Limehouse is a place in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets. It is on the northern bank of the River Thames opposite Cuckold's Point . Geographically, Limehouse is commonly thought to be centred on Narrow Street and the Limehouse Basin.
Sir Humphrey Gilbert (1539 - 1578), the exponent of opening up the Northwest Passage lived here. This inspired Martin Frobisher to sail to Greenland returning with a mysterious black rock. Gilbert set up the Society of the New Art with Lord Burghley and the Earl of Leicester who had their alchemical laboratory in Limehouse. However their attempts to transmute the black rock into gold proved fruitless. (Humphrey's brother Adrian Gilbert was reputed a great alchemist and worked closely with John Dee.)
St Anne's Limehouse was built by Nicholas Hawksmoor. A pyramid originally planned to be put atop the tower now stands in the graveyard. The church is next door to Limehouse Town Hall. For several years this housed the National Museum of Labour History and included trade union banners and other artefacts including the table that once belonged to Peter Kropotkin, the Russian Anarchist Prince. Now it is the home of the FacultyUnix FreeBSD workshops, Boxing Club and the Space Hijackers. Across the road is the Sailors' Mission , where the Situationist International held its conference in 1960. The building subsequently became a run down hostel for the homeless which became notorious for its squalor.
The Limehouse area was also notorious for opium dens in the late 19th century. This notion of limehouse as a lurid, crime-ridden area was often featured in pulp fiction works by Sax Rohmer and others. Like much of the East End it was a focus for immigration, particularly by Chinese people. As the community prospered it moved west to the current Chinatown in Soho.
Limehouse library has a statue of Clement Attlee, who was Member of Parliament for Limehouse from 1922 and Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1945 to 1951.
On January 25, 1981 MPs Shirley Williams, Roy Jenkins, William Rodgers and David Owen made the Limehouse Declaration from Owen's house in Limehouse, which announced the formation of the Council for Social Democracy in opposition to the granting of block votes to the trade unions in the Labour Party to which they had previously belonged. They soon became leading politicians in the Social Democratic Party.
From Sunday May 11 to Sunday June 15, 2003 the Cartographic Congress, a meeting of maps and mapmakers from all corners of cartography took place in Limehouse Town Hall.
Last updated: 05-13-2005 07:56:04