Brushfield Street, E1

Road in/near Spitalfields, existing between 1676 and now

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Road · Spitalfields · E1 ·

Brushfield Street is a thoroughfare running east-west from Commercial Street to Bishopsgate.

Depicted in 1676 as an unnamed road on the south side of the ’Spittlefield’ running between Crispin Street and Red Lion Street. By the beginning of the 18th century it had acquired the name Little Paternoster and later Paternoster Row.

It was extended west to Bishopsgate in the latter half of the 18th century, the new extension cutting through Crispin Street, Gun Street, Steward Street and Duke Street (later Fort Street). This new section was called Union Street.

The north side of the street was (and to some extent still is) dominated by the buildings of Spitalfields Market. It was renamed Brushfield Street on 25 February 1870 in honour of Thomas Brushfield, a Justice of the Peace, trustee of the London Dispensary in Fournier Street and a prominent Vestryman. Thomas Tempany, owner of Mr. Tenpenny’s Lodging House in Gun Street, was recorded as residing at 6 Paternoster Row before the name-change.

The Prince Albert pub stood at 21 Brushfield Street..

Much of Brushfield Street (except the 19th century buildings of Spitalfields Market) was altered in the 1920s - the London Fruit exchange was built on the south side in 1928 and further market buildings were constructed on the north side around the same time. These latter buildings were demolished in the 1990s and were replaced 2001-5 by the large office and retail development known as Bishop’s Square.

Several 18th century buildings still survive on the south side of the street and most are now restaurants or cafes. The rear frontages of the Bishopsgate Institute (1895) are visible at the western end.


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Spitalfields is near to Liverpool Street station and Brick Lane.

The area straddles Commercial Street and is home to several markets, including the historic Old Spitalfields Market, and various Brick Lane Markets on Brick Lane and Cheshire Street. Petticoat Lane Market lies on the area's south-western boundaries.

The name Spitalfields appears in the form Spittellond in 1399; as The spitel Fyeld on the 16th-century Civitas Londinium map associated with Ralph Agas. The land belonged to St Mary Spital, a priory or hospital erected on the east side of the Bishopsgate thoroughfare in 1197, and the name is thought to derive from this. An alternative, and possibly earlier, name for the area was Lolsworth.

After the revocation of the Edict of Nantes, Spitalfields was inhabited by prosperous French Huguenot silk weavers. In the early 19th century their descendants were reduced to a deplorable condition due to the competition of the Manchester textile factories and the area began to deteriorate into crime-infested slums. The spacious and handsome Huguenot houses were divided up into tiny dwellings which were rented by poor families of labourers, who sought employment in the nearby docks.

The area has recently attracted a IT-literate younger population.
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