Timeline

Nelson Square – a history timeline

  • 1113 – Robert Marmyon gives ”the hide of Wideflete, with the mill and other of its appurtenances, to the monks of Bermundseye. Wideflete is later known as Parish-garden, later corrupted into Paris-garden
  • 1166 – the land is granted to the Knights Templars, based on the north side of the Thames
  • 1312 – on the suppression of the Templars area transferred to Knights Hospitallers of St. John of Jerusalem
  • 1420 – Duke of Bedford is granted status as farmer of the district. Becomes privileged place, a sanctuary even for criminals. The manor, now known as the Manor of Old Paris Garden was owned by, amongst others, Henry VIII, Jane Seymour, Lord Hunsdon
  • 1671 – The manor formed into the parish of Christchurch, whose borders even today represent the old manor. The area was bounded by a stream, probably the “Wideflete”, later Pudding Mill Stream, now an underground sewer. The area closest to the river was the most important, while the southern part, where Nelson Square is, was mostly open land
  • 1627 – one house is found on a map near Nelson Square
  • 1764 – situation still the same in Rocque’s map. Area is describer as “tenter-gounds”, used to dry cloth for the textile industries
  • early 1800’s – space between Charlotte Street (now Union Street) and Surrey Row is called Mr. Boyfield’s tenter ground
  • 1769 – opening of Blackfriars Bridge – a road is designed from the bridge to St. George’s Fields. Buildings start to appear along Great Surrey St. (later Blackfriars Road) on each side. Nelson Square is one of the last parts to be laid out
  • 1797 – probably the first mention of Nelson Square on “A new plan of London”
  • 1807-1814 Nelson Square is laid out
  • 1814 – Percy Bysshe Shelley is lodging in 26, Nelson Square
  • 1821 – cast iron pump is installed in the square by private subscription
  • 1891 – The Woman’s University Settlement moves to 44 (later Blackfriars Settlement)
  • 1897 – 13 July, the London County Council seeks parliamentary powers to remove a gate in Nelson Square. The plans go ahead when it is decided that the park should be transferred to a public body for maintenance as an open space
  • 1899 – 1 August, the council agrees to receive Nelson Square from the freeholder, Viscount Halifax. The arrangement will need to be approved by property owners in the square
  • 1903 – 8 April, a sum of £900 is contributed by the Southwark Borough Council for renovation and upkeep
  • 1903 – June, the land is transferred to Southwark Council. The garden is said to have been in a bad state, with dilapidated railings, walks and grass obliterated and the trees and shrubs, with the exception of seven plane trees, worthless. Six of these old plane trees still survive today in Nelson Square. The area of the garden is little over three-quarters of an acre. The oval garden is transformed into a parallelogram and a gravelled promenade is build to surround the seven plane trees
  • 1904 – formal opening of Nelson Square as a public park
  • 1931 – Nelson Square gets protection in law in the London Squares Preservation Act 1931
  • 1932 – London County Council erects a memorial tablet for Shelley on 26, Nelson Square
  • 1930s – houses in 1 to 6 Nelson Square are replaced by one commercial building, marked on one map as “motor works” or print works
  • 1941-1944 – majority of the buildings in Nelson Square are damaged by German bombing. The Ring is also destroyed.
  • 1946 – the Southwark (Nelson Square) Housing Confirmation Order allowing compulsory purchase
  • 1950 – Survey of London makes an inventory of the Square showing remaining assets
  • 1950 – Southwark Council decides in principle to build new dwellings to replace the war damaged buildings in the Square
  • 1950 – compulsory purchase orders are executed
  • 1950 – South London Press reports that building on the Square, the biggest housing project of Southwark Council, will be delayed
  • 1950 – original plans include a large new community building on the southern edge to replace Blackfriars Settlement
  • 1951 – March: the plans for housing for 1300 people are revealed. The design is made by Sydney Clough, Son and Partners and consists of three modern, streamlined blocks around the historic square
  • 1953 – June: The £500,000 tender to build the three “skyscrapers” is accepted
  • 1953 – September: building starts on the scheme, now estimated to cost £600,000
  • 1955-56 – The first block, Rowland Hill House is finished
  • 1957 – The project of the three blocks is finished, tenants move in to Vaughan House
  • 1960-62 Orbit House is built on the site left vacant by The Ring/Surrey Chapel
  • 1964 – Helen Gladstone House and adjoining maisonettes are built to complete the southern edge of the Square
  • 1972 – houses in 44-47 Nelson Square are listed and are still today the only remaining original buildings in the Square
  • 1976 – Nelson Square mentioned as a site for a “nursery” on a map
  • 2000 – Southwark council refurbishes the Square with new play areas and part new fence
  • 2000 – Southwark Underground station opens
  • 2006 – Palestra has replaced Orbit House
  • 2016 – Southwark parks department starts works to modernise Nelson Square extensively lasting until early 2017