Tower Hill Tube, meet by the Tower Hill Tram coffee stall | Map
"a shtetl called Whitechapel"
"splinter-sharp guides* and gripping history"
Traces the history of London's Jewish community in the East End. A tale that embraces the poverty of the pogrom refugees and the glittering success of the Rothschilds; the eloquence of Prime Minister Disraeli and the spiel of the Petticoat Lane stallholder; the poetry of Isaac Rosenberg and the poetry-in-motion of Abe Saperstein's Harlem Globetrotters. Set amid the alleys and back streets of colourful Spitalfields and Whitechapel, it's a tale of synagogues and sweatshops, Sephardim and soup kitchens. Whenever possible we visit** the historic Bevis Marks synagogue. Morris, who's in charge there, lays on a fascinating talk, fields questions, etc.*** What's not to like?
The Old Jewish Quarter Walk takes place every Sunday, every Wednesday and every Friday. The meeting point is just outside the exit of Tower Hill Tube. Meet your London Walks guide and fellow walkers by the Tower Hill Tram coffee stall. N.B. the Walk ends at Spitalfields Market, a short walk from Aldgate, Aldgate East and Liverpool Street stations.
#Rachel is the author of Jewish London and of two classic books on the area: Secret Whitechapel and Whitechapel in 50 Buildings
*"We toured the Jewish quarter (East End) with Shaughan...he was marvellous...extremely knowledgeable...knows how to tell a story! I could see going back to London and doing London Walks tours every day. It was really that good. Thanks Shaughan!!!" Karen S. (Alexandria, Virginia).
**For which there's a small entrance fee
***"The talk arranged at the Synagogue on the Jewish Quarter tour is something that certainly would not have been available to us without this tour." EMiller 444 (Boston, Mass.) From her Trip Advisor review.
N.B. the walk ends at Spitalfields Market, a short walk from Aldgate, Aldgate East and Liverpool Street stations.
If you can't make one of the regularly scheduled, just-turn-up, public Old Jewish Quarter walks do think about booking one as a private tour. If you go private you can have the Old Jewish Quarter walk – or any other London Walk – on a day and at a time that suits your convenience. We'll tailor it to your requirements, get you the right guide. For this walk in particular, it's a dream time of guides. There's Rachel, author of Jewish London (see below), Secret Whitechapel and Whitechapel in 50 Buildings. There's Judy, winner of the Guide of the Year Award. There's Shaughan "the cantor" – no guide's more captivating, more entertaining, more fun than songbird and actor and top-flight Blue Badge Guide Shaughan; there's Steve, London Walks' fizziest guide (nuff said?); well, you get the idea... So if you want a private Old Jewish Quarter Walk (or the Jewish West End or Jewish Hampstead) just ring Fiona or Noel or Mary on 020 7624 3978 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll set it up and make it happen for you. A private London Walk is good value for an individual or couple and sensational value for a group. And the clincher: a private London Walk makes an ideal group or educational or birthday party or office (team-building) or club outing.
A private London Walk makes a very special, thoughtful, unusual gift – be it a birthday or anniversary or graduation present or whatever. Merchandise schmerchandise (gift wrapped or not) – but giving someone an experience, now that's special. Memories make us rich.
"The piece of London which I hold in my heart is a part I have never lived in – Whitechapel. But it's the real East End, where my Jewish great-grandfather came to live, in Goodmans Fields, in the 1860s. So much of the Jewish culture I absorbed came from this area – small shopkeepers, kosher chickens on a slab, salt beef sandwiches from... Blooms Restaurant, little synagogues in small streets like Princelet Street – and lively street markets with witty stall holders shouting their wares with flair and cunning. The dirty blocks of apartment buildings, all stairs and washing lines, Brick Lane, Leman Street, Black Lion Yard – these are the streets of my family history...I grew up in Oxford – quite another feel to that place – but the emotional heart of London for me is the gritty, warm-hearted East End." Miriam Margolyes
"Over time the Jewish settlement in East London, with its intriguing mixture of East European and London customs, became an accepted and picturesque part of the metropolitan cultural mix. The exotic enclave the Jews had established in Whitechapel, with its noisy Sunday market in Petticoat Lane, its Yiddish shop signs and street cries, its bearded men and bewigged women, its kosher restaurants and butcher's shops, was part of what visitors to the East End expected to see...A chapter by S. Gelberg on Jewish London described the Whitechapel ghetto, 'a fragment of Poland torn off from Central Europe and dropped haphazard in the heart of Britain,' in sympathetic and sentimental terms: 'Altogether, indeed, a unique little cosmos, this East-End Hebrew colony – a poverty-stricken, wealthy, hungry, feasting, praying, bargaining fragment of a "nation of priests".' Despite their foreignness, Gelberg claimed, the East End Jews were 'patriots to their fingertips', and Jewish religious and social festivals, celebrated with fervour and delight, brought colour into the drabness of slum life. And one of the great sights of East London, the Sunday market in Middlesex Street, or Petticoat Lane, owed much of its size and vigour to Jewish traders." Stephen Inwood
"London Walks is the best, hands down." Frommer's London
"London Walks puts you into the hands of an expert on the particular area and topic of a tour..." The New York Times
"Nobody does it better than London Walks" Celebrate London
"Taking a Walk through Time to the Old East End" Jewish Chronicle review of the walk
Want a preview of the walk and the guiding? Watch the video.
Don't just take it from us or The New York Times