Back in the Victorian era, Shoreditch was not an area you wanted to be in. It was home to some of the worst slums in the country, let alone London, with crime and poverty rife.
Today, some of that history remains but Shoreditch has morphed into probably the hippest area of the capital. It would be unrecognisable to its Victorian denizens, but you can still get some insight into their world. So, with this in mind, let’s take a look at some of the Victorian history still lingering in Shoreditch.
Now an exclusive, very ritzy members-only club, Shoreditch House was not always such a plush place. It was once a Victorian meatpacking factory in one of the more disreputable parts of the borough.
After the Victorian period, the property fell empty and became run down over time, leaving it as a virtual shell. In the 90s, some enterprising developers saw the prime location and potential of the building and decided to do something with it.
Architect Tom Dixon was tasked with creating an interior that both kept with the period feel of the space and made it into a place where the well-heeled would like to pass the evening. It’s a beautiful building and almost sums up on its own the different cycles that have contributed to Shoreditch’s current status. If you want to check it out, it’s only a short hop from hotels near Liverpool Street.
The Geffrye Museum
Built in 1714, the Geffrye Museum is one of the oldest listed buildings in all of Shoreditch. Named after the man who put up the money for its construction – Sir Robert Geffrye, who was a Lord Mayor of London – its original purpose was as an alms house for the poor and indigent.
It became a museum at the turn of the 20th century and its purpose is now to show visitors the different living styles of the British through the ages. The exterior is absolutely stunning, and a perfect representation of the Georgian era. It’s also a sizeable property and well worth simply exploring the bucolic surroundings. And, better still, it’s only a quick walk from your room at M by Montcalm Shoreditch.
The Shoreditch Workhouse
No prizes for guessing the intent of this building. Built in 1174, it was a Georgian effort to provide some level of living situation for the enormous numbers of poor people living on the streets of London.
Following this use, it became a hospital in 1866 serving the local area and providing healthcare to the poor. Badly damaged during World War Two, it was repaired and went back to being a hospital right up until the 1980s. Today, it’s a community centre and serves multiple purposes. Only a quick walk from M by Montcalm Shoreditch, it’s a piece of local history worth seeing.
As a building, it is still a stunning piece of Georgian architecture and quite imposing when you get up close and think about the building’s history. It has been well maintained and still holds a sense of authority. It’s a beautiful building with a quite tragic past, and somewhere well worth checking out if you love local history or architecture.