Spitalfields is an area of great historical significance, once being home to many transient communities and a place of refuge for immigrants such as Huguenots, Irish and Jews. Currently, this area is known for its amazing food market boasting many different world cuisines.
In the 1300s, Spitalfields was first known as ‘Spittellond’, only becoming first ‘Spyttlefieldes’ and then later ‘Spittle Fields’ in the 16th century. It is commonly believed that the name originates from one of the largest medieval hospitals in England, namely the hospital of St. Mary Spital. Unfortunately, due to Henry VIII’s dissolution of the monasteries, the hospital of St. Mary Spital no longer exists, but the spot continues to hold great historical significance for many people.
Spitalfields, like Shoreditch, boasts an important history, as it too became home to immigrants and transient communities during the 17th and 19th centuries. The Huguenots brought their tremendous silk-weaving skills to England in the 17th century and made Spitalfields a centre of silk-weaving excellence. However, by the 19th century, all the traditional industries had begun to be pushed out of the area, and the talent that contributed to the transient community, including silk-weaving, moved elsewhere.
One of the most popular activities for residents and visitors alike is to visit the Old Spitalfields Market. This famous landmark was once home to a significant Roman burial ground, excavated in the 1990s when Spitalfields Market was redeveloped. Now, it is filled with a wide variety of delicious food ranging from Greek to Italian and even Asian cuisines.
There are also many vintage shops inside the market that contribute to the lively energy within the area. Pictured here is an exterior view of the iconic marketplace building.