This thin strip of land next to the busy roads of Bethnal Green is the rather inappropriately named Paradise Gardens.
The gardens are enclosed by historic black painted railings, and shrubs around the edges. A path winds its way from the southern tip to the north-eastern corner, where it joins the pavement on Cambridge Heath Road. It used to be known rather more accurately as Bethnal Green Gardens, with Paradise Row running as a quaint line of old houses along one side.
Developed from 1890 onwards, the majority of buildings along Paradise Row are now Grade II listed.
The garden was declared as common land around 1678 and in 1690, the Poor’s Land Trust Deed was drawn up, which referred to the land, ‘enclosed for the prevention of any new buildings thereon’. The deed covered three pieces of enclosed land to the east of the ‘King’s Highway’ (now Cambridge Heath Road), and a small unenclosed piece to the west.”
It used to be leased out for farming, with the income used to alleviate poverty, but it’s now a public park for all to use.
The building to the north end is the Bethnal Green Mission Church, or at least some of it is — as it’s a newly built block of flats, with the flats funding the cost of refurbishing the Mission. The building also picked up the cost of refurbishing the northern end of the park, which is why there’s now a very noticeable demarcation in the grounds between the newer pavements and the older.
A new cafe has opened at the northern end as well, which in part was to give the church an income, but also as a form of social control, as there were complaints of anti-social behaviour in the park, and it is expected that gentlefolk sipping coffee will drive the rough folk gulping alcohol to a less visible place.