The East End is booming. Always a vibrant,
working-class area and home to London’s dockworkers, the area has also
prided itself on providing a refuge for successive generations of
immigrants, from French silk weavers to Jews and Bangladeshi garment
workers. Since the 1980s, the East End, where the murderous Jack the
Ripper roamed, has undergone a radical transformation. Today, the media
and finance worlds occupy stylish Dockland developments, galleries and
restaurants have sprouted in Hoxton and a host of Sunday markets,
including trendy Spitalfields, draw newcomers who marvel at the area’s
unspoilt 18th- and 19th-century architecture.
from France in 1685, the Huguenots were Protestants fleeing religious
persecution by Catholics. They were mostly silk weavers, whose masters
and merchants built the beautiful Georgian houses around Fournier,
Princelet and Elder streets. Spitalfields silk was famous for its fine
quality, but by the mid-19th century the industry had declined.
Dining room, Geffrye Museum
centrepiece of the Docklands development is Canary Wharf and the 240-m
(800-ft) -high, 50-storey Canada Tower designed by the US architect,
Cesar Pelli. Although the tower is not open to the public, parts of the
complex are open to visitors, including the mall, where there are
shops, restaurants and bars. The star of the area’s exciting
architecture is the stunning Canary Wharf station, designed by Norman
Fifty-storey-high Canada Tower at Canary Wharf
Museum of London Docklands
in a Georgian warehouse, this museum tells the 2000-year-old story of
London’s river and port. Exhibits include whale bones, opium pipes and
the unusual “cabinet of curiosities”. Among the highlights is a full
size reconstruction of a 19th-century street in Wapping – here you will
find a wild animal emporium, alehouse and chandlery.
No 1 Warehouse E14
Tube & DLR Canary Wharf
Open 10am–6pm daily
you want to see the latest in British contemporary art, then this is
the place to come. Hoxton Square is home to the White Cube gallery,
where many of the now established contemporary artists, known as the
YBAs (Young British Artists), such as Damien Hirst, Sarah Lucas and
Tracey Emin, first made their names. Acrobats and aerial performers put
on shows at Circus Space on the north side of Hoxton Market. Popular
cafés and restaurants include the Hoxton Square Kitchen and Bar and the
Whitechapel Art Gallery
excellent gallery has a reputation for showing cutting-edge
contemporary art from around the world. The Whitechapel has launched
the careers of David Hockney, Gilbert and George and Anthony Caro.
Behind the Art Nouveau façade there is also a great bookshop and café.
Whitechapel Art Gallery’s 1901 entrance
V&A Museum of Childhood
will find something to delight them here: from dolls and teddy bears to
train sets and games through the ages. There are special activities for
kids of all ages, during weekends and holidays, as well as those themed
to complement current exhibitions.
Cambridge Heath Road E2
Tube Bethnal Green
Open 10am–5:50pm daily
such as Fournier Street, lined with 18th-century Huguenot silk weavers’
houses, are a reminder that this area, just east of the City, has
provided a refuge for immigrant populations for centuries. London’s
oldest market, Old Spitalfields Market still has stalls selling food,
as well as several cafés and shops dotted around its edge. But Sunday
is the day when the market draws hundreds, eager to find a bargain
among the fashion, vintage clothing, and crafts stalls here. Opposite
the market is one of Europe’s great Baroque churches. Christ Church
(1716) was designed by Wren’s pupil, architect Nicholas Hawksmoor
Georgian terrace, Fournier Street
Christ Church Spitalfields
Thames Flood Barrier
Rising like shark fins from the river, this piece of engineering is an impressive sight .
the centre of London’s Jewish population, this street is now the heart
of London’s Bangladeshi community. Head here for inexpensive, authentic
Indian food at restaurants such as Preem and Shampan. Some of the best
bagels in the city are from the 24-hr Brick Lane Beigel Bake at No. 159
– a famous dawn haunt for late-night revellers. There are vintage
clothing/designer shops and, on Sundays, a lively flea market.
Tube Aldgate East
Columbia Road Market
head east on Sunday mornings for the bustling street markets. In
addition to Petticoat Lane in Middlesex Street, with its bargain
clothes and household items, and Brick Lane’s bric-à-brac, there is the
teeming plant and flower market in Columbia Road. Ten minutes’ walk
from the north end of Brick Lane, Columbia Road is a delightful
cornucopia of all things horticultural at bargain prices.
Columbia Road E2
Tube Old Street
Tube Aldgate East
Columbia Road Market
to the evolution of family life and interior design, this fascinating
museum has a series of rooms decorated in distinct period style.
Originally a 1715 almshouse, the building has been transformed and you
can wander through an oak-panelled 17th-century drawing room, a 1930s
flat or a contemporary loft apartment. Stroll through a series of
period gardens between April and October.