Pages v-vi

Survey of London: Volume 27, Spitalfields and Mile End New Town. Originally published by London County Council, London, 1957.

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During the last few years London has entered as important a period of rebuilding as any since that which followed the Great Fire. Many of the buildings recently erected have filled in the gaps caused by bombing during the war, but others have replaced older buildings which had outlived their useful span of life. Georgian houses in St. James's Square, Grosvenor Square and Henrietta Place, which have been demolished recently, are cases in point.

The Architectural and Historical Buildings Sub-Committee of the Town Planning Committee, to which the management of the Survey of London has been entrusted, has taken steps to record these and many other buildings before their demolition. The Committee has also decided that the Survey should concentrate its attention upon those central areas of London—Westminster, St. Marylebone, Holborn and part of Stepney—which contain a large proportion of London's finest surviving buildings. The present volume represents the first published result of this decision.

Spitalfields is widely known as a former centre of the silk-weaving industry, but its long and varied history is much less familiar. Widespread building development began in the second half of the seventeenth century, the period when weavers first began to settle in the district in any numbers, and until some fifty years ago much of the domestic architecture of Spitalfields still reflected the prosperity which the silk weavers had formerly enjoyed. The expansion of Spitalfields Market in the 1920's and 30's and the rebuilding which constantly goes on in the central districts of London have swept away much of Georgian Spitalfields, but a photographic record of Spital Square was made by the Council as long ago as 1908–9, and many of the photographs taken then are reproduced in this volume.

Spitalfields possesses one of the finest churches designed by Nicholas Hawksmoor for the Commissioners for Building Fifty New Churches. Study of the recently discovered records of the Commissioners at Lambeth Palace, and of a number of hitherto unnoticed drawings at the British Museum, has enabled Mr. P. A. Bezodis and Mr. Walter Ison, the joint authors of this volume, to produce a much more detailed account of the history of the church than has been possible hitherto.

The Council is most grateful to all those persons who have assisted members of the Council's staff in the preparation of this volume. The Rev. B. W. M. Berdoe granted every facility for the study and recording of the great church of which he is Rector. The Rev. C. E. Surman supplied valuable information relating to the complicated history of Nonconformity in the area; Mr. G. H. H. Wheler lent private papers which clarified the early development of his family's estate in Spitalfields, and Mr. Hugh Crallan lent photo graphs and deeds and allowed drawings to be made of No. 14 Fournier Street. Mr. S. Moss of No. 56 Artillery Lane and Messrs. Truman, Hanbury, Buxton and Co. Ltd., provided access to both their archives and their property. To the custodians of records housed at Lambeth Palace Library, the Bishopsgate Institute, Stepney Central Library, the Guildhall Library, the Corporation of London Records Office and the Corporation of London Comptroller's Department, the Council also tenders its grateful acknowledgment. To all those other persons, too numerous to mention individually, who have placed their time, their papers or their property at the disposal of the Survey, the Council expresses the hope that they will feel that their kindness has been justified by the publication of this volume.

The thanks of the Council are again due to Mr. J. H. MacDonnell, Mr. Ian L. Phillips, Mr. T. F. Reddaway, M.A., F.S.A., and Mr. John Summerson, C.B.E., F.B.A., who as co-opted members have provided the Architectural and Historical Buildings Sub-Committee with their expert knowledge.

The historical portions of the text of this volume, and the research upon which they are based, are the work of Mr. P. A. Bezodis, Senior Historical Research Assistant in the Clerk's Department, who has been assisted by Mrs. Marion A. V. Ball. The architectural descriptions have been written by Mr. Walter Ison, the Architectural Editor of the Survey, assisted by Mr. A. H. Grogan, both of the Architect's Department. Mr. Ison has also supervised the preparation of the drawings and photographs, many of the latter being the work of the Council's Photographic Unit. Mrs. Marie P. G. Draper and Miss P. M. Calland assisted in seeing the volume through the press.

County Hall Richard Edmonds
London Chairman of the Town Planning Committee.