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Stepney
Stepney winterton house 1.jpg
Winterton House, a typical Stepney tower block
Stepney shown within Greater London
Population 16,238 (2011 census. St Dunstan's and Stepney Green Ward)
OS grid reference TQ355814
• Charing Cross 3.6 mi (5.8 km) WSW
London borough
Ceremonial county Greater London
Region
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town LONDON
Postcode district E1
Dialling code 020
Police Metropolitan
Fire London
Ambulance London
EU Parliament London
UK Parliament
  • Bethnal Green and Bow
London Assembly
List of places
UK
England
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Stepney is a district of the London Borough of Tower Hamlets in London's East End that grew out of a medieval village around St Dunstan's church and the 15th century ribbon development of Mile End Road. The area built up rapidly in the 19th century, mainly to accommodate immigrant workers and displaced London poor, and developed a reputation for poverty, overcrowding, violence and political dissent. It was severely damaged during the Blitz, with over a third of housing totally destroyed; and then, in the 1960s, slum clearance and development replaced most residential streets with tower blocks and modern housing estates. Some Georgian architecture and Victorian era terraced housing survive in patches: for example Arbour Square, the eastern side of Stepney Green, and the streets around Matlock Street.

The area has not yet experienced the levels of gentrification seen in nearby Bow, Wapping and Limehouse but some redevelopment has taken place, including the former Arbour Square Police Station and the East End Mission building.

Stepney is roughly bounded by Commercial Road, part of the A13, in the south, Mile End Road, part of the A11, in the north and the Regent's Canal in the east. The western boundary with Whitechapel is rather ambiguous. It is administered by the London Borough of Tower Hamlets.

History

As with most of the East End of London, Stepney was sparsely populated marshland until the 19th century, when the development of London's docks and railways, combined with slum clearance, pushed the displaced poor and various immigrants looking for work into cheap housing being built in the area.

The first community developed around the church of St Dunstan's, which was founded in 923. Its name was recorded around 1000 AD as Stybbanhyð, "Stybba's landing-place". The Domesday Book survey of 1086 gives the name as Stibanhede and says that the land was held by the Bishop of London and was 32 hides large, mainly used for ploughing, meadows, woodland for 500 pigs, and 4 mills. There were over 100 serfs, split between villeins who ploughed the land, and cottars who assisted the villeins in return for a hut or cottage.

Bishop William held this land in demesne, in the manor of Stepney, on the day on which King Edward was alive and dead. In the same vill Ranulph Flambard holds 3½ hides of the bishop.

The Manor of Stepney was held by the Bishop of London in compensation for his duties in maintaining and garrisoning the Tower of London. Further ecclesiastic holdings came about from the need to enclose the marshes and create flood defences along the Thames. Edward VI passed the land to the Wentworth family, and thence to their descendants, the Earls of Cleveland. The ecclesiastic system of copyhold, whereby land was leased to tenants for terms as short as seven years, prevailed throughout the manor. This severely limited scope for improvement of the land and new building until the estate was broken up in the 19th century.

In the early 20th century, Stepney was one of the most Jewish neighbourhoods in England; it was eventually replaced by Stamford Hill.

The Siege of Sidney Street took place in Stepney in 1911.

Geography

Stepney is located 3.6 miles (5.8 km) east north-east of Charing Cross. It is roughly bounded by Commercial Road, part of the A13, in the south, Mile End Road, part of the A11, in the north and the Regent's Canal in the east. The Western Boundary with Whitechapel is rather ambiguous.

Nearest places

Demography

Due to cheap housing the East End of London and Stepney has been home to various immigrants who contributed to the culture and history of the area, such as the Huguenots in the 17th century, the Irish in the 18th century, Ashkenazi Jews fleeing pogroms in Eastern Europe towards the end of the 19th century, and the Bangladeshi community settling in the East End from the 1960s. The area still contains a range of immigrants, particularly young Asian families, as well as elderly East Enders, some students, and the beginnings of a young middle class. Based on 2001 census, Bangladeshis were the largest ethnic group (43%), then the White British (39%).

In 2011, Stepney was 47% Bengali, the highest in Southern England.

Stepney Green

The area is located in between Stepney, Bethnal Green, Whitechapel, Mile End and Globe Town

History

Stepney Green developed as a street of residential housing off the Mile End Road in the 15th century, and is now a conservation area. A brewery was founded in 1738 that developed into Charrington and Co. in 1897. The brewery building, the Anchor Brewery, was on the north side of Mile End Road, opposite Stepney Green; and is now the site of the Anchor Retail Unit, owned by Henderson Global Investors, though the Brewery Offices still remain on the corner of Mile End Road and Cephas Avenue.

Transport in Stepney Green

Stepney Green tube station serves the area. London Buses Routes 25, 205 and 309 and Night Route N205 serve the area. Cycle Superhighway CS3 passes the area on Mile End Road.

Landmarks

St Dunstan's, founded in 923, is Stepney's oldest church. The present building dates principally from the 15th century. St Dunstan's has a long association with the sea, being responsible for registration of British maritime births, marriages and deaths until the 19th century. Malplaquet House is a Grade II listed building.

Stepney City Farm has been a feature in Stepney since opening as Stepping Stones Farm in 1979. A community resource, the farm aims to provide the people of East London a chance to experience rural life and engage in educational, environmental and creative projects. Stepney City farm is home to donkeys, cows, goats, pigs, sheep, ducks, geese, chickens, rabbits, ferrets and guinea pigs. As a working farm, eggs and vegetables are regularly sold.

Transport

Stepney Green Station
Stepney Green tube station

In the northern part of the district, the nearest London Underground stations are Mile End, Stepney Green and Whitechapel. All are on the Hammersmith & City and District line. Mile End tube station is an interchange with the Central line. Whitechapel tube station is also an interchange with the London Overground East London Line.

In the southern part of the district, the nearest Docklands Light Railway station is Limehouse. The station is also served by c2c, from Fenchurch Street station. It was formerly known as Stepney East.

Many London Buses Routes serve the area. Check {Connections} at Limehouse station and {Connections} at Stepney Green tube station for more information. 339 which runs in the heart of Stepney does not pass any of these stations.

Stepney Historical Trust

The Stepney Historical Trust was set up in 1989 to advance the public's education in the history of Stepney and the surrounding areas. It is based in the London Dockers Athletic and Social Club and has installed a series of plaques on sites of historic interest.

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Stepney Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.