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Poplar
Including Bow and Bromley-by-Bow
Key:  Current observations and notes   Holmes (1897)     Other sources        maps



All  Saintís Churchyard. 

A large ground, mainly laid to grass but with scattered memorials and some gravestones around the edge. Exhumation took place post war - maybe the crypt.  The area for Cholera victims across the road
is now under Newby Place Centre.

Size, with that part which was used for the burial of cholera victims, on the other side of the road, 4 acres. The northern part of the churchyard was laid out by the Metropolitan Public Gardens Association in 1893, the rector having undertaken to maintain it for a few years. It is much appreciated and well kept. (Holmes)


St. Matthiasís Churchyard.
As described by Mrs Holmes. The tombstones are now only in the fenced area next to the church, though originally it took up much more of the south part of the recreation  ground.
   In the north part of the recreation ground there is a very sad memorial to children killed at school by bombing in 1917: most of them were just five years old. 

This church was the chapel of the East India Dock Company, and is sometimes called Poplar Chapel.  It is in the middle of the Poplar Recreation Ground, closed and fairly tidy. There are many tombstones.
  (Holmes)

St. Mary's Churchyard, Bow.
A narrow ground in the middle of a busy road. The eastern part is fairly inaccessible. 

2,716 square yards. This is in two portions, the eastern one is closed, but the western one has been laid out by the Metropolitan Public Gardens Association and provided with seats, the rector maintaining it.
(Holmes)


Looking East towards the Church


Looking west towards the statue of Gladstone, who waves an imperious hand towards the (closed) gents urinal


St. Mary's Churchyard, Bromley-by-Bow, or Bromley St. Leonard.
The Saxon church was bombed in the war. The burial ground was much used by Huguenots in the 17th and 18th centuries. What is left is a small residue left over after building a new road (the A12) to the east, which completely obliterates the site of the church.   Described on a peeling notice as an 'adventurous playspace', this place would be a health hazard to any child foolish enough to play in it - an overgrown wilderness full of rubbish, with a few vandalised tombstones. Possibly the worst ground I have encountered in London, and a tragic state of affairs for an area with considerable history.
    A notice (2006) speaks of plans for redevelopment. It cannot come too soon. 


This churchyard is 1ľ acres in size and is closed, but very neatly kept up by the parish. and has some tombstones of  artistic value in it. Its opening as a public garden is under consideration.
(Holmes)

 




A bit too adventurous

 

As it was pre-war


Baptist Chapel-ground, Bow.

 The original chapel is gone, possibly bombed, and has been replaced by a modern building looking out on a flyover and a Macdonalds restaurant.  The site of the ground to the North west has an old wall, but is mainly built over - The new chapel may have been moved further back away from the road, over part of the ground.

⅓ acre. Part of this ground is railed off as a private garden, the rest is used as a thoroughfare by  the school-children. There are several tombstones, some of which have been put against the walls. (Holmes)



Looking towards the rear of the chapel. Present day view


The chapel pre-war


Trinity Congregational Chapel-ground, East India Dock Road 

A large open grassy area on the north side the East india Dock Rd. Only part of this (the area to the north) is burial ground - the part to the south is the site of a demolished school and other buildings. 
  The ground was inhabited by al fresco lager drinkers on my visit - they did not seem pleased to see me and my camera. 

⅓ acre. This was laid out in 1888 as a public garden, the minister of  the chapel maintaining it. On his removal from the district it was closed and has not been reopened.
(Holmes)


Roman Catholic ground, Wade's Place.
A much more cheerful prospect than that described by Walker. Now the playground of the Holy Family R.C. Primary School.  The burial ground was the area to the front of the school, alongside Wade's place. The school is much bigger than in Mrs. Holmes' day and may have encroached on the ground. 

  1,300 square yards. this belonged to St. Mary's Roman Catholic Church in Finsbury circus, Moorfields, and was chiefly used for the poor Irish. It was a very damp, unwholesome ground. It is now used as a playground for the adjoining Roman Catholic school. (Holmes)

There is a burial ground belonging to this chapel in Poplar, where a great many of the poor Irish are interred; this place too is very full; the ground is very damp, and cannot be dug beyond five or six feet "without coming to water;" many of the bodies lie near the surface, slightly covered over with earth; the neighbourhood is thickly inhabited, much sickness latterly prevailed, both among children and adults.
(
Walker 1839)


City of London and Tower Hamlet Cemetery  
The cemetery closed for burials in 1967.  Since then is has been through a period of neglect, but since 1990 it has been run by the Friends of Tower Hamlets Cemetery  and is now flourishing as a local nature reserve and open space. 
Go to the links page to connect to the Friends website. 

Partly in Mile End. 33 acres. First used in 1841. By 1889, 247,000 bodies had been interred here, many being buried in common graves. It is still in use and open daily, a regular ocean of tombstones, many of which are lying about, apparently uncared for and unclaimed.  In fact, most of the graves, except those at the edges of the walks, look utterly neglected, and parts of the ground are very untidy It is situated in a densely populated district. (Holmes)


Present day views.
(top two pictures by kind permission of Mr Ken Russell. See links for details of Ken's website)