Spitalfields, which encompasses the areas around Liverpool Street and Brick Lane, is by far one of my favourite London areas. I love the carefully preserved Huguenot housing streets which exist from the early 18th century as part of London’s then booming silk weaving industry, the multiple bars and restaurants, the markets available and the amazing street food and artisan vendors within them. A real ensemble of the old and the new- (and I feel the new is largely tastefully done which isn’t always the case!) that speak to me every time I visit.
It is so easy to walk around too! For visitors to London, it’s perfect to explore in a day- and definitely leaves you wanting to come back for more!
*NB all of the bars and restaurants mentioned below are currently closed, please check their respective websites once the national lockdown is over. Please also contact the markets for more up to date information regarding their openings at this time.
- Duck and Waffle
This has quickly become our family favourite: the staff are lovely, the views are spectacular and the food really good (and reasonabley priced, considering the views and location!) It’s literally just 2 minutes from Liverpool Street station, above Sushi Samba restaurant (never tried but heard good things about this one too) and open almost 24 hours.
Post lockdown, you’ll need to book to eat (and note, largely quite far in advance, before Corona days you needed to book at least 8 weeks in advance I recall! These days check 2-3 weeks once lockdown eases), but they will accept walk ins for the bar area for drinks only (subject to space available).
I always go for the “Columbian eggs” and my partner the Full English, and we’d definitely recommend those! I’m gluten free and they offer gluten free bread and gluten free waffles too!
It’s also a great place for lovely and very instagrammable photos- see below!
- The Alchemist
A few minutes walk from Liverpool Street station, (perhaps equal distance to Aldgate East tube also), this branch of The Alchemist chain of bars is tucked away in a quiet office area, offering tons of space, a quirky modern feel and theatrically presented cocktails which we loved! See my drink, the “Cherry Poppins” below, absolute spot on for gin lovers: I loved the Cherry Fog Bubble theatrically created for the top!
- Victorian Bath House
I’d first heard about this venue because someone I knew had their wedding party there, so a friend and I booked for drinks- see below- now this was in 2018, so no up to date cocktail recommendations sadly, HOWEVER I’d definitely return and recommend you do too!
The outside of the building as you see below is beautiful, it was built in 1895 and is now Grade 2 listed, and downstairs makes for an experience in itself: perfect for a little gathering, date, catch up with a friend, all of it!
- Brick Lane
Prior to Lockdown, BrickLane Market was open every Sunday and comprised of mini markets within it like Backyard Market (pictured below) and UpMarket. I loved it for its hustle and bustle, variety of international street food, and independent clothing, jewellery and general nik-nak stalls!
- Petticoat Lane
Open normally Monday-Friday on Middelsex Street (unclear of its hours during lockdown), the market is reputed to be one of the oldest in Britain, having apparently been in operation since the mid 18th century!
- Old Spitalfields Market
This lovely indoor market is currently closed, but has a “virtual market” you can check out on its website! I love some of the street stall food traders there, love the amount of outdoor seating many of its restaurants have which is so lovely to see in the summer months, and of course all the artisan stalls selling their beautifully presented wares.
3 Historical Streets
If you follow me on Instagram, you will know I adore the smattering of Huguenot streets which still exist in the area, preserved from the early 18th century. They are enchanting to stumble upon, lovely to walk down and admire, and make for lovely photographs too! I’ve been so enchanted, that I was delighted to come across the Huguenots of Spitalfield Charity, which is currently offering online talks and tours of various Huguenot locations in London, including Spitalfields. For more information, see http://www.huguenotsofspitalfields.org/
- Elder Street (nearest to Liverpool Street station and around the corner from the Denis Severs museum, see more information on Denis Severs at bottom of the page).
- Fournier Street (runs alongside Christ Church, and has this glorious “11 and a half” doorway that never fails to make me smile when I walk past it!)
- Wilkes Street (Just round the corner from Fournier Street, linking onto Princelet)
- Princelet Street (runs between Wilkes Street and Brick Lane )
I haven’tt got the best of photos of this beautiful street, as it’s often hard to take one as so many cars sit on it (or that’s my excuse!). You can find out more information about it here at “The Spaces” : https://thespaces.com/street-watch-explore-londons-historic-princelet-street/
4 Historical buildings
Christ Church of Spitalfields stands imposingly as the heart of Spitalfields, next to Brick Lane and overlooking Old Spitalfields Market. It was built between 1714 and 1729 and therefore has overseen events such as the infamous local killings made by Jack the Ripper, the British Industrial Revolution, and survived both World Wars. The Church also offers tours for a small fee. Find out more at their website below:
- Dennis Severs House
Denis Severs is a beautiful homage to what the inside of a Huguenot house would have looked like in the early 18th century. I visited 2 years ago, and the above photo is taken of the facade of the building, donned for Christmas time.
I loved the low and slanted ceilings, and its clever use of smells and sounds to take you back and thoroughly recommend that post lockdown, you check it out.
Check out Jack the Ripper Tours and The Alternative Jack the Ripper Tours!
I did a Jack the Ripper Tour several years ago, but can’t recall the company to recommend! It was very good, but there is stark competition for such tours in the area, so I daresay whichever you choose will be to high standard, and I do like the way almost all of the guides dress up in Victorian costume to get in the role!
I can highly recommend completing an “Alternative Jack the Ripper” tour, and know of 2. The first I completed with “Beyond the Streets” who are a domestic violence charity who work with women in prostituion, who offer a tour that focuses on the lives of the women rather than seeking to glorify the man who killed them. Additionally, Look Up London also offer (though this is subject to lockdown) a Feminist Jack the Ripper Tour (as well as other numerous exciting online tours on offer with Katie). Please check out both websites for further information, as these may not be on offer at the moment during lockdown:
Beyond the Streets: https://beyondthestreets.org.uk/2020/12/21/hidden-history-women-east-end-alternative-jack-ripper-tour-2021-dates/
Look Up London: https://lookup.london/walking-tours/feminist-jack-the-ripper-walk/
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What else is on your Spitalfields love list?!