Print-friendly version of this page Spitalfields is near to Liverpool Street station and Brick Lane.
Toynbee Hall is a building which is the home of a charity of the same name.
It works to bridge the gap between people of all social and financial backgrounds, with a focus on working towards a future without poverty.
It was the first university-affiliated institution of the worldwide Settlement movement; a reformist social agenda that strove to get the rich and poor to live more closely together in an interdependent community.
Founded by Canon Samuel Barnett and his wife Henrietta in 1884 on Commercial Street
, it was named in memory of their friend and fellow reformer, Oxford historian Arnold Toynbee, who had died the previous year. Built specifically for the charity as a centre for social reform, it remains just as active today.
The area straddles Commercial Street
and is home to several markets, including the historic Old Spitalfields Market
, and various Brick Lane
Markets on Brick Lane
and Cheshire Street
. Petticoat Lane Market lies on the area's south-western boundaries.
The name Spitalfields appears in the form Spittellond
in 1399; as The spitel Fyeld on the 16th-century Civitas Londinium map associated with Ralph Agas. The land belonged to St Mary Spital, a priory or hospital erected on the east side of the Bishopsgate
thoroughfare in 1197, and the name is thought to derive from this. An alternative, and possibly earlier, name for the area was Lolsworth
After the revocation of the Edict of Nantes, Spitalfields was inhabited by prosperous French Huguenot silk weavers. In the early 19th century their descendants were reduced to a deplorable condition due to the competition of the Manchester textile factories and the area began to deteriorate into crime-infested slums. The spacious and handsome Huguenot houses were divided up into tiny dwellings which were rented by poor families of labourers, who sought employment in the nearby docks.
The area has recently attracted a IT-literate younger population.