Morpeth School Mulberry Tree - Huguenots of Spitalfields
Mulberry trees in the grounds of Morpeth School, c. 1960. Image courtesy of Tower Hamlets Local History Library and Archives.
huguenot spindles 1700s shop sign
Spindle identifying a weaver’s house

Spitalfields was the first port of call for many Huguenot refugees. It was here that the wealthy master silk merchants lived in elegant houses, with ornately carved porches, tall doors, shutters and wide windows in the attic for the journeyman weavers to toil at the loom. 

Huguenot Walk around Spitalfields

But it was not just the Huguenots who settled in the area. If you walk the historic streets of Spitalfields you will 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 coal holes 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. 

How are Mulberry trees connected to the Huguenots?

An orchard of Mulberry trees once stood in what is now the playground of Morpeth School in Bethnal Green, which was at the heart of Huguenot London. They were planted by Huguenot weavers, who grew the trees for their Mulberry leaves which are eaten by silkworms needed 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.

These fact sheets and information can be used in a local history and mapping exercise if your school is in East London.

Huguenot Places and Traces: Factsheets and Activities

Huguenot Places and Traces map of Britain

Huguenot Places

Towns in Britain where Huguenots settled.

Huguenot Indenture Record - Soloman Howel

Tracing your Ancestors

Do you have your magnifying glass to hand? 

huguenot of spitalfields street names

Maps and Facts

The street names of Spitalfields.

These artist recreations of an 18th century house could help students imagine how people lived and can be used in the classroom or printed off and looked when standing outside a house on Fournier Street.

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