Beyond the Tower: A History of East London by John Marriott

By John Marriott

From Jewish garments retailers to Bangladeshi curry homes, old docks to the 2012 Olympics, the realm east of town has regularly performed a very important function in London's historical past. The East finish, because it has been identified, used to be the house to Shakespeare's first theater and to the early stirrings of a mass exertions stream; it has additionally often been visible as a spot of darkness and melancholy, the place Jack the Ripper devoted his grotesque murders, and cholera and poverty stalked the Victorian streets.In this fantastically illustrated historical past of this iconic district, John Marriott attracts on twenty-five years of study into the topic to offer an authoritative and eternally attention-grabbing account. by way of copious maps, archive prints and pictures, and the phrases of East Londoners from seventeenth-century silk weavers to Cockneys in the course of the Blitz, he explores the connection among the East finish and the remainder of London, and demanding situations some of the myths that encompass the world.

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Among others, he went the other day to a playhouse called the Curtain, which is beyond his house. It is an infamous place in which no good citizen or gentleman would show his face. indd 12 25/07/11 3:19 PM t h e pa r i s h o f s t e p n e y t o 1 7 0 0 13 That evening the Ambassador faced a near riot. He was invited by the players to announce the next performance – a choice that proved so unpopular that the audience, thinking he was a Spaniard, turned on him and drove him out. In the ensuing years, outbreaks of the plague were used conveniently to justify restrictions on stage productions in and around the City, but the Lord Mayor and his lieutenants were well aware that Henry VIII and Elizabeth I, together with large sections of the population, took delight in the theatre, and so an uneasy compromise was reached allowing productions at certain times of the week ‘without danger of infection’.

36 Whatever the motive, this proclamation, like its predecessors, proved futile. Further proclamations followed which grew ever more complex in the demands made of new building. Occasionally campaigns were launched to prosecute offenders, as in 1616 when proceedings were taken out against several defaulters. Among them was the hapless William Hearne of Whitechapel, who, following a petition submitted by parishioners, was charged with building ‘diverse tenements of an auntyent stable in a common Inn called the Redd Lyon in Whitechapel street, directly contrary to his Majestie’s proclamation, and to the great annoyance and charge of the rest of the parishioners by bringing poore people there to inhabit, who in dying leave their children to be maytayned by the parish’.

In other ballads celebrating the exploits of seamen ashore, frequent use is made of playful but thinly disguised sexual innuendo. The Rigs and Sprees of Ratcliffe Highway and Wapping, published around 1830 but almost certainly much older, is a good example. indd 30 25/07/11 3:19 PM t h e pa r i s h o f s t e p n e y t o 1 7 0 0 31 Have passed the flying Dutchman Oft, when sailing on the ocean. Have sailed the globe all round, And in foreign lands been stopping: Have crossed the line, but never found Such a charming place as Wapping.

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