Friday, 19 May 2017
Gunthorpe Street, Whitechapel
Realising the Edwardo Paolozzi exhibition at The Whitechapel Gallery was ending I hurried up there last Saturday and got the bonus of serendipity.
Having taken the wrong exit from Aldgate East I glanced Christ Church Spittlefields through the archwayed entry to Gunthorpe Street and felt the sketcher’s urge. Originally George Yard the street was one of many alleys along Whitechapel High Street . Knowing nothing of its history I dug about to find what I suspected. The joy of today’s sneak view masked an earthy past. Its claustrophobic mixture of lodging houses, stables and narrow courts gave it a mean reputation. In 1822 it was described as a "notorious rendezvous of thieves" and went on to be the scene of every conceivable crime including inevitably a bit of Jack the Ripper’s work.
George Yard was renamed Gunthorpe Street in 1912 after John Gunthorpe who was rector of St Mary's Whitechapel in 1471.