Near Liverpool Street station in London’s East End, Bethnal Green is an eight-kilometer route to the north. There are also Metro and Overground stations in Cambridge Heath. The London Borough of Tower Hamlets also contains a ward by the same name, in addition to another (that mimics that same name parish in the Anglican Church). The area is divided into several conservation areas due mainly to the simple fact that there are many public green spaces and listed buildings there. Bethnal Green Gardens once occupied much of what is now Cambridge Heath Road, where Bethnal Green Green used to be located.
Bethnal Green was an independent locality until the 18th century, when the parish of Stepney decided to change its name and establish a permanent church at that location. In 1743, this new parish was incorporated as a parish with a benefice and a vestry. In 1855, the area was incorporated into the Metropolitan City, after which it was incorporated into the London Counties Council in 1889. A suburban borough was established in 1900, which bears a close resemblance to the borough created by the London Borough of Tower Hamlets in 1965.
The area of open land known as The Green and Poor’s Land is currently occupied by Bethnal Green Library and the V&A Museum of Childhood as well as the Soane-designed Saint John’s Church. Stow named the hamlet Blethenal Green in his survey of London (1598). There were hamlets named Stepney and Hackney in the Manor. Hackney eventually separated from Hackney. In 1678, people living around the Green bought the land so as to preserve it for future development. In 1690, the land was conveyed to a trust under which it would be maintained as open space with the rents going to help the poor people living nearby. The trust has been administering the property since that time and is represented in the London Metropolitan Archives. The principal house of Bethnal Green was Kirby’s Castle, the Bethnal House. Sir Hugh Platt (1552-1608) was one of its most famous owners and an author of numerous gardening and practical science books.
Education A number of primary schools are available in Bethnal Green where children aged 4 to 11 are taught. The stately St. Matthias School on Bacon Street, off Brick Lane, was established over a century ago. It has the old borough seal as its emblem and badge. St. Matthew’s Church on St. Matthew’s Row provided the school with funds, and it has been in existence for over 180 years. Sheikh Mujib Primary School is a non-selective, non-university institution opened in January 1989 following the death of Bangladesh’s father Bangabandhu. Around 70% of pupils’ parents speak Bengali rather than English at home, and Bengali is taught as an optional subject in the school.
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