Inventory Site Record

Poplar Park (Tower Hamlets)

Brief Description

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.

Practical Information
Previous / Other name:
Poplar Recreation Ground
Site location:
East India Dock Road/Poplar High Street/Woodstock Terrace, Poplar
What 3 Words:
Type of site:
Public Gardens
Tower Hamlets
Open to public?
Opening times:
8am - dusk
Special conditions:
Playgrounds, enclosed tennis courts, sports pitches
Public transport:
DLR: All Saints, West Ferry, Poplar, Blackwall. Bus: 15, 115, 40, D6, D7, D8.
Research updated:
Last minor changes:

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

Full Site Description

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.

Sources consulted:

Harold Clunn, the Face of London (c1950); Bancroft Library, Clippings; LBTH 'St Matthias Church Poplar Conservation Area Character Appraisal', 2007

Further Information (Planning and Conservation)
Grid ref:
TQ377809 (537750,180950)
Size in hectares:
Site ownership:
LB Tower Hamlets
Site management:
Leisure Services, Parks and Open Spaces
C17th; 1867
Listed structures:
LBII: Memorial in Recreation Ground
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:
St Matthias Church Poplar
Tree Preservation Order:
Nature Conservation Area:
Green Belt:
Metropolitan Open Land:
Special Policy Area:
Other LA designation:

Poplar Park

Memorial Garden, Poplar Park, September 2011. Photo: S Williams

Memorial, Poplar Park, September 2011. Photo: S Williams
Poplar Park with St Matthias Church behind, September 2011. Photo: S Williams
Poplar Park, September 2011. Photo: S Williams
Entrance Gate, Poplar Park, April 2000. Photo: S Williams

Click a photo to enlarge.

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