As London begins to open its doors again, we’re sharing different places of interest within two miles of Whitechapel Gallery that can be accessed by foot or bicycle. Whether you’re coming from the North, South, East or West, you can pop into local cafés and meander through parks on your way to exciting works of art.
North – coming down from Dalston
London Fields (2 miles from the Whitechapel Gallery – 15min cycle / 40min walk)
A popular park in Hackney next to London Fields Overground Station. Enjoy a takeaway picnic lunch from the nearby E5 Bakehouse or Rosa’s Thai Kitchen, with a takeaway pint from the London Fields Brewery Tap Room. If you’re feeling especially energetic, the basketball and tennis courts have now reopened.
Broadway Market (1.7 miles from the Whitechapel Gallery – 10min cycle / 35min walk)
The Saturday market stalls may be closed for now, but many of the permanent businesses are still operating. Walking down this Victorian street market which runs from the southern tip of London Fields to Regent’s Canal, you can pick up takeaway coffee from The Bach, a vegan doughnut from the Ingles Bakery or a bottled beer or cider from The Dove pub.
Hackney City Farm (1.3 miles from the Whitechapel Gallery – 5min cycle / 10min walk)
Cross the Cat & Mutton Bridge from Broadway Market and head south on Goldsmiths Row for 5 minutes to arrive at Hackney City Farm. The yard and cafe are currently closed with no access to the animals, but you can still go to the farm to pick up veg from Growing Communities, fish from Soul Share (maybe one for the journey home) or shop for groceries at Get Loose. There are plenty of bicycle loops outside the front entrance, and there is also Santander bike parking directly outside the farm on Goldsmiths Row.
Brick Lane (south entrance on Whitechapel High Street next to the Whitechapel Gallery)
The heart of the city’s Bengali community and lined with the best curry houses in London (many still operating takeaway and delivery services), no trip to East London is complete without a walk down Brick Lane. Look out for the Brick Lane Mosque (with previous incarnations as a church for French Huguenot Protestants, a Methodist Church and a Synagogue – reflecting the layered history of immigration in the area), the HQ of Janomot, Britain’s longest running weekly Bengali newspaper, and the metal archway marking the entrance to Brick Lane designed by Mina Thakur and erected in 1997, with the red and green of the Bangladesh flag.
Fournier Street (0.3 miles from the Whitechapel Gallery – 2min cycle / 7min walk)
A street of beautiful Georgian Townhouses, originally built in the 1700s to house the French Huguenot community working in the silk industry. The street connects Brick Lane with the neighbouring Commercial Street and Spitalfields Market, and is also home to Christ Church Spitalfields, a church designed by Nicholas Hawksmoor in the English Baroque style and completed in 1729. Current residents of Fournier Street include the artists Gilbert & George, who have lived at No.8 since 1968.
South – coming from Bermondsey, Canada Water or Surrey Quays
Southwark Park (2 miles from the Whitechapel Gallery – 15min cycle / 40min walk)
Southwark Park Art Galleries are currently closed, but there is still plenty to enjoy in this lovely South London park including the Pavilion Café offering a takeaway service, the Ada Salter Rose Garden, the duck pond, band stand and wildlife garden.
Tower Bridge (1 mile from the Whitechapel Gallery – 5min cycle / 20min walk)
The Tower may be closed for tours, but the views spanning East and West London from walking across the bridge from Shad Thames to Tower Hill are worth a trip alone. Try and time your visit to view a bridge lift and watch the decking split and lift to accommodate passing boats.
London Wall Walk (Tower Hill station underpass 0.6 mile from the Whitechapel Gallery – 5min cycle / 10min walk)
As you come off Tower Bridge, enjoying the views of the Tower of London to your left, head to nearby Tower Hill station underpass to start your self-guided London Wall Walk. Originally built by the Romans around AD 200 to protect the city, the full walk of the remnants of the London Wall involves 21 plaques leading you west across town to the Museum of London. However, you can do an edited version and follow the first 5 plaques up to Aldgate, where you are less than a 5 minute walk from the Whitechapel Gallery.
South – coming from London Bridge station
Borough Market (1.6 miles from the Whitechapel Gallery – 10min cycle / 30min walk)
Borough Market is still trading Monday-Saturday, with social distancing measures in place. Bike racks at Borough Market can be found to the North of Floral Hall, and the closest cycle hire docks are Southwark Street and Park Street. Enjoy a quick pitstop in the peace of the Southwark Cathedral churchyard and herb garden, before crossing London Bridge, taking in views of HMS Belfast and the city. Stop off to view the Monument to the Great Fire of London, then head East along Fenchurch street for the Gallery.
East – coming from Mile End
Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park and Nature Reserve (2 miles from the Whitechapel Gallery – 10min cycle / 40min walk)
It may not be as famous or filled with notable celebrity graves like some of London’s other ‘Magnificent Seven’ cemeteries, nonetheless Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park is well worth a visit. The Park is within a conservation area and the varied network of paths take you on a tour around woodlands and wildflower meadows.
Mile End Park (1.8 miles from the Whitechapel Gallery – 10min cycle / 35min walk)
Pick up an ice cream from nearby Happy Endings, and enjoy a leisurely walk along Regent’s Canal. The park was built after World War II on industrial land that had been devastated by bombing, and now the meadows and woodlands host a fantastic diversity of wildlife. Over 400 species of beetle have been recorded, including the very rare Streaked Bombardier, and around 170 types of spiders include two species never recorded in Britain before.
Edward VII Drinking Fountain ((0.6 miles from the Whitechapel Gallery – 4min cycle / 13min walk)
The memorial, designed by WS Frith, was unveiled outside Whitechapel station on 15 March 1912 by Charles Rothschild. The plaque reads, ‘In grateful and loyal memory of Edward VII, Rex et Imperator, Erected by subscriptions raised by Jewish inhabitants of East London, 1911’; a reminder that Whitechapel was once home to a large Jewish Community. A bronze angel sits atop the stone pillar, with cherubs each holding an object of significance to the community at the time of the unveiling; a ship to symbolise travel, a needle and thread to signify the clothing industry employing the majority of the East End Jewish community at this time, and a book to communicate the importance of education.
Royal London Hospital (0.6 miles from the Whitechapel Gallery – 4min cycle / 13min walk)
Founded in 1740, and the inspiration for the Casualty TV series, the Royal London Hospital became the first hospital to house its own medical school in England. Among those trained here were the pioneering surgeon Henry Souttar and the heroic nurse Edith Cavell, who helped hundreds of soldiers escape German-occupied Belgium during the First World War. The hospital also provided rooms for Joseph Merrick, who was immortalised in David Lynch’s film The Elephant Man, where he lived until he died under the care of Dr Frederick Treves.
Altab Ali Park and The Shaheed Minar (across Whitechapel High Street from the Whitechapel Gallery)
Formerly known as St Mary’s Park, after a church on the site that was destroyed during World War II, the park was renamed after Altab Ali, a 25-year-old Bangladeshi Sylheti clothing worker who was murdered in a racist attack in 1978, as he was walking home from work. Along the central path are letters spelling out an extract of a poem by Bengali poet Rabindranath Tagore, ‘The shade of my tree is offered to those who come and go fleetingly’. In the south west corner of the park is The Shaheed Minar, a replica of a larger memorial in Dhaka, which commemorates protestors shot dead by police during the Bengali Language Movement demonstrations in 1952.
West – coming from Holborn, Chancery Lane or Farringdon
Smithfield Market (1.7 miles from the Whitechapel Gallery – 10min cycle / 35min walk)
Open as usual 2am-8am Monday-Friday, this wholesale market serves the Restaurants and catering businesses in the city, though anyone can visit and purchase the produce on offer. When many of our schedules are slightly more relaxed, it might be the time to experience this ‘proper’ market in full swing, where you are encouraged to haggle and find the best price on the day. Though meats, fish and dairy maybe not suitable if you are making your way to the Gallery, do note we have a cloakroom where anything you purchase in the dry goods department can be stored.
Postman’s Park (1.4 miles from the Whitechapel Gallery – 5-10min cycle / 30min walk)
Grab a takeaway coffee and sandwich from the nearby Piccolo bar on Gresham Street and recover from the theatre of Smithfield Market in the scenic surrounding of Postman’s Park. Once you’ve gathered your energy, begin an epic walk through the City of London, taking in sites including St Paul’s Cathedral, the Barbican Centre, the Guildhall and the Bank of England.
Sculpture in the City (across the square mile – flanked by Liverpool St, Bank and Aldgate stations )
From Bank to Aldgate you can pick up a large chunk of the Sculpture in the City trail, with work by leading contemporary artists situated amongst the city’s most iconic architectural landmarks. Walk through Leadenhall Market to enjoy work by Patrick Tuttofuoco and Shaun C. Badham, then weave your way across both Leadenhall St and Fenchurch St to experience work by artists including Lawrence Weiner, Jennifer Steinkamp and Nancy Rubins.
For more information and further recommendations, feel free to speak with a member of our Visitor Services team at +44 (0)20 7522 7888 or firstname.lastname@example.org.