Public Lettering 2: The Soup Kitchen for the Jewish Poor in Spitafields

This is the second instalment of my monthly-ish public lettering delivery. In a walk around Spitalfields for my PhD research, I photographed The Soup Kitchen for the Jewish Poor. This was a philanthropic enterprise, one of the many during the Victorian period, to feed the newcomer Jews that were arriving in London with no money and no connections. It was founded in 1854 and it was originally situated in Fashion St, in 1902 it moved to 17–19 Butler street — renamed as Brune street in 1937. I didn’t take a picture of the whole front, but there is one in the ‘London Jews in the IWW. We were there too’ website along with a basic history of the Soup Kitchen. For a more personal approach, I recommend the Gentle Author‘s post about it.

The building (1902, Lewis Salomon) was listed as Grade II for its special architectural or historic interest. The terracotta fascia is a good example fo architectural lettering that has lived beyond its original purposes, identifying and enliven the building. The Soup Kitchen was closed in 1992, but the lettering remains,  contributing to creating layers of history, the history of Spitalfields. The Art Nouveau lettering is bold and eccentric, every letter, or almost every letter, includes a special feature. There is nothing subtle here, except for the figures. It beautifully carved, really deep, and there was a real intention of not following the natural spacing created by the tiles. The lettering ‘dances’ through the terracotta, without feeling strained. It fully deserves a mention here.

Reynolds New Map of London and Suburbs, 1882.

Plan from Stepney Borough Guide, 1952.


Pictures August 2017