London's East End Synagogues, cemeteries and more......

My personal journey through the Jewish East End of London

Inside the former Soup Kitchen for the Jewish Poor, Brune Street, London E1 - recent photos and memories are below:

Veteran East End actor Harry Landis recalls visiting the soup kitchen:

The Jewish Board of Guardians in Middlesex Street was where my mother went for a chit which allowed her to go to the soup kitchen in Brune Street. That soup kitchen is still there for all to see. Now converted into flats, the front of the building is listed and the writing above the entrance says:“SOUP KITCHEN FOR THE JEWISH POOR (5662 -1902)”.

With me in one hand and a saucepan in the other, my mother would stride in and follow the queue to get a dollop of stew and a loaf of bread. Outside by the exit I remember a group of about 20 or 30 non-Jews asking for some bread and my mother breaking her loaf in half and handing it over.

The Jewish Board of Guardians was a rather forbidding place.  Applicants had to sit in front of a committee. They were not very friendly and cross-examined people with the air of disapproval that Jews should find themselves in these circumstances. My mother lied and said she had two children, so as to get a bigger ladle of stew and bigger loaf. I was running around the hall not taking much notice, when the chairman called me over. “Tell me,” he said, “have you got a sister?” Some instinct took over and I said:“Yes.” “What’s her name?” he asked. Quick as a flash I said: “Rosie”. My mother got the extra and I got lots of kisses and my first lesson in ducking and diving in East End life.

It's not often (ever?) that you get invited to see the interior of the Brune Street Soup kitchen...but it happened to me.  Below is what I saw.  Meanwhile, at the bottom of this page are some facts, figures and history concerning the Soup Kitchen......Brune Street Soup kitchen, more

View from the top floor flat over the barn like dining area at the back of the soup kitchen. Benches were set out in rows for people to sit down & eat

The view into the 'In' entrance of the kitchen from Brune Street

View from inside towards the 'In' door. 'Customers' would enter and turn to their left for processing before eating in the shed at the back

The top floor flat had a glass roof just like a Huguenot weaver's attic workshop

Top floor flat view out of the big window

View from top floor flat looking into Brune Street. The three people in the street are filming an edition of BBC's 'Heir Hunters'

Inside of the central front door of the kitchen. The kitchen's 'menu' board is the large square grey slate carefully preserved on the right hand wall

Another menu board is in the front room just off the main entrance hall of what is now a beautiful flat

Original glazed wooden partition to the rear of the corridor from the main entrance

In the basement looking through the grill positioned at street level - Brune Street. A big thank you to Phil and Neville for showing me round.

On my 1923 map of London Brune Street is named Butler Street - click on map left to see and enlarge. Opposite Butler Street marked boldly on the map is Jews Free School, Bell Lane.  Maybe the road was renamed after the War?  A 1932 article in the Jewish Chronicle announces:


Soup Kitchen for the Jewish Poor (established 1854), 17 - 19 Butler Street, Spitalfields E1

The Committee have pleasure in announcing that the kitchen will be opened for the ensuing Winter season by I.M. Sieff esq on Monday December 5th 1932 at 5.15pm, and they cordially invite all subscribers and friends to be present on that occasion.  The distribution of food will take place on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 5pm until 7pm throughout the whole Winter season.  This food consists of soup and bread on each of these evenings and Kosher margarine and sardines on alternative evenings.  In addition, pilchard and an extra portion of bread are given on Thursdays to help the poor over the weekend.  The soup kitchen is the only centre distributing food to the Jewish poor nightly during the week (except on Sabbath and Sunday).  Unfortunately the number having recourse to the kitchen has shown a steady increase in the last five years.  Last season food was given for over 4000 nightly, and indications for the coming Winter give every evidence of a further increase.  A donation of £5 15s will entitle the donor to a special distribution in his or her name to mark some special event.  The Committee feel sure that the Community will agree that supplying food and sustenance to our poorer co-religionists, which has been done by this institution for 78 years, must not cease, and they look forward with confidence to continued support. 

Donations and subscriptions will be very thankfully received by:  Samuel Samuel esq. D.L. M.P. President, Berkley House, Hay Hill, Berkeley Square W1. Gustav Tuck esq, Treasurer, 33 Upper Hamilton Terrace, NW8.  Colonel Frederick D Samuel DSO Hon Secretary, W1.  Any member of the committee, or the secretary Mr J H Taylor B.A. at the Soup Kitchen.

The Brune Sreet (Butler Street) Kitchen opened in Leman Street in 1854 and relocated to Butler Street (now Brune Street) in 1902.  In the 1950s it was still regularly feeding 1500 clients. When the premises closed in 1992 to merge with Jewish Care in Beaumont Grove it still had some 100 elderly clients on its books.

Below is my 1994 photo of the Brune Street Soup Kitchen, taken when the premises were derelict

website copyright of Philip Walker