Dorset Street was a small thoroughfare running east-west from Crispin Street to Commercial Street.
Developed as a footpath across the south side of the ’Spital Field’ in 1674. Originally known as Datchett Street after the Berkshire home of the Wheler family who owned much land in this area, the name was soon corrupted to Dorset Street.
By the mid 18th century, Dorset Street, like many others in the area, was the home of artisans and silk weavers, living and working in four-storey townhouses with attic workshops, however these prosperous times came to an end by the 1840s and many properties were turned into common lodging houses. A pub, the Blue Coat Boy, stood on the north side (first recorded in 1825, but thought to be considerably older), approximately half way along the street and is believed to be one of the first pubs to serve the nearby market. The Blue Coat Boy was later joined by two more pubs, The Horn of Plenty on the northern corner with Crispin Street and the Britannia, a beer house, on the corner with Commercial Street.
There were many lodging houses in Dorset Street by 1888, at nos.9, 10, 11-12, 15-20 (Commercial Street Chambers), 28-30 and 35 (Crossingham’s Lodging House), earning it the nickname of ’Dosset Street’. John McCarthy owned a chandler’s shop at No.27 and also No.26, known as ’the shed’. Between these properties was a brick archway which led to Miller’s Court.
The street was notable for its poor character - on 17 March 1898, it was visited by George Duckworth, a survey assistant collecting information which would eventually lead to an update of Charles Booth’s ’Descriptive Map of London Poverty’. Accompanied by Sergeant French of H-division, he was taken aback by the conditions he saw:
"The worst street I have seen so far - thieves, prostitutes, bullies, all common lodging houses. Some called ’doubles’ with double beds for married couples but merely another name for brothels. Women bedraggled, torn skirts, dirty, unkempt, square jaws standing about in street or on doorsteps."
Probably as a result of the street’s poor reputation, its name was changed to Duval Street on 28 June 1904. In 1920, the Corporation of London purchased Spitalfields Market and planned a major expansion which resulted in the construction of the Fruit Exchange and the demolition of the north side of Duval Street (including Miller’s Court) in 1928. That year, the author Leonard Matters visited and photographed the street mere days before redevelopment:
"What Dorset Street was like seventy years ago can only be imagined from an inspection of the district today and a walk through narrow lanes and byways leading off Commercial Street and Brick Lane. Duval Street itself is undergoing change, and the buildings on the left-hand side going east have nearly all been torn down to make room for extensions to Spitalfields Market.
"At the time of my first visit to the neighbourhood most of the houses on the left-hand side of the street were unoccupied, and some were being demolished. The house in which Kelly was murdered was closed, save for one front room still occupied by a dreadful looking slattern who came out of Miller’s Court into the sunlight and blinked at me. When she saw me focus my camera to get a picture of the front of the house, the old hag swore at me, and shuffled away down the passage.
"I took what is probably the last photograph of the house to be secured by anybody, for three days later Miller’s Court and the dilapidated buildings on either side of it were nothing but a heap of bricks and mortar. The housebreakers had completely demolished the crumbling wreck of the slum dwelling in which "Jack the Ripper" committed his last crime! Miller’s Court, when I saw it, was nothing but a stone flagged passage between two houses, the upper stories of which united and so formed an arch over the entrance. Over this arch there was an iron plate bearing the legend, "Miller’s Court." The passage was three feet wide and about twenty feet long, and at the end of it there was a small paved yard, about fifteen feet square. Abutting on this yard, or "court", was the small back room in which the woman Kelly was killed - a dirty, damp and dismal hovel, with boarded-up windows and a padlocked door as though the place had not been occupied since the crime was committed.
"But the strange thing was that nobody in the neighbourhood seemed to know the history of Miller’s Court..."
VIEW THE WHITECHAPEL AREA IN THE 1750s The 1750 Rocque map is bounded by Sudbury (NW), Snaresbrook (NE), Eltham (SE) and Hampton Court (SW). Outside these bounds, the 1750 map does not display.
Whitechapel is a neighbourhood whose heart is Whitechapel Road itself, named for a small chapel of ease dedicated to St Mary.
By the late 1500s Whitechapel and the surrounding area had started becoming 'other half' of London. Located downwind of the genteel sections of west London which were to see the expansion of Westminster Abbey and construction of Buckingham Palace, it naturally attracted the more fragrant activities of the city, particularly tanneries, breweries, foundries (including the Whitechapel Bell Foundry which later cast Philadelphia's Liberty Bell and also Big Ben), slaughterhouses and, close by to the south, the gigantic Billingsgate fish market, famous in its day for the ornately foul language of the extremely Cockney fishwomen who worked there.
Population shifts from rural areas to London from the 1600s to the mid 1800s resulted in great numbers of more or less destitute people taking up residence amidst the industries and mercantile interests that had attracted them. By the 1840s Whitechapel, along with the enclaves of Wapping, Aldgate, Bethnal Green, Mile End, Limehouse and Stepney (collectively known today as the East End), had evolved, or devolved, into classic 'dickensian' London. Whitechapel Road itself was not particularly squalid through most of this period - it was the warren of small dark streets branching from it that contained the greatest suffering, filth and danger, especially Dorset St., Thrawl St., Berners St. (renamed Henriques St.), Wentworth St. and others.
In the Victorian era the base population of poor English country stock was swelled by immigrants from all over, particularly Irish and Jewish. 1888 saw the depredations of the Whitechapel Murderer, later known as 'Jack the Ripper'. In 1902, American author Jack London, looking to write a counterpart to Jacob Riis's seminal book How the Other Half Lives, donned ragged clothes and boarded in Whitechapel, detailing his experiences in The People of the Abyss. Riis had recently documented the astoundingly bad conditions in the leading city of the United States. Jack London, a socialist, thought it worthwhile to explore conditions in the leading city of the nation that had created modern capitalism. He concluded that English poverty was far rougher than the American variety. The juxtaposition of the poverty, homelessness, exploitive work conditions, prostitution, and infant mortality of Whitechapel and other East End locales with some of the greatest personal wealth the world has ever seen made it a focal point for leftist reformers of all kinds, from George Bernard Shaw, whose Fabian Society met regularly in Whitechapel, to Vladimir Ilyich Lenin, who boarded and led rallies in Whitechapel during his exile from Russia.
Whitechapel remained poor (and colourful) through the first half of the 20th Century, though somewhat less desperately so. It suffered great damage in the V2 German rocket attacks and the Blitz of World War II. Since then, Whitechapel has lost its notoriety, though it is still thoroughly working class. The Bangladeshis are the most visible migrant group there today and it is home to many aspiring artists and shoestring entrepreneurs.
Since the 1970s, Whitechapel and other nearby parts of East London have figured prominently in London's art scene. Probably the most prominent art venue is the Whitechapel Art Gallery, founded in 1901 and long an outpost of high culture in a poor neighbourhood. As the neighbourhood has gentrified, it has gained citywide, and even international, visibility and support.
Whitechapel, is a London Underground and London Overground station, on Whitechapel Road was opened in 1876 by the East London Railway on a line connecting Liverpool Street station in the City of London with destinations south of the River Thames. The station site was expanded in 1884, and again in 1902, to accommodate the services of the Metropolitan District Railway, a predecessor of the London Underground. The London Overground section of the station was closed between 2007 and 27 April 2010 for rebuilding, initially reopening for a preview service on 27 April 2010 with the full service starting on 23 May 2010.
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... Shoreditch: Shoreditch is a place in the London Borough of Hackney. It is a built-up district located 2.3 miles (3.7 km) north east of Charing Cross. 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. Whitechapel: Whitechapel is a neighbourhood whose heart is Whitechapel Road itself, named for a small chapel of ease dedicated to St Mary.
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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