London is a city that consists of many small villages, each bringing a distinct character to the English capital. With 32 boroughs consisting of between 3 to 4 separate districts, it’s unsurprising that so many of them have become tourist attractions in and of themselves. Guests of London hotel packages will no doubt have a list of areas they want to visit during their stay, and it wouldn’t be a surprise if Shoreditch featured on it.
Shoreditch is a central east London district that falls within the borough of Hackney, but borders the City of London, the historic centre of the English capital. Shoreditch has long been a bastion of the arts, culture and entertainment scene in London but its proximity to the historic centre, dating back to 47 AD, means that it has amassed a great depth of history in and of itself. Guests of the Montcalm Royal London House then, can benefit not only from world class dining and entertainment, but museums and historic landmarks as well.
This blog will detail some of the interesting elements, venues and stories of Shoreditch, providing first time visitors with a gateway into one of the city’s most popular tourist districts.
History Of Shoreditch
Shoreditch has an entertainment legacy that dates back to the 1570s, when the government banned the building of theatres in the City of London. For this reason, theatres began to appear in what is now known as Shoreditch but were back then the suburbs and satellite towns of old London. In fact, the first “playhouse” was built in Shoreditch in 1576 and staged many of Shakespeare’s early works, the Bard being a local resident.
Shoreditch's Ancient History
However, Shoreditch’s importance dates back even further to Roman times, when it was part of the old North Road, and later became a vital coaching route into the city for travellers. Several churches in the area predate even the founding of the borough, St Leonard’s Church, known colloquially as Shoreditch Church, has origins in the Anglo Saxon period of England.
Shoreditch grew in size thanks to migrant influxes during the 17th and 18th centuries, before being a stalwart of the industrial revolution. The factories and warehouses, many of which still stand today, were a great source of work for locals, and many slums began to form around the area. The poverty of Victorian era Shoreditch meant that it was an easy hunting ground for the infamous Jack the Ripper serial killer, who’s notoriety is still a large reason for tourism in the area today.
Shoreditch saw major redevelopment after the Second World War, when it suffered greatly from the Blitz but still harbours many of the traditions and personality traits as it did before this. Brick Lane and Spitalfields Market, for instance, were founded during the 18th and 19th centuries, and are still popular today.
How To Reach Shoreditch
Shoreditch is within walking distance of Liverpool Street Station, which runs the Central, Elizabeth and Overground rail lines into central and East London. It is also the departure point for Abellio Greater Anglia train services. Alternatively, you can reach Shoreditch via Old Street Station on the Northern Line, Bethnal Green on the Central and Overground Lines and via Shoreditch High Street Overground station.
As you can probably tell from the above, Shoreditch’s nightlife, eateries like the nearby Finsbury Square restaurants and its cultural scene all stem from its long history. There are, therefore, many museums that one can visit in the district.
Dennis Severs House
Dennis Severs House is a museum-come-art installation created by Folgate Street resident Dennis Severs in the 90s. The museum house consists of reconstructions of interiors from different time periods ranging from the 18th to the early 20th century, telling a story of one family of Huguenot silk weavers as different generations integrate into London life over the years. The museum’s lifelike reconstructions of Georgian, Victorian and Edwardian middle class interiors utilise sound and smell in its time capsule-adjacent experience.
Museum Of The Home
The Museum of the Home, formerly known as the Geffrye Museum is a free-to-visit museum that, like Dennis Severs House, explores the evolution of home life from the 1600s and into the modern day. Having closed for 2 and a half years for major renovations, the museum is now open again and has 80% more gallery space, incorporating a cafe, learning pavilion and a collections library.
Culture In Shoreditch
The tourist scene in Shoreditch doesn’t just focus on the historic, there are many ways to enjoy your visit if you don’t fancy a museum visit.
Jack The Ripper Walking Tours
Shoreditch and Whitechapel’s historic serial killer has generated a massive industry of walking tours, many of the spots at which he murdered at least 5 victims still visible today. Tours vary in style and material, but the most popular ones are often cited by travel companies as the “Ripper-Vision” tour, which incorporates projections of Victorian London and a “feminist” Jack The Ripper tour, which dissects the serial killer’s motives, Victorian culture and the murder victims through the lens of women’s rights.
Brick Lane is one of the busiest streets in Shoreditch thanks to its thriving daily market. The market itself dates back to the 19th century and on Saturdays and Sundays incorporates fashion, art and food, a jewellery market named Backyard Market and the Boiler House Food Market. Vintage clothes await between Thursday and Sunday at the Vintage Market whilst Aladdin’s Cave is teeming with antiques and furniture.
Markets aren’t the only draws for visitors to Brick Lane, the area’s curry houses and bagel shops reflect the Bengali and European Jewish cultures that have thrived in the area for decades.
Shoreditch is also famous for its music venues, boasting an eclectic mixture of genres and styles. Rough Trade East is a record-store come music venue that celebrates the best in alternative music, XOYO is a popular clubbing spot, whilst Village Underground blends both dance music and live music as well as creative spaces for artists.