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In and around Spitalfields

The upmarket market

Spitalfields market and the surrounding area.

If you walk up Spitalfields Marketto the top of Bethnal Green Road (Shoreditch end), turn left towards Liverpool Street and then turn left again into Commercial Street, you will end up in Spitalfields.

Up until 1991 the main activity of the area concentrated on the wholesale fruit and vegetable market. This market has now moved to Leyton and is trading as the New Spitalfields Market. The site it left behind is now a new type of market selling all sorts of goods but retaining the Spitalfields Market name. It varies from day to day, but the busiest day is Sunday.

The other main attraction to the area is Christ Church Spitalfields, which was allowed to become run down over the years but has now been brought back to it's former glory.

Spitalfields photo gallery >>

More history destroyed

A brief history

Much oSpitalfields Marketf the old market has been redeveloped, but the eastern end has been saved as a popular food and general market which has been at the centre of a revival in the area. It has been for the past few years the "in" place for the "artistic" types for want of a better phrase. Don't get me wrong, I love them and the fresh feel they bring to the areas they settle in.

In the 1990's there was a dispute between the Corporation of London and the Spitalfields residents about redevelopment of the western end of the Market. The residents lost and Norman Foster now has another office block designed by him dominating the western end. In all, about two thirds of the historic market were demolished by the developers.

Thankfully the east end of the Market has protected Horner buildings, and so could not be redeveloped.

The naSpitalfields Marketme Spitalfields comes from “hospital fields”. It originated from The Priory of Canons and Hospital for poor brethren of the Order of St Austin which was founded in 1197. It later became The New Hospital of our Lady without Bishopsgate.

The Old Spitalfields Market is now a covered market. It is just outside the ' square mile that makes up the City of London. The buildings in use today were built in 1887 to service a wholesale market, owned by the Corporation of London. This was on the site of a public market, founded in 1682 by Charles II. Charles' Spitalfields Market was founded to feed the growing population of this part of London. It was originally just fields. The buildings have undergone modernisation since the wholesale market moved out. At the time of updating (2013) there is some dispute going on about further redevelopment.

Christ Church Spitalfields

In 1960 ChSpitalfields Churchrist Church was almost a derelict shell. Services could not be held there as the roof was unsafe. The building was under threat of complete demolition until the Hawksmoor Committee managed to save the empty building from the plans proposed by the then Bishop of Stepney, Trevor Huddleston.

As far as I know, the roof was rebuilt with funds raised by the sale of the bombed out Church of St John's in Smith Square. In 1976 the Friends of Christ Church Spitalfields was formed to restore the church and bring the Grade I Listed Building back into use. Services resumed in 1987. The west end was repaired and cleaned in 1986, when the aisle windows were replaced by exact replicas of the originals. The 202 ft spire renovated in 1997.

The south side was renovated in 1999 revealing the brilliant white stone and the detail hidden by years of pollution and neglect. The steps were rebuilt at this time also, and the iron gates and railings removed for the war effort were also replaced. The renovation and restoration work continued until 2004. The church is now in it's original form as when first built.

Spitalfields Market