This is a municipal garden square that offers a calm quiet patch of greenery just a few moments from King’s Cross station.
The area was first developed into housing following the collapse of the Royal Panarmonion Gardens, a local pleasure garden that was famous for a human-powered monorail. The pleasure gardens included a theatre and the railway, and despite positive reviews when it opened in 1830, it closed just two years later and the land was sold off.
The area was quickly redeveloped into housing instead and the current street layout and the garden square settled at the time.
The garden though underwent redevelopment shortly after it was laid out. Originally it was laid out with a walkway around the edges and a central path, but that was swiftly changed into a layout with paths crossing the square linking the four corners. It seems likely that a lot of local residents were using it as a convenient crossing, so why not just accept that and change the layout accordingly.
All the housing surrounding the square, except the soon to be demolished warehouse to the north, is Grade II listed. If you suspect the eastern side looks cleaner than the western side, that’s because the eastern side is a post-war rebuild as the whole row was badly damaged by nearby bomb impact, so the brickwork lacks the classic dark victorian pollution colouring.
The area has seen a lot of changes over the past two hundred years. Originally built as third-class housing flats for people of modest means, for a while in the 19th century though the area was quite well to do after the New Jerusalem Church (Swedenborgian) opened to the south of the square. That brought an influx of middle-class people to the square, but the church was damaged during WW2 and later demolished.
The park became a bit of a haunt of ladies of the night in the 1970s-80s, and ended up being often closed to drive away such behaviour.
The gardens were eventually refurbished in the mid-1990s as part of the King’s Cross Estate Action Programme which saw a lot of the privacy providing bushes cut back to make the space much more open. The public park was also shrunk in size a bit as a sports pitch was added to the northern end, and the iron railings that surround the pocket park are modern reproductions after the originals had been removed during WW2.
Today it’s a fairly plain open square, but notable for the large number of London Plane trees that surround the central lawn and a decent amount of bedding planting around the sides. Plenty of seating makes it a pleasing space to have a break from the noise of nearby King’s Cross.