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Shoreditch facts for kids

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Shoreditch town hall3.jpg
Shoreditch Town Hall
Shoreditch is located in Greater London
OS grid reference TQ325825
• Charing Cross 2.5 mi (4.0 km) WSW
London borough
Ceremonial county Greater London
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town LONDON
Postcode district EC1, EC2
Postcode district E1, E2
Dialling code 020
Police Metropolitan
Fire London
Ambulance London
EU Parliament London
UK Parliament
  • Hackney South and Shoreditch
  • Bethnal Green and Bow
London Assembly
List of places
51°31′34″N 0°04′41″W / 51.526°N 0.078°W / 51.526; -0.078

Shoreditch is a district in the East End of London in England, and forms the southern part of the London Borough of Hackney. Neighbouring parts of Tower Hamlets are also perceived as part of the area.

In the 16th century, Shoreditch was an important centre of the Elizabethan Theatre, and it has been an important entertainment centre since that time. Today, it hosts many pubs, bars and nightclubs. The most commercial areas lie closest to the city of London and along the A10 Road, with the rest mostly residential.



The etymology of "Shoreditch" is debated. One legend holds that the place was originally named "Shore's Ditch", after Jane Shore, the mistress of Edward IV, who is supposed to have died or been buried in a ditch in the area. This legend is commemorated today by a large painting, at Haggerston Branch Library, of Jane Shore being retrieved from the ditch, and by a design on glazed tiles in a shop in Shoreditch High Street showing her meeting Edward IV.

However, the area was known as "Soersditch" long before Jane Shore's life. A more plausible origin for the name is "Sewer Ditch", in reference to a drain or watercourse in what was once a boggy area. It may have referred to the headwaters of the river Walbrook, which rose in the Curtain Road area.

In a further theory, antiquarian John Weever claimed that the name derived from Sir John de Soerdich, who was lord of the manor during the reign of Edward III (1327–77).


Shoreditch church
Shoreditch church

Though now part of Inner London, Shoreditch was previously an extramural suburb of the City of London, centred on Shoreditch Church at the crossroads where Shoreditch High Street and Kingsland Road are crossed by Old Street and Hackney Road.

Shoreditch High Street and Kingsland road are a small sector of the Roman Ermine Street and modern A10. Known also as the Old North Road, it was a major coaching route to the north, exiting the City at Bishopsgate. The east–west course of Old Street–Hackney Road was also probably originally a Roman Road, connecting Silchester with Colchester, bypassing the City of London to the south.

Shoreditch Church (dedicated to St Leonard) is of ancient origin and features in the famous line "when I grow rich say the bells of Shoreditch", from the nursery rhyme Oranges and Lemons.

Shoreditch was the site of a house of canonesses, the Augustinian Holywell Priory (named after a Holy Well on the site), from the 12th century until its dissolution in 1539. This priory was located between Shoreditch High Street and Curtain Road to east and west and Batemans Row and Holywell Lane to north and south. Nothing remains of it today.

Elizabethan theatre

St Leonards Memorial
Memorial to Elizabethan actors buried in Shoreditch church

In 1576 James Burbage built the first playhouse in England, known as "The Theatre", on the site of the Priory (commemorated today by a plaque on Curtain Road, and excavated in 2008, by MoLAS). Some of Shakespeare's plays were performed here and at the nearby Curtain Theatre, built the following year and 200 yards (183 m) to the south (marked by a commemorative plaque in Hewett Street off Curtain Road). It was here that Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet gained "Curtain plaudits" and where Henry V was performed within "this wooden O". In 1599 Shakespeare's Company literally upped sticks and moved the timbers of "The Theatre" to Southwark at expiration of the lease to construct The Globe. The Curtain continued performing plays in Shoreditch until at least 1627.

The suburb of Shoreditch was attractive as a location for these early theatres because it was outside the jurisdiction of the somewhat puritanical City fathers. Even so, they drew the wrath of contemporary moralists as did the local "base tenements and houses of unlawful and disorderly resort" and the "great number of dissolute, loose, and insolent people harboured in such and the like noisome and disorderly houses, as namely poor cottages, and habitations of beggars and people without trade, stables, inns, alehouses, taverns, garden-houses converted to dwellings, ordinaries, dicing houses and bowling alleys".

During the 17th century, wealthy traders and Huguenot silk weavers moved to the area, establishing a textile industry centred to the south around Spitalfields. By the 19th century Shoreditch was also the locus of the furniture industry, now commemorated in the Geffrye Museum on Kingsland Road. However the area declined along with both textile and furniture industries and by the end of the 19th century Shoreditch was a byword for crime and poverty. This situation was not improved by extensive devastation of the housing stock in the Blitz during World War II and insensitive redevelopment in the post-war period.

Victorian entertainments

1867 NationalStandardTheatre
1867 Poster from the National Standard Theatre
1907 Hetty King sheet music, expressing a concern of modern residents
Shoreditch Crowne Plaze
The Crowne Plaza Hotel, Shoreditch

In the 19th and early 20th centuries Shoreditch was a centre of entertainment to rival the West End and boasted many theatres and music halls:

  • The National Standard Theatre, 2/3/4 Shoreditch High Street (1837–1940). In the late 19th century this was one of the largest theatres in London. In 1926 it was converted into a cinema called The New Olympia Picturedrome. The building was demolished in 1940. Sims Reeves, Mrs Marriott and James Anderson all appeared here; also performed were programmes of classical opera and even Shakespeare, with such luminaries as Henry Irving. There was considerable rivalry with the West End theatres. John Douglass (the owner, from 1845) wrote a letter to The Era following a Drury Lane first night, in which he commented that "seeing that a hansom cab is used in the new drama at Drury Lane, I beg to state that a hansom cab, drawn by a live horse was used in my drama ... produced at the Standard Theatre ... with real rain, a real flood, and a real balloon."
  • The Shoreditch Empire aka The London Music Hall, 95–99 Shoreditch High Street (1856–1935). The theatre was rebuilt in 1894 by Frank Matcham. the architect of the Hackney Empire. Charlie Chaplin is recorded as performing here, in his early days, before he achieved fame in America.
  • The Royal Cambridge Music Hall, 136 Commercial Street (1864–1936), was destroyed by fire in 1896, then rebuilt in 1897 by Finch Hill, architect of the Britannia Theatre, in nearby Hoxton. The Builder of 4 December 1897 said "The New Cambridge Music Hall in Commercial Street, Bishopsgate, is now nearing completion. The stage will be 41 feet [12.5 m] wide by 30 feet [9.1 m] deep. The premises will be heated throughout by hot water coils, and provision has been made for lighting the house by electric light."

None of these places of entertainment survive today. For a brief time music hall was revived in Curtain Road by the temporary home of the Brick Lane Music Hall. This too has now moved on.

A number of playbills and posters from these music halls survive in the collections of both the Bishopsgate Institute and the Victoria and Albert Museum.


1755 Stow Shoreditch
1755 Stow's Map of Shoreditch
Hackney districts
Districts within the London Borough of Hackney.

The historic heart of Shoreditch is Shoreditch High Street and Shoreditch Church. In the past the area of Shoreditch was defined by the borders of the parish of Shoreditch which later defined the borders of the Metropolitan Borough of Shoreditch. Since 1965, when the latter unit of local government was dissolved, it has been more fuzzily defined. Hoxton to the north of Old Street was historically part of Shoreditch parish and borough, and is still often conflated with it.

Contemporary culture

Shoreditch has, since around 1996, become a popular and fashionable part of London. Often conflated with neighbouring Hoxton, the area has been subject to considerable gentrification in the past twenty years, with accompanying rises in land and property prices.

More recently, during the second 'dot-com' boom, the area has become popular with London-based web technology companies who base their head offices around Old Street. These include, Dopplr, Songkick, SocialGO and 7digital. These companies have tended to gravitate towards Old Street Roundabout, giving rise to the term "Silicon Roundabout" to describe the area, as used by Prime Minister David Cameron in a speech in November 2010.

Formerly a predominantly working class area, Shoreditch and Hoxton have, in recent years, been gentrified by the creative industries and those who work in them. Former industrial buildings have been converted to offices and flats, while Curtain Road and Old Street are notable for their clubs and pubs which offer a variety of venues to rival those of the West End. Art galleries, bars, restaurants, media businesses and the building of the Hackney Community College campus are further features of this transformation.

In fact, the word Shoreditch is now synonymous with the concept of contemporary 'hipsterfication' of regenerated urban areas. As a pioneer among similar transformations across the UK, various phrases have been coined, from "Shoreditchification" to "Very Shoreditch".

In September 2015 a demonstration against gentrification in London took the form of a protest at Cereal Killer Cafe a hipster café on Brick Lane which serves cereal.


South Shoreditch is currently undergoing an enormous transformation. Several five or six storey buildings have been knocked down in the area of Shoreditch which borders the City of London. In their place will be erected a variety of very tall buildings, mirroring the architectural styles in the City of London. The building will result in more residential units being available for sale in Shoreditch than were produced by the Olympics athletes village.

South Shoreditch undergoing reconstruction in 2015



Shoreditch High Street station is near Boxpark, on Bethnal Green Road. The station is served by London Overground (East London Line) trains on the East London line, and is in London fare zone 1. Trains link the area directly to Dalston and Highbury & Islington to the northwest, whilst to the south, trains travel directly to major destinations like Canada Water, Clapham Junction, West Croydon, Crystal Palace, New Cross, Peckham and Whitechapel. Hoxton station is to the north of Shoreditch, on the same line.

There is a nearby Overground (Lea Valley lines) station at Bethnal Green, with services towards Hackney Downs, Seven Sisters, Chingford, Enfield, and Cheshunt.

Liverpool Street (Central line (London Underground) Circle line (London Underground) Hammersmith & City Line Metropolitan Line) and Old Street (Northern Line) tube stations are also nearby. Both stations are also on the National Rail network.

Until 2006, Shoreditch tube station was served by London Underground East London line trains. The line and station closed to make way for the London Overground.


London Buses provides all local bus services across the district: routes 8, 135, 205, 388, N8 and N205 on Great Eastern Street and Bishopsgate; routes 26, 35, 47, 48, 67, 78 and N26 on Shoreditch High Street; and routes 55, 149, 242, 243 and N55 on Old Street.


Two Transport for London (TfL) Cycleways pass through Shoreditch.

Cycle Superhighway 1 runs north-south along the western perimeter of the area, through the Old Street junction. The route is signposted, and links the area to Moorgate and Finsbury southbound, and to Dalston, Stoke Newington, and Seven Sisters to the north.

Quietway 13 runs east-west through Shoreditch, primarily on quiet streets. The route is signposted, and runs from Finsbury in the City to the Regent's Canal near Cambridge Heath.

The Regent's Canal towpath runs along the northernmost edge of the district, close to Shoreditch Park. The towpath is a shared-use path for pedestrians and cyclists and runs unbroken from Angel in Islington to Limehouse near Canary Wharf. Eastbound, the path links the area to Victoria Park and Mile End.

The London Cycle Hire Scheme operates in Shoreditch.


Notable local residents

  • John Appold, FRS (1800–1865), a pioneer of the centrifugal pump
  • Russell Brand, actor and comedian
  • James Burbage, Tudor actor and impresario: built The Theatre; buried in Shoreditch church
  • Richard Burbage, actor in the Lord Chamberlain's Men, Shakespeare's own Company. Renowned for his performance of Shakespeare's greatest roles: Hamlet, Richard III, etc. Buried in the church.
  • William James Blacklock, British landscape artist, was born in Shoreditch in 1816
  • Joshua Compston, curator & founder of Factual Nonsense; instrumental in the development of the area's art scene in the early 1990s; lived & died in Charlotte Road.
  • Luke Evans, Welsh singer, musical performer and film actor lives here
  • Thomas Fairchild, gardener, the first person to scientifically produce an artificial hybrid
  • Noel Fielding, comedian, film and television actor
  • Paul Galvin, Irish fashion designer and former Gaelic footballer
  • Henry Hate, celebrity tattoo artist; clients include Boy George, Alexander McQueen, Amy Winehouse and Pete Doherty
  • Anissa Helou, cookbook author, teacher and chef specialising in the cuisines of the Mediterranean, Middle East and North Africa
  • Damien Hirst, artist; instrumental in the development of the area's art scene in the early 1990s
  • Dave Kaye, pianist, born in Shoreditch
  • Hetty King, a famous male impersonator of the music hall, was born here. Her father, William Emms, was a local comedian known as William King.
  • Jon Kortajarena, Spanish model and actor
  • Marie Lloyd Jr., actress and composer notable for her impersonations of her mother, Marie Lloyd.
  • Christopher Marlowe, Elizabethan dramatist lived in Norton Folgate, the southern continuation of Shoreditch High Street, and wrote plays for the Shoreditch theatres.
  • Hoxton Tom McCourt, influential in the late 1970s and early 1980s mod and oi/punk scenes and founder of the band, the 4-Skins, was born in Shoreditch in 1961.
  • Bill Meyer, printmaker and artist
  • Matt Monro, singer dubbed "the British Sinatra", famous for singing On Days Like These from the film The Italian Job and the title songs of the films Born Free and From Russia with Love
  • Miquita Oliver, T4 presenter
  • James Parkinson, surgeon, apothecary, geologist, paleontologist and political activist who worked on what would later be named Parkinson's disease
  • Emmanuel Ray, TV presenter/socialite
  • Jem Smith, bare knuckle prize fighter
  • William Sommers, Henry VIII's jester; buried in Shoreditch church.
  • Szabotage, graffiti artist and designer
  • Richard Tarleton, Elizabethan comedian. Shakespeare's Yorick is believed to be a homage to his memory. Buried in Shoreditch church.
  • Russell Tovey, English actor
  • Andrew Weatherall, DJ, producer, and remixer
  • Nat Wei, Baron Wei, youngest non-hereditary peer ever upon entry to the House of Lords and government advisor on Big Society
  • Barbara Windsor, comedian, film and television actress was born there.

Images for kids

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Shoreditch para niños

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