Frying Pan Alley, E1
Road in/near Spitalfields, existing between the 1750s and now
Print-friendly version of this page Spitalfields is near to Liverpool Street station and Brick Lane.
Frying Pan Alley is situated close to Middlesex Street
and its Petticoat Lane market.
Frying Pan Alley is an indication of the businesses that used to operate here.
Ironmongers and braziers used the frying pan as the emblem of their trade and they would hang a pan outside their shop so people could see what their business was. Over time, the name stuck, but the frying pans are long gone.
According to folklore, a shopper was once hit on the head by a pan here as it dropped down and nearly flattened him. From that time on, people walked by the shop on the opposite side of the path in an attempt to avoid another incident.
It is unknown so far just how old Frying Pan Alley is - but it was already appearing on the oldest detailed London-wide map - that of John Rocque in the 1750s/1760s.
Frying Pan Alley street sign
User unknown/public domain
The area straddles Commercial Street
and is home to several markets, including the historic Old Spitalfields Market
, and various Brick Lane
Markets on Brick Lane
and Cheshire Street
. Petticoat Lane Market lies on the area's south-western boundaries.
The name Spitalfields appears in the form Spittellond
in 1399; as The spitel Fyeld on the 16th-century Civitas Londinium map associated with Ralph Agas. The land belonged to St Mary Spital, a priory or hospital erected on the east side of the Bishopsgate
thoroughfare in 1197, and the name is thought to derive from this. An alternative, and possibly earlier, name for the area was Lolsworth
After the revocation of the Edict of Nantes, Spitalfields was inhabited by prosperous French Huguenot silk weavers. In the early 19th century their descendants were reduced to a deplorable condition due to the competition of the Manchester textile factories and the area began to deteriorate into crime-infested slums. The spacious and handsome Huguenot houses were divided up into tiny dwellings which were rented by poor families of labourers, who sought employment in the nearby docks.
The area has recently attracted a IT-literate younger population.