Whitechapel Bell Foundry
First opened during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I in 1570, The Whitechapel Bell Foundry is the oldest manufacturing company in Great Britain, and moved from nearby to its current spot on Whitechapel Road in 1739. The ‘Big Ben’ bell was made here in 1858, and America’s famous Liberty Bell was cast here in 1752; the bell was never rung until 1848, and cracked the first time it was, due to damage it received on its stormy passage across the Atlantic! The bells of St. Paul’s Cathedral, Westminster Abbey and Lincoln Cathedral were also made here, and the Whitechapel Bell Foundry designed the ‘Olympic Bell’, seen at the opening ceremony of the 2012 Olympic Games.
Christ Church, Spitalfields
Designed by Nicholas Hawksmoor, this beautiful building stands on the junction of Commercial Street and Fournier Street, and was built between 1714 and 1729.
The church organ inside was made by Richard Bridge in 1735, and consisting of over two thousand pipes was the largest church organ in England for over a century.
By the 1960s the building had fallen into disrepair, the roof was deemed to be unsafe, and the Bishop of Stepney requested that the entire building should be demolished.
This proposal was blocked by The Hawksmoor Committee, who instead managed to raise the necessary money for repairs through the sale of St. John’s church in Westminster, that had been bombed during the Second World War.
Today, the church is restored to its former glory and stands, as it has done for over three hundred years, looking over Spitalfields and the East End.
Over the boundary and inside the City of London (‘the square mile’), the beautiful Leadenhall Market stands on Gracechurch Street and is one of the oldest markets in London, dating from the 1300s.
It was originally a meat and poultry market, and today is best known for its florists, fresh food, butchers and cheesemongers.
The striking roof structure was designed in 1881 by architect Sir Horace Jones, and the building was refurbished in 1991 to a very high standard, enhancing the architecture and detail.
Tower of London
Officially known as Her Majesty’s Royal Palace and Fortress, ‘The Tower of London’ was founded in 1066.
The ‘White Tower’ (from which the castle gets its name) was built by William the Conqueror in 1078, and was seen by locals at the time as an ominous sign of oppression from the ruling elite.
The Tower was used as a prison from 1100AD til 1952, when the East End’s notorious Kray Twins were the last to be imprisoned there.
Anne Boleyn, Sir Walter Raleigh, Elizabeth I, Guy Fawkes and Lady Jane Grey were all also held prisoner here, as was notorious Nazi Rudolf Hess during the Second World War. Since 1669 the Crown Jewels have been on display here, and according to some, The Tower of London is one of the most haunted buildings in the world.