St Anne's Limehouse, designed by Nicholas Hawksmoor (Photo: Philipp Röttgers)


St Anne's Limehouse, designed by Nicholas Hawksmoor (Photo: Philipp Röttgers)

A Walk beyond Time and Place

In September 1666, the Great Fire of London destroyed parts of the city.

In the early 18th century, a commission decided to build new churches in places of demolished ones. Nicholas Hawksmoor was one of the architects who was commissioned to design them.

Of the 12 churches that were built, Hawksmoor designed six and co-designed another two.

Nicholas Hawksmoor

Hawskmoor was influenced by different religious buildings and cultures and his buildings include “pagan” symbols such as pyramids and obelisks.

Hawksmoor’s churches have historically been connected to various crimes like the Jack the Ripper murders in 1888 or the Ratcliffe Highway murders in 1811.

Several authors such as Iain Sinclair, Peter Ackroyd and Alan Moore suggest in their works that Hawksmoor deliberately used symbols in his buildings that influence the people around them and are responsible for the criminal energy in the areas where they stand.

The tour

Start: St Anne’s Limehouse

End: Christ Church, Spitalfields

Duration: 2 h 30 min

Philipp’s walk will lead you along Hawksmoor’s East End churches, his most mysterious churches.

The walks starts at Hawksmoor’s St Anne’s Limehouse, close to Ropemaker Fields. From there Philipp will lead you through Limehouse, an area previously associated with the docks and with crime and prostitution.

Most of this has changed now and we even pass the “Grapes” inn. Ian McKellen is one of its landlords and it is not unusual to meet him there on a Pub Quiz night!

From there you will follow the river Thames to the West until you reach Wapping and “The Prospect of Whitby”, the oldest riverside inn (or so they say).

From there on Philipp will lead you to the streets of Wapping and Shadwell and tell the gruesome tale of the Ratcliffe Highway Murders of 1811. Philipp has been an adviser in a documentary on the case by Curious World. So if you are interested in a very well written and presented three-part documentary about these gruesome murders, here is the link!

As Hawksmoor’s St-George-in-the-East is part of the Ratcliffe Highway murder story, Philipp will take you there and also point out the crossroads where the supposed murderer was buried like a vampire.

From Limehouse to Spitalfieds

St-George-in-the-East also has connections to another, more famous saga: That of Jack the Ripper. So it is just appropriate to walk through the area of the Ripper until you will reach Christ Church, Spitalfields, which was the geographical centre of the Ripper murders.

Christ Church, Spitalfields
Christ Church, Spitalfields

After the tour, you can either go home or join Philipp for a pint in the Ten Bells pub and discuss the gruesome crimes and the idea that the architect Nicholas Hawksmoor used symbols in his churches that would provoke the inhabitants of their surroundings to commit crimes and become evil.

Is this tour running?

Check for the current schedule here:

This tour is currently only presented virtually. Dates will follow.

If you have questions about the tour or want to get in touch with us, you can do it via the contact form (in the side bar) or here!

This is a “Walks beyond Time and Place” tour.

The crossroads Cable Street and Cannon Street are connected to the Ratcliffe Highway Murders (Photo: Philipp Röttgers)
The crossroads Cable Street and Cannon Street are connected to the Ratcliffe Highway Murders (Photo: Philipp Röttgers)

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