We’ve rounded up the very best things to do and see
The Ragged School Museum
Housed in a row of 19th century canal-side warehouses that once formed the Dr Barnardo-founded Copperfield Road Free School (also known as a ragged school as the pupils were among the area’s most destitute) lays this independent museum. As well as a recreated Victorian classroom, complete with a stern ‘teacher’ (an actor in period garb), there’s also a small exhibition offering an insight into just how tough life was in East London in the late 1800s.
46-50 Copperfield Road, E3 4RR
020 8980 6405
When Hyman Rinkoff left his native Ukraine in 1911 to start life afresh in the East End of London one of the most treasured things he brought with him were the family baking recipes. And it is these traditional breads, cakes and pastries that have kept Hyman’s original Whitechapel bakery going for more than a hundred years, with the fourth generation of Rinkoffs now entering the business. Today you’ll still find challot and beigels, but alongside crodoughs and rainbow cakes – but one thing has always remained the same, everything that leaves the Rinkoff Bakery tastes utterly divine.
224 Jubilee Street E1 3BS
020 7791 4909
Stepney City Farm
Once the location of the Stepney Congregational Church, but left as a wasteland for many years after receiving a direct hit from a World War II bomb, the site was given a new lease of life in 1979 as a farm. Today the 3-acre rural oasis is run as a charity where you can get up close and personal with the animals, learn how to grow food and try out traditional arts and crafts. There’s also an award-winning café that makes excellent use of the farm’s produce, as well as a popular farmers’ market every Saturday.
Stepney Way E1 3DG
020 7790 8204
The bells of Stepney, as mentioned in the children’s nursery rhyme Oranges and Lemons, are the ten that hang in the belfry here in this impressive medieval place of worship, also known as the mother church of London’s East End. If you think the well-tended churchyard looks especially spacious, that because it was enlarged to cope with the huge number of deaths caused by the Great Plague, with 154 buried in one single day in 1665. Today the church enjoys an active congregation and remains at the heart of the community.
Stepney High Street E1 0NR
020 7702 8685
Having once been home to a music hall, where Charlie Chaplin topped the bill just before making it big in Hollywood, this fantastic independent cinema sprang up on what had been a decade-long derelict site in the late 90s. Recently beautifully refurbished, allegedly by guys who design film sets for a living, this place is effortlessly cool without being at all pretentious. There’s five screens showing both blockbuster and independent movies, a café downstairs (Rinkoff’s crodoughs are available), a bar upstairs and an all round great vibe.
93-95 Mile End Road E1 4UJ
020 7780 2000