Brick Lane just north of Fournier Street
The Brick Lane Jamme Masjid (Mosque) (10)
opposite on the corner with Fournier Street encapsulates the
immigrant history of Spitalfields. It was constructed in 1744 as a
French Huguenot chapel. In 1819 it became a Methodist Chapel and in
1897 was converted to become a synagogue. It became an important
mosque in 1976 to serve the expanding local Muslim community. The
building with its successive uses shows not only the changing
communities in the area, but also the continuity of the historic
fabric that has survived and the manner in which diverse newcomers
have become integrated. The latest addition to the cityscape here
is a new minaret-like structure by DGA Architects - a key part of
the Cultural Trail.
Fournier Street (14) and the area around was
developed in the early eighteenth century on a former market
garden, the streets laid out after 1718 with grand flat-fronted
classical houses, characterised by sash windows and elaborate
doorways. In spite of falling into industrial use and decay, most
of the houses from this era remarkably have survived. Many were
saved by the Spitalfields Historic Buildings Trust and all are now
Christ Church (12) is one of the finest
Baroque churches in England and is situated on the corner of
Fournier Street and Commercial Street. It was designed in 1714 by
Nicholas Hawksmoor and completed in 1729; with its imposing tower
and spire is one of the landmarks of the area. Threatened with
demolition in the 1960s, it was saved by Friends of Christ Church
who inaugurated a full scale restoration in 1976 with the help of
many donations and Heritage Lottery funding. Its galleried interior
has been faithfully recreated to the original plans.
Old Spitalfields Market (13) across Commercial
Street was built between 1883 and 1893, and is on the site of a
much older market licensed by King Charles II in 1682. It was
London’s commercial market for fruit and vegetables before closing
in 1986. The buildings are now used for a new retail market with
the area to the west redeveloped with shops and offices designed by
architect Norman Foster, including the new Bishop’s Square public
space, covered market and medieval priory remains.
Behind Brick Lane the narrow and intimate
proportions of the old 17th and 18th Century
network of streets, lanes and courtyards can still be detected.
Puma Court (11) is the best survival of these with its flagstone
paving, historic shopfronts and on the north side the Norton
Folgate almshouses dating from 1860.
Brick Lane and the streets around are now
all protected by Conservation Area status.