In the past the East End of London was home to poor immigrants, criminals and the disease-ridden, which is the reason for the area’s seedy past. As the city of London expanded it experienced massive over-crowding which caused many immigrants to look for residence outside of the city. Throughout the 19th century the East End was home to these various groups of people who came into and transformed the area into what it is today. Each group has left their own marks on London’s East End which is why it is such an incredibly interesting place to visit and explore.
The first group to settle into the East End was the Huguenots, then the Irish, who were followed by the Jews, who were then replaced by the Bangladeshis and most recently the artists and hipsters. And it seems to me that once the Hipsters move in, it’s a sign the neighbourhood is no longer what it was!
Eat Your Way Through London’s East End
I can think of no better way to understand and experience the various immigrant groups of the East End then through the food scene. Eating London Tours operates a food and cultural tour that explores the seedy past and the re-invention of London’s East End.
The tour includes 8 generous tastings across the East End. We even met a cat who has his own twitter feed, seriously check it out here!
We sampled some English traditionals including Bread and Butter Pudding at The English Restaurant and Fish and Chips at Poppies. Then we learnt that Curry is the national dish of England, in fact according to our guide, there are more curry restaurants in London then in Mumbai.
We visited the most famous Bagel shop on the European side of the Atlantic, and finished the tour off with a salted caramel tart. All the food was, of course, delicious – but the best part of the tour was the enthusiasm the guide had for the history of her neighbourhood.
The Street Art Scene
One of the clear symbols of the hipster influence in the East End is the amazing street art covering the neighbourhood. The best place in London for discovering street art is in Shoreditch, the art there changes almost daily. You can discover it for yourself or take a walking tour called the Alternative London Walking Tour.
Jack the Ripper’s Hunting Grounds
The east end is also the place where the infamous Jack the Ripper stalked and murdered his prey in 1888. Some of the victims were drinking in the local pubs before they were killed. The food tour only touches on the subject of Jack the Ripper but there are numerous walking tours available throughout London based solely on the serial killer.
All this can be discovered in the East End!! I definitely recommend taking some time away from the tourists in Central London and exploring this neighbourhood. I always find food tours a great way to discover parts of a city that I probably wouldn’t discover on my own, so if you are looking for something cool to do try the East End Food Tour, or one of the walking tours.
The Facts – East End Walking Tour
Location: London’s East End
Cost: £65 ($127 CA)
Time: 4 hours
Worth It? I’d say yes! I love food tours, I think they are a wonderful way to discover a neighbourhood you know nothing about. It is pricy but you are given a lot of food and tons of history along the way. It’s also a small group activity (10-12) which makes the experience a great place to meet some new people from around the world.
Thanks for sharing my adventures with me!