CURTAIN ROAD – The present St. Leonard’s Church, Shoreditch, occupies the site of a church at least as old as the thirteenth century. The old church, which had four gables and a low square tower, was taken down in 1736 and the present ugly church built by the elder Dance in 1740. Near St. Leonard’s Church stood two of the earliest London theatres, the “Curtain” and “The Theatre.”
The site of the first of these is still marked by Curtain Road, the headquarters of the furniture and upholstery trades in London. The Curtain theatre is mentioned as early as 1577, before Shakespeare came to London. It gradually, like many similar theatres, sank into a mere boxing-saloon, This view was taken from Great Eastern Street, which leads up to Shoreditch, near the Bishopsgate Station of the Great Eastern Railway.
As one strolls down Curtain Road towards Old Street, one cannot help but admire the beautiful articles of furniture displayed in the windows of the great warehouses. But it must not be supposed that the windows in this road are set out with such artistic cunning as is displayed, say, in Regent Street; far from it. Most of the warehouses in Curtain Road only transact a wholesale trade, and handsome furniture is placed in the window in much the same way as it would be stored in a spacious warehouse far from the public eye.
Although splendid fittings and furniture are made in Curtain Road for palatial mansions, this busy thoroughfare is far fro being fashionable, swarming as it odes with workgirls, men, and boys. The head-quarters staff of the Metropolitan Fire Brigade know but too well the importance of the message, “An outbreak in Curtain Road.”