Beyond the Tower: A History of East London
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From Jewish clothing merchants to Bangladeshi curry houses, ancient docks to the 2012 Olympics, the area east of the City has always played a crucial role in London's history. The East End, as it has been known, was the home to Shakespeare's first theater and to the early stirrings of a mass labor movement; it has also traditionally been seen as a place of darkness and despair, where Jack the Ripper committed his gruesome murders, and cholera and poverty stalked the Victorian streets.
In this beautifully illustrated history of this iconic district, John Marriott draws on twenty-five years of research into the subject to present an authoritative and endlessly fascinating account. With the aid of copious maps, archive prints and photographs, and the words of East Londoners from seventeenth-century silk weavers to Cockneys during the Blitz, he explores the relationship between the East End and the rest of London, and challenges many of the myths that surround the area.
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By 1690 it seemed that many of the old problems remained, particularly in those areas unaffected by the conflagration. An Act ‘for Paveing and Cleansing the Streets in the Cityes of London and Westminster and Suburbs and Liberties thereto’45 sought to restore the provisions of the 1662 Act, which had by then expired. Without compulsion, inhabitants had refused to pay the rates levied for scavengers, as a result of which the ‘poorer sort of People’ were found to ‘dayly throw into the said Streets.
Will naturally be desirous to see the docks, the shipping, and the river below bridge, in which are to be found concentrated the evidence of a commerce, and of a concourse of nations, the like of which has never yet been seen, and is calculated to astonish the most heedless observer. A more striking contrast than that between the appearance of the east and west ends of London, can scarcely be conceived: instead of the numerous fashionable equipages, and the gaily-dressed throngs of pedestrians,.
Commentators, notably evangelicals and urban explorers of the nineteenth century, construct this image of East London? What ideas and rhetoric did they draw upon? Nautical vagabonds Although a series of public hangings of rioters, and legislation designed to alleviate the suffering of silk weavers, did create a period of relative tranquillity in the final decades of the eighteenth century, there remained an ever-growing body of unskilled labour and wandering poor who plied their trades outside.
Overwhelmingly the juvenile poor, who had developed a real passion for the tawdry fare on offer, and would go without food rather than miss a twenty-minute performance of Hamlet, Macbeth or their favourite, Othello. Such tragedies, staged as vehicles for horrible murders, were always in great demand. Poor as most of the performers, and even proprietors were, some were assiduous in maintaining standards. Hector Simpson, who owned a theatre in Westminster and a much more profitable penny gaff in.
Congregations grew rapidly during the reign of Mary. Fearing persecution, they took steps to avoid detection. An instance of martyrdom compiled by John Foxe and included in his remarkable Acts and Monuments provides insight into the clandestine activities such congregations were forced to adopt in Stepney. In 1558 Cuthbert Sympson, deacon of the ‘Christian congregation in London’, who had been charged with attending ‘assemblies and conventicles where there was a multitude of people gathered.