Mile End, Stepney, London, England

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Includes Mile End Old Town & Mile End New Town

In the Middle Ages, Mile End was mostly common land and a favourite place of recreation for Londoners and conveniently close to the City for people to gather. During the Peasants Revolt in 1381 the men of Essex met Richard II here and made their famous demand 'that no man should be a serf'. By the end of the 16th century, John Stow the City historian was complaining that "this common field, being sometime the beauty of this city on that part is so encroached upon by building of filthy cottages, and with other purpressors, inclosures and lay stalls, that in some places (Mile End Road) scarce remaineth a sufficient highway for the meeting of carriages and droves of cattle".

The western part of Mile End developed rapidly and by the end of the 17th century became a separate hamlet of Stepney known as Mile End New Town (although really an extension of Spitalfields). The remaining part of Mile End then became known as Mile End Old Town. The population of Mile End New Town was mainly composed of "handicraft tradesmen, labourers and artificers" many of these probably weavers. Over the next 200 years other industries were established including a large dye-house, warehouses for Truman's brewery, metal works, a sugar refinery, saw mill, timber yard and fish-curing factory.

Mile End Old Town was more extensive and remained mostly open in the 18th century. To the north side of Mile End Road, the Jews, who were allowed to resettle in England after 1657, acquired land for their first burial ground. During the 19th century most of the hamlet was developed for housing, the population rising to nearly 113,000 people, some employed in local industries but many working in the nearby City.

Although Mile End was quietly respectable very little extreme poverty compared to other parts of East London, William Booth began the work of the Salvation Army here in 1868 and the first Dr. Barnardo's Home for orphans was founded in 1870 near Ben Jonson Road. Mile End became part of the Borough of Stepney in 1900.

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