is an inner-city district situated within the London Borough of Tower Hamlets
located on the north bank of the Thames
to the west and Limehouse
to the east. It is located east of Charing Cross
and forms part of the East End of London
In the 13th century, the area was known as Scadflet
– derived from the Anglo-Saxon fleot
, meaning a shallow creek or bay – the land was a low lying marsh, until drained (by order of Act of Parliament
, after 1587) by Cornelius Vanderdelf. A spring, issuing from near the south wall of the churchyard was dedicated to St Chad
, and filled a nearby well. The origin of the name is therefore confused, being associated with both the earlier use and the later well.
In the 17th century, Thomas Neale
became a local landowner, and built a mill and established a waterworks on large ponds, left by the draining of the marsh. The area had been virtually uninhabited and he developed the waterfront, with houses behind as a speculation. Shadwell became a maritime hamlet
with roperies, tan yards, breweries, wharves, smiths and numerous taverns, which built up around the chapel of St Paul's. Seventy-five sea captains are buried in its churchyard, while Captain James Cook
had his son baptised there.
By the mid-18th century Shadwell Spa was established, producing sulphurous waters, in Sun Tavern fields. As well as medicinal purposes, salts were extracted from the waters; and used by local calicoprinters to fix their dyes.
The modern area is dominated by the enclosed former dock, Shadwell Basin, whose construction destroyed much of the earlier settlement – by this time degenerated into slums. The basin once formed the eastern entrance to the then London Docks, with a channel leading west to St Katharine Docks. It is actually two dock basins - the south basin was constructed in 1828-32 and the north basin in 1854-8.
Unlike nearby Limehouse Basin, few craft larger than canoes can be seen on Shadwell Basin, which is largely used for fishing and watersports - and as a scenic backdrop to the modern residential developments that line it. The basin, however, is still connected to the Thames and the channel is spanned by a bascule bridge.
St. Paul's Shadwell with St. James Ratcliffe
, is traditionally known as the Church of Sea Captains
. In 1656 the church was established as a Chapel of Ease
, from St Dunstan's
, at Stepney
. In 1669, it was rebuilt as the Parish Church of Shadwell, and it was the last of five parish churches rebuilt after the Restoration
. In 1820, it was again rebuilt as a 'Waterloo church
Captain James Cook was an active parishioner and John Wesley preached in the church from time to time. Isham Randolph, one of Thomas Jefferson's grandfathers and son of William Randolph, was married in St. Paul's church. Jefferson's boyhood home was named Shadwell after the parish.
Notable current and former residents of Shadwell
Specifically local schools include Blue Gate Fields and Bigland Green Primary schools; and Bishop Challoner secondary school.
Transport and locale