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White Chapel uncovered

PUBLISHED: 17:36 05 October 2010

THE search is on for the original White Chapel, with residents being urged to put on their hard hats and help dig up a piece of history.

THE search is on for the original White Chapel, with residents being urged to put on their hard hats and help dig up a piece of history.

Next week archaeologists will descend on Altab Ali Park in the hope of uncovering the 13th Century Chapel of the Blessed Mary of Matfelun – better known as the ‘White Chapel’ where the area got its name.

Residents will be able to work alongside the archaeologists as they excavate the field and later examine relics.

From Monday October 11 to Friday October 15 the park will be transformed into an open-air museum, led by the Museum of London and muf Architecture/Art on behalf of Tower Hamlets Council.

The legendary medieval church has had a tumultuous history. By 1673 the church was in such a dire state it was demolished and rebuilt with the original steeple.

In the 1870s it was again rebuilt, burning down just ten years later. In 1882 it was yet again rebuilt with the previous church’s tower.

But during the Blitz St Mary’s Church, as it had then become known, was so badly damaged it was again completely demolished.

In 1988 St Mary’s Churchyard was re-named Altab Ali Park, after the young Bangladeshi man who was murdered nearby in a racially motivated attack.

Director of development and renewal at Tower Hamlets Council, Aman Dalvi, said: “Activities on this stretch of road have played an important role in shaping the history of London.

“As we look forward to this future, and the improvements that will be made through the High Street 2012 regeneration programme, it is the perfect opportunity for residents to get involved in celebrating the history of this unique area.”

The public excavation (for over 18 year olds) will be between 2pm and 5pm each day. To book a place email Claire@muf.co.uk or call 020 7251 4004.

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