Stepney: Wikis


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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Coordinates: 51°30′55″N 0°02′46″W / 51.5152°N 0.0462°W / 51.5152; -0.0462

Stepney is located in Greater London

 Stepney shown within Greater London
OS grid reference TQ355814
    - Charing Cross 3.6 mi (5.8 km)  WSW
London borough Tower Hamlets
Ceremonial county Greater London
Region London
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town LONDON
Postcode district E1
Dialling code 020
Police Metropolitan
Fire London
Ambulance London
EU Parliament London
UK Parliament Bethnal Green and Bow
London Assembly City and East
List of places: UK • England • London

Stepney is an inner-city district in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets. It is located 3.6 miles (5.8 km) east north-east of Charing Cross and forms part of the East End of London. The area is a mix of post-war high density housing, Victorian mansion blocks and terraced housing that were not demolished during slum clearances. The east side of historic Stepney Green is notable for its architecture - Arbour Square and Sidney Square and the surrounding streets retain many Georgian and Victorian houses. Stepney is roughly bounded by Commercial Road, part of the A13, in the south, Mile End Road, part of the A11, in the north and the Regent's Canal in the east. The Western Boundary with Whitechapel is rather ambiguous. The area has not yet experienced the levels of gentrification seen in nearby Bow, Wapping and Limehouse but some redevelopment has taken place, notably with the Roger Black scheme, Stepney City [1]. The former Arbour Square Police Station and the East End Mission building are also being redeveloped.



In 1085 Stepney was listed in the Domesday Book survey of England which was recorded in Old French, and whose translation includes:

III. The land of the Bishop of London In 'Ossulstone' hundred the Bishop of London holds Stepney 32 hides. There is land for 25 ploughs. To the demesne belong 14 hides, and there are 3 ploughs; and 22 ploughs among the villeins. There are 44 villans each on 1 virgate, and 7 villans each on half a hide, and 9 villeins each on half a virgate, and 46 cottars on 1 hide: they pay 30s a year. There are 4 mills rendering £4.16s less 4d, meadow for 25 ploughs, pasture for the livestock of the vill and 15s, woodland for 500 pigs and 40s. In all it is worth £48: and when received, the same: £50. This manor belonged and belongs to the bishopric.

Bishop William held this land in demesne, in the manor of Stepney, on the day on which King Edward was alive and dead. In the same vill Ranulph Flambard holds 3½ hides of the bishop.[1]

St Dunstan's is Stepney's oldest church, founded in 923, but the present building dates principally from the 1400s. St Dunstan's has a long association with the sea, being responsible for registration of British maritime births, marriages and deaths until the 19th century. In the early 1900s, Stepney was one of the most Jewish neighbourhoods in England; it was eventually replaced by Stamford Hill.[2] The Siege of Sidney Street took place in Stepney in 1911.

Stepney formed a large ancient parish in the Ossulstone hundred of Middlesex; bounded by Bromley and West Ham to the east, the River Thames to the south, Shoreditch and Hackney to the north and the City of London and the Liberties of the Tower of London to the west.[3] The parish included the hamlets of Mile End Old Town, Mile End New Town, and Ratcliff. At its early extent it additionally included Whitechapel, Wapping, Stratford Bow, Shadwell, Spitalfields, Bethnal Green, Limehouse and Poplar. Over time the parish was broken up with these settlements forming new independent parishes, leaving an residual parish of 830 acres (340 ha) comprising Mile End Old Town, Mile End New Town and Ratcliff.[3]


For details of education in Stepney see the List of schools in Tower Hamlets

Transport and locale

The Stepney Green tube station
Nearest places

In the northern part of the district, the nearest London Underground stations are Mile End, Stepney Green and Whitechapel. All are on the Hammersmith & City and District Lines; Mile End is an interchange with the Central Line.

In the southern part of the district, the nearest Docklands Light Railway station is Limehouse. The station is also served by c2c, from Fenchurch Street station. It was formerly known as Stepney East.

Notable residents

The entertainer Des O'Connor was born in Stepney,[4] as were actors Steven Berkoff,[5] Terence Stamp and Craig Fairbrass, artist Frank Paton, drummer Kenney Jones, musician and writer Jah Wobble,[6] and singer Charles Coborn. In sport, Stepney lays claim to footballers Ledley King, Ashley Cole and Darren Purse, and heavyweight boxer "Bombardier" Billy Wells. Former armed robber, bare-knuckle boxer and businessman Roy Shaw was born in Stepney, whilst clergymen John Sentamu, formerly Bishop of Stepney, and Father Richard Wilson, founder of the Hoppers' Hospitals at Five Oak Green, Kent, lived in the borough at one time.[7]

Notable fictional appearances

The BBC sitcom Goodnight Sweetheart was set in Stepney. The Rolling Stones' song "Play with Fire" references Stepney: "Now she gets her kicks in Stepney, not in Knightsbridge anymore." In Blackadder II Episode 6, Lord Percy explains the disappearance of his Uncle Bertram's old oak table thus: "'twas on the night of the great Stepney fire. And on that same, terrible night, his house and all his other things completely vanished too. So did he, in fact. It was a most perplexing mystery." In the film Help!, Alfie Bass has a cameo where he portrays a doorman of an Indian restaurant. When Ringo Starr discovers Alfie Bass is not an actual Indian, he exclaims "He's from the West!" Bass replies "Nah, east...Stepney." The English Nursery Rhyme Oranges and Lemons refers to the "...bells of Stepney." In George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four, set in England, he writes about rocket bombs killing many people: "One fell on a crowded film theatre in Stepney, burying several hundred victims among the ruins." This is in Chapter 5, Part 2. In the opening scene of the film Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, the character Bacon makes reference to a piece of jewelry that is "hand made in Italy, hand stolen in Stepney". In Arthur Conan Doyle's short story The Adventure of the Six Napoleons, Sherlock Holmes traces the origin of the eponymous plaster busts of Napoleon Bonaparte to a factory in Church Street, Stepney.

See also


  1. ^ Domesday Book - A Complete Translation Folio 127V: MIDDLESEX. Penguin Books. Nov 2002. ISBN 0-14-100523-8
  2. ^ Kosher in the country The Economist 01 Jun 2006 accessed 14 August 2007
  3. ^ a b T.F.T. Baker (1998). "Stepney: Early Stepney, A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 11: Stepney, Bethnal Green".  
  4. ^ Dec O'Connor at the Internet Movie Database
  5. ^ Steven Berkoff: The real East Enders The Independent 04 Jan 2007 accessed 10 May 2007
  6. ^ Jah Wobble, Memoirs of a Geezer, p. 1.
  7. ^ The hoppers of Kent (BBC Kent) accessed 21 Dec 2007
  8. ^ Stepney Episcopal Areaaccessed 10 May 2007
  9. ^ Martin Hinds and El Said-Badawi, A Dictionary of Egyptian Arabic. Beirut: Librarie du Liban, 1986
  10. ^ Stepney Tyre & Rubber Co Ltd in National Archiuves
  11. ^ Bio of Walter Davies BBC Wales accessed 10 May 2007

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

STEPNEY, an eastern metropolitan borough of London, England, bounded N. by Bethnal Green, E. by Poplar, S. by the river Thames, and W. by the City of London and Shoreditch. Pop. (1901), 298,600. It forms part of the "East End" of London; the parish, indeed, formerly covered practically the whole area so termed. Here are squalid streets and mean houses typical of the poorest class of inhabitants. The thoroughfares of Mile End Road and Whitechapel Road and that of Commercial Road East traverse the borough from the east and converge near the City boundary, where stood the ancient Aldgate. In the north Stepney includes the districts of Spitalfields, Whitechapel and Mile End; and in the south Wapping, Shadwell, Ratcliff and Limehouse. The southern districts are occupied by sailors and labourers in the St Katherine and London Docks and the wharves and factories lining the river-bank. The parish church of St Dunstan, Stepney, is a perpendicular building, much restored, containing many monuments and curious inscriptions. The church of St Anne, Limehouse (1730) is by Nicholas Hawksmoor. The district of Spitalfields has an old association with the silk-weaving industry; a trade in singing birds is also characteristic of this district; and in Ratcliff the well-known naturalist's firm of Jamrach is situated. In the extreme west the borough includes within its bounds the historic Tower of London, the Royal Mint and the fine Tower Bridge over the Thames. There is no bridge below this, but the construction of the Rotherhithe Tunnel was authorized in 1 9 00. The Thames Tunnel is used by the East London railway. Among institutions the principal is the People's Palace, Mile End Road, opened by Queen Victoria in 1887 as a place of intellectual and physical recreation and education. The Drapers' Company contributed largely to the cost of erection. Toynbee Hall, Commercial Street, was founded in 1884 under the trusteeship of the Universities Settlements Association and named after Arnold Toynbee (d. 1883), a philanthropist who devoted himself to work in this part of London. Other institutions are the London Hospital, Whitechapel, the East London children's hospital, the headquarters of Dr Barnardo's Homes, Stepney Causeway, and Her Majesty's Hospital for waifs connected therewith; the Stepney training college of the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, and the Spitalfields trade and technical school. There is a fish market in Shadwell, and a vegetable market in Spitalfields. Stepney is a suffragan bishopric in the diocese of London. The municipal borough comprises the Stepney, Whitechapel, Mile End, Limehouse and St George divisions of the Tower Hamlets parliamentary borough, each division returning one member. The borough council consists of a mayor, 10 aldermen, and 60 councillors. Area, 1765 6 acres.

The name appears in Domesday and later as Stevenhethe. The suffix is thus the common form hythe, a haven; but for the prefix no certain derivation is offered. At Mile End, so called from its distance from the City (Aldgate), the rebels from Essex under the leadership of Wat Tyler assembled (1381), and here Richard II. first met them in parley. Pepys records the village as a favourite place of resort.

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