London's vibrant and colourful East End is the subject of this tour, a district that many immigrants have called home for centuries and have left their mark through businesses and buildings, food and culture with a surprise around every corner.
We start with the history of our first major invaders, the Romans and glimpse a surviving example of Roman building work before gazing upon the fortress of a later invader, William the Conqueror and his Tower of London. Learn of executions and prisoners and look over to majestic Tower Bridge before we head north of the Thames towards Spitalfields. We see Beavis Marks synagogue, opened in 1701, and the oldest in the country. We walk into the Jewish district to historic St Botolphs church and the Kindertransport memorial to the 10,000 children who escaped Nazi Germany to set up new lives in London during the war.
We pass sites of enemy damage during the Blitz in those dark wartime years to bustling Petticoat Lane market. This vibrant area has been selling second-hand clothing since the 17th century and in and among over 1,000 stalls there are bargains to be had. This popular market has featured in literature and film over the passing years.
French Huguenot refugees have called London's East End their home for centuries and their silk weaving skills were put to good use in their surviving 18th century cottages in Princelet Street. We are now entering Jack the Ripper country and there will be a few gruesome stories to be told before we arrive at Brick Lane with its vast collection of world restaurants with Indian food a speciality. Indian, Bangladeshi and Pakistani moved into the Whitechapel area towards the end of the 1940s and their food, culture and lifestyle have added another colourful layer to this fascinating East End district of London.
Meeting point: Tower Hill underground station
This tour is run by a professional guide and will be for our students only.