Soup kitchen, Spitalfields, London, 1867.
3 1 c m
actual image size: 32cm x 23cm

Soup kitchen, Spitalfields, London, 1867.

© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library


Engraving taken from the 'Illustrated London News'. Concepts of the 'deserving poor' as distinct from those elements regarded as 'underserving' or 'criminal' had begun to emerge. Thomas Archer, in his 1870 'The Terrible Sights of London' described Spitalfields as 'the locality of a superseded industry (silk weaving); a place where a dozen poor and precarious callings are followed by people many of whom were, in their early years, connected with the trade with which that district was once identified.' The demand for the skill of the weavers, mainly French Protestants, had been superseded by the new machinery, resulting in the poverty evident in the lean faces of the crowd.

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