SHORTLISTED FOR THE HESSELL-TILTMAN HISTORY PRIZE 2017
AN OBSERVER BOOK OF THE YEAR 2016
Religious strife, civil conflict, waves of immigration, the rise and fall of industry, great prosperity and grinding poverty - the handful of streets that constitute modern Spitalfields have witnessed all this and much more.
In Spitalfields, one of Britain's best-loved historians tells the stories of the streets he has lived in for four decades. Starting in Roman times and continuing right up to the present day, Cruickshank explains how Spitalfields' streets evolved, what people have lived there, and what lives they have led. En route, he discovers the tales of the Huguenot weavers who made Spitalfields their own after the Great Fire of London. He recounts the experiences of the first Jewish immigrants. He evokes the slum-ridden courts and alleys of Jack the Ripper's Spitalfields. And he describes the transformation of the Spitalfields he first encountered in the 1970s from a war-damaged collection of semi-derelict houses to the vibrant community it is today.
This is a fascinating evocation of one of London's most distinctive districts. At the same time, it is a history of England in miniature.
Dan Cruickshank is an architectural historian and television presenter. He is an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects, a member of the Executive Committee of the Georgian Group, and on the Architectural Panel of the National Trust. His recent work includes the BBC television programmes Civilisation Under Attack (2015) and At Home with the British (2016), and the books A History of Architecture in 100 Buildings (2015) and Spitalfields (2016). He lives in London.