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Learn more about East London’s infamous and famous people. From Jack The Ripper to Alf Garnett.

History of The Stratford Martyrs

If you visit the churchyard of the Church of St John the Evangelist in Stratford, you can see a memorial to the Stratford Martyrs. According to some, this marks the approximate location where 13 people were burned at the stake by Queen Mary I because of their religious beliefs.

The Stratford Martyrs – The Marian Persecutions

By the time Mary inherited the throne from her brother, Edward VI, England was long used to religious turmoil and conflict between Protestants and Catholics.

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Joseph Merrick, the Elephant Man.

Although not born in the East End, Joseph Merrick spent much of his life in the area and died in the Royal London Hospital on Whitechapel Road. Known for much of his life, and in popular culture ever since, as the “Elephant Man”, Merrick suffered from an unknown condition that left him severely deformed.

Famous East End Characters the “Elephant Man”

Exhibited as a freak for much of his adult life, his time in the East End may well have been the happiest and safest of his adult life.

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Ikey Solomon, Famous East London Characters

The East End of London has had its fair share of characters over the years. Some are famous in good ways; others are more infamous. Ikey Solomon, a well-known figure in the Houndsditch area in Victorian times, certainly qualifies on the infamous scale.

Infamous Ikey Solomon

Some people even think that Dickens modelled the character of Fagin in Oliver Twist on this well-known criminal.

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Clement Attlee Prime Minister from 1945 to 1951

Clement Attlee was Prime Minister of Great Britain from 1945 to 1951. Although born in Putney, Attlee had a lot of connections with the East End, particularly in Limehouse and Stepney. He lived in the area from the early part of the century until 1922.

Clement Attlee’s Life in the East End of London

He began his political career in these areas,

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Isambard Kingdom Brunel and East London

The famous engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel has a couple of close connections with the East End of London. He worked on the world’s first underwater tunnel, the Thames Tunnel, with his father Marc Isambard Brunel.


This tunnel crossed under the Thames from Wapping to Rotherhithe. In his later career, he also built and launched one of the world’s greatest ships,

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Bryant and May Strike Bow East London

During the 19th century the match manufacturer, Bryant and May, was one of the main employers in Bow in the East End of London. Although playing with matches is, as we all know, dangerous; at that time just making matches could be deadly. Most of the people working in the factory were women, known as match girls.

The Bryant and May Match Girls Strike

During its most busy period,

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The London Burkers, Bodysnatching

Shoreditch may be most well known for its mention in the Oranges and Lemons nursery rhyme, but the area has also had some grisly moments over the years, like most of the East End of London. In the 1830s, it gained some infamy as the home of the London Burkers, a group of body snatchers who tried to make a less than honest living by creating corpses to sell.

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Daniel Mendoza and Bethnal Green

One of the most famous residents of Bethnal Green was the boxer, Daniel Mendoza, who was also known as “Mendoza the Jew”. Mendoza was born in Aldgate but settled in Bethnal Green, where he lived for over thirty years, boxed at the height of his fame and where he raised his family.


He also helped put the area on the map as a centre of boxing excellence.

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William Booth Founder of The Salvation Army

William Booth is best known as the founder of the Salvation Army. Although he wasn’t born in London, he did many good works in the East End, helping improve the living conditions of many people living in Whitechapel.

William Booth, the Salvation Army and Whitechapel

He also founded the Salvation Army on Whitechapel Road.

Booth was born in Nottingham in 1829.

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Sylvia Pankhurst and The Suffragette Movement

Although she was born in Manchester, Sylvia Pankhurst had strong connections to the East End of London, particularly in Bow. A leading member of the women’s suffrage movement in the early 1900s, she, her mother Emmeline and her sister Christabel, fought tirelessly for women’s rights and equality.


Sylvia’s work in Bow and the East End in general, however, did more than simply help women;

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Alf Garnett East London’s Famous Resident.

If you were watching TV in the 1960s and 1970s, the chances are you can remember Alf Garnett and the comedy series “Till Death Us Do Part” and the 1980s follow-up, “In Sickness and in Health.” This Wapping boy may not seem to show the best of the East End at times, but he was an introduction to the area for many people living outside of London who had no real idea where Wapping was.

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Who Was Jack The Ripper of Whitechapel?

Without a doubt, Jack the Ripper is the UK’s most infamous serial killer. If you can describe this kind of individual as being popular, then Jack is the main man who tops all popularity polls. Our fascination with him is partly down to the fact that his crimes were so horrific and partly because we have no idea who he really was.


Countless newspaper reports,

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Ripper Walks in the East End

London’s East End was the home turf of the UK’s most notorious serial killer, Jack the Ripper. If you want to re-trace his steps and learn more about his crimes, then you might enjoy taking a Ripper walk through the area. It’s actually fairly easy to find these crime scenes as he murdered most of his victims in public places.

Walk in the Footsteps of Jack;

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Recent Comments

  • Dave Dunsdon on Second World War Bombing Raid South Hallsville SchoolJames dunsdon was my grandad survived by my nan mary and her boys jim len and my dad ron they lost my grandad james when my dad was six bombed in the school
  • Tony Dailde on East End Gangsters, The KraysPlease don’t glorify murderous violent criminals . How can you love or be a fan of people who murder?
  • Tony Dailde on East End Gangsters, The KraysPlease don’t glorify murderous violent criminals
  • Derek Bailey on Visit Wapping in Historic East LondonMy brothers and I lived in Jackman House which is off of Wapping High Street at Watts Street in the the late 1950's. Jackman was part of what was known as the Wapping housing estate began by the LCC in 1926. Anyone out there who lived on that estate back
  • Sandie on History of Canning Town East LondonMy Mum & Dad lived in Malmsbury Rd with my brother Jimmy I was born Hospt 1947 Surname Crabb
  • sue willis on History of The Isle of Dogs LondonHi as the children of an Islander my brother & I are regular readers of Isle of Dogs Lives & we were especially pleased to see an article on Alpha Grove. Does anyone remember the Bircham family firstly of Mellish Street & then no 67 Alpha Grove? They were George
  • John Dallman on Brick Lane History, East LondonI grew up in Flower & Dean street off of Brick Lane 1559 - 1970. I lived in a late Victorian tenement block called Ruth house (Demolished) I remember Brick Lane when most of the shops were Jewish and what is now a mosque was a synagogue. I remember going
  • Vicki M Kay on The Sinking of The Princess AliceMy 3rd great grandfather Filmer Kidston was abourd with his second wife Elizabeth, their two sons and two girls and a boy from his wife’s previous marriage. Filmer spent about 45 minutes in the water with one of his sons before they were rescued. His wife was found drowned almost
  • Dave Bamber on V1 and V2 Rocket Attacks in East LondonJuly 3rd 1944 30 Twickenham Road, Isleworth. Does anyone have any information about the bomb that destroyed my Aunt`s house. Her name was Evelyn May Bamber and she was killed. Many thanks, Dave Bamber.
  • Bill Nicholson on Poplar Upper North Street School DisasterHello Stanley I'm disappointed to have missed the centenary of this dreadful act - I visited the area during 2012 and hoped to be able to visit again. Anyway I decided to look it up following the centenary of the end of WW1 this weekend. My mum (Olive Clayson) was
  • Janice Brown Josch on Coventry Road Ilford EssexI come from Canning Town, but about 30 years ago my now husband, Ulf, came from Germany to work at Mattessons in West Ham. He rented a room in a house in Coventry Road.
  • Janice Brown Josch on History of Canning Town East LondonHello everyone .. did anyone know my now late father, Charles Brown? Lived in RavensCroft Road, his mother (remarried) Eileen Thorp
  • Shirley Runnalls (Wallis) on History of the Royal London HospitalJust read the history, brought back memories as I was SET 326 at Tredegar' Sad to hear the uniform is no longer used. We have a film in Cornwall re Edith Cavell Tomorrow so I have old LH newspapers re her plus photo of Edith Cavell Home also LH badge
  • Kellie Fennell on History of Canning Town East LondonHi Robert I come from canning town and there are a few really good Facebook sites...canning town memories...start with this one and they will advise you on another one where they help you trace people from the area...I'm sure someone will be able to help you on there. ..good luck
  • Lola on Brick Lane History, East LondonThis article is so off base. I've lived around brick lane for years and never heard anyone call it Banglatown. And the curry restaurants are appalling. They rip you off. They ran on a few years of reputation but started scamming on quality or watering down wine thinking people wouldn't

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