THROUGH HOXTON’S SQUARES (1.1 miles)

When following this route, please remember to:

    • Keep to the 2 metre social distancing from people you pass by;
    • Take care crossing roads – use controlled crossings where possible.

1/13 Start outside St John’s Church Hoxton, N1 6NP. Hoxton was in the parish of Shoreditch. When the ancient parish of St Leonard’s Shoreditch was divided, the church was built in 1826 to serve the growing population of Hoxton. There were 26689 burials in the churchyard between 1826 and 1857, 4174 (16%) during the cholera epidemic of 1854-5. The churchyard was opened to the public in 1882 as one of Shoreditch’s few open spaces.

2/13 Opposite is the Dash, a new development named for the Haberdasher’s City Livery Company which owned land in the area. Walk down Pitfield Street passing the George and Vulture, a pub since 1827. No. 55 was a cinema from 1912 to 1956. It has been rebuilt as flats with a replica of the cinema’s facade. Pitfield St is named after the family which bought land stretching west from here in 1648

3/13 Aske Gardens is laid out on land bought here in 1690 by the Haberdasher’s Company with money left by Robert Aske. Almshouses for 20 poor company freemen were built along with a school for 20 freemen’s sons. The almshouses closed in 1873 and by 1898 the building was the London County Council’s Shoreditch Technical Institute teaching furniture and building trade skills.

4/13 Down Buttesland Street laid out in 1827 when the almshouses were rebuilt. Go left and continue right along Chart St. Here one person was killed and three were injured on 13 July 1917 in a German enemy air raid which destroyed 45 homes in Shoreditch. Take a left at Baches Street and left again passing The Prince Arthur, a pub since 1841, to Charles Square.

5/13 Charles Square was laid out in 1685, 20 years after the West End’s Bloomsbury Square, though Charles Square never achieved the same cachet. George Whitefield, one of the founders of Methodism, preached here in 1742. John Newton who wrote the hymn Amazing Grace lived here. Before WW1 No. 38 was home to the German Mechanics Society. The square was redeveloped in the 1950s. The only old survivor is No. 16, built about 1725.

6/13 Go through the passage under the flats on the south side and to your left you can see a mural showing  c16th archers practicing in Hoxton Fields; early c19th Charles Square resident illustrator and explorer Frederick Catherwood who found lost Mayan pyramids and a workshop typical of Hoxton’s furniture trade

7/13 Retrace your steps back to Charles Square and turn right to cross Pitfield Street to Hoxton Market. Licenced as a market in 1687 it never took off as a successful market. On the north side of this square was from 1899 until 1948 the innovative Shoreditch Vestry’s site for generating electricity by burning rubbish. It is now the National Centre for Circus Arts.

8/13 Take a right at the Circus Space, then right and left to Hoxton Square, laid out in 1684. Mary Wollstonecraft lived here as girl in 1774. No .1 was home of Shoreditch’s parish surgeon, apothecary and man midwife, James Parkinson, who gave his name to the ‘shaking palsy’ disease. In the 1980s-90s No 1 was home to the Bass Clef and then the Blue Note Clubs. Jay Joplin’s White Cube gallery was at No. 48 from 1993 to 2012.

9/13 The Square’s gardens were taken over by the borough in 1916 making it one of Shoreditch’s few open spaces for the public to enjoy. Leave the square for Pitfield Street by the road to the right of St. Monica’s Roman Catholic church designed in 1863 by Edward Welby Pugin, whose more famous father designed the interior of the House of Commons.

10/13 Opposite St. Monica’s primary school in Pitfield Street is Hoxton House, part of an asylum for the mentally ill from 1695 till 1902, one of a few in Hoxton. Further up on the left was the site of Pollock’s shop which supplied theatrical sheets, 1d plain or 2d coloured, for toy theatres. On the other side of Pitfield Street was from 1707 the Hambro Synagogue burial ground. The last burial was in the 1870s but the graves were not removed until 1960 when the site was built on.

11/13 Across Fanshaw Street note Khadija’s Garden, named after Khadija Saye who worked on its creation. Khadija died with her mother in the tragic Grenfell fire on 14 June 2017. Walk down Fanshaw Street past late c19th warehouses and the Lion and Lamb pub, which dates from 1824 but was rebuilt after WW2 bombing.

12/13 Pass on the left Fairchild House which is more detailed than the area’s other social housing with curvesto its structure more commonly found on elegant inter-war private blocks of flats. In the early 1950s Shoreditch Borough was the top London borough for the proportion of public housing per head of population. The block is named after local c18th gardener Thomas Fairchild.

13/13 Fairchild House is part of the Royal Oak Estate built on an area heavily bombed in the Blitz. Cross Pitfield Street to a horse trough put up, mysteriously, ‘In memory of a beloved friend’, who was a dog called Jill. Search Hackney Gazette’s website (www.hackneygazette.co.uk) for 20 January 2020 article on local historian Peter Hindley’s research into the intriguing story behind the dedication.

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