Stepney, England — Our Sister City
Brief History of Stepney, England (continued)
For many hundreds of years Stepney stood among walled orchards and cornfields flanked by fine houses.
In the 16th century, its riverside hamlets became “sailor town”, crowed with ship’s workshops and lodging housed for the navy. As London swelled it spilled out into the East End, which brought dockworkers, factory workers and warehousemen who took their place over the local gentry.
It was this growth of population that made necessary the establishment of nine separate parishes to serve the area’s inhabitants. These would to be split off from the original Stepney parish. The following is the beginning of these establishments:
- Shadwell — 1669
- Wapping — 1694
- Whitechapel — 1673
- Spitalfields — 1729
- The East — 1729
- Bethnal Green — 1740
- Bow — 1730
- Limehouse — 1730
- Poplar — 1820
Stepney witnessed a unique pattern of exodus and exiles involving Huguenot, Irish, Chinese, Jewish, Bangladeshi and Somali communities. It also witnessed the departure of many thousands who went out from Stepney to the four corners of the world, many having been baptized with water from the font which stands with its ancient Norman bowl near the west entrance of the Stepney church. Thousands of American and Australian families can recall their heritage to this Stepney Church, their anchor, the place where their ancestors were baptized married, died and were buried.