A Spitalfields Institution: Upstairs at the Ten Bells

Old Spitalfields Market is one of London’s oldest covered commercial markets; it’s been around since the 1600s. Each day it brings together traders selling fashion, food, antiques, and crafts. A surge of boutiques, shops and restaurants have bubbled up in the vicinity, regenerating this part of East London.

The Ten Bells sits right opposite the arched entrance to Spitalfields Market on Commercial Street. But it has a sinister history all its own. It dates back to 1666 and was the local watering hole of Jack the Ripper in the 1800s. Two of his victims used to frequent this old Victorian boozer, one of which was spotted drinking here just hours before her mutilated body was found around the corner. Not exactly the most romantic date night in London back in the day…

Ten Bells Chalk Board Menu

Ten Bells Outside

But fast forward 127 years, and people are still dying to get in. The upstairs restaurant is all the rage – classic East London gritty. You climb up the creaky battered staircase, beneath a very apt sign reading Live East, Die Young, and into a dining room lit with Tracy Emin neon and homoerotic photography.

Upstairs at 10 Bells Neon

Upstairs at Ten Bells Staircase

No thanks. I'd much prefer to Live West, Die Old.

No thanks. I’d much prefer to Live West, Die Old.

Ten Bells Upstairs

The menu is eclectic modern British. Predictable ingredients, but done in a cool, clever way.

Wood Pigeon tortellini

Wood Pigeon ravioli, crushed swede, consommé

Laugh Drink

Potato Gnocchi, Brown Shrimp, Crab, Girolles

Potato Gnocchi, Cornish Crab, Brown Shrimp

Ginger Glazed Cashew Ribs

Ginger Glazed Ribs, cashew nuts, pickled ginger

Yorkshire Rhubarb, Buttermilk Mousse with White Chocolate and Matcha Green Tea Crumb

Yorkshire Rhubarb, Buttermilk Mousse with White Chocolate and Matcha Green Tea Crumb

Ten Bells Dessert

Tummies full, we dashed fearlessly out onto the mean grungy streets of East London, the eerie glow of a Dickensian moon lighting the foggy night sky.

Ten Bells Silly Face

Spitalfields Moon

Christ Church, Spitalfields

Christ Church, Spitalfields

Outside

Spitalfields Fairy Goth Mother

Ten Bells Ed London Spitalfields

Ten Bells Telephone Booth

It was a thrill to visit the dismal, macabre heart of London’s yesteryear. It proves there are still places where the grimness of history yet clings, even if only in spirit, in the drear-cloaked night.

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