The south half was for the parish and the north for the nuns of the nearby Benedictine establishment. It has more memorials than any other London church.
Return to and continue along
On the right are the premises of the Leatherseller's who purchased the nunnery buildings of St Helens in 1543. The small 14th century church of St Ethelburga was largely destroyed by an IRA bomb in 1993. It has been restored as a centre for peace using medieval building techniques and as many original materials as possible. Wormwood Street/Camomile Street are on the line of the old city wall. The site of Bishop's Gate (demolished 1760) is marked by mitres on the corner buildings.
Go left through the
Churchyard of St Botolphs Bishopsgate
This church is one of three (originally four) churches near city gates dedicated to the Saxon abbot who became a patron saint of travellers. It escaped the Great Fire but was rebuilt 1725-8 by George Dance the Elder and James Gould. The former mid 19th century schoolroom had Coade Stone figures of school children. On the left the Moorish structure is the entrance to former Victorian Turkish Baths (now a restaurant).
At the end go right at Old
Broad Street, right through the Arcade and right along Liverpool
The Great Eastern Hotel built in 1884 and extended in 1901 stands on the site of the first Bethlem Royal Hospital (marked with a plaque). This moved to Moorgate in 1676.
Cross Bishopsgate into Devonshire
Row and continue into Devonshire Square
This was developed in 1678-1708 by Nicholas Barbon and had a cobbled central area with a statue. The square has since been redeveloped so that only numbers 12 & 13 remain. Number 13 is the premises of the Coopers Livery Company and has a museum of cooperage (barrel-making).
Continue into Cutler's
Street and go left into the gated Cutlers Garden
These were the former warehouses of the East India Company, subsequently used by the St Katherine's Dock Company and the PLA. The complex was redeveloped for Standard Life Assurance in 1978-82. The building have plaques depicting the goods imported.
Exit to the left through New
Street and go right along Bishopsgate
A former fire station is now a Tesco store. Further along is Dirty Dicks pub named after Nathaniel Bentley whose fiancee died on the eve of their wedding. Like Miss Haversham (whom he may have inspired) he locked up the room and took no more care of himself. In 1814 shortly before Bentley died the landlord of the Old Port Wine House bought the contents to display. These were replaced when the pub was rebuilt in 1870 but have since been removed.
Turn right into Middlesex
Street (aka Petticoat Lane)
Renamed by the Victorians there was an old clothes market here from the beginning of the 17th century. Prior to the Great Plague of 1665 there were large houses of well-to-do people in the area.
First left through Widnes
On the right is an old tiled bakery.
Cross Sandy's Row into the
narrow Artillery Passage.
This area was used by the Honorable Artillery Company for archery and gunnery practice in Tudor times. Numbers 56 & 58 were built as houses around 1690 and converted to luxury shops by Huguenot silk merchants in the 1750s. Number 58 was modernised in 1827. The two buildings are now an art centre called Raven Row which has galleries open to the public.
Go ahead to White's Row and
right along Tenterground
This area was used for the processing of cloth (stretched on tenterhooks)
Go left into Brune Street
The Jewish Soup Kitchen was built in 1902 to serve the local community. It was converted to apartments in 1997.
Return to Crispin Street
The Providence Night Refuge was built in 1868 and was in use until the 1970s. The Sisters of Mercy provided accommodation for 300 women and children and 50 men. The Car Park opposite covers the site of Millers Court where the last and most brutally murdered of Jack the Ripper's victims was found. At the end of Crispin Street are the former premises of Donovans (paper bags) and Daltons (peanuts).
Explore the Spitalfields
Market area opposite
This was established in 1682 and rebuilt in 1885-93 by Robert Horner, a former market porter. It was taken over and extended in the 1920s by the City of London Corporation. Trading ceased in 1986 and moved out to Leyton. The Horner buildings have been restored and the remainder of the site has been redeveloped to provide cafes, shops and public open spaces. Archaeological investigations were carried out by the Museum of London as the market stands on the site of the Priory of St Mary Spital. The remains of the charnel house can be viewed in the square. The Bishop's Square development was undertaken by Foster & Partners in 2003-5.
Exit into Commercial Street
and cross into Fournier Street.
The Ten Bells pub was used by victims of Jack the Ripper. Christ Church by Nicholas Hawksmoor is a monster which nearly became extinct! Little money had been spent on the church since its construction in 1714-29 and it had to be closed in 1957 as a dangerous structure. The diocese thought to demolish it but the 'Friends of Christ Church' was set up to restore the building, aided by a Heritage Lottery Grant. An old notice remains on the north side stating where keys to the church could be obtained in case of fire.
Go along Fournier Street
(originally Church Street)
Number two is the Rectory also designed by Hawksmoor in 1726-9. Other houses in the street were built 1718-28 originally for Huguenot immigrants many of whom were silk weavers. The top floor rooms which housed the looms have large windows. Number 27 was a dispensary 1829-1946 and at the end a is a mosque, built in 1743 as a Huguenot Chapel. This also served as a Methodist Chapel (1819-97) and a Jewish Synagogue (1897-1976).
Go left along Brick Lane as
far as the former Truman's Black Eagle Brewery.
This operated 1666-1989. On the left is the head brewer's house (c1820) and on the right the director's house (c1740) and the engineer's house (c 1830). There are also former stables and the vat house (c1800) with a pediment, clock and hexagonal bell tower which was once a chapel.
Return and go right down
On the left behind number 22 is the Christ Church Hall which was used for political and strike meetings. Eleanor Marx and Annie Besant both spoke there. The body of Annie Chapman, a Ripper victim, was found in the yard of number 29.
Left into Wilkes Street and
right through Puma Court (fomerly Red Lion Court)
This has some surviving weaver's houses of c1720. On the right the Norton Folgate Almshouses were built in 1860 to replace those demolished for the construction of Commercial Street (see plaque).
Cross and go through the
Market again exiting to the right. Go through Nantes Passage or
Elder Gardens into Folgate Street.
To the right are the first Peabody Buildings designed by H Darbishire in 1863-4. The attic floor had bathrooms and laundry facilities. They were converted to apartments for sale in 1999. The neo-Georgian buildings were built in 1995-9 as apartments.
Right along Elder Street.
The houses were built from 1722. Some are only one room deep. There is a plaque to the artist Mark Gertler at number 32.
Left along Fleur de Lis
Offices of the 1970s incorporate Loom Court, former weaver's dwellings.
Left along Blossom Street.
There are warehouses of 1886 on the west side.
Right at Folgate Street
Number 18 is Dennis Sever's time capsule house (open to the public). Numbers 12 & 14 were rebuilt in 1983 and numbers 5-11 in 1904.
Left along Norton Folgate
and left into Spital Yard
This marks the entrance to the priory. On the right a house has a plaque to John Wesley's mother who was born there in 1669.
Continue into Spital Square
Only a small section of this survives, most being demolished in 1961 for market use. The house of 1740 at number 37 is home to the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings, founded by William Morris in 1871. Next door is St Botolph's Hall of 1891, part of the former Central Foundation School.
Cross Bishopsgate into
Primrose Street and go left under Exchange House
This building 'hangs' on arches spanning the railway track.
Continue into Exchange
Ahead is Liverpool Street Station but if you would like to explore this area see the article on BROADGATE PUBLIC ART. There are plenty of places to eat and during the summer months there is often lunchtime entertainment in Exchange Square and Broadgate Arena.
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