Mysterious Spitalfields Photos Go On Show

On the morning of Saturday 20 April 1912, CA Mathew wandered the streets of Spitalfields taking photographs. No one knows much about him, or whether he had any special purpose for his street photography, but the restored fruits of his stroll are about to go on show.

The photographs were rediscovered a few years back in the Bishopsgate Institute’s library by Spitalfields Life’s The Gentle Author. His contributing photographer Jeremy Freedman has now restored the images, which will go on display at Eleven Spitalfields Gallery.

The shots are almost unique for the time, showing the denizens of Spitalfields going about their business, totally unposed and presumably unplanned. Mathew had only began taking photos a year before, and he died just a decade later. Today, he’s buried in an unmarked grave in Wood Green. This set of photos is his small but fascinating legacy.

Photographs of Spitalfields a Century Ago, Eleven Spitalfields Gallery, 11 Princelet Street, E1 6QH, 7 March-25 April. Entrance is free. By appointment only Mon-Fri, open all day Sat, Sun.

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  • James Guppy

    Lovely – thanks for posting.

  • Ravish London

    Just amazed by the number of children on the street. You don’t see any children in Spitalfields these days. I mean, the place just felt like it had so much life going on in it.

  • julia woolf

    I knew my dads family had a business in Spitalfields, and am always searching for photo and in one I can see the sign with our name on it ‘Woolf’ but can’t read the rest of the sign. Their business was greengrocers and were jewish.

  • Max Bottrell

    Great picture ~ love all these oldies