Spitalfields takes its name from the hospital and priory, St. Mary's Spittel that was founded in 1197. Lying in the heart of the East End, it is an area known for its spirit and strong sense of community. It was in a field next to the priory where the now famous market first started in the thirteenth century.
As an international city, London is celebrated for its diversity in population. The East End has always been recognised for the wealth of cultures represented. Spitalfields served as a microcosm of this polyglot society, the ‘melting pot’ fusion of east and west. Historically, it has played host to a transient community – primarily for new immigrants.
Spitalfields had been relatively rural until the Great Fire of London. By 1666, traders had begun operating beyond the city gates – on the site where today’s market stands. The landmark Truman’s Brewery opened in 1669 and in 1682 King Charles II granted John Balch a Royal Charter giving him the right to hold a market on Thursdays and Saturdays in or near Spital Square.