Most buildings in the area were placed in the mid-17th century after the Great Fire of London. Spitalfields market was established in the 1680s. Spitalfields became a parish in its own right in 1729 when Hawksmoor’s Christ Church was consecrated.
Spitalfields lies at the heart of the East End, an area known for its spirit and a strong sense of community. Yet, it has been an area of constant change throughout its history. Following the edict of Nantes in 1685, the Huguenots fled France, bringing with them the skills of silk weaving and building the once-grand houses in the conservation area around Fournier Street. Today’s leather and textile trades continue this earlier tradition of weaving.
The potato famine led to an influx of men from Ireland, bringing in workers to build the nearby docks. More recently, Bangladeshi settlers have contributed to the richness of life in the borough of Tower Hamlets, many of them establishing restaurants in and around Brick Lane.
Nowadays, the best way to explore Spitalfields and appreciate its rich history is on foot. As the map shows, it’s within a few minutes’ walk of several tube stations.