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A trip to Paradise

A sun kissed tropical white sandy beach, a hammock strung between two coconut palms and a large iced rum and coke in hand? No. Lambeth SE11, to be exact Old Paradise Street.

Paradise in the context of street names in London number six in total (unless I’ve missed some). The picture above shows Old Paradise Street in Lambeth around the 1880’s. Quaint though it is, paradise is probably an exaggeration, so why the name?

The earliest map I can find it on is John Rocque’s map of 1747 where it is shown as Paradise Row.

The map shows that the Row was a lot shorter than in modern times, and it also gives us a big clue as to why the name was attached to it. So forget both the modern and the biblical connotations of Paradise, in earlier times the word was often applied to a walled garden and it was sometimes used as an indirect reference to a royal property. As is clearly shown on the map Paradise Row sits right between large formal gardens.

North of Old Paradise Street is Lambeth Palace. In the 11th century the property was Lambeth Manor House and encompassed the whole area shown on the map above. The Manor and surrounding estate was later acquired by the Archbishop of Canterbury for his London residence while attending the House of Lords, and as time passed the surrounding fields were developed into formal gardens, many as shown with surrounding walls.

Over the centuries the surrounding gardens gave way to houses, warehouses and factories, but many of these were wiped away during the Blitz as the bomb damage map below shows.

Old Paradise Street today is a mixture of high and low rise dwellings built in the early 1960s, but there is however a nod to a much earlier time, as developers had the foresight to turn part of it into a small walled public garden.

So if you have a Paradise Street or Road near you take a look around, in most cases it may be near the site of a grand house and walled garden.

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