There are few areas in the East of London more desirable than Spitalfields Market and the surrounding streets. This area is so popular due to the fantastic regeneration of the market itself, the beauty of the local housing, some of which is over three hundred years old, the large number of fashionable bars, coffee shops and restaurants as well as the fantastic transport links and the proximity to the financial district.
As a local agent, Winkworth are often invited to sell or rent properties in this historic patch of London. We know that our clients will jump at the opportunity to live here. It is also a pleasure to see some of the charming old properties, interesting roof tops views, and on the odd occasion meet a local resident that has lived here for a number of decades and can tell you a little gossip and a little history, that has transformed this area from the sixties onwards.
We have a number of favourite buildings, bars and coffee shops, so we’ve made a list here to help anyone that might be considering making Spitalfields their home.
The area takes its name from St Mary’s Spittel, hospital and priory, founded in 1197
The Exchange Building – Commercial Street
Converted to apartments in the year 2000, this was originally a telephone exchange. The building is impressive, directly opposite from Spital Square, and benefitting from underground parking and 24hr concierge service. The lobby has a waterfall flowing down half of the staircase, which makes for a nice feature; there is a courtyard with large pebbles behind the building and old chimney stack. Below the building on Commercial Street, a new Ted Baker store has opened with in house grooming parlour, Urban Outfitters and All Saints also have shops here. The apartments themselves are all large by London standards with one beds starting above £450pw for rental and two beds £700pw plus.
Across the road you’ll find The Commercial Tavern, popular with locals and distinctive for its rather jaunty table umbrellas in the summer. The Ten Bells opposite Spitalfields Market on Commercial Street is always a good spot for a drink, but the chalk line on the street outside, designed to keep drinkers from blocking the whole street, can be irksome if you don’t like to be hemmed in.
Alpha Court – Calvin Street
This is a good looking building finished just two years ago - HERE. It is hidden behind Dray Walk, a private Street owned by Truman Brewery with some large outdoor art installations, pop up shops and some mobile street food stores. It is a gritty looking area, but is actually only moments away from Costa Coffee on Commercial Street, and Shoreditch High Street Station at the end of Wheler Street. These apartments are finished to a high specification and most have large open plan kitchen living rooms, and private balconies. No concierge or gym though. Calvin Street was once known as Great Pearl Street and Alpha Court may have been built on the historic site of an old Church.
Eagle Works – Quaker Street
Located on Quaker Street known as such due to a seventeenth century Quaker meeting house, long since collapsed in the eighteenth century. The building is likely named after Grey Eagle Street and Black Eagle Street although there is an interesting Quaker story related to this area; Solomon Eagle, who is said to have run naked through the streets of London in 1665 as a religious warning respecting the plague. Eagle works has an imposing, heavy gate at the main entrance; the building looks modern and well built. The location is great for access to Brick Lane, Shoreditch High Street Station and Spitalfields with Liverpool Street Station beyond. Many of the apartments are rented, the standard is usually high and many have juliet balconies and high spec kitchens. The train line runs along the rear of the property, but this is beneath street level and the flats have been designed to minimise the potential noise.
East One – Lolesworth Street
This is a small development, and appears to have been converted from a warehouse. The apartments are of an extremely high standard and retain some warehouse features, with iron window frames, exposed brick work and solid wood floors. The most pleasant aspect of this property is the surprisingly open view to the rear. Tucked away on this small side street just off Commercial Street, you expect to be overlooked, but the local school yard and church grounds leave a wide empty gap stretching away from the building. Lolesworth Street has a dark history. It is the remaining end of what used to be called Flower Street. The home of many of Jack the Rippers victims. Described as a rookery, this was slang for a slum with crime and prostitution in the 18th and 19th century. It’s much nicer now though!
Spital Square & Folgate Street
These properties are just to the North of Spitalfields Market and are probably the most desirable apartments in the area, due to their proximity to the market combined with the narrow streets limiting traffic and making this a quiet pedestrian refuge. The following exert paints a wonderful picture of the local history and is in stark contrast to our modern description:
The weavers are mostly of French descent, their forefathers having been driven to London by religious persecution about 150 years ago, and it is curious to note how much they have preserved the national style and peculiarities to the present day. There is an immense number of them, and they are mostly remarkable for intelligence. They suffer much privation, struggling to some extent as they do against machinery. In Spital-square, which is close to Bishopsgate-street, the master weavers live. Leading from this are streets, black and dilapidated, which are becoming more and more crowded in consequence of the removal of houses by the Eastern Counties Railway Company, who have purchased part of the neighbourhood. Spital History.
A few of the original Weavers houses remain, but a large part of Folgate Street is now modern apartments, however the frontage has been designed sympathetically, to reflect the period style. These flats can be a little generic, but very comfortable and fabulously central.
Nearby, you’ll find a wide variety of lovely coffee shops and restaurants, but worth a mention is Starbucks on Brushfield Street. The downstairs area is pretty standard, but if you make your way up the narrow stairway, you’ll find two further floors with large leather sofas and oak tables, ideal for some quiet study or writing your blog. An added bonus is the reflection of the Gherkin in the glass building opposite you.
A very modern building situated directly opposite Liverpool Street Station. Looking down on the station from the apartments you get a real sense of being part of London life, with the constant heavy pedestrian traffic and rich mixture of people. This building carries a premium due to its incredibly central location and the convenience of the station, as well as some of the beautiful side streets with their pubs and bars and restaurants located just behind you. All the apartments are very well presented and one bed’s are renting for well above £500pw at the moment.
Just two hundred metres away is the Heron Tower, the glass lift up to the 38th floor is an experience in itself, but both Sushi Samba and the Duck and Waffle bar have views to blow you away. Anyone can go up for a drink, although you’ll need to book if you plan to eat, and expect to pay at least £13 for your Gin & Tonic.
Fournier and Princelet Street
These streets have a well documented history, and some of the houses are used regularly in period dramas. Not so long ago, these streets were very run down and undesirable. Now they are a beautiful example of the history of the Huguenots and very sought after. Large apartments on these streets have sold for £2 million and we recently let a four bedroom house – HERE with converted Weavers outhouse for £1250pw. I recently met one of Spitalfields more well know residents, Charlie de Wett and had the opportunity to see her beautiful house on Fournier Street, tastefully decorated with many original features. Spitalfields Life is an interesting blog if you’re thinking of becoming a local. These properties don’t come available very often, but if you do have the opportunity to buy or rent here, there is no better place to be, but expect to pay a premium.
Kensington Apartments – Commercial Street
In our opinion this is one of the most successful new developments in the area - HERE. The apartments are all of generous size compared to most new builds, the hallways are wide, and the communal courtyard is a wonderful refuge, as is the large communal terrace with views across to the nearby City district. There is a 24 hour concierge service, and the entrance is only 100m from Aldgate east underground station. Expect to pay at least £475pw for a one bedroom apartment, but for those who can afford a luxury apartment in Central London, this is money well spent.
Across the road from the Kensington Apartments is The Culpeper, recently completely renovated. The bar on the ground floor is always busy, but the real charm to this building is the large roof terrace, with barbecue area. Many of the drinkers seem to be unaware of the terrace and it’s often possible to sneak upstairs and enjoy a quiet drink, while avoiding the heave downstairs.
Arcadia Court & Merchant House
Located to the South of Spitalfields these two buildings are quite similar and set close by. They are large purpose built developments next to Petticoat Lane. Most of the apartments are well designed with spacious rooms, properties on the North side have views of the City. They are a little cheaper than a lot of the local housing stock, and rent in the region of £350pw for a one bed, as they are not period apartments or new build. However if you’re looking for a nice flat in a very central location we recommend you take a look.
We hope this gives you a feel for the area, and the type of property you might find. We could write for hours on different apartments and buildings. If you’re looking in this area call our Shoreditch office for some friendly advice.
James Holness - Lettings Manager - Winkworth Shoreditch