Green Dragon Alley, E14

Road in/near Limehouse, existed between 1732 and 1869

 HOME  ·  ARTICLE  ·  MAPS  ·  STREETS  BLOG 
(51.5099 -0.03711, 51.509 -0.037) 
MAP YEAR:1750180018301860190019502021Remove markers
Road · * · E14 ·
July
5
2021

Green Dragon Alley is a long-gone alleyway off Narrow Street.

The tiny Green Dragon Alley was described in John Lockie’s 1810 ’Descriptive London Street Directory’ as "the second on the left about nine doors from Mr. Turner’s wharf, leading into Risby’s rope walk".

Mentioned in 1732 but disappearing under an 1869 new dock entrance to Limehouse Basin, the alley was one of the central locations in the drama of the famed Spring-Heeled Jack of the Victoria era.

It snowed heavily during the night of 8–9 February 1855. The next morning, villagers around the Exe estuary in Devon noticed a single file of hoof-like 'footprints'. Following the trail from their own village, they met folk from other villages coming the other way tracking the line from their own start point. The marks measured about 4 inches long, 3 inches across and between 8 to 16 inches. It was realised that the total distance of the tracks was between 40 and 100 miles. Houses, rivers, haystacks and other obstacles were travelled straight over. Footprints appeared on the tops of snow-covered roofs and walls, as well as leading up to and exiting drain pipes as small as 4 inches in diameter.

An 1855 issue of Bell's Life in Sydney reported:
"It appears on Thursday night last, there was a very heavy snowfall in the neighbourhood of Exeter and the South of Devon. On the following morning the inhabitants of the above towns were surprised at discovering the footmarks of some strange and mysterious animal endowed with the power of ubiquity, as the footprints were to be seen in all kinds of unaccountable places – on the tops of houses and narrow walls, in gardens and court-yards, enclosed by high walls and pailings, as well in open fields. The superstitious go so far as to believe that they are the marks of Satan himself; and that great excitement has been produced among all classes may be judged from the fact that the subject has been descanted on from the pulpit."

The Devil's Footprints was just one of a number of Victorian unexplained phenomena and one of many incidents attributed to the work of a villain called Spring-Heeled Jack, more normally seen in London.

In the early 19th century, there were reports of ghosts that stalked the streets of the capital. These figures were depicted as pale but human-like, preying on lone pedestrians. The stories formed part of a distinct ghost tradition in London which may have formed the foundation of the legend of Spring-Heeled Jack.

In October 1837 a servant girl called Mary Stevens was walking to Lavender Hill, Battersea where she was working as a servant, after visiting her parents. On her way and near to Clapham Common, a strange figure leapt at her from a dark alley. He grabbed her arms tightly and began to kiss her face while touching her with his claws, which were, she said later, "cold and clammy as those of a corpse". She screamed and her attacker fled. The commotion attracted several residents who launched a search for the aggressor, but he could not be found.

The first claimed sighting of Jack was in the year Victoria came to the throne. He had a very bizarre appearance and an ability to make extraordinary leaps. He was described by people claiming to have seen him as looking like the devil with sharp metallic claws at his fingertips and eyes that "resembled red balls of fire". Beneath a black cloak, he wore a helmet and a tight-fitting white oilskin-like garment. He would breathe out blue and white flames.


Illustration of Spring-heeled Jack, from the serial Spring-heel'd Jack: The Terror of London


The very next day and nearby, a figure jumped in the way of a carriage, causing the coachman to lose control, crash, and severely injure himself. Several witnesses saw a figure jumping over a nine feet high wall while cackling with high-pitched, ringing laughter.The news spread, and soon the press gave him the nickname "Spring-Heeled Jack".

On 9 January 1838, the Lord Mayor of London, Sir John Cowan, revealed a letter at a public session from 'a resident of Peckham' which the mayor summarised as follows:

"It appears that some individuals (of, as the writer believes, the highest ranks of life) have laid a wager with a mischievous and foolhardy companion, that he durst not take upon himself the task of visiting many of the villages near London in three different disguises—a ghost, a bear, and a devil; and moreover, that he will not enter a gentleman's gardens for the purpose of alarming the inmates of the house. The wager has, however, been accepted, and the unmanly villain has succeeded in depriving seven ladies of their senses, two of whom are not likely to recover, but to become burdens to their families.

At one house the man rang the bell, and on the servant coming to open door, this worse than brute stood in no less dreadful figure than a spectre clad most perfectly. The consequence was that the poor girl immediately swooned, and has never from that moment been in her senses.

The affair has now been going on for some time, and, strange to say, the papers are still silent on the subject. The writer has reason to believe that they have the whole history at their finger-ends but, through interested motives, are induced to remain silent."

A member of the audience at that 1838 public session confirmed that "servant girls about Kensington, Hammersmith and Ealing, tell dreadful stories of this ghost or devil".

The matter was reported in The Times on 9 January and by the 11th, the Lord Mayor was at a crowded gathering showing a pile of letters from various places in and around London complaining of similar "wicked pranks". The quantity of letters that poured into the Mansion House suggests that the stories were widespread in suburban London.

A letter claimed that in Stockwell, Brixton, Camberwell and Vauxhall several people had died of fright and others had had fits; meanwhile, another reported that the trickster had been repeatedly seen in Lewisham and Blackheath.

The best-known of the alleged incidents involving Spring-Heeled Jack were incidents involving two teenage girls, Lucy Scales and Jane Alsop.

Jane Alsop reported that on the night of 19 February 1838, she answered the door of her father's house in Old Ford to a man claiming to be a police officer, who told her to bring a light, claiming "we have caught Spring-heeled Jack here in the lane". She found a candle, and noticed that the man wore a large cloak. That moment, he threw off the cloak and "presented a most hideous and frightful appearance", vomiting blue and white flame from his mouth while his eyes resembled "red balls of fire". He wore a large helmet and had very tight-fitting, white oilskin clothing. He caught hold of her and began tearing her gown with his claws which she said were "of some metallic substance". She screamed for help and was rescued by one of her sisters as her assailant fled.

Soon after, one Thomas Millbank boasted in the Morgan's Arms Lambeth that he was Spring-heeled Jack. He was then arrested and subsequently tried. Millbank had been wearing white overalls and a greatcoat, which he dropped outside the house, and the candle he dropped was also found. He escaped conviction only because Jane Alsop insisted her attacker had breathed fire, and Millbank admitted he could do no such thing.

Nine days after the Alsop case, on 28 February 1838, 18-year-old Lucy Scales and her sister were returning home immediately after visiting their brother, a butcher who "lived in a respectable part of Limehouse". As they were passing along Green Dragon Alley, they observed a person standing in an angle of the passage. She was walking in front of her sister at the time, and just as she came up to the person, who was wearing a large cloak, he spurted "a quantity of blue flame" in her face. This so alarmed her, that she dropped to the ground, and was seized with violent fits which continued for several hours.

Her brother heard the loud screams of one of his sisters moments after they had left his house and on running up Green Dragon Alley he found his sister Lucy on the ground in a fit, with her sister attempting to hold and support her. She described Lucy's assailant as being of tall, thin, and gentlemanly appearance, covered in a large cloak, and carrying a small lamp or bull's eye lantern similar to those used by the police. The individual did not try to lay hands on them, but instead walked quickly away. Every effort was made by the police to discover the culprit - several persons were questioned, but were then set free.After these incidents, Spring-
Heeled Jack became one of the most popular bogeymen of the period, featuring in newspapers and penny dreadfuls. For decades in London, his name was equated with the bogeyman, as a means of scaring children into behaving by telling them, if they were not good, Spring-Heeled Jack would leap up and peer in at them through their bedroom windows at night.

Jack's appearances became less frequent though in 1843, a wave of sightings swept the country again. The Duke of Wellington was part of a group who searched for Jack on the commons of south London.

The legend was linked in 1855 with the "Devil's Footprints".

By the end of the 19th century the reported sightings of Spring-heeled Jack were focused on northwest England. In 1888, in Everton (Liverpool), he allegedly appeared on the rooftop of Saint Francis Xavier's Church in Salisbury Street. In 1904 there were reports of appearances in nearby William Henry Street.

In the early 1900s he was being represented as a costumed, altruistic avenger of wrongs and protector of the innocent, effectively becoming a precursor to pulp fiction and then comic book superheroes.

No one was ever caught and identified as Spring-Heeled Jack; combined with the extraordinary abilities attributed to him and the very long period during which he was reportedly at large, this has led to numerous and varied theories of his nature and identity.

Sceptical investigators have dismissed the stories of Spring-Heeled Jack as mass hysteria which developed around various stories of a bogeyman or devil which have been around for centuries.

A variety of wildly speculative paranormal explanations have been proposed to explain the origin of Spring-Heeled Jack, including that he was an extra-terrestrial entity with a non-human appearance and features.

Other researchers believe that individuals may have been behind its origins, being followed by imitators later on. Spring-Heeled Jack was widely considered not to be a supernatural creature, but rather one or more persons with a macabre sense of humour. This idea matches the contents of the letter to the Lord Mayor, which accused a group of young aristocrats.

As for the Devils Footprints, investigators are sceptical that the tracks really extended for more than a hundred miles, arguing that no-one would have been able to follow their entire course in a single day.

Author Geoffrey Household suggested that "an experimental balloon" released by mistake from Devonport Dockyard had left the mysterious tracks by trailing two shackles on the end of its mooring ropes.

Main sources
'The Legend and Bizarre Crimes of Spring Heeled Jack' - Peter Haining
'The Encyclopedia of Unsolved Crimes' - Michael Newton




Licence: Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike Licence

Click here to go to a random London street
We now have 411 completed street histories and 47089 partial histories
Find streets or residential blocks within the M25 by clicking STREETS


CONTRIBUTIONS TO THE LOCALITY


Comment
Tricia   
Added: 27 Apr 2021 12:05 GMT   

St George in the East Church
This Church was opened in 1729, designed by Hawksmore. Inside destroyed by incendrie bomb 16th April 1941. Rebuilt inside and finished in 1964. The building remained open most of the time in a temporary prefab.

Reply
Lived here
Kim Johnson   
Added: 24 Jun 2021 19:17 GMT   

Limehouse Causeway (1908)
My great grandparents were the first to live in 15 Tomlins Terrace, then my grandparents and parents after marriage. I spent the first two years of my life there. My nan and her family lived at number 13 Tomlins Terrace. My maternal grandmother lived in Maroon house, Blount Street with my uncle. Nan, my mum and her brothers were bombed out three times during the war.

Reply
Born here
Beverly Sand   
Added: 3 Apr 2021 17:19 GMT   

Havering Street, E1
My mother was born at 48 Havering Street. That house no longer exists. It disappeared from the map by 1950. Family name Schneider, mother Ray and father Joe. Joe’s parents lived just up the road at 311 Cable Street

Reply
Lived here
   
Added: 16 Feb 2021 13:41 GMT   

Giraud Street
I lived in Giraud St in 1938/1939. I lived with my Mother May Lillian Allen & my brother James Allen (Known as Lenny) My name is Tom Allen and was evacuated to Surrey from Giraud St. I am now 90 years of age.

Reply
Born here
colin Passfield   
Added: 1 Jan 2021 15:28 GMT   

Dora Street, E14
My grandmother was born in 1904 at 34 Dora Street

Reply
Comment
Boo Horton    
Added: 31 May 2021 13:39 GMT   

Angel & Trumpet, Stepney Green
The Angel & Trumpet Public House in Stepney Green was run by my ancestors in the 1930’s. Unfortunately, it was a victim on WWII and was badly damaged and subsequently demolished. I have one photograph that I believe to bethe pub, but it doesn’t show much more that my Great Aunt cleaning the steps.

Reply
LATEST LONDON-WIDE CONTRIBUTIONS TO THE PROJECT

Comment
old lady   
Added: 19 Jul 2021 11:58 GMT   

mis information
Cheltenham road was originally
Hall road not Hill rd
original street name printed on house still standing

Reply
Comment
Patricia Bridges   
Added: 19 Jul 2021 10:57 GMT   

Lancefield Coachworks
My grandfather Tom Murray worked here

Reply
Lived here
Former Philbeach Gardens Resident   
Added: 14 Jul 2021 00:44 GMT   

Philbeach Gardens Resident (Al Stewart)
Al Stewart, who had huts in the 70s with the sings ’Year of the Cat’ and ’On The Borders’, lived in Philbeach Gdns for a while and referenced Earl’s Court in a couple of his songs.
I lived in Philbeach Gardens from a child until my late teens. For a few years, on one evening in the midst of Summer, you could hear Al Stewart songs ringing out across Philbeach Gardens, particularly from his album ’Time Passages". I don’t think Al was living there at the time but perhaps he came back to see some pals. Or perhaps the broadcasters were just his fans,like me.
Either way, it was a wonderful treat to hear!

Reply
Lived here
David James Bloomfield   
Added: 13 Jul 2021 11:54 GMT   

Hurstway Street, W10
Jimmy Bloomfield who played for Arsenal in the 1950s was brought up on this street. He was a QPR supporter as a child, as many locals would be at the time, as a teen he was rejected by them as being too small. They’d made a mistake

Reply
Comment
Added: 6 Jul 2021 05:38 GMT   

Wren Road in the 1950s and 60s
Living in Grove Lane I knew Wren Road; my grandfather’s bank, Lloyds, was on the corner; the Scout District had their office in the Congregational Church and the entrance to the back of the Police station with the stables and horses was off it. Now very changed - smile.

Reply

fariba   
Added: 28 Jun 2021 00:48 GMT   

Tower Bridge Business Complex, S
need for my coursework

Source: university

Reply
Lived here
Kim Johnson   
Added: 24 Jun 2021 19:17 GMT   

Limehouse Causeway (1908)
My great grandparents were the first to live in 15 Tomlins Terrace, then my grandparents and parents after marriage. I spent the first two years of my life there. My nan and her family lived at number 13 Tomlins Terrace. My maternal grandmother lived in Maroon house, Blount Street with my uncle. Nan, my mum and her brothers were bombed out three times during the war.

Reply
Comment
Peter H Davies   
Added: 17 Jun 2021 09:33 GMT   

Ethelburga Estate
The Ethelburga Estate - named after Ethelburga Road - was an LCC development dating between 1963–65. According to the Wikipedia, it has a "pleasant knitting together of a series of internal squares". I have to add that it’s extremely dull :)

Source: Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Reply

NEARBY STREETS
Abbotshade Road, SE16 Abbotshade Road is a road in the SE16 postcode area
Admiral Place, SE16 Admiral Place is a road in the SE16 postcode area
Aitham House, E14 Residential block
Albert Mews, E14 A street within the E14 postcode
Andersen’s Wharf, E14 Andersen’s Wharf is a road in the E14 postcode area
Andersens Wharf, E14 A street within the E14 postcode
Barleycorn Way, E14 Barleycorn Way is a road in the E14 postcode area
Barton Mews, E14 A street within the E14 postcode
Basin Approach, E14 Basin Approach is one of the streets of London in the E14 postal area.
Beatson Walk, SE16 Beatson Walk is one of the streets of London in the SE16 postal area.
Bekesbourne Street, E14 Bekesbourne Street is one of the streets of London in the E14 postal area.
Blyths Wharf, E14 A street within the E14 postcode
Boulcott Street, E1W Boulcott Street is one of the streets of London in the E1 postal area.
Bramwell Way, SE16 A street within the SE16 postcode
Branch Road, E14 Branch Road is one of the streets of London in the E14 postal area.
Brightlingsea Place, E14 A street within the E14 postcode
Brunton Place, E14 Brunton Place is one of the streets of London in the E14 postal area.
Butcher Row, E1W Butcher Row is a road in the E1W postcode area
Bylands Close, SE16 A street within the SE16 postcode
Canoe Walk, E14 Canoe Walk is a location in London.
Caroline Street, E1 Caroline Street is one of the streets of London in the E1 postal area.
Chaseley Street, E14 Chaseley Street runs from Barnes Street to Yorkshire Road.
Commercial Road, E14 Commercial Road is one of the streets of London in the E14 postal area.
Copenhagen Place, E14 Copenhagen Place is one of the streets of London in the E14 postal area.
Cranford Street, E1W Cranford Street is a road in the E1W postcode area
Dundee Wharf, E14 Dundee Wharf is a road in the E14 postcode area
Edward Mann Close East, E1 A street within the E1 postcode
Edward Square, SE16 Edward Square is a location in London.
Elizabeth Square, SE16 Elizabeth Square is one of the streets of London in the SE16 postal area.
Flamborough Walk, E14 A street within the E14 postcode
Frederick Square, SE16 Frederick Square is a location in London.
Goodhart Place, E14 Goodhart Place is one of the streets of London in the E14 postal area.
Gwent Court, SE16 Gwent Court is one of the streets of London in the SE16 postal area.
Heckford Street Business Centre, E1W A street within the E1W postcode
Heckford Street, E1W Heckford Street is one of the streets of London in the E1W postal area.
Helena Square, SE16 Helena Square is a location in London.
Horseferry Road, E14 Horseferry Road is a road in the E14 postcode area
Ionian Building, E14 A street within the E14 postcode
Island Row, E14 Island Row is one of the streets of London in the E14 postal area.
Jardine Road, E1W Jardine Road is a road in the E1W postcode area
Jardine Road, E1W Jardine Road is a road in the E14 postcode area
John Nash Mews, E14 A street within the E14 postcode
King & Queen Wharf, SE16 A street within the SE16 postcode
Lavender Pumphouse, SE16 Lavender Pumphouse is a location in London.
Lavender Road, SE16 Lavender Road is one of the streets of London in the SE16 postal area.
Limehouse Link, E14 Limehouse Link is a road in the E14 postcode area
Limekiln Dock bridge, E14 Limekiln Dock bridge is a road in the E14 postcode area
Lowell Street, E14 A street within the E14 postcode
Mill Place, E14 Mill Place is a road in the E14 postcode area
Mill Quay, E14 Mill Quay is a road in the E14 postcode area
Narrow Street, E14 Narrow Street is a road running parallel to the River Thames through the Limehouse area.
Newell Street, E14 Newell Street is one of the streets of London in the E14 postal area.
Northey Street, E14 Northey Street is one of the streets of London in the E14 postal area.
Norway Place, E14 A street within the E14 postcode
Oak Lane, E14 Oak Lane is a road in the E14 postcode area
Pageant Stairs, SE16 Pageant Stairs is a road in the SE16 postcode area
Pinnacle Way, E14 A street within the E14 postcode
Pitsea Street, E1 Pitsea Street is a road in the E1 postcode area
Ratcliffe Cross Street, E1W Ratcliffe Cross Street is one of the streets of London in the E1 postal area.
Ratcliffe Cross Street, E1W Ratcliffe Cross Street is a road in the E1W postcode area
Ratcliffe Lane, E14 Ratcliffe Lane is one of the streets of London in the E14 postal area.
Rolling Mills Mews, E14 A street within the postcode
Ropemaker’s Fields, E14 Ropemaker’s Fields is a road in the E14 postcode area
Ross Way, E14 Ross Way is a road in the E14 postcode area
Rotherhithe Tunnel, E14 Rotherhithe Tunnel is a road in the E14 postcode area
Roy Square, E14 A street within the E14 postcode
Salmon Street, E14 A street within the E14 postcode
Salton Square, E14 A street within the E14 postcode
Saunders Close, E14 Saunders Close is a road in the E14 postcode area
Shoulder of Mutton Alley, E14 Shoulder of Mutton Alley might derive its name from an inn - or something more earthy.
Sophia Square, SE16 Sophia Square is a development off of Sovereign Crescent.
Sovereign Crescent, SE16 Sovereign Crescent is a road in the SE16 postcode area
Spert Street, E14 A street within the E14 postcode
St Annes Row, E14 St Annes Row is one of the streets of London in the E14 postal area.
St Annes Street, E14 Elite House is a block in Poplar.
St Anne’s Street, E14 St Anne Street is a street of Poplar.
St. Georges Square, E14 A street within the E14 postcode
Stepney Causeway, E1 Stepney Causeway is associated with Thomas John Barnardo, who opened his first shelter for homeless children at number 18.
The Mitre, E14 The Mitre is a road in the E14 postcode area
The Old Fire Station, SE16 The Old Fire Station is one of the streets of London in the SE16 postal area.
Three Colt Street, E14 Three Colt Street was first recorded in 1362 making it one of Limehouse’s oldest streets
Tivoli Mews, E14 A street within the E14 postcode
Victory Place, E14 A street within the E14 postcode
Wakeling Street, E14 A street within the E14 postcode
Warren Place, E1W A street within the E1 postcode
Wharf Lane, E14 Wharf Lane is a road in the E14 postcode area
Wilson’s Place, E14 Wilson’s Place is a road in the E14 postcode area
Yorkshire Road, E14 Yorkshire Road is one of the streets of London in the E14 postal area.

NEARBY PUBS
The Grapes The Grapes is a Grade II listed public house situated directly on the north bank of the Thames in Limehouse with a veranda overlooking the water.


Limehouse






LOCAL PHOTOS
Frank Whipple (1908-2011)
TUM image id: 1570047040
Licence: CC BY 2.0

In the neighbourhood...

Click an image below for a better view...
The Limehouse Barge-Builders (Narrow Street from the river). This painting can be seen in the South Shields Museum and Art Gallery.
Credit: Charles Napier Hemy (1841-1917)
Licence:
To View or share the image, go to its dedicated web page

The 'Queen' beerhouse at 128 Rhodeswell Road. Limehouse (1897). Beerhouses weren't licenced to sell wines and spirits - only beer.
Old London postcard
Licence:
To View or share the image, go to its dedicated web page

91-97 Three Colt Street, Limehouse (1923) Assuming this was photographed just before demolition as the supporting prop looks dodgy. The greengrocer is using a pram as a market stall.
Credit: English Heritage
Licence:
To View or share the image, go to its dedicated web page

Frank Whipple (1908-2011)
Licence: CC BY 2.0
To View or share the image, go to its dedicated web page

In a part of its long history, Shoulder of Mutton Alley briefly became the centre of British TV satire - the latex ’Spitting Image’ puppets were made there.
Licence: CC BY 2.0
To View or share the image, go to its dedicated web page

The corner of Dupont Street (1925). The roofs are covered to keep out the rain and the houses have no glass in the windows.
Credit: Evening News
Licence:
To View or share the image, go to its dedicated web page

Looking along Narrow Street, Limehouse, showing four of the high rise buildings of Canary Wharf in September 2007.
Credit: Wiki Commons/Badudoy
Licence:
To View or share the image, go to its dedicated web page

R. Passmore & Company in Limehouse. This was sitauted on the corner of Narrow Street and The Highway. Free Trade Wharf was behind.
Licence:
To View or share the image, go to its dedicated web page

The foreshore of the River Thames near Ratcliff Cross Stairs, E14 (2020). Canary Wharf is in the background.
Credit: Wiki Commons/Ttocserp
Licence:
To View or share the image, go to its dedicated web page

Print-friendly version of this page