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Hidden History of London

London's Hidden History
All Saints

Now we are in the heart of the East End. Just outside the station is the glorious All Saints Church in Newby Place built by Hollis in 1830. Cockney children would go to the "Band of Hope" services on Sunday after a jellied eel tea of course!

Opposite is one of the oldest street markets in London, Chrisp Street. The "costermongers" no longer exist, the name derives from selling the "costard" apple, but a new multi-cultural market trader has replaced them. A pie, eels, mash and liquor (parsley sauce) shop survives, once the staple diet of East Enders, you can find it right next to the curry stall!

Incidentally the Pearly Kings and Queens, the personification of the East End, originated from the old costermongers. Story has it that a Municipal Road Sweeper and Rat Catcher called Henry Croft in 1875 decided to copy the dress of the costermongers by sewing pearl buttons all over his suit. Why did he do that? To raise money for underprivileged children which Pearly Kings and Queens are still heroically doing to this day.

Remember St Mary-le-Bow Church in Cheapside, the Cockney Church, well - they hold an annual Costermongers Harvest Festival Parade in September. A sight to behold with girl marching bands, 20 London Mayors, Pearly Kings and Queens from every London Borough and people in Victorian dress.

At the church service the Lord's Prayer is read out in cockney rhyming slang. Would you Adam and Eve (believe) it? Go see it and you will!

One of those statues everybody ignores as they walk by is that of Richard Green, (no not the Robin Hood actor of the 1960s TV fame), but a ship owning philanthropist who did much to help the East End poor. His statue by E W Wyon was unveiled in 1866 and is right outside Poplar Baths.

Now the Poplar Baths, building still standing, have long gone closed down, but imagine this. You have no bathroom in your back-to-back two up two down house, you could use a tin bath with kettle heated water in front of the coal fire (watch the smog!) but you go down to the public baths with your soap and towel and pay thruppence (one and a quarter new pence) for a hot running water bath.

The Baths queue on a Friday was longer than the one for pie, eels and mash as this was the rub-a-dub (pub) night out!

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