BETHNAL GREEN - London

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BEFORE NELSONS

'Before Nelsons' has no intentional reference to the Lord Nelson who so proudly dominates a part of our beautiful City from his lofty perch in Trafalgar Square, 52 meters above the pedestrians, although there may just be an ancestral link.
The Nelsons we refer to are the Nelsons Estate Agents group which originated nearby in 2002 and has since dominated the vibrant property market in this area, which was historically an agrarian hamlet in the ancient parish of Stepney, Middlesex.

The economic history of Bethnal Green is characterised by a shift away from agricultural provision for the City of London to market gardening, weaving and light industry, which has now all disappeared. The quality of the built environment on The Green had deteriorated by the turn of the 20th century and was radically reformed by the aerial bombardment of World War 2. Bethnal Green became a part of Greater London only in 1965, then from 2002 with the arrival of Estate Agents Bethnal Green, things really took off.

A BIT ABOUT BETHNAL

 

A Tudor ballad, the Blind Beggar of Bethnal Green, tells the story of an ostensibly poor man who gave a surprisingly generous dowry for his daughter's wedding. The tale furnishes the parish of Bethnal Green's coat of arms. According to one version of the legend, published in 1765, the beggar was said to be Henry, the son of Simon de Montfort and for a nice Pint you may visit The Blind Beggar Pub in Whitechapel which reputedly stands on the site of his begging, which proves why some people from the Middle Ages till 2013 will rather beg than work, they seem to do a damn site better without lifting a finger except the one they use to draw your attention, what with forking out a dowry fit for a princess, while he went a begging, cor blimey.

The GREEN and POOR

The Green and Poor's Land is what it was called, the area of open land now occupied by Bethnal Green Library, the V&A Museum of Childhood and St Johns Church. In 1598 the hamlet was called Blethenal Green. Nowadays transacted by Bethnal Green Estate Agents.
If you are a home owner in this 'Hamlet' you will be tickled pink, your house nearly never happened. In 1678 the owners of houses surrounding the Green purchased the land to save it from being built on and in 1690 the land was conveyed to a trust under which it was to be kept open and rent from it used for the benefit of poor people living in the vicinity. From that date until 1891 the trust administered the land and its minute books are kept in the London Metropolitan Archives.
Bethnal House, or Kirby's Castle, was the principal house on the Green. One of it's owners was Sir Hugh Platt(1552–1608), author of books on gardening and practical science. Kirby's also became associated with the ballad of the Blind Beggar of Bethnal Green. Him again!

In 1727 it was leased to Matthew Wright and for almost two centuries it was a mad house. Its two most distinguished inmates were Alexander Cruden, compiler of the Concordance to the Bible, and the poet Christopher Smart. Cruden recorded his experience in The London Citizen Grievously Injured (1739) and Smart's stay there is recorded by his daughter. Records of the asylum are kept in the annual reports of the Commissioner in Lunacy. Even today, the park where the library stands is known locally as “Barmy Park”. A titbit to share with the guests, I say old man.

The 'WHITE HOUSE' in LONDON?

Sorry, not the Obamas' present residence, the reference is to the original mansion, the White House, which was with time supplemented by other buildings. In 1891 the Trust lost the use of Poor's Land to the London County Council. The asylum reorganised its buildings, demolishing the historic White House and erecting a new block in 1896. This building became the present Bethnal Green Library. A history of Poor's Land and Bethnal House is included in 'The Green' (A.J. Robinson and D.H.B. Chesshyre). There we go, see you on the Green.

Right, if you are entering in any estate transaction on the Green or hereabouts, put a hold on it till you liaise with your friendly local estate agents at Nelsons Estate Agents London.