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The Ten Bells is a public house at the corner of Commercial Street and Fournier Street in Spitalfields in the East End of London. It is sometimes cited as being notable for its association with two victims of Jack the Ripper; Annie Chapman and Mary Kelly.
The Ten Bells pub has existed in one guise or other since at least the middle of the 18th century.
It originally stood on a site known as 12 Red Lion Street, just a few metres away. However, when this building was pulled down as part of the cutting of Commercial Street in 1851, the owners of the Ten Bells (Truman Hanbury Buxton & Co) were able to move the public house to its current position at 84 Commercial Street (at one time known as 33 Church Street).
The name of the pub has changed over time, but those names have generally derived from the number of bells in the "peal" (see Ring of bells) housed in the Nicholas Hawksmoor designed Christ Church, Spitalfields next door.
In 1755 it was known as the "Eight Bells Alehouse". The name is likely to have changed in 1788 when the church installed a new set of chimes, this time with ten bells; certainly, there are insurance records to show that the pub was registered as "the Ten Bells, Church Street, Spitalfields" from 1794. The number of bells in the church increased to twelve at one point and were subsequently reduced to its current number of eight after a fire in the steeple in 1836. However, save for a brief deviation from the theme (see below), the "Ten Bells" name has stuck.
The interior of the pub is particularly interesting as it is impressively decorated with original Victorian tiling. Two of the walls feature a blue and white floral pattern tiling scheme and there is a colourful tiled dado going round the room. Of particular note is the mural of painted tiles on the wall on the North side of the building, entitled Spitalfields in ye Olden Time - visiting a Weaver's Shop, which commemorates the weaving heritage of the area. The mural was designed by the firm of W. B. Simpson and Sons and dates from the late 19th century.
The Ten Bells was renovated by current landlord John Twomey in December 2010 to fully display the pub's Victorian heritage. The renovation also included the addition of a new mural titled Smithfields in Modern Times. This was painted by artist Ian Harper. Rather than feature the weavers of the 19th century, the painting features 21st century Spitalfields scenes and characters, such as Gilbert and George.
Jack the Ripper
Some accounts of the Jack the Ripper story link two of his victims, Annie Chapman and Mary Jane Kelly, to the pub: Annie Chapman may have drunk at the pub shortly before she was murdered; and it has been suggested that the pavement outside of the pub was where Mary Kelly picked up clients as a prostitute. Between 1976 and 1988, the public house was named "The Jack the Ripper", and memorabilia relating to the case were displayed in the bars. The brewery ordered the change back to its original name after a long campaign by Reclaim the Night demanded that a murderer of women should not be commemorated in such a fashion. The pub is mentioned in the graphic novel From Hell (1999), about Jack the Ripper, by writer Alan Moore and artist Eddie Campbell. The film adaptation From Hell (2001), also features the pub, including a scene showing Johnny Depp (as Inspector Abberline) having a drink with Ripper victim Mary Kelly.
The Ten Bells is regularly busy, often noisy and always characterful. Some "City Suits" find their way through Old Spitalfields Market for a pint. But it's largely full of Brick Lane and Shoreditch regulars, looking for a strong drink and a good atmosphere.
In October 2011, the Ten Bells was featured in the Jamie Oliver series Jamie's Great Britain. Jamie's great great grandfather was a landlord of the Ten Bells during the 1880s. Jamie is shown visiting the Ten Bells to discuss his East London roots, and to see how Londoners lived, drank and ate at the end of the 19th century.
From November 2011 to February 2012, the upper floors of the pub were used as a temporary restaurant space for the "Young Turks", a collective of young, ambitious chefs cooking modern British food. The "pop-up" restaurant has been acclaimed by a number of well respected food critics, including Fay Maschler.
- London Metropolitan Archives. Indenture between Lekeux and Sabatier, Middlesex Deeds Register, MDR/1755/4/67.
- MS11936/397/626547 and MS11936/397/626548.
- Sheppard, F. H. W. (ed.). "Survey of London, vol. 27". Spitalfields and the Mile End New Town pp. 3–5. (London: Athlone Press, University of London, LCC, 1957).
- Mark Girouard (1984) Victorian Pubs: 158
- "December 2010 Web article on the Ten Bells Pub". Spitalfields Life on the Ten Bells.
- Details from listed building database (205912) . Images of England. English Heritage. accessed 8 August 2009
- "The Ten Bells Pub". Jack the Ripper Casebook article on the Ten Bells pub.
- "London Evening Standard article". Fay Maschler list of the best restaurants of 2011.
- Begg, P., Fido, M., & Skinner, K. The Jack the Ripper A-Z (Headline, 1996)
- Cullen, Tom Autumn of Terror: Jack the Ripper, His Crimes and Times (Fontana Books, 1966)