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Previously known as ‘Petty France’, ‘Little Jerusalem’ and ‘Banglatown’, Spitalfields has a rich and diverse history. Based in the E1 postcode, Old Spitalfields Market is now the central focus of the large area in the east-end of London, playing host to an impressive array of pop-ups, shops and market traders.
Taking its name from the fields next to the hospital (hospital + fields), St Mary’s Spittel opened in 1197, but it was later in the thirteenth century that Spitalfields began to flourish. The market is now home to artists, traders, big-brands and up-and-coming performers and brands. Despite the market itself closing at 5:30pm, the lively restaurant and bar scene remains busy thanks to its proximity Shoreditch and the many offices surrounding the market.
The Old Spitalfields Market building, completed in 1893, isn’t the only reason to visit the area. If you’re a fan of curry, Brick Lane has some of the most authentic flavour combinations in the UK, and the iconic Truman Brewery chimney makes great Instagram fodder. For the more eco-conscious, the Nomadic gardens are a hidden gem just off of Brick Lane. A great place to see graffiti and flowers from across the world in the +100 allotment spaces.
New movers into the area, Bailey Nelson, are luxury glasses and sunglasses retail store that makes buying glasses a pleasure. JC Hinsley, UK Country Manager for Bailey Nelson, believes there is something special about Spitalfields that you can’t quite put your finger on; “It’s a unique area with a special aura about it. Spitalfields is becoming more and more a destination. We chose the store because of the market’s pull to the area. For locals and tourists, it’s the place to see new fashion and try different foods.”
Thanks to the Liverpool Street Crossrail opening in 2019, the entire E1 area is about to see a lot more foot traffic as the journey times get slashed; from 22 to six minutes into Canary Wharf, and the West End will now be a mere four-minute ride down from eight. Get ready for more brilliant people, in an already brilliant place. If you’re looking for something unique, varied and compact, head to Spitalfields.
– The art market on the first Thursday and Sunday of the month on Market Street showcases new and established talent at affordable prices.
– The ‘A. Gold’ deli at 42 Brushfield Street, with original frontage, the eatery still bears the name of Amelie Gold, a Jewish Hungarian who lived in Spitalfields practising French millinery in the 1880s.
– If you want to see an example of just how intertwined the culture in the area is, built in 1743, the current resident of 59 Brick Lane is the Brick Lane Mosque (or Brick Lane Jamme Masjid) but the building has also been a Huguenot chapel, a Methodist church and a Jewish Synagogue.
– Urbanmakers, a collection of designer-makers who take over Spitalfields Market from 10am to 5pm on the first and third weekend of the month, visit for unique gifts and items for the home.
– There’s no Brick Lane station, but there could have been. In 2006, a campaign, led by a local councillor, was waged so Aldgate East station would be renamed as Brick Lane station to entice Olympics trade.
– A short walk will find you in Rivington Street, home to one of the first Banksy etchings.
– The phrase ‘on tenterhooks’ is said to originate from Spitalfields as weaving was one of the principal trades in Spitalfields. Textiles were pulled tight on frames and then left outside to dry on hooks to prevent shrinkage.
Email [email protected] for more information and to register your interest in the space.