The History of Bethnal Green in London

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Bethnal Green History

Historic Bethnal Green

Historic Bethnal Green
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Bethnal Green is home to a number of French Huguenot Mansions, which were built by refugees who fled France for religious reasons. The Leopold Buildings are a historic block of flats built in 1872, the Improved Industrial Dwellings Company built them, and the grade II buildings are listed and underwent a 3.5 million refurbishment in 1997.

Bethnal Green Gardens is a conservation area, the historic White House once stood here but was demolished and a new building was resurrected in its place in 1896, which is now home to Bethnal Green’s library. The Bethnal Green Museum opened in 1872.


History of Bethnal Green

Bethnal Green is associated with the ‘Blind Beggar’, the image of which is in the old coat of arms that represented the borough of the area and a bronze statute of which is now on the Cranbrook Estate. The story goes that during the battle of Evesham in 1265 Henry de Montfort, the then son of the Earl of Leicester was blinded during the battle, he hid his identity to avoid royal spies by posing on the streets of Bethnal Green as a beggar. He only revealed his identity when his daughter’s hand was asked for in marriage.

In Victorian times the area was poverty stricken, it is seeped in dark history, with the murderer Jack the Ripper once prowling the streets and home to the renowned gangsters the Kray twins, who lived here during their lifetime and were known for their notorious organized crime. Bethnal Green was severely damaged during the Blitz in World War II; it was home to one of the worst atrocities involving citizens in World War II when many people died in a tube station crush.

Modern Day Bethnal Green

The once poverty ridden streets of Bethnal Green are long gone and in its place a trendy area, living on the coattails of Hoxton, Shoreditch and Dalston. Mainly a residential area, as opposed to somewhere to enjoy the nightlife, its neighbouring suburbs tend to boast more lively and diverse nightlife. Bethnal Green is a multicultural hub where you can enjoy the delights of the East End, with pie and mash and jellied eels on offer. The district has evolved quickly, with youth culture being a big part of Bethnal Green today.