Inventory Site Record

Stepney Green Gardens (Tower Hamlets)

Brief Description

Stepney Green Gardens are remnants of Mile End Green, which was the largest of several commons in the Manor of Stepney. The four long narrow strips of garden are the last remaining part of the fields where Richard II met the rebels in the Peasant's Revolt of 1381. In the late C17th a strip from the northern end to a line at right angles to the large No. 71 letterbox was enclosed and planted with rows of trees to screen several large country houses from the highway. A gravel path was also made, now the narrow roadway along the eastern side of gardens. In 1872 local campaigns to save the long strip of land from developers led to the creation of the four public gardens by the Metropolitan Board of Works.

Practical Information
Previous / Other name:
Mile End Green; Stepney Green
Site location:
Stepney Green
Postcode:
E1
Type of site:
Public Gardens
Borough:
Tower Hamlets
Open to public?
Yes
Opening times:
unrestricted
Special conditions:
Facilities:
Events:
Public transport:
Tube: Stepney Green (District/Hammersmith & City). Bus: 25
Research updated:
01/07/2009
Last minor changes:
26/02/2021

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

Full Site Description

Stepney Green Gardens, together with Stepney Green Park and Mile End Waste (q.q.v.), are remnants of Stepney Green, formerly known as Mile End Green, which was the largest of several commons in the Manor of Stepney. It extended from St Dunstan's Church (q.v.) to Whitechapel; part of the southern boundary ran along what is now Stepney Green Park, Redman's Road and Adelina Grove, and the common was crossed by the main road from Essex to the City of London, now Mile End Road and Whitechapel Road. It is shown as Mile End Green in Gascoyne's Map of 1703.

The four long narrow strips of garden are the last remaining part of the fields where Richard II met the rebels in the Peasant's Revolt of 1381. By the C18th it had become a pleasant country retreat; between 1669 and 1684 a strip from the northern end to a line at right angles to the large No. 71 letterbox was enclosed and planted with rows of trees to screen several large country houses from the highway. A gravel path was also made, which is now the narrow roadway along the eastern side of the public gardens. The remaining strip of green or common, now occupied by the end of the second garden and the first garden to the south, was used for elections to the parliamentary borough of Tower Hamlets between 1832 and 1867 where candidates spoke to crowds from a covered wooded platform called the hustings. The East End Chartists gathered here on 10 April 1848 to march to a great meeting on Kennington Common. In 1872 local campaigns to save the long strip of land from developers led to the creation of the four public gardens by the Metropolitan Board of Works. The narrow roadway separating the gardens from the houses is paved with Tees Scoriae bricks made in Middlesbrough from slag from local iron furnaces.

Stepney Green Court to the east of the first garden was built as Stepney Green Dwellings by Lord Rothschild's Four Per Cent Industrial Dwellings Company. Nos. 61 and 63 are remnants of a terrace of 7 houses built c.1762 on the site of an old country house owned in 1703 by Captain Heath, and previously the home of Admiral Sir John Berry and Lady Rebecca Berry. No. 37 Stepney Green is the oldest house in Stepney, built in 1694 for London merchant Dormer Sheppard. It was bought by Lady Mary Gayer, widow of the East India Company's Governor of Bombay in 1714, and her monogram is incorporated into the wrought iron gateway. Isaac Lefevre, grandson of a Huguenot refugee, lived here from 1764-1811, a wealthy distiller and banker who is buried in St Dunstan's churchyard (q.v.) with his wife, who was the grand-daughter of Oliver Cromwell's niece. The house was occupied by wealthy families until 1875 and then became the Jewish Home for Elderly Jews until 1907; from then until 1915 it was used for The Craft School before the school moved to the site of Globe Road Memorial Garden (q.v.). In 1916-1998 it was used for various council offices. No. 35 was used by local authorities from 1913 when it became Stepney Dispensary for the Prevention of Consumption; a stone tablet over the door records funds raised. Nos. 35-29 were built in c.1739 by a bricklayer from Ratcliff; No. 29 is named Roland House after Captain Roland Philipps, who was killed at the Battle of the Somme in 1916 and left the house to the Boy Scouts as its headquarters and settlement for East London.

Sources consulted:

Central Stepney History Walk, Tom Ridge (Central Stepney Regeneration Board) 1998; Ben Weinreb & Christopher Hibbert, 'The London Encyclopaedia' (Macmillan, revised ed. 1993).

Further Information (Planning and Conservation)
Grid ref:
TQ355818 (535627,181841)
Size in hectares:
0.5273
Site ownership:
LB Tower Hamlets
Site management:
Leisure Services, Parks and Open Spaces
Date(s):
early C18th; late C19th
Designer(s):
Listed structures:
None
On National Heritage List for England (NHLE), Parks & Gardens:

No
Registered common or village green on Commons Registration Act 1965:

No
Protected under London Squares Preservation Act 1931:

Yes

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:
Yes
In Conservation Area:
Yes
Conservation Area name:
Stepney Green
Tree Preservation Order:
No
Nature Conservation Area:
No
Green Belt:
No
Metropolitan Open Land:
No
Special Policy Area:
No
Other LA designation:
None
Photos

Stepney Green Gardens

Stepney Green Gardens, July 2009. Photo: S Williams

Stepney Green Gardens, July 2009. Photo: S Williams
2009
Stepney Green Gardens, July 2009. Photo: S Williams
2009
Stepney Green Gardens, July 2009. Photo: S Williams
2009

Click a photo to enlarge.

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