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Archaeological dig in east London could uncover the 13th century White Chapel

PUBLISHED: 18:01 13 October 2010

Senior Archaeologist Dave Sankey and Laurie Elrin work at the excavation site in Altab Ali Park, Whitechapel.

Senior Archaeologist Dave Sankey and Laurie Elrin work at the excavation site in Altab Ali Park, Whitechapel.

Archant

ON a Whitechapel site teeming with history, pupils from two local schools as well as keen amateur archaeologists have been trying to uncover the medieval church which gave the area its name this week.

Pupils from two local schools as well as keen amateur archaeologists have been trying to uncover the medieval church in Whitechapel which gave the area its name this week.

Altab Ali Park in Whitechapel Road, home to various versions of the church of St. Mary’s Matfelun and its associated burial ground since the 13th century, has been turned into an excavation site as part of a project to find remains of the original White Chapel.

Young students from Canon Barnett school in Gunthorpe Street and the Mulberry School for Girls in Richard Street have been given their own trench in which they have discovered pieces of plates, bricks and tiles including items from the Victorian period while in a nearby adult trench, volunteer history buffs have already uncovered the wall of the 19th century version of the church.

Alison Telfer, a project officer from the Museum of London Archaeology, based in Eagle Wharf Road, Shoreditch, said: “It is nice for the children to be able to dig here and uncover things which could be around 100 years old.

“There is always the chance that we could uncover some older remains as well.”

The church has had a chequered past, having been rebuilt after fires in the 1600s and 1800s, before being bombed during the Blitz and then demolished.

The volunteers, supervised by a team from the museum, were cleaning back further layers of soil in the hope of finding chalk fragments or whole sections of one of the walls of the 13th century chapel.

Volunteers can participate from 2pm to 5pm until Friday.

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