The Children of London’s Spitalfields Slums in Photographs 100 Years Ago



Image: The Gentle Author

Spitalfields used to be one of the worst slums in London. Only 30 years before these pictures were taken one of Jack the Ripper’s victims died in its streets. These fabulous images were taken in 1912 by photographer Horace Warner who wonderfully captured the emotions and living conditions of these children.

The boy pictured here may be grinning, and the glint in his eye implies he hasn’t a care in the world, but the reality of living in the area would have been very different, as you can see by the rags he is wearing for clothes.


Image: The Gentle Author

The images tell a tale that everyone can understand; young children, mostly without shoes and other basic provisions, doing what they can in the circumstances. As Gentle Author of Spitalfields Life says, “Imaginatively, theirs is a discrete society independent of adults, in which they are resourceful and sufficient, doing their own washing, chopping wood, nursing babies and even making money by cleaning windows and running errands.”

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