Old Castle Street runs north-south from Wentworth Street to Whitechapel High Street, the southern section of which incorporates the former Castle Alley, murder site of Ripper victim Alice McKenzie.
Castle Alley appears (though unnamed) in maps as early as 1676, joining Castle Street via a narrow passage to Whitechapel High Street. By the mid-18th century, Castle Street had been given the ’Old’ prefix and the future Castle Alley was known as ’Moses and Aaron Alley’ a name it appears to have kept until c.1800. In 1830, it appears as ’Castle Court’. The name Castle Alley was certainly in use by the mid-19th century.
The Whitechapel Wash House (built 1846-51 in Goulston Street) backed onto Castle Alley, which at this time was extremely narrow and entered via a covered archway from Whitechapel High Street. Castle Alley was lined on its west side by warehouses and the Wash House and on its east side by smaller properties. The confluence of the alley and Old Castle Street took the form of a sharp bend which was to be the site of the Old Castle Street Board School, built 1873. The narrowest part of the alley was also earmarked for widening in 1876 as part of the Cross Act (a slum clearance scheme).
The body of Jack the Ripper victim Alice McKenzie was found on the west side of Castle Alley by PC Walter Andrews at 12.50am om 17 July 1889, lying near some market traders’ carts, just to the south of the Wash House.
Soon after the murder (1890), properties on the east side at the junction with with Whitechapel High Street were demolished, although there were still concerns as to the narrowness of the entrance in the 1900s. It was properly widened c.1908.
By 1916 it had been renamed as part of Old Castle Street. By the 1930s, the Board School had been replaced by LCC flats (Herbert House) and a walkway had been constructed across the street as part of the Brooke Bond tea warehouses on the west side.
War damage on the eastern side led to the redevelopment of adjacent Newcastle Street and other small thoroughfares, resulting in the construction of the New Holland estate (Bradbury House, Ladbroke House and Denning Point) between 1965 and 1971
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My grandparents lived in Kerbela Street many years ago when they were terraced houses. My memory of the street is one long street with these strange wrought iron things outside - which I now know as boot scrapers. The house inside was fairly large, but I was a child. Loo was outside. Shame they knocked the terraces down and build a huge housing estate, but that?s progress I suppose. Does anyone know the origin of the name Kerbela?
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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.
LOCATIONS ON THE UNDERGROUND MAP
18 Folgate Street: Dennis Severs' House in Folgate Street is a 'still-life drama' created by the previous owner as an 'historical imagination' of what life would have been like inside for a family of Huguenot silk weavers. Aldgate: Aldgate was a gateway through London Wall from the City of London to Whitechapel and the East End. Aldgate East: In a land east of Aldgate, lies the land of Aldgate East... Aldgate Pump: Aldgate Pump is a historic water pump, located at the junction where Aldgate meets Fenchurch Street and Leadenhall Street. Boar’s Head Theatre: The Boar’s Head Theatre was an inn-yard theatre in the Whitechapel area. Fenchurch Street: Fenchurch Street railway station is a central London railway terminus in the southeastern corner of the City of London. It is one of the smallest railway termini in London but in terms of platforms, one of the most intensively operated. Goodman’s Fields Theatre: Two 18th century theatres bearing the name Goodman’s Fields Theatre were located on Alie Street, Whitechapel. Great Synagogue of London: The Great Synagogue of London was, for centuries, the centre of Ashkenazi synagogue and Jewish life in London. It was destroyed during World War II, in the Blitz. Portsoken: Portsoken is one of 25 wards in the City of London, each electing an alderman to the Court of Aldermen and commoners (the City equivalent of a councillor) elected to the Court of Common Council of the City of London Corporation. Spitalfields: Spitalfields is near to Liverpool Street station and Brick Lane. St Botolph’s: St. Botolph’s without Aldgate, located on Aldgate High Street, has existed for over a thousand years.
PHOTOS OF THE AREA
London in 1457: Goulston Street is a thoroughfare running north-south from Wentworth Street to Whitechapel High Street. Wentworth Street (1901): Turn-of-the-century fashion in east London.
NEARBY STREETS AND BUILDINGS ON THE UNDERGROUND MAP
Cruchley's New Plan of London Shewing all the new and intended improvements to the Present Time. - Cruchley's Superior Map of London, with references to upwards of 500 Streets, Squares, Public Places & C. improved to 1848: with a compendium of all Place of Public Amusements also shewing the Railways & Stations.
Cary's map provides a detailed view of London. With print date of 1 January 1818, Cary's map has 27 panels arranged in 3 rows of 9 panels, each measuring approximately 6 1/2 by 10 5/8 inches. The complete map measures 32 1/8 by 59 1/2 inches.
Digitising this map has involved aligning the panels into one contiguous map.
John Rocque (c. 1709–1762) was a surveyor, cartographer, engraver, map-seller and the son of Huguenot émigrés.
Roque is now mainly remembered for his maps of London. This map dates from the second edition produced in 1762. London and his other maps brought him an appointment as cartographer to the Prince of Wales in 1751. His widow continued the business after his death.
The map covers central London at a reduced level of detail compared with his 1745-6 map.
Engraved map. Hand coloured.
Insets: A view of the Tower from London Bridge -- A view of London from Copenhagen Fields. Includes views of facades of 25 structures "A comparison of the principal buildings of London."
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