This square (well, long rectangle) in Paddington owes its origins to the same beginnings as nearby Talbot Square around the corner. It sits on top of a filled-in water reservoir built before the area developed with the arrival of the railways.

As so much of the area was, it was laid out with tall, stocco-clad buildings surrounding a private garden. Planting aside, the garden also had a very different architectural appearance when built, as there was a large church at the far end.

All Saints’ Church was built in 1847, in the Early Pointed style but was badly damaged by fire in 1894. It was partially rebuilt with a red brick building. The church didn’t last much longer after that as the parish was merged with St Micheal and All Angels, and the church building was sold to the Royal Association in Aid of the Deaf and Dumb in 1923. They only planned to keep it as a temporary site, as they had a site in Shepherds Bush, but they lingered for far longer than expected.

In fact, the church building became a church again in 1952 when nearby St Michael’s Chuch on Star Street was closed, and the congregation decamped to this location. The end finally came in 1961 when the church building was demolished and replaced by a residential home for the elderly, Edna House, which opened in October 1964.

Turning your back on Edna House and towards the gardens, you’ll find a long space filled with London Plane trees and a layout that can be described as in two halves. At one end, a small patch of decorative box hedging gives the park a Victorian feel, but as you walk along, the dominant feature becomes feathered.

This end of the park is full of pigeons. It’s absolutely packed with flying rats who seem to be hanging around like a gang of delinquent teenagers.

The rest of the long park is more simply laid out. It has a long lawn broken by the occasional tree and lined with a path and bedding plants.

The appearance isn’t the same as when the gardens were created in the 1840s though.

By the 1970s, the gardens had fallen into disrepair, as had much of the area around it. Finally, in 1986, Westminster Council used a compulsory purchase order to buy the land following a decade of campaigning by local residents. A £300,000 restoration followed and the gardens opened to the public in October 1990.

It’s been open ever since.


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