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Stepney is an inner-city district in the London Borough of Tower Hamletsmarker. It is located east north-east of Charing Crossmarker and forms part of the East End of Londonmarker. The area is a mix of post-war high density housing, Victorian mansion blocks and terraced housing that were not demolished during slum clearances. The east side of historic Stepney Greenmarker is notable for its architecture - Arbour Squaremarker and Sidney Square and the surrounding streets retain many Georgian and Victorian houses. Stepney is roughly bounded by Commercial Roadmarker, 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 Whitechapelmarker is rather ambiguous. The area has not yet experienced the levels of gentrification seen in nearby Bowmarker, Wappingmarker and Limehousemarker but some redevelopment has taken place, notably with the Roger Black scheme, Stepney City [14087]. The former Arbour Square Police Station and the East End Mission building are also being redeveloped.


In 1085 Stepney was listed in the Domesday Book survey of England which was recorded in Old French, and whose translation includes:
The land of the Bishop of London
In 'Ossulstone' hundred the Bishop of London holds Stepney 32 hides. There is land for 25 ploughs. To the demesne belong 14 hides, and there are 3 ploughs; and 22 ploughs among the villeins. There are 44 villans each on 1 virgate, and 7 villans each on half a hide, and 9 villeins each on half a virgate, and 46 cottars on 1 hide: they pay 30s a year. There are 4 mills rendering £4.16s less 4d, meadow for 25 ploughs, pasture for the livestock of the vill and 15s, woodland for 500 pigs and 40s. In all it is worth £48: and when received, the same: £50. This manor belonged and belongs to the bishopric.

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.

St Dunstan'smarker is Stepney's oldest church, founded in 923, but the present building dates principally from the 1400s. 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. In the early 1900s, Stepney was one of the most Jewish neighbourhoods in Englandmarker; it was eventually replaced by Stamford Hillmarker. The Siege of Sidney Streetmarker took place in Stepney in 1911.

Stepney formed a large ancient parish in the Ossulstone hundred of Middlesexmarker; bounded by Bromleymarker and West Hammarker to the east, the River Thames to the south, Shoreditchmarker and Hackneymarker to the north and the City of Londonmarker and the Liberties of the Tower of London to the west. The parish included the hamlets of Mile End Old Townmarker, Mile End New Town, and Ratcliff. At its early extent it additionally included Whitechapelmarker, Wappingmarker, Stratford Bowmarker, Shadwellmarker, Spitalfieldsmarker, Bethnal Greenmarker, Limehousemarker and Poplarmarker. Over time the parish was broken up with these settlements forming new independent parishes, leaving an residual parish of comprising Mile End Old Town, Mile End New Town and Ratcliff.


For details of education in Stepney see the List of schools in Tower Hamlets

Transport and locale

Nearest places

In the northern part of the district, the nearest London Underground stations are Mile Endmarker, Stepney Greenmarker and Whitechapelmarker. All are on the Hammersmith & City and District Lines; Mile End is an interchange with the Central Line.

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

Notable residents

The entertainer Des O'Connor was born in Stepney, as were actors Steven Berkoff, Terence Stamp and Craig Fairbrass, artist Frank Paton, drummer Kenney Jones, musician and writer Jah Wobble, and singer Charles Coborn. In sport, Stepney lays claim to footballers Ledley King, Ashley Cole and Darren Purse, and heavyweight boxer "Bombardier" Billy Wells. Former armed robber, bare-knuckle boxer and businessman Roy Shaw was born in Stepney, whilst clergymen John Sentamu, formerly Bishop of Stepney, and Father Richard Wilson, founder of the Hoppers' Hospitals at Five Oak Greenmarker, Kent, lived in the borough at one time.

Notable fictional appearances

The BBC sitcom Goodnight Sweetheart was set in Stepney. The Rolling Stones' song "Play with Fire" references Stepney: "Now she gets her kicks in Stepney, not in Knightsbridgemarker anymore." In Blackadder II Episode 6, Lord Percy explains the disappearance of his Uncle Bertram's old oak table thus: "'twas on the night of the great Stepney fire. And on that same, terrible night, his house and all his other things completely vanished too. So did he, in fact. It was a most perplexing mystery." In the film Help!, Alfie Bass has a cameo where he portrays a doorman of an Indian restaurant. When Ringo Starr discovers Alfie Bass is not an actual Indian, he exclaims "He's from the West!" Bass replies "Nah, east...Stepney." The English Nursery Rhyme Oranges and Lemons refers to the "...bells of Stepney." In George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four, set in England, he writes about rocket bombs killing many people: "One fell on a crowded film theatre in Stepney, burying several hundred victims among the ruins." This is in Chapter 5, Part 2. In the opening scene of the film Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, the character Bacon makes reference to a piece of jewelry that is "hand made in Italy, hand stolen in Stepney". In Arthur Conan Doyle's short story The Adventure of the Six Napoleons, Sherlock Holmes traces the origin of the eponymous plaster busts of Napoleon Bonaparte to a factory in Church Street, Stepney.

See also


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