It’s been 30 years since the first episode of EastEnders was aired. The British soap staple is set in the fictional London borough of Walford, a name coined from blending Walthamstow and Stratford, the areas of London where the show’s creators were born. It’s one of the UK’s highest-rated programmes and the weekly omnibus edition often attracts three million viewers.
During the 30 years that the show has been on our screens, the East End has seen regeneration and gentrification that has left some areas unrecognisable, but glimpses of the old Cockney London still survive. Walford may not exist, but the East End still does and it can be explored from Strand Palace Hotel.
East London was given a makeover in preparation for the 2012 Olympics. The legacy of this can be seen in improved transport routes and in architecture, such as Anish Kapoor’s Orbit, which towers over one end of the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. The 80-meter (260-foot) viewing platform offers wonderful views across London. The journey here from Strand Palace Hotel is an easy route along the Central line from Holborn to Stratford station.
For centuries, the most striking feature of East London has been the waves of vibrant immigrant communities that have come to the area, from Jewish immigration, which peaked in the 1890s, to the established Turkish Cypriot, African, Caribbean and Bangladeshi communities who arrived from the 1960s. This part of London has a thriving mash-up feel where cultures and cuisines live side by side. Take a 67 bus for a street-food tour of London immigration: Begin with the delicious bagels of Jewish Stamford Hill and move on to the tasty Turkish lahmacun (thin flatbread with minced lamb meat) in Stoke Newington. Continue down through the African markets of Dalston (passing near Fassett Square, which was the model for EastEnders’ Albert Square) and onward to the piquant curries of Banglatown near Aldgate, from where you can take a District line tube to reach Temple underground station near Strand Palace Hotel.
Dennis Severs’ House
Back in the 18th-century, this part of London was home the Protestant Huguenot silk-weavers who arrived from France as religious refugees. Their story has been compellingly recreated in an atmospheric Dennis Severs’ House in Folgate Street. Visitors explore the house’s fascinating still-life drama in silence during a self-guided tour, which reveals an intimate and evocative portrait of daily life in the East End in the 18th century. To get here from Strand Palace Hotel, take the Central line from Holborn station.
The East End is famous for its many markets — the most distinctive of which is the bright and colourful Sunday flower market on Columbia Road. The street is crowded with blooms by the bucketload, as well as vintage shops, delis and cafes, which have recently sprung up around the traders and offer you gentrified East London at its funkiest. To get there, hop on the 243 bus from Strand Palace Hotel.
Looking for hotels near the East End? Strand Palace Hotel has great transport connections to the East End’s best-known sights, making it a great base for exploring.
Did you enjoy this article? Please give the page a like so we can create more articles like it in future.