It was a beautiful day as I set off up Globe Lane.
But I felt sad to find a graveyard, with no-one to remember Matthew Spooner, dead at eight months in 1822. At least the flowers were there. It is known as Craft School memorial gardens.
The Craft School was an evening school, of which there were several in the area, and the intention was to provide adult education. The Craft School occupied nos. 137–41 Globe Road from 1879 to 1912.
Globe Lane takes us to Bethnal Green, ‘..a large district chiefly populated by the silk-weavers of Spitalfields..’. Do read the article by Spitalfields Life, and this for an erudite historical background. In 1685 Louis XIV revoked the Edict of Nantes, removing the freedom of the Protestants in France to worship freely. By 1710 between 40,000 and 50,000 French Protestants, from all walks of life, had moved to London. There had always been silk weaving in Spitalfields but it increased with the advent of the Huguenots. The Huguenots are now remembered mainly in street or place names. ‘The houses generally are miserably small and densely inhabited..’, says Mr Bradshaw, but I could not find any of the weavers’ houses.
Globe Town, on the eastern side of Bethnal Green, developed from 1800 onwards to accommodate the new immigrants. ‘..The population of Bethnal Green trebled between 1801 and 1831, … [with] 20,000 looms] operating] in … [private] … homes..’. Now the area houses a large Bangladeshi community, as well as Turkish, Arabic, and Cantonese speaking minorities – Peter Ackroyd’s ‘continuity of purpose’ in operation?
Mr Bradshaw states: ‘..Ten new churches have been erected here in the last ten years;..’, which is rather a curious statement. And then I found the following: In 1839 the Bishop of London, James Blomfield, decided to build ten new churches in Bethnal Green ‘one of the most desolate parishes’ in his diocese. At the time the area had a population of around seventy thousand people and two Anglican churches, dedicated to the apostles St Matthew and St John. Blomfield set up a fund, and the new churches were completed by 1850 and dedicated to the remaining ten apostles (St Matthias replacing Judas Iscariot as the twelfth apostle). This was the start of a long tradition of philanthropists from the West End, Oxford and the churches coming into the East End and trying to improve its moral and social condition. Two of the churches have been converted into flats, four have been demolished, and four are still in use.
Pre-1839 churches: St Matthew by George Dance, 1746 (1) and St John by Sir John Soane, 1828 (2)
Demolished: St Andrew (3), St Jude (7), St Matthias (8), St Philip (10), St Thomas (12); the vicarage of St Simon Zelotes still survives (11)
Converted to flats: St James the Great (6), St Bartholomew (4)
Still in use: St James the Less (5), St Peter (9)
‘The line of the Eastern Counties Railway traverses the very heart of this squalid region..’.
Bonner’s Fields were open fields on the banks of the Regents Canal, opposite Victoria Park, and Bonner’s Hall itself ‘..was removed in 1845 to make for the new Victoria Park.’ Edmund Bonner, 1500-1569, was known as ‘Bloody Bonner’ for his persecution of Protestants. He seems to have been a rather curious man, more of a Civil servant than a cleric. I think the Hall stood to the east of the London Chest Hospital, and before the canal crossing. The Bishop is remembered in Bonner Road and Bishop Road.
Victoria Park ‘..is a most desirable and ornamental addition to this quarter, and present a prettily-planted pleasure ground of 290 acres..’.
The statues were donated to the Park in 1912 by Lady Regnart, but were replaced by these replicas in 2009, the originals having been vandalised. Curiously, one of the dogs appears to be a copy of a Roman copy of a Greek bronze from, probably, the second century BC. It is not clear why Lady Regnart felt this would enhance the Park… On this warm day the Park was indeed beautiful.
The cherry blossom in the Park was glorious, and everywhere people were enjoying the sunshine.
‘..Shoreditch, notwithstanding its present uninviting appearance, was once a genteel district, much inhabited by the players of the court and those connected with the ‘Curtain’ and the ‘Blackfriars’ theatres.The unremarkable parish church of St Leonard’s, built in 1740 by George Dance, was the burial site of many famous actors, including Burbage.
The little park adjacent to Sir John Soane’s church of St Matthew was filled with flowers, and a record of bravery –
The Church had a neglected feel, with grave stones at angles, and illegible, but the magic of the day won –
I must note the City of London Theatre in Bishopsgate, built in 1838, otherwise Norton Folgate and Bishopsgate Street Without are unremarkable. The Theatre no longer exists, replaced by 101 Bishopsgate.
The terminus of the Eastern Counties Railway is in Shoreditch, and I think it may now be Liverpool Street Station. The Sir Paul Pindar tavern in Bishopsgate Street, formerly a merchant’s house, is noteworthy, but now the facade is preserved in the V&A. it is no longer there. Sir Paul Pindar apparently gave generously towards the restoration of St Paul’s Cathedral and has a monument in the church of St Botolph.
St Botolph’s was built in 1728 ‘..and the living, in the gift of the Bishop of London, is more valuable than any other in the City..’. The church was open, the first open church that afternoon, and so I went in and sat down. It isn’t a particularly beautiful church, or particularly atmospheric, but this was the day before my mother died, a year ago. And so I lit two candles, for my sister and me, and just sat and remembered.
Mr Bradshaw didn’t mention Spitalfields but I was tempted to divert because it was connected to the Huguenots, whose houses I had searched for in Bethnal Green. And because my mother had written and published a book, The Avenue of Oaks, in which the Huguenots were prominent. (And do look at this post from Spitalfields Life.)
The New Greek Church in London Wall was opened in 1850 and was the first Greek Church in London, apparently to service only thirty families! The Church no longer exists in Londonwall.
Finsbury Square, ‘Fens-bury’, a marshy area, was the site for the London Institution in Mr Bradshaw’s time, but no more. Currently it is a building site for the crossrail project. :
The Moorfields Roman Catholic Chapel is on the corner, by East Street, says mr Bradshaw. Weber was originally buried here, but in 1844 his remains were moved to Dresden. Apparently ‘..The service in this cathedral is of a remarkably impressive character..’. However, I could not find the chapel.
‘Hence we may pursue our way by the Pavement again into the City, and recruit ourselves for further expeditions in an opposite direction..’.