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 constantly performed a vital position in London's background. The East finish, because it has been recognized, used to be the house to Shakespeare's first theater and to the early stirrings of a mass exertions circulate; it has additionally often been visible as a spot of darkness and depression, the place Jack the Ripper dedicated his ugly murders, and cholera and poverty stalked the Victorian streets.

In this superbly illustrated historical past of this iconic district, John Marriott attracts on twenty-five years of analysis into the topic to offer an authoritative and forever attention-grabbing account. because of copious maps, archive prints and images, 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 the various myths that encompass the area.

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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’.

Tournaments were staged in the neighbourhood of Bishop’s Hall and Mile End Green, while practice sessions at archery butts in Shoreditch and Stepney Green created such skilled archers that Henry VIII established the order of Knights of Prince Arthur’s Round Table with responsibility for organizing annual pageants at which the ‘Knights’ staged mock battles. And at Mile End Green in 1539, London’s citizen army mustered before marching to Westminster for review before Henry. It must have been an The ancient church of St Dunstan, rebuilt in the tenth century by the Bishop of London, and the impressive occasion, as Richard only parish church in Stepney until the construc- Grafton recalled: tion of St Mary Whitechapel in the early fourteenth century .

Indd 27 25/07/11 3:19 PM 28 b e yo n d t h e t o w e r Although the East India Company was by far the most active of the merchant adventurer companies, many ships of the Muscovy and Levant had also set sail from Stepney yards, captained by the likes of Hugh Willoughby, Richard Chancellor, Humphrey Gilbert, William Burrough, and Martin Frobisher, and manned by local seamen. 62 This community – part of a long tradition of seafaring, and standing at the very heart of Britain’s commercial and imperial ambitions – was singled out for lavish praise by contemporary observers.

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