St. Dunstan's Church, Stepney, East London - - 608397.jpg
Stepney Green Station.jpg
Half Moon, Stepney, E1 (3171916542).jpg
Genesis, Stepney, E1 (14210132458).jpg
Stepney Green - - 786480.jpg
Docklands Buses E218 & E217 on Route 135, Stepney Arbour Square (17451484524).jpg

Top from left: St. Dunstan's Church; Stepney Green tube station. Middle from left: Genesis cinema; Half Moon pub. Bottom from left: Stepney Green; route 135 at Arbour Square.
Stepney is located in Greater London
Location within Greater London
Population16,238 (2011 census. St Dunstan's and Stepney Green Ward)[1]
• Charing Cross3.6 mi (5.8 km) WSW
London borough
Ceremonial countyGreater London
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Post townLONDON
Postcode districtE1, E14
Dialling code020
EU ParliamentLondon
UK Parliament
London Assembly
List of places
51°30′55″N 0°02′46″W / 51°30′55″N 0°02′46″W / 51.5152; -0.0462

Stepney, also known as Stepney Green, is a district in the East End of London in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets that grew out of a merging of both a medieval village around St Dunstan's church and a 15th-century ribbon development of Mile End Road called Stepney Green. The district is not officially defined, and is usually used to refer to a relatively small area, however for much its history the place name applied to a much wider area.

The area was built up rapidly in the 19th century, mainly to accommodate immigrant workers and displaced London poor, and developed a reputation for poverty, overcrowding, violence and political dissent.[2] It was severely damaged during the Blitz, with over a third of housing totally destroyed; and then, in the 1960s, slum clearance and development replaced most residential streets with tower blocks and modern housing estates. Some Georgian architecture and Victorian era terraced housing survive in patches: for example Arbour Square, the eastern side of Stepney Green, and the streets around Matlock Street.[2][3]


The first surviving record of the place name is from around 1000 AD as Stybbanhyð, "Stybba's hyð"; hyð developed into hithe (meaning landing-place) in modern English, so "Stybba's landing-place". The parish of Stebbing in Essex also appears to have taken its name from an individual called Stybba.[4] The hithe itself is thought to have been at Ratcliff, just under half a mile south of St Dunstans Church.[5]