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Stepney and Limehouse in 1839

Stepney and Limehouse are immediately adjacent to London on the east side. The parish is in the Tower division of Ossulston hundred, which is comprehended in the new metropolitan parliamentary borough of the Tower Hamlets. The parish of Stepney comprehends an area of 2,130 acres, and is divided into the four hamlets of Mile-End Old Town, Mile-End New Town, Poplar Chapel (with Blackwall), and Ratcliffe, having a population in all of 67,872. Limehouse parish is immediately adjacent to Stepney, and comprises 280 acres. a population of 15,695. These two parishes comprehend the Isle of Dogs, and the adjacent districts extending northward to the road to Bow, on which road the hamlets of Mile-End are situated. Along this road, and along the Commercial Road, extending from London to Limehouse, as well as in the immediate streets and squares, are several ranges of good houses. Stepney church is a spacious building of stone and flint, probably erected in the 14th century. A new church was erected in the parish in the year 1822 There is at Stepney a college or academy for the education of ministers among the Calvinistic or Particular Baptists. Along the Mile-End Road are several hospitals or almshouses ; of which the principal are the Jews’ hospital, Bancroft’s almshouses, and those belonging to the Trinity House. Limehouse church is one of the fifty erected in the reign of Queen Anne. Poplar chapel is a neat structure, almost entirely rebuilt in the latter part of the last century. The East India Hospital, in connection with this chapel, contains a dwelling for a chaplain, and for the widows of officers and seamen in the Company’s service.

These two parishes are chiefly inhabited by seafaring people, or by those engaged in the building or fitting out of vessels. They contain the East India Docks and the West India Docks, and the basin at the junction of the Regent’s Canal with the Thames. There are ship-building yards and ropewalks, also manufactories for anchors and chain cables, sail-cloth, ships’ blocks, &c. The Regent’s Canal and a cut from the river Lea to the Thames cross this parish. A tramroad leads along the south side of the Commercial Road from the West India Docks to Whitechapel: and a railroad is to run from London to Blackwall.

The living of Stepney is a rectory, of the clear yearly value of £1,190, with a glebe-house. There is a chapelry attached to the new church, of the clear yearly value of £218. Poplar is a rectory, of the clear yearly value of £632, with a glebe house. Limehouse is a rectory, of the clear yearly value of £714.

‘The parish of Stepney was once much more extensive than at present : those of St. Paul, Shadwell ; St. Mary, Whitechapel ; St. John, Wapping ; St. Mary, Stratford-le-Bow ; Christchurch, Spitalfields ; St. George’s in the East ; St. Ann’s, Limehouse ; and St. Matthew, Bethnal Green, have been formed by separation from it. Had the parish retained its former extent, the population in 1831 would have been 250,000.

Stepney and Limehouse parishes contained, in 1833, three infant schools, seventy-three day-schools, and sixteen Sunday-schools. Of the day-schools, the principal are, Bancroft’s school, in which 100 boys are boarded, clothed, and instructed ; the Jew’s hospital, for the employment and education of youth, with 58 children ; Stepney proprietary school, with 120 boys ; an endowed free-school under the management of the Cooper’s company, with 35 boys ; and several national or other charity schools. There are several dissenting congregations.

The parishes described above, from Hackney inclusive, are in the Tower division of Ossulston hundred, which is comprehended in the new metropolitan parliamentary borough of the Tower Hamlets.