St. Dunstan’s and All Saints

IMG_2320Stepney High Street, E1 0NR

There has been Christian worship on this site since at least the early 10th century AD. Apparently this pattern of worship sites being on the roads leading to the river is evident all over the UK. It is now a very busy Anglican church.

The first stone structure was put here in 952, but the current structure was built from 1250 onwards and is regarded as a good example of medieval church architecture with different bits added and replaced over a few hundred years. St Dunstan’s and All Saints is the oldest church in the east end.

Originally All Saints church, when St Dunstan, Bishop of London, was canonised in 1029 his name was added to the church. Fun fact: he is the patron saint of gold and silversmiths.

Keep an eye out for: behind the pulpit, near the organ is an Anglo-Saxon carving that is from the early stone structure of the church. It’s at least 1000 years old!

Some great old pics can be found here

Best nearby: Stepney City Farm, this tiny farm is worth a visit, farmer Simon is very friendly, there’s a cafe and on Saturdays from 10-3 there’s a farmer’s market.

 

The Blind Beggar

IMG_2294337 Whitechapel Road, E1 1BU.

Behind the decrepit brick exterior, a more famous and infamous drinking venue in East London would be hard to find.

It’s hard to abbreviate the colourful history of The Blind Beggar because there’s so much juicy historical goodness so here’s the Sparknotes, quick-fire, last-shots-of-tequila-before-closing version:

  • Built 1894, but an inn had been on the site since at least 1654.
  • It is outside this site that William Booth, the founder of the Salvation Army, gave his first sermon (in 1865).
  • It’s apparently called the Blind Beggar after an old story called The Ballad of Bethnal Green that tells of how nobleman Henry de Montfort (1238-1265) who lost his sight in battle begged on the cross-roads that the pub sits on.
    • Extra for experts: this poem has a happy ending, his daughter marries for love, Henry unveils himself and gives her lots of money. Yassssss!
  • Frequented by the Kray twins, it’s the pub in which Ronnie Kray murdered rival gang member George Cornell on 9 March 1966.

It’s now very proud of its beer garden and history, with drawings and old photographs of Victorian East London adorning the walls, and a fair bit of Kray memorabilia.

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Best nearby: Mouse Tail coffee, 307 Whitechapel Road.

Trinity Green Almshouses

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Trinity Green Almshouses, Mile End Road, E1 4TS

Built in 1695 these are the oldest Almshouses in central London. While the architect of the building is unconfirmed – some say Christopher Wren, others William Ogbourne – the intention was clear, the circle of stone between the windows decrees,  “THIS ALMES HOUSE wherein twenty-eight decay’d Masters & Commanders of Ships, or ye Widows of such are maintain’d, was built by ye CORP. of TRINITY HOUSE, ano 1695.” In short, it was for retired sailors or their widows to be looked after within.

Interestingly, it was the first building to go on the Preservation Register which is now known as the Listed Buildings schedule. So, it was the first listed building ever.

It was damaged in the Blitz and carefully restored in the 1950s.

Things to note: look up on either side of the entrance buildings and you will see two small ships, a nod to the inhabitants former employment.

Best nearby: Get a coffee or a cocktail from Genesis Cinema’s front cafe, or a tasty meal at Chicken Shop
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