Fournier Street, E1

Road in/near Spitalfields, existing between 1726 and now

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Road · Spitalfields · E1 ·
MARCH
1
2017

Fournier Street is a street running east-west from Brick Lane to Commercial Street alongside Christ Church.

Fournier (Church) Street, 1946, showing Jones’ pawnbrokers.
The last street to be laid out on the Wood-Mitchell estate (which also included Princelet, Hanbury and Wilkes Streets), building began with the south side in 1726 as Christ Church was being built. Early depictions of the street reveal that its western end, the junction with Red Lion Street, was rather obstructed, which no doubt contributed to its desirability as a residential thoroughfare, especially since the properties on the south side are considered to be the finest on the estate. It was then called Church Street.

The building leases on several houses featured a restrictive covenant respecting its use for noxious trades, however silk-weaving and worsted-dying were not included and many of the properties became occupied (usually in part) by firms connected with the silk industry, some as early as 1743.

The rectory of Christ Church at No.1 Church Street (now 2 Fournier Street) was designed by Nicholas Hawksmoor and John James and was built in 1726-9. The street’s most famous building is the Neuve Eglise (formerly 39 Church Street), built c.1743 as a French church. It subsequently became a methodist chapel (1809), the Spitalfields Great Synagogue (1897) and since 1976 has been the Jamme Masjid Mosque.

The Ten Bells pub, situated at the northern corner with Commercial Street, was originally designated 33 Church Street. At 31 Church Street was Jones’ pawnbrokers. This property is now 3 Fournier Street and Jones’ sign above the front has been uncovered and renovated.

Church Street was originally going to be renamed Christabel Street in July 1893 but was eventually renamed Fournier Street on 7th November 1893 after George Fournier, a wealthy local benefactor of Huguenot origin. Many other streets in the area were renamed at this time.

Much of Fournier Street fell into disrepair in the latter half of the 20th century, with many properties being used as sweatshops or storage spaces for materials or even fruit and vegetables for the nearby market. Following the endeavours of the Spitalfields Trust in renovating potentially condemned local houses of this type in the late 1970s, Fournier Street began to be a focus of the group’s continuing campaign.

Artists Gilbert and George, and Tracey Emin have all lived in the street.


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Fournier (Church) Street, 1946, showing Jones’ pawnbrokers.
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Spitalfields

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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