Morpeth School Mulberry TreeMulberry trees in the grounds of Morpeth School, c. 1960. Image courtesy of Tower Hamlets Local History Library and Archives.

Huguenot Walk around Spitalfields

For centuries Spitalfields was the first port of call for many different migrant groups.  It was here that the wealthy master silk merchants lived in elegant houses, ornately carved porches, houses with shutters, tall doors and wide windows in the attic for the journeyman weaver to toil at the loom.  If you walk the historic streets of Spitalfields you willl see traces of many migrant groups.  Huguenot chapels are now Jewish synagogues and the Brick Lane Mosque was once where several migrant groups worshipped at different times over the years. Look out for the coalholes and the spindles identifying a weaver's house.  Dominating over the area is Nicholas Hawksmoor's masterpiece Christ Church where many Huguenots were baptised, married and buried.  To arrange a walk around historic Spitalfields, contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

How are Mulberry trees connected to the Huguenots?

Until recently, they stood in the playground of Morpeth School in Bethnal Green. They were planted by Huguenot weavers, who grew the trees for their Mulberry leaves. The silk worms needed to eat these leaves to make silk. The weavers then wove the silk into beautiful gowns and coats for wealthy people. These trees were pulled down in 1963 due to disease and storm damage.

There are traces of the Huguenots all over Britain. Below are some fact sheets and activities to get you started in your exploration of Huguenot Places and Traces!