Limehouse Through Five Centuries

Andrea Gibbons

This is quite a wonderful and curious little history of Limehouse written by J.G. Birch, rector of St Anne’s Limehouse (one of my favourite Hawksmoor churches), in 1935. It is written part for the love of curious fact and part to takes issue with how Limehouse has been described by others — Burke’s descriptions in Limehouse Nights, or Walter Besant’s ‘sweeping assertion concerning the whole riverside population of East London: “thieves all–to a man.”‘ I just finished Besant’s East End, and it is indeed infuriating.

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This on the other hand, while no definite history by any stretch, is still full of details (perhaps too many details of great men and their exploits) and tantalising glimpses to be followed up perhaps. Like this one:

In 1697 there were some stormy times on the Limehouse quaysides, and news was brought to the Admiralty that “the mob in Limehouse intended to…

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