|Bromley Recreation Ground||Tower Hamlets|
Bromley Recreation Ground was laid out on part of the former grounds of a C16th house named Tudor House, which was acquired in 1898 by the LCC, in order to create a new public park for this densely populated neighbourhood. The house was demolished, being in a poor state of repair, and the ground was laid out as a garden, with a bandstand, toilets and also a gymnasium for children. It was opened in April 1900. Facing onto the park is the Bromley by Bow Centre, a community arts centre established on the former Congregational Church that was adjacent to the house. The park has been re-landscaped since 1999.
The information shown above was correct at the time of the last update 01/11/2011
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Bromley Recreation Ground and War Memorial, November 2011. Photo: S Williams
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Bromley Recreation Ground was laid out on the former site of Tudor House and its grounds, which was purchased for £6,088 on 13 June 1898 by the LCC in order to convert the grounds into a public garden. One of the local advocates for provision of this public open space was Will Crooks (1852-1921), a member of Poplar Board of Trustees and one of the two representatives for Poplar elected onto the LCC. In 1901 he became mayor of Poplar Borough Council, which was established in 1900 and he was also instrumental in the creation of Island Gardens (q.v.) and Tunnel Gardens. A late C16th house, Tudor House was so-called because it had been owned by a family called Tudor who came to Bromley to join the Scotch colony founded by James I, who reputedly built the Old Palace in the village. The grounds are shown on John Rocque's Map of c.1741 stretching as far as Devons Road. The state of the house at the time of purchase by the LCC is in some doubt since C R Ashbee writing in 1900 describes it as being 'in excellent condition', but Lt Col J J Sexby, LCC's Head of Parks, wrote in 1898 that the 'old mansion' was 'much in need of repair' but at that time its fate 'had not been settled'.
At the time of sale Tudor House was owned by trustees of the late George Gammon Rutty, and its grounds of 1.5 acres fronted onto St Leonards Street, adjacent to the Congregational Church. Part of the grounds between the church and the house formed the garden while the remainder of the grounds were covered by workshops and stables. In the garden was an C18th rusticated stone arch designed by William Kent that was originally a riverside entrance of Northumberland House in The Strand, which Rutty had purchased to ornament his garden when Northumberland House was demolished in 1874. Other ornamentation in Rutty's garden described in 1900 included a C19th wooden ship's figurehead as well as statuary and figures of more recent date. The grounds were laid out by the LCC as a public garden and it was opened as Bromley Recreation Ground in April 1900, and the house was demolished. A bandstand, toilets and also a gymnasium for children were provided.
The park is now flanked by Bromley-by-Bow Centre, which was designed by Wyatt MacLaren in 1985 when new buildings were incorporated into the former Congregational Church and Church Hall to provide a crèche and community centre. The church had suffered bomb damage and had been rebuilt in 1958 and by 1984 it was already being used to provide community art workshops and studios, following the arrival of Revd. Andrew Mawson. Formerly in the north wall of the recreation ground, the arch was re-erected in 1998 on St Leonards Street as the entrance to the Healthy Living Centre, built in 1995 next to the church, also designed by Wyatt McLaren, which opened in 1997. Re-landscaping of the park took place following this and in 2000 a new building was built next to the Church Hall, providing additional community facilities including the Pie in the Sky café that now opens onto the park. In 2005 planning permission was granted for a green-roofed timber building in the park, and when this was built further landscaping was undertaken by Wyatt McLaren, including a new mound, amphitheatre and playgrounds. A War Memorial has been re-sited near the entrance to the gardens. The park now has a herb garden, a number of sculptures, and tiled motifs made by local children in the path. It is locally referred to as Bob's Park after a popular park keeper. The Centre now provides community facilities as well as workshops and studios for craftspeople and artists.
J J Sexby 'The Municipal Parks, Gardens and Open Spaces of London', 1898; C R Ashbee (ed) 'Survey of London, Vol 1: Bromley-by-Bow' (1900);'The London County Council and what it does for London: London Parks and Open Spaces' (Hodder & Stoughton, 1924); Bridget Cherry, Charles O'Brien, Nikolaus Pevsner, 'The Buildings of England, London 5: East', Yale University Press, 2005