Inventory Site Record

All Saints Churchyard, Poplar (Tower Hamlets)

Brief Description

All Saints' Church was built for the newly created parish of Poplar to serve the rapidly developing population. The churchyard was re-ordered on the north side as a public garden by the MPGA in 1893, completed 1905. The chapel of St Frideswide was incorporated into the church when St Frideswide's Church was bombed in WWII and All Saints also suffered some damage. To the south of the church is a small railed-off Garden of Remembrance, with flowerbeds and some chest tombs. Headstones are generally arranged round the perimeter of the garden, which has mature perimeter trees and fine C19th railings.

Practical Information
Previous / Other name:
Poplar Parish Church of All Saints with St Frideswide's
Site location:
East India Dock Road/Newby Place/Bazeley Street, Poplar
What 3 Words:
Type of site:
Public Gardens
Tower Hamlets
Open to public?
Opening times:
8am - dusk. Church usually open between 12 and 2 daily, according to notice.
Special conditions:
Public transport:
DLR: All Saints
Research updated:
Last minor changes:

Please check with the site owner or manager for latest news. www.towerhamlets.gov.uk

Full Site Description

All Saints' Church was built in 1821-23 for the newly created parish of Poplar. The hamlet of Poplar originated in the C14th and was one of the hamlets in the large parish of Stepney. The need for a new parish church arose as the area saw rapid development as a result of the shipping industry; the West India Dock was established in 1803 and East India Dock in 1805. The new parish was established in 1817 by Act of Parliament and Poplar Parish Council then sought a site for its church, burial ground and rectory, purchasing the house, garden and field belonging to a Mrs Ann Newby, whose name is recalled in Newby Place. The foundation stone of the church was laid by the Bishop of London on 2 March 1821. Following a competition, the church was designed by Charles Hollis and built in Portland stone, with an Ionic porch, and a steeple after Wren and Gibbs. The cost to build the church was £33,999, which was raised by local rates and by loans, including one from the ship-builder and philanthropist George Green, that were later taken over by the West India Company. The northern part of Newby Place was extended to East India Dock Road, and the Rectory, also designed by Hollis, was built here in 1822-3. Other buildings on Newby Place included a fire-engine station built in 1822, a school in 1846, which was rebuilt in 1870 when a new Town Hall was erected and a Parish Institute in 1910. The Town Hall was later demolished following bombing in WWII, and although the Institute survived bomb damage it was later demolished when Discovery House was built in the early 1960s. To the south of the churchyard, two terraces on Montague Place built in the 1820s survive, with a short terrace on Bazeley Street dating from 1845.

During WWI the funeral service was held here for the 18 Poplar school children killed in the first daylight raid on London on 13 June 1917. They were buried in East London Cemetery (q.v.) and a memorial was erected in Poplar Recreation Ground, now renamed Poplar Park (q.v.). In WWII the church crypt was used as an air-raid shelter. The crypt later became a Community Centre in 1989 and 76 bodies were then re-interred in East London Cemetery. The area was a target for bombing due to the proximity of the docks, and the church was damaged on a number of occasions. The east end of the church was destroyed by a V2 rocket when the roof came down, and was later restored in the 1950s. The chapel of St Frideswide was incorporated into the church when St Frideswide's Church was bombed in WWII.

Following its closure, the churchyard that surrounds the church was re-ordered on the north side as a public garden by the MPGA in 1893. The new garden layout was by Fanny Wilkinson, the MPGA's landscape gardener, who laid out over 75 public gardens in London, many of them disused burial grounds. Madeline Agar took over from Wilkinson as MPGA landscape gardener in 1905, a position she held for almost 25 years. Over that time she became a successful garden designer, writer and teacher, and a fellow of the Institute of Landscape Architects. Agar laid out the remainder of All Saints' churchyard in 1905 and it was officially opened in July 1906, when the maintenance of the grounds was handed over to the local Borough council.

The site is enclosed by early C19th railings on low parapet walls on south, east and south-west flanks with C19th granite and Portland stone piers with anthemion crestings. There is a row of early C19th houses to the south. To the south of the church is a small railed-off Garden of Remembrance, with flowerbeds and some fine chest tombs. Headstones are generally arranged round the perimeter of the garden, directly against the railings, with some chest tombs and other monuments, and a number of gravestones are also among a shrubbery area adjacent to the church on north.

Across Newby Place to the west of the church two areas of green space fronting a range of buildings were probably remnants of the original churchyard with impressive stone gate piers at the entrances and iron railings to the street similar to those which surround the church site. The building at the junction of Newby Place and East India Dock Road is now undergoing development but was previously Newby Place Centre, which included a Surgery with a small garden area around it. This was largely grass with some shrubs, box hedging, and mature plane trees plus a granite memorial with the inscription: "to perpetuate the sacred character of this ground consecrated and used for the interments of inhabitants of this parish. This monumental stone was erected by the Vestrymen of All Saints Poplar on the closing of this portion of the churchyard ADMDCCCLIX".

Sources consulted:

Ben Weinreb & Christopher Hibbert, 'The London Encyclopaedia' (Macmillan, revised ed. 1993); Church leaflet; LB Tower Hamlets, 'All Saints Poplar Conservation Area Character Appraisal and Management Guidelines', 2007; Elizabeth Crawford, 'Enterprising Women: The Garretts and their Circle' (Francis Boutle Publishers, 2nd ed. 2009). Also see www.eastlondonpostcard.co.uk. Additional research on Madeline Agar by LPGT Research Volunteer Margaret King, 2020.

Further Information (Planning and Conservation)
Grid ref:
TQ380809 (538050,180950)
Size in hectares:
Site ownership:
LB Tower Hamlets
Site management:
Leisure Services, Parks and Open Spaces
1821-23; 1893
MPGA - Fanny Wilkinson (1893), Madeline Agar (1905)
Listed structures:
LBII*: All Saints' Church. LBII: Railed wall and gate piers, Nos. 5-121 consec. Montague Place, Nos. 45-51 odd Montague Place
On National Heritage List for England (NHLE), Parks & Gardens:

Registered common or village green on Commons Registration Act 1965:

Protected under London Squares Preservation Act 1931:


Local Authority Data

The information below is taken from the relevant Local Authority's planning legislation, which was correct at the time of research but may have been amended in the interim. Please check with the Local Authority for latest planning information.

On Local List:
In Conservation Area:
Conservation Area name:
All Saints Church
Tree Preservation Order:
Nature Conservation Area:
Green Belt:
Metropolitan Open Land:
Special Policy Area:
Other LA designation:

All Saints Churchyard, Poplar

All Saints Churchyard, September 2011. Photo: S Williams

All Saints Churchyard looking south, September 2011. Photo: S Williams
Entrance gates on Newby Place, All Saints Churchyard, April 2000. Photo: S Williams
All Saints Churchyard, April 2000. Photo: S Williams
Garden of Remembrance, All Saints Churchyard, April 2000. Photo: S Williams

Click a photo to enlarge.

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