Beyond the Tower: A History of East London by John Marriott

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By John Marriott

From Jewish garments retailers to Bangladeshi curry homes, historical docks to the 2012 Olympics, the world east of town has continually performed a very important function in London's historical past. The East finish, because it has been identified, used to be the house to Shakespeare's first theater and to the early stirrings of a mass hard work move; it has additionally routinely been obvious as a spot of darkness and depression, the place Jack the Ripper dedicated his ugly murders, and cholera and poverty stalked the Victorian streets.

In this superbly illustrated historical past of this iconic district, John Marriott attracts on twenty-five years of study into the topic to offer an authoritative and without end interesting account. simply by copious maps, archive prints and pictures, and the phrases of East Londoners from seventeenth-century silk weavers to Cockneys through the Blitz, he explores the connection among the East finish and the remainder of London, and demanding situations some of the myths that encompass the area.

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This eastern route had for centuries been the meeting place of town and country, and was frequently congested with carts transporting produce, and with animals being driven to abattoirs. Coaching inns and taverns had been built to cater for this traffic, and by the close of the sixteenth century houses began to spread along this and other eastbound thoroughfares. Stow may have celebrated the plebeian culture of the time, but it was a celebration increasingly tempered by deep anxieties held by all shades of polite opinion, most particularly by the City merchants, that the rapid growth of the area would bring the poor and attendant social problems.

To solve these problems the Act proceeded to order the appointment of commissioners with powers to repair or construct sewers and pavements, and to remove encroachments which had hindered free movement, the costs of which would be met by the owners of the houses adjoining the streets, who, it was assumed, stood to gain most from the improvements. Faced with the ‘great quantities of Sea-coal-ashes dust dirt and other filth which of late times have beene and daily are throwne into the Streets Lanes and Allies’, inhabitants also were charged with the responsibility to sweep and cleanse the streets in front of their houses twice per week, removing all the ‘soyle dirt and other filth’ ready to be taken away by the scavenger, and to repair or pave the streets from time to time at their own expense.

Puritanism lost much of its appeal for the middle and upper classes, while the remainder joined the ranks of nonconformist congregations, in particular Presbyterian and Independent. The Restoration therefore saw a flurry of legislation designed to enforce common forms of religious practice and bolster the authority of Charles II. The 1662 Act of Uniformity71 required adherence to the Book of Common Prayer in all church services, the 1664 Conventicle Act72 forbade all unauthorized forms of assembly for religious worship, most of which took place in small chapels, houses or even fields, and the 1665 Five Mile (or Oxford) Act73 banned all persons approaching within five miles of any parish in which they had preached to an unlawful assembly.

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