Wellclose Square, E1

Road in/near Stepney, existing until now

MAPPING YEAR:1750180018301860190019302019Fullscreen map
Road · Stepney · E1 ·

Wellclose Square lies between Cable Street to the north and The Highway to the south.

Wellclose Square in the Victorian era
On a site east of Tower Hill, Edward III founded the Cistercian abbey of St Mary Graces in 1350. Gardens and open lands to the abbey’s east included a square field of about ten acres known as Well Close.

Wellclose Square was part of the ancient parish of Stepney. This was later divided into Whitechapel (by 1329), Wapping (1694) and St George in the East (1729). The boundaries of these parishes met in Wellclose Square.

Daniel Defoe mentions Wellclose Square is his "A tour thro’ the Whole Island of Great Britain" (1724). He says that there used to be a well in the centre of the square which was also known as Goodman’s Field’s Well.

In 1682, Nicholas Barbon leased the Liberty of Wellclose (or Well Close) from the Crown and intended to attract richer members of the local maritime community to his new Wellclose development - to be renamed ’Marine Square’.

New roads north and south, initially Little Cable Street and Neptune Street, linked to Cable Street, and Ratcliff Highway, renamed Parsons Street.

Scandinavians were particularly attracted to the area and Danish king Christian V gave funds for the construction of a new Danish Church on the square. The architect was the Danish sculptor Caius Gabriel Cibber and the church was completed in 1696. Nos 20 & 21 on the west side later housed the Danish Embassy.

Wellclose Square inspired a Swedish community to take root in nearby Princes Square (later renamed Swedenborg Square).

Many houses had been built round the square by the late 1690s, but development was slow, something that was commented on and worried about. The name Marine Square was used through the early decades, but Wellclose Square was in common usage by 1717 and universal by about 1750.

As the nineteenth century dawned, the gradual industrialisation of the East End saw a social decline set in. The number of pubs, lodging houses, pawn shops, and music halls increased. Sugar refineries with a mainly German workforce moved in locally.

Amid the sugar refining and coopers’ businesses, Gunner Alley was known as Harwood Court by the 1740s, later Harold’s Alley, then from 1895 Harad’s Place. It was redeveloped with Well Court inserted to its south in the late 1780s. Charles Court was added off the north side in the early nineteenth century. Little Cable Street became Shorter Street in the eighteenth century then Fletcher Street from 1939, and Anchor Alley was redesignated North-East Passage. Neptune Street became Wellclose Street in 1938.

There were shops on the square by the 1830s, and many houses and their gardens came to host small-scale manufacturing. By 1840 the address had lost any middle-class desirability, despite the large houses.

Wellclose Square attracted a number of charitable institutions, starting with the Sailors’ Orphan Asylum by the 1830s and the Emanuel Almshouses replaced a sugarhouse in 1848.

A number of Wellclose Square’s late seventeenth-century houses survived into the 1960s.

The centre of the square is now occupied by St Paul’s Whitechapel Church of England Primary School and on the western edge is another primary school.


Wellclose Square in the Victorian era
User unknown/public domain

The 1750 Rocque map is bounded by Sudbury (NW), Snaresbrook (NE), Eltham (SE) and Hampton Court (SW).
Outside these bounds, the 1750 map does not display.

The 1800 mapping is bounded by Stanmore (NW), Woodford (NE), Bromley (SE) and Hampton Court (SW).
Outside these bounds, the 1800 map does not display.

The 1830 mapping is bounded by West Hampstead (NW), Hackney (NE), Greenwich (SE) and Chelsea (SW).
Outside these bounds, the 1830 map does not display.

The 1860 mapping is bounded by Brent Cross (NW), Stratford (NE), Greenwich (SE) and Hammermith (SW).
Outside these bounds, the 1860 map does not display.

The 1900 mapping covers all of the London area.



Print-friendly version of this page


Central London, north east (1901) FREE DOWNLOAD
Central London, north east.
Stanford's Geographical Establishment. London : Edward Stanford, 26 & 27, Cockspur St., Charing Cross, S.W. (1901)

Cruchley's New Plan of London (1848) FREE DOWNLOAD
Cruchley's New Plan of London Shewing all the new and intended improvements to the Present Time. - Cruchley's Superior Map of London, with references to upwards of 500 Streets, Squares, Public Places & C. improved to 1848: with a compendium of all Place of Public Amusements also shewing the Railways & Stations.
G. F. Cruchley

Cary's New And Accurate Plan of London and Westminster (1818) FREE DOWNLOAD
Cary's map provides a detailed view of London. With print date of 1 January 1818, Cary's map has 27 panels arranged in 3 rows of 9 panels, each measuring approximately 6 1/2 by 10 5/8 inches. The complete map measures 32 1/8 by 59 1/2 inches. Digitising this map has involved aligning the panels into one contiguous map.
John Cary

Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge (1843) FREE DOWNLOAD
Engraved map. Hand coloured.
Chapman and Hall, London

Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge (1836) FREE DOWNLOAD
Engraved map. Hand coloured. Insets: A view of the Tower from London Bridge -- A view of London from Copenhagen Fields. Includes views of facades of 25 structures "A comparison of the principal buildings of London."
Chapman and Hall, London

Environs of London (1832) FREE DOWNLOAD
Engraved map. Hand coloured. Relief shown by hachures. A circle shows "Extent of the twopenny post delivery."
Chapman and Hall, London

London Underground Map (1921).  FREE DOWNLOAD
London Underground map from 1921.
London Transport

The Environs of London (1865).  FREE DOWNLOAD
Prime meridian replaced with "Miles from the General Post Office." Relief shown by hachures. Map printed in black and white.
Published By J. H. Colton. No. 172 William St. New York

London Underground Map (1908).  FREE DOWNLOAD
London Underground map from 1908.
London Transport

Ordnance Survey of the London region (1939) FREE DOWNLOAD
Ordnance Survey colour map of the environs of London 1:10,560 scale
Ordnance Survey. Crown Copyright 1939.

Outer London (1901) FREE DOWNLOAD
Outer London shown in red, City of London in yellow. Relief shown by hachures.
Stanford's Geographical Establishment. London : Edward Stanford, 26 & 27, Cockspur St., Charing Cross, S.W. (1901)

Unless a source is explicitedly stated, text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. Articles may be a remixes of various Wikipedia articles plus work by the website authors - original Wikipedia source can generally be accessed under the same name as the main title. This does not affect its Creative Commons attribution.

Maps upon this website are in the public domain because they are mechanical scans of public domain originals, or - from the available evidence - are so similar to such a scan or photocopy that no copyright protection can be expected to arise. The originals themselves are in public domain for the following reason:
Public domain Maps used are in the public domain in the United States, and those countries with a copyright term of life of the author plus 100 years or less.
This file has been identified as being free of known restrictions under copyright law, including all related and neighbouring rights.

This tag is designed for use where there may be a need to assert that any enhancements (eg brightness, contrast, colour-matching, sharpening) are in themselves insufficiently creative to generate a new copyright. It can be used where it is unknown whether any enhancements have been made, as well as when the enhancements are clear but insufficient. For usage, see Commons:When to use the PD-scan tag.