Known as the ‘spiritual heart’ of the East End, Bethnal Green’s ethnic diversity, enthralling history and wide-ranging choice of property have made it an increasingly attractive district for Londoners from all walks of life.
The area boasts a rich historical past – infamous for its reputation for gangsters, slums and hard living, and once home to the notable Kray twins and Jack the Ripper. Originally part of the Parish of Stepney, Bethnal Green formed a separate parish in the 19th century as its population rapidly grew. At this time it was chiefly known for its market gardens and then thriving weaving industry, but by the end of the century it was one of the most deprived slums in London. To make matters worse, the area suffered severe devastation in the World War II bombings, destroying many buildings and killing hundreds of its inhabitants.
Fortunately, by the beginning of the 21st century, the area was in the process of considerable gentrification and nowadays caters for an interesting contrast in lifestyles; a young media and arty crowd combined with a more traditional, Cockney populace - all in all adding to its charming character. Maintaining its strong community feel, the area is abound with good pubs and remains famous for its staple ‘cheap and cheerful’ London meal; pie and mash with jellied eels.
Bethnal features a number of historical churches; of particular note are St. John and St. Matthew, which remain major hubs of the local East End community. In support of its ethnic and cultural population, the area also houses two mosques, a madrassah and The London Buddhist Centre, which remains one of the largest of its kind in the western world. Another venue of significant interest is the Museum of Childhood, which forms part of the V&A museum.
With its proximity to the vast array of travel links at Liverpool Street station, Bethnal Green is particularly well-positioned for city workers and commuters, as well as having the rare architectural appeal of a wide range of property to suit almost any budget. The area is home to the world’s first council housing development – The Boundary Estate, opened in 1900, and as a result an array of ex-council flats are now on offer, not forgetting the numerous and upmarket loft spaces, warehouse conversions and Grade II-listed terraced homes to appeal to the more discerning occupant.
The nearest underground stations are Bethnal Green, Whitechapel and Stepney Green, with overground stations at Bethnal Green and Cambridge Heath.