In 1870-72, John Marius Wilson's Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales described Spitalfields like this:
SPITALFIELDS, a parish and a sub-district in Whitechapel district, Middlesex. The parish lies on the Great Eastern railway, and to the S of it, 1 mile ENE of St. Paul's, London; includes, at Lolesworth, the site of a Roman cemetery, where urns, stone coffins, lamps, pottery, and coins were found in 1576; had an Augustinian priory and hospital, founded in 1197 by Sheriff Brune; had also, in Spital-square, a preaching cross, where sermons on the Resurrection were delivered, called "Spital sermons,'' and which afterwards were delivered in Christchurch, Newgate-street; was mainly open unedificed ground, without the city walls, till 1685; began then to be extensively settled by French Protestants, mostly weavers, driven to England by the revocation of the edict of Nantes; became speedily a great seat of silk manufacture; continues still to be such, but after great fluctuations and with much decline; carries on other occupations akin to the silk manufacture, or connected with it; has also a great brewery and a soap factory; is now, and long has been, all compactly built; presents, on the whole, a crowded and poor appearance; has a market house, model lodging-Houses, three churches, a working-men's institute, a mechanics' institute, a school of design, parochialand national schools, industrial schools, a Dissenters' school, a Jews' free school, and alms houses; was part of Stepney parish till 1723; and is now ecclesiastically divided into S. ...
Christchurch, S.-St. Stephen, and part of S.-St. Mary, the rest of which comprises the liberties of Old Artillery Ground and Norton-Folgate. Christ church was built in 1723-9, after designs by Hawksmoor; was restored, in 1866, at a cost of £6,680; and has a Doric portico, and a tower and spire 234 feet high. St. Stephen's church was built in 1862; and is in a peculiar Gothic style, with remarkable apse and curious tower. The working men's institute was built in 1865, at a cost of £3,500. Acres of the parish, 74. Real property, £49,526. Pop. in 1851, 20,960; in 1861, 20,593. Houses, 2,063. The living of Christ church is a rectory, and the livings of St. Stephen and St. Mary are p. curacies, in the diocese of London. Value of C., £400;* of St. S., £420;* of St. M., £500.* Patron, of C., T. F. Buxton, Esq.; of St. S., the Church Patronage Society; of St. M., Hyndman's Trustees.The sub-district excludes part of the parish; and is bounded, on the E, by Brick-lane,-on the W, by Wheeler-street, Crispin-street, and Bell-lane. Acres, 53. Pop., 15,700. Houses, 1,533.
The location is that of Spitalfields market.
A Vision of Britain through Time includes a large library of local statistics for administrative units. For the best overall sense of how the area containing Spitalfields has changed, please see our redistricted information for the modern district of Tower Hamlets. More detailed statistical data are available under Units and statistics, which includes both administrative units covering Spitalfields and units named after it.
GB Historical GIS / University of Portsmouth, History of Spitalfields, in Tower Hamlets and Middlesex | Map and description, A Vision of Britain through Time.
Date accessed: 25th July 2014
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