The earliest depiction of Wentworth Street appears c.1560, bounded by hedges. However the area immediately east of Petticoat Lane (Middlesex Street
) was built up by the 1640s with substantial houses divided by yards and gardens. The southern side of Wentworth Street had properties whereas the northern side formed the boundary of the Tenter Ground
, an open space used for stretching and drying silk (there were several ’tenter grounds’ in the immediate area). The northern side east of Brick Lane
formed the southern boundary of the Fossan Estate.
The street was so named after Thomas Wentworth, Earl of Cleveland who owned much land in the area in the 1630s and 1640s, although early maps call it ’Wentford Street’ and ’Winford Street’, probably both unintentional errors.
The entire length of Wentworth Street from Petticoat Lane to Brick Lane
was strongly defined by buildings by the 1740s. By the 19th century, much of the street had fallen on hard times, despite being part of the thriving Petticoat Lane Market
. Gustave Dore portrayed it as a slum in an evocative illustration in 1872. The western half of the street was notable for its Jewish inhabitants in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and has long been a part of Petticoat Lane market which, unlike its more famous neighbour, is open every day except Saturdays. The eastern half was of poorer character and was part of the slum district defined by places such as George Yard
, George Street
and Thrawl Street
Wentworth Street from Middlesex Street, c.1920s
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