|Poplar Park||Tower Hamlets|
Poplar Recreation Ground was laid out on a site that contained the former burial ground and almshouses of the East India Company merchants, which dates from the C17th. After the Company's property transferred to the Crown in 1858, the almshouses were demolished and the site was laid out as a public park by the Metropolitan Board of Works. It was opened to the public in 1867.
The information shown above was correct at the time of the last update 01/09/2011
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Memorial Garden, Poplar Park, September 2011. Photo: S Williams
Click photo to enlarge.
Poplar Recreation Ground was laid out on the former burial ground and almshouses of the East India Company merchants by the Metropolitan Board of Works, and opened to the public in 1867. The East India Company's Hospital or Almshouses were initially established on Poplar High Street in 1628 to provide for disabled seamen of the Company, whose Poplar Chapel, now St Matthias Church (q.v.) was built here by 1654. The Almshouses were rebuilt in 1798-1806 as separate groups of buildings north and south of a rectilinear open space. Founded in 1600, the East India Company established its shipyard at Blackwall to the south, and this led to the growth of the small hamlet of Poplar particularly when the West and East India Docks were built in the early C19th. East India Dock Road was built between 1806-12 and public buildings, shops and houses were built along Poplar High Street. In 1858 the East India Company property was transferred to the Crown and in 1866 Poplar Chapel was consecrated as the new parish church of St Matthias. The East India Company almshouses to the north of the church were demolished in 1866 and the site laid out as Poplar Recreation Ground, now renamed Poplar Park.
Adjacent to the park is St Matthias Church (q.v.), and Harold Clunn, writing in 1950, remarked that 'the church...is surrounded by four acres of lawns and shrubberies, including tennis courts and greens'. There was a Bowling Green added in 1910 and a putting green in 1954. Near the main entrance on East India Dock Road is a Memorial to 18 children killed at an LCC school in Upper North Street by a German bomb on 13 June 1917, erected by public subscription. There are various areas of ornamental planting, lawns and perimeter shrubs with good variety of plants, and numerous mature trees throughout, largely plane. Near the Memorial by the entrance from East India Dock Road is a formal planted area with a railed central circular bed surrounded by wooden seats in a paved area (some York stone/some brick/some paving slabs) with raised beds forming the outer circle. The park has its original stone gate piers on East India Dock Road, and old iron railings around the perimeter on three sides.
Harold Clunn, the Face of London (c1950); Bancroft Library, Clippings; LBTH 'St Matthias Church Poplar Conservation Area Character Appraisal', 2007