Brick Lane just north of Fournier Street

Location 4

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 protected buildings.

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.

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