St John's parish
area between Backchurch Lane (Church Lane until the 1860s) towards
Cannon Street Road, between Cable Street and the Commerical Road,
became the patch of St John the
Evangelist-in-the-East Grove [Golding] Street; its small streets and courts were densely populated and deeply deprived. Maps right from 1868 and 1878 show street name changes: North Street to Fairclough Street, Sander Street to Charles Street, Elizabeth Street to Stutfield Street, Splidt's Terrace (later Street) to Forbes Street, and Thomas Street to Pinchin Street. Subsequently, Phil(l)ip Street became Philchurch Street.
Far right is a link to Goad's
1899 insurance map for the northern part of the parish area, which
numbers every property, showing whether it was a dwelling or shop or
workplace, and provides much other information. For example, it shows
the many small and cramped courts built between the main streets and
accessed only by foot through narrow passages: these include, going
from west to east: off Batty Street, Queen Court (also accessed from Christian Street), Batty Place, Batty Court (which housed a club), Hampshire Court (also accessed from Berner Street); off Christian Street, Matilda Street and Matilda Place; Turners Buildings (also accessed from Grove Street); off Grove Street, Durer Place; between Grove and Umberston Streets, Joseph's Terrace (with a cow house and school between Umberston and Morgan Streets); Western Passage; Norman Buildings (accessed from Cannon Street Road); Bowyers Buildings and London Terrace, behind the Cannon Street Road synagogue (see more on the development of this area here); and south of James Street, West('s) Folly, Amber Court, and Langdale Place (accessed from William Street).
ground rents for a large number of properties in this area were owned
by one Abraham Batty. 'Abraham Batty of Church-lane, Whitechapel' was a
contributor to the new London Hospital in 1775, and a namesake (son?),
1780-1868, was a market gardener in the area and later in Batty Fields, Bermondsey. In 1879 the Ecclesiastical Review advertised
By order of the surviving Trustee of the late Abraham Batty. Esq.—Christian-street, Batty-street, Berner-street, Sander-street, and Commercial-road East.—To Trustees, Capitalists, and others.—Important and highly valuable Freehold Properties.
MESSRS. RICE BROTHERS are instructed to offer for SALE, by ACTION, at the AUCTION MART, Tokenhouse-yard, City, on WEDNESDAY, October 29, 1879, at two o'clock precisely, in 17 lots, valuable FREEHOLD GROUND RENTS, amounting to £287 9s. 2d. per annum, arising from and amply secured by first-class shop property, situate and being Nos. 8l, 86, 88, 90, 92, 91, 96, 98, 100, 102, 104, 106, 108, 110, 112, and 114, Commercial-road East, with the premises in the rear thereof, comprising Coopers' Hall, the extensive and well-arranged engineering works, in the occupation of Messrs. Fraser Brothers, capital stabling, &c., together with 10 dwelling-houses, with gardens, Nos. 93 to 111 (being odd numbers), Christian-street; 19 dwelling-houses and other premises, being Nos. 1 to 19 (odd numbers) and 2 to 18 (even numbers) Batty-street; nine dwelling-houses, Nos. 1, 3, 5, 13, 15, 17, and 19, also 12 and 11, Berner-street, with the extensive stabling, yard, dwelling-house, and premises adjoining, with gateway entrance from Berner-street, and private way from Batty-street; also No. 16, Sander-street, Commercial-road East, with reversion in 22.5 years from Michaelmas, 1879, to the rack rentals, estimated at about £3,000 per annum; also three freehold houses, being No. 7, 9, and 11, Berner-street, let at weekly rentals amounting to £106. 6s. per annum.—The estate may be viewed by permission of the respective occupiers, and particulars, with plans and conditions of sale, had of Messrs. Bridger and Collins, Solicitors, 37. King William-street. E.C., at the Mart; and of the Auctioneers. 'The Factory Gazette', Offices, 2, Adelaide-place, London Bridge, City.
By the time St John's church was built, the area had become squalid. Here is a nonconformist account from The
Magazine, and Friend of the People (Congregational Union 1865,
Campbell), which singles it singles it out as a centre of vice:
|THE EAST OF LONDON|
No dweller at the West-end, says the Rev. G. W. M'Cree, the missionary of St. Giles's, can have any conception of its crowded apartments, narrow alleys, swarming dogs and children; slaughterhouses reeking with blood; pawnbrokers' shops filled to repletion with the pledges of the poor; factories, yards, and workshops, all noisy, ill-ventilated, and very dirty; crooked, unswept, and unsavoury lanes, where every woman seems consumptive, and every man half-starved; beershops, the haunts of thieves, and ginshops echoing with the gabble and blasphemies of heated, angry, wretched people; the famous 'Highway', with its sailors, crimps, hawkers, soldiers, pickpockets, watermen, negro melodists, butchers' men, Lascars, dock labourers, flaunting women more cruel than tigers, policemen walking in pairs, ship-captains with gay girls hanging on their arms, touts from boarding-houses, grimy stokers, Irish emigrants, beggars, and pugilists—in brief, its noise, dirt, crime, want, disease, and misery.
Nor have the public generally any conception of the lamentable condition of hundreds of the children, and the boys and girls at the East-end of London. It is simply fearful. Sunday-schools, Ragged-schools, and Bands of Hope confer great benefits upon many of them, but the majority are shamefully neglected by their parents. Let any one walk through Poplar, Spitalfields, Whitechapel, Commercial-Road, Ratcliff Highway, Aldgate, and Back Church-lane, I as I have done, and he will see scores of children who are not children, but little withered imps of cruelty, falsehood, and vice. He will also see elder boys and girls who are the victims of the most precocious passions—hard, foul, repulsive, and savage, who hate the parents who forsook them, the law that punishes them, and the Christians who would fain reclaim them. He will hear them coin oaths with horrible facility, see them drink gin like water, and, should they quarrel, he will witness such a fight as will make him expect a murder.
The twin monsters of this vast district of the metropolis are Dirt and Drunkenness. King Dirt is everywhere. There is a fetid smell, a sickly atmosphere, which makes you feel faint and weary. Your lips grow clammy; your linen looks yellow; your hands get defiled: your eyes grow dim; you long for green fields, fresh air, flowers, and bright skies. But, alas! they are not near you, and if, perchance, you should pass some building with 'Ragged-school' over the door, and looking in see a number of poor, white, forlorn children, who, when the teacher says "Rise", stand up and sing — There is a happy land, Far far away, you pass on with tears in your eyes, for you feel, also, that the happy land is indeed far far away.
King Drunkenness, however, reigns quite as much as King Dirt. There are thousands of sober men and women in the East of London, no doubt, and the Bands of Hope there will, it is anticipated, do much to produce a sober future; but any one who explores the localities infected with cholera, and also the contiguous parishes, will be shocked at the evident supremacy of drunkenness. Many men and women seem to drink apparently nearly every penny they can spare, and many which they cannot spare. Hence rags, desolate homes, crime, pauperism, and now pestilence in its most fatal form. I do not exaggerate the state of things. An agent of the London City Mission says:—There is perhaps more wickedness in Shadwell than in any other parish in London. As you walk through the streets the scenes of wickedness that meet your eyes, and the profane language that sounds upon your ears, cannot be described. If such wickedness is met with in the public streets, what is to be met with in public houses where men and women meet to practise wickedness, and to strive to excel each other in sin, and where that man is counted a king among men who can swear the loudest, and who is most fruitful in inventing fresh deeds of darkness?
The seafaring part of the population are much addicted to intemperance, and this tends to produce many sanitary and social evils. A competent witness writes:—It is really lamentable to see the number of our English seamen who live more like the beasts that perish than men possessing immortal souls; and what is a disgrace to our country may be seen in our docks at all times when a ship is leaving for some foreign port, in the fact that our seamen seem as if they could not face the winds and the waves, nor take farewell of their native shores, but in a state of intoxication. The brave and noble captain of the ill-fated ship London said to me before leaving the docks on his last voyage, 'It is a great pity we cannot get our sailors to leave our ports in a sober state.'
An intelligent missionary, who labours in the east, states that Millwall, Cubitttown, Blackwall, Poplar, The Orchard, and Poplar New Town, contain 200 public-houses. What wonder is it, then, that King Drunkenness reigns?
The prevalence of cholera in these parts is, doubtless, increased by the prevalence of intemperate habits. Such habits are associated with late hours, unwashed bodies, filthy homes, predisposition to infection, improper food, heats and colds, debilitated constitutions, and a morbid fear of death—all of which tend to spread the pestilence. Thus, a woman whose brother resides in Scotland, wrote to him for help in the present distress, and he sent her some clothing. She took it to the pawnshop, thence she went to the public-house and got drunk. Both she and her daughter have died of cholera. Another hideous occurrence took place on Sunday last. The driver of a hearse on a 'cholera job' fell from his seat, and lay sprawling in the street, shouting, "Cholera, cholera!" He was drunk!
What can be done to check this horrid vice? One thing might be done. Every publican who supplies liquor to drunken persons should be summoned before a magistrate and fined in the most severe manner. No publican who allows men to get drunk on his premises, or serves them when intoxicated, should be permitted by the police to do so. It is a social crime for any class to profit by drunkenness at such a crisis as this. Drunkenness breeds cholera as marshes breed fever. Dr. Sewall, who visited the cholera hospitals of New York, states that of 204 cases in Park Hospital, there were only six temperate persons.
This article, 'The Haunts of the East End Anarchist', from the Evening Standard
2 October 1894, begins with a description of the area before turning to a lurid and
thoroughly racist account of the activities of the radical Jewish
groups that were meeting locally. See below for pictures of the streets mentioned.
Just beyond the Proof-house of the Gunmakers' Company near the Whitechapel end of the Commercial Road, begins a series of narrow streets running at right angles to the main thoroughfare, and cutting Fairclough Street at the further extremity, where the Tilbury and Southend Railway passes through the district [see below]. More or less alike in appearance, these byways, for they are no more, consist entirely of small two-storeyed tenements with an occasional stable or cow-shed to break the monotony, and a sprinkling of little shops devoted to coal and dried fish, stale fruit and potatoes, pickled cucumbers and salt herrings, shrivelled sausages and sour brown bread.
There is Backchurch Lane, where the Irish resident still holds his own against the incoming Russo-Jewish settler, and Berner [now Henriques] Street, where the window bills, written in Hebrew characters. inform you that there are 'loshing' or a 'bek-rum' (back room) to let, and thus proclaim the nationality of its denizens. There is Batty Street wholly given over to the foreign tailors, clickers and 'machiners'; Christian Street, long since an appanage of East End Jewry, and Grove [now Golding] Street, where the low-pitched tenements are so far below the pavement level that the passer-by can comfortably shake hands with the residents off the top floor through the bedroom windows.
intersecting all these are a number of courts, alleys, and passages, so
dark and narrow, so dirty and malodorous, that the purlieus of Seven
Dials and the backways of Clare Market may be called light and airy in
comparison with them. Some are blind, others lead through to the
adjoining thoroughfare. Some branch off to right and left, others
conduct one to open spaces forming irregular quadrangles lined with
houses below the street level, so small and snug that the occupier
standing in his front parlour can open the door, stir the fire, reach
the dustbin outside, or make the bed inside without stirring from the
spot. Courts and alleys, streets and yards, all are densely packed, in
many cases even to the cellars below lighted by small gratings in the
pavement. And the whole district, stretching from Backchurch Lane on
one side to Morgan Street on the other, is the resort and principal
abiding-place of the East End Anarchists. In the side streets and
alleys hereabouts the majority of them live and loaf; within a stone's
throw are their favourites haunts, the coffee-shops they patronise, and
the private gambling-clubs where many spend their evenings, and close
by is their printing press, their temporary club and meeting house, and
even the tavern where their Friday evening discussions take place.
If I dig in the mines of the frozen north,
I'll dig with a will: the ore I bring forth
May yet make a knife - a knife for the throat of the Tsar.
If I toil in the south, I'll plough and sow
Good honest hemp; who knows, I may grow
A rope - a rope for the neck of the Tsar.
Bernhardt might envy the fire and verve with which this recitation is
given by one of the Jewesses, and there can be no possible mistake
about the sentiments of the speaker and her auditory, whatever there
may be about the merits of the verses. And the same fiery stuff, or
fiery stuff of the same description, is being spouted about the same
time at half a dozen other branches of the Anarchist League in the
district between Backchurch Lane and the New Road, that runs up to
Whitechapel. Everything is turned to account, tool for the purposes of
its mischievous propaganda. Why, before the meeting is closed one
member produces and sings an Anarchist version of 'After the Ball',
with a finely-buttered moral drawn from the contrast between the
wealthy dancers inside and the shivering poor outside, winding up with
an Anglo-Yiddish chorus in which all join.
|Fleecy white clouds across a sky of
Bright golden sunshine piercing white clouds through.
The fragrant mem'ry lingers with me yet,
When our lips shared that Salvo cigarette.
|Fancy white paper, curling smokes of
Bright cold toboacco, piercing paper through,
Aroma fragrant lingers with me yet,
When our lips shared that Salvo cigarette.
How does the fragrance of the Salvo cigarette compare with the American dollar?
Because therein a hundred scents lie hid.
(Told to the Marine):