During the 19th century, Spitalfields was one of London's most poverty-stricken and crime-ridden neighbourhoods. Today, it is a lively East End area, home to artists, creatives, and a large Bangladeshi community.
The area boasts an array of impressive street art, quirky shops, and trendy bars, while Spitalfields Market is a popular spot for food from across the world, arts and crafts and unique fashion. Spitalfields also draws in tourists due to its dark and gruesome history, most notably as the location where serial killer Jack The Ripper reaped terror on residents in the last 19th century.
Tourists from all over the world travel to the area to embark on a walking tour of the area, visiting notable sites links to the grisly murders that have captured attention for decades. One of the most notable locations that history buffs come to the area for is the Ten Bells Pub. The historic pub sits on the corner of Commercial Street and Fournier Street.
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It is believed to be linked to two of the victims of Jack the Ripper - Annie Chapman and Mary Kelly. For a period of time in the 1980s it was renamed 'The Jack the Ripper' but after a campaign calling it out for mocking violence against women, the name changed.
Today the pub is a bustling boozer serving a selection of quality beers and an extensive wine list. General Manager, Amber, told MyLondon that they see a real variety of people, including those interested in Jack The Ripper and the paranormal.
While Amber doesn't believe in the paranormal herself, she revealed some of her staff who do believe, have reported seeing unusual activity. Although the pub is popular with ghost hunters, the pub is an incredible spot it its own right.
Amber said: "It's a busy, thriving business. We have everything from tourists to local people unaware [of the pub's history] to boys that work in the city. We have every kind of person come in here."
While the pub has links to some of the darkest parts of the area's history, Amber said that for the most part she tries to move away from that and celebrate the boozer for the fun and diverse spot it is now.
A world away from the gruesome and dark history that lingers in the area, Spitalfields market is a trendy and exciting hub for shopping. Considered the one stop destination for food, fashion, art, music, events in East London, thousands of visitors both locals and tourists alike flock here year round.
One of London’s oldest markets, Spitalfields Market is now a seven-day-a-week destination. The independent traders can have anywhere up to 110 stalls on its busiest days.
Market trader Jeff, 56, said he often sees the passing Jack The Ripper tours, but '[the guides] just whizz them through'. He added: "They're whizzing through, they're not adding to the market."
Jeff noted that there are a few problems in the area, but the biggest, he said, was homelessness. He said: "The police do absolutely nothing. They are a pointless entity to the homeless."
He believes the presence of those begging has an affect on the business in the area. "I speak to people all the time, and one of the top things they mention is the homelessness," he said. "Anything that is not a positive, is a negative, in my world. It's not enough that we're going to close down the business, but it's not adding to the businesses."
Lauren Clowes, 39, owns BlueHourLondon and just three weeks ago, began selling at Spitalfields market. Speaking of the wide range of people that come to the area she said: "It's a mixing pot of everyone really, and it's great to see. It's probably more tourists than locals, but then you get people just grabbing lunch from the office. It's definitely a mix of people."
The business owner revealed that she takes an interest in the history of the area, and has been on the Jack The Ripper tours herself. Tour guides can often be seen passing through the area sharing information with visitors.
Lauren said: "There's always pockets of people storytelling and I presume they're tour guides, which is absolutely fantastic if you get the chance to do one, definitely do one. [The area] is quite fun for that."
She ensured that she never feels unsafe in the area. She added: "I don't see [homelessness] affecting business or tourism." In her time at the market she's never experienced any issues with pickpockets or crime.
She said: "I just love it. There's so many different diverse shop and vintage shops and everything. You can walk in and it's different everyday, and that's what I like. Eating here you know it's always going to be good quality food. A good spot to be in. I like East London."
Artist Natalie Sommer has been selling her creations of since November 2022, and each piece she sells is her own genre of Scribe-Art, which incorporates art and poetry. Her incredible art, most of which can be hung at any angle, come with a poem that defines the piece.
A lot of her work focuses on self-care, and each piece has a story. She makes it her point to call out all ugly 'isms' from racism and anti-Semitism to sexism. She said: "I believe in the universality of my art, which means that it will resonate with someone."
Selling at the market, she said: "Some people that may not go to art galleries, get the art here, and we can talk about the art. And I think that's really important. Pitching it here means everybody can have a look. I really love talking to people."
"[The community of traders] is just like a family in a way and everybody does look out for you", she added. "Obviously we're all trying to promote out product but I don't feel like I'm in competition with anybody here, there's enough room for everyone."
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