Shoreditch is a district in the East End of London that forms the southern part of the London Borough of Hackney. Neighbouring parts of Tower Hamlets are sometimes 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.
Folk etymology 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 the body of 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.Clunn, H. P. (1970) The Face of London. Spring Books: London. pp. 312, 493 However, the area was known as Shoreditch long before Jane Shore lived: the Survey of London, for example, lists some 26 deeds dating from between c.1148 and 1260 which use some version of the name.
In another theory, also now discredited, antiquarian John Weever claimed that the name was derived from Sir John de Soerdich, who was lord of the manor during the reign of Edward III (132777).
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 Camulodunum, bypassing the City of London to the south.Sugden n.d.
Shoreditch Church (officially known as St Leonard's, Shoreditch) is of ancient origin. It is featured in the famous line "when I grow rich say the bells of Shoreditch", from the English nursery rhyme "Oranges and Lemons".
Shoreditch was the site of a house of canonesses, the Augustinians 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.Wood 2003.
The first of these came in 1576, when 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). Shakespeare's Shoreditch theatre unearthed Maev Kennedy, The Guardian, Thursday, 7 August 2008
William Shakespeare lived nearby in a property overlooking St Helen's churchyard in the Bishopsgate area of the City. His early plays were first performed in Shoreditch, at The Theatre and at the nearby Curtain Theatre, built the following year and to the south (marked by a commemorative plaque in Hewett Street off Curtain Road). Romeo and Juliet was first performed here, gaining "Curtain plaudits", Henry V was performed within "this wooden O" and an early version of Hamlet was also first staged in Shoreditch.
Shakespeare's Company moved the timbers of "The Theatre" to Southwark at the expiration of the lease in 1599, in order to construct the Globe Theatre. The Curtain continued performing plays in Shoreditch until at least 1627.Shapiro 2005.
The suburb of Shoreditch was attractive as a location for these early theatres because, like Southwark, 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, bowling alleys, and brothel houses".Middlesex Justices in 1596; cited in Schoenbaum 1987, p. 126.
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.
Gainsborough Studios were located in a former power station, in Poole Street, by the Regents Canal. The film studios operated there from 1924 until it declined and closed in 1951.
The area was hit by at least 279 high explosive bombs, 6 7 V-1 'doodlebugs', 2 V-2 rockets and many thousands of 1 kg incendiary devices.Detailed Unexploded Ordnance Risk Assessment, by 1st Line Defence, to support the Shoreditch Village planning application The destruction of housing and industry caused by the two V-2s contributed to the opportunity to create Shoreditch Park and Haggerston Park.
A south-west to north-east tube line called the Chelsea-Hackney line was proposed in 1970 by the then London Transport Board's London Rail Study as the next project after the completion of the Victoria line and the Fleet line (now the Jubilee line) but was not carried forward, it would have had a new tube station near Shoreditch Church if it was built.
In the mid-1960s, the main streets of Shoreditch (Old Street, Shoreditch High Street and Curtain Road, Great Eastern Street) were formed into a mile-long one-way system, which became associated with traffic congestion, poor conditions for walking and cycling, high speeds, high collision rates, and delays for bus services. The gyratory system came to be seen as "the main factor holding back the cultural regeneration of South Shoreditch"Teo Greenstraat of The Circus Space, quoted in More Light, More Power, No. 6, Autumn 2000. and "a block to economic recovery".Michael Pyner of Shoreditch New Deal Trust, quoted in More Light, More Power, No. 6, Autumn 2000. Following a lengthy campaign, The long road back to a two-way Shoreditch Hackney Cyclists, 2002. the then newly formed Transport for London agreed to revert most of the streets to two-way working, a project which was completed in late 2002.
In 2005, funding was announced for the East London Line Extension, to extend the existing tube line from Whitechapel tube station bypassing Shoreditch tube station, and to create a new station named Shoreditch High Street closer to central Shoreditch. This is now served by London Overground services on part of the site of the old Bishopsgate Goods Yard, which was demolished in 2004. The station was built on a viaduct and is fully enclosed in a concrete box structure. This is so future building works on the remainder of the Bishopsgate site can be undertaken keeping the station operational.
Tower Hamlets Council made proposals to transfer the Boundary Estate to a housing association and upgrade the accommodation in 2006. A full refurbishment of one of the blocks, Iffley House was carried out by Sprunt Architects to demonstrate how this might be achieved but the proposal was rejected by a ballot of tenants in November of that year. Battle of the Boundary, The Guardian, 21 June 2006.
More recently, during the second "dot-com" boom, both the area and Old Street have become popular with London-based web technology companies who base their head offices around the East London Tech City district. These include Last.fm, 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.
As a result, the name of Shoreditch has become 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 2014, the Boundary Estate and the nearby area came under the East Shoreditch Neighbourhood Forum. Forum status ceased to have effect on 5 February 2019 but the Neighbourhood Area designation is unaffected by the expiry.
South Shoreditch has undergone an enormous transformation. Several five- or six-storey buildings have been knocked down in the area of Shoreditch that borders the City of London. In their place will be erected a variety of very tall buildings, mirroring the architectural styles in the City. The developments will result in more residential units being available for sale in Shoreditch than were produced by the Olympics athletes' village.
One landmark development is the Principal Tower in Worship Street, designed by the architects Foster and Partners,Principal Tower, Worship Street, London EC2A 2BA: New Developments - Principal Tower, Worship Street, London EC2A 2BA, accessdate: 29/08/2014 and next to it is Principal Place, also designed by Foster and Partners. In July 2014, it was reported that the internet retailer Amazon.com was close to signing a lease to move its UK headquarters there. The project had been on hold since January 2012, when the anchor tenant, the law firm CMS Cameron McKenna pulled out. Soon after, the developer Hammerson sold its interest in the scheme to Brookfield.Building: Amazon interest could revive Principal Place tower | Online News | Building, accessdate: 29/08/2014
There has been some consideration of creating an interchange with the Central line between Liverpool Street and Bethnal Green at Shoreditch High Street, where the line runs almost underneath the station. However, this could not be seriously contemplated before the completion of the Crossrail project, owing to extreme crowding on the Central line during peak hours.
London Overground began running 24-hour trains on Friday and Saturday nights between Dalston Junction and New Cross Gate which called at Shoreditch High Street from 15 December 2017. but bypasses Whitechapel and continues on to Shadwell due to ongoing construction work for Crossrail (Elizabeth line) until 2019.
Two Huguenot workers' houses on Club Row on the corner of Redchurch Street, which developers had wished to knock down, were saved from demolition. They were deemed of special historic interest, giving the houses protection from destruction from 2019.
Although Shoreditch has been consistently defined, perceptions have blurred in recent years; something that became possible after the Metropolitan Borough of Shoreditch amalgamated with some of its neighbours to become the southern part of the London Borough of Hackney in 1965.
The location of the former Shoreditch tube station (closed 2006), 400 metres outside Shoreditch proper, in nearby Bethnal Green, Tower Hamlets, influenced this shift. Its replacement, Shoreditch High Street station, straddles the borough boundary.
More significant has been the gentrification of the Shoreditch area since the millennium, leading to a marked increase in the area's prestige, which has led businesses in the Bethnal Green and Spitalfields areas of Tower Hamlets to include the name Shoreditch in their company's name and marketing material. This is also seen to a lesser extent in the St Luke's area of the London Borough of Islington.
Parishes in Middlesex were grouped into Hundreds, with Shoreditch part of Ossulstone Hundred. Rapid Population growth around London saw the Hundred split into several 'Divisions' during the 1600s, with Shoreditch part of the Tower division. The Tower Division was noteworthy in that the men of the area owed military service to the Tower of London - and had done even before the creation of the DivisionThe London Encyclopaedia, 4th Edition, 1983, Weinreb and Hibbert - an arrangement which continued until 1899.
The Ancient parish provided a framework for both civil (administrative) and ecclesiastical (church) functions, but during the nineteenth century there was a divergence into distinct civil and ecclesiastical parish systems. In London the Ecclesiastical Parishes sub-divided to better serve the needs of a growing population, while the Civil Parishes continued to be based on the same Ancient Parish areas.
For civil purposes, The Metropolis Management Act 1855 turned the parish area into a new Shoreditch District of the Metropolis, with the same boundaries as the parish. The London Government Act 1899 converted these areas into Metropolitan Boroughs, again based on the same boundaries, sometimes with minor rationalisations. The Borough's areas of Central Shoreditch, Hoxton and Haggerston were administered from Shoreditch Town Hall, which can still be seen on Old Street. It has been restored and is now run by the Shoreditch Town Hall Trust.
In 1965, Shoreditch was merged with Hackney and Stoke Newington to form the new London Borough of Hackney.
The Hackney borough part of Shoreditch is part of the Hackney South and Shoreditch constituency, represented in the House of Commons of the UK Parliament since 2005 by Meg Hillier of the Labour Party and of the Co-operative Party
The eastern part of Shoreditch, in Tower Hamlets, lies within the constituency of Bethnal Green and Bow, represented since 2010 by Rushanara Ali of the Labour Party.
Liverpool Street ( ) and Old Street () 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.
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 Circus 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.