Pall Mall Barbers’ Guide to Aldgate, Liverpool Street and Spitalfields
Pall Mall Barbers Aldgate branch sits right in the heart of one of the most interesting districts of London. Monday to Friday, it’s bustling with be-suited city workers and the air practically crackles with the sound of untold sums of money changing hands. But even if you’re not here to close a deal, these streets have plenty of hidden charms if you just know where to find them. Fortunately, our team of barbers at Aldgate do, and are happy to share them with you here.
77-82 Whitechapel High Street, E1 7QX
Unless you’re paying close attention, you may not hear that much about the Whitechapel Gallery. Pity, because it’s just as important to the London art scene as the Tate, V&A or Royal Academy (and a brisk ten-minute walk from our barbers in Aldgate). Since the doors first opened in 1901, it’s consistently pulled work from big names like Picasso, David Hockney and Jackson Pollack (to name a few) and given a platform to up-and-coming artists as well. Today, it’s a vibrant East London art hub, not just for exhibitions but also for talks, film screenings and unique opportunities to engage with local artists and craftspeople. Best of all, it’s completely free – unless you’re popping in to the wine bar, that is. You still have to pay for your own booze. If you want to pop in for a quick visit after a visit with our team of barbers in Aldgate, just follow St. Botolph Street all the way around to Whitechapel High Street and take a left. It’s just past Aldgate Station.
Dennis Severs House
18 Folgate Street, E1 6BX
A candlelit tour that takes you through the home of an 18th century Huguenot silk-weaving family, as interpreted by an eccentric American artist? Sounds like a bit of a niche interest, right? Just fifteen minutes from the door of Pall Mall Barbers Liverpool Street is Dennis Severs’ House on Folgate Street. The “Silent Night” tour is an experience so enchanting, it’s actually difficult to describe without sounding like we’re on commission for the place. But we’ll give it a go anyway. The idea is that you’ve interrupted the fictional Jervis family in their home one evening and decide to have a nose around the place. Although you never see them as you wander through the rooms, you can sometimes hear their voices just out of sight. The self-guided tour takes you through the servants’ quarters, bedrooms, dining room and sitting room, where you experience the smells and textures of intimate family life from a bygone era. Participants are asked to remain completely silent throughout – better to hear the creaking of the floorboards and crackling of the fire as you examine the objects and notes left behind as “clues”. You do have to book and it’s £15 per person, but you’d spend that at the pub on a Friday night anyway. Once you’ve finished your appointment with one of our talented barbers in Liverpool Street, turn right onto Bishopsgate and right again onto Folgate Street to get there.
The Ten Bells
84 Commercial Street, E1 6LY
The Ten Bells is woven into the history of East London and the area surrounding Pall Mall Barbers Liverpool Street. It first appeared in 1755 as the Eight Bells Alehouse on Red Lion Street before being crowded out in 1851 by commercial developers (some things never changed) Happily, it settled nicely into its new home on the corner of Fournier Street, where it’s been ever since. Having said all that, the Ten Bells is better known for its association with Jack the Ripper – two of his victims, Annie Chapman and Mary Kelly, were regulars who were both seen here on the evening they were murdered. Oh, but it is still a nice place to drink, which is always a plus for a pub. The bustling downstairs bar boasts an excellent selection of both beers and gin, while the candlelit cocktail bar upstairs promises a more relaxing evening once you’ve finished gawking.
16 Horner Square, E1 6EW
Just around the corner from Pall Mall Barbers Spitalfields, there’s yet more history. It’s just impossible to escape around Liverpool Street. There’s been a market on this spot for nearly 400 years, when King Charles licensed it to sell “flesh, fowl and roots”. You can still buy all three in modern Spitalfields, if only from a menu at one of its many, many eateries. Aside from peace and quiet, there really is something here for everyone. If you’re hungry, there’s the usual upmarket chains (you know the sort) excellent espresso from Nude Coffee Roasters, gooey brownies over at Konditor and Cook and the pleasingly named Duck Truck, who operate a strict duck-only menu policy. There’s also a good mix of shops and traders, from cheap and cheerful scarves and handmade jewellery in the covered bit of the market to independent boutiques and posh flowers outside on Lamb Street.
54 Commercial Street, E1 6LT
Enough history, let’s eat. Happily for our team of barbers in Spitalfields, there’s no shortage of “posh” fried chicken joints around Liverpool Street. Like most of them, Absurd Bird comes with a backstory involving divine inspiration and an abiding love of Southern soul food. Does it deliver? In a word, yes. We put it to the test on a born-and-bred Alabama native who ordered half the menu and pronounced it pretty damned good. The wing platters are a thing of fearsome beauty – towering stacks of deep fried meat piled high on a silver platter and presented with a side of creamy ranch dressing. Don’t even think about using a knife and fork. Other dishes that passed the authenticity test: mac & cheese, deep fried dill pickle slices and sweet potatoes topped with toasted marshmallows (a Southern Thanksgiving favourite, apparently). The portion sizes are definitely authentic. No matter how careful you are, you will end up with more than you can eat in one sitting, as a customer of Pall Mall Barbers Spitalfields found out one Friday evening last Autumn.