Green Street & Plashet

Green Street and Plashet are two areas familiar to many Newham residents.

Here is a brief history of both.


The name Green Street appears in records as far back as the 15th century and it is reasonably certain that this highway following the boundary of the ancient parishes of East Ham and West Ham, from the main Romford Road down to the marshes, is of much earlier origin.

The northern part used to be called Gypsy's Lane and was frequented by gypsies until building development commenced.

At the southern end stood Green Street House, sometimes referred to as "Anne Boleyn's Castle". It is thought possible that the house was built in the first part of the 16th century by Richard Breame, grandfather of the Giles Breame who bequeathed the money to build the former "Bream's Almshouse" in High Street South, East Ham.

It is also possible that the erroneous story of Anne Boleyn's connection with the house arose through King Henry VIII renting another house belonging to Richard Breame in Greenwich. The King more probably courted Anne in this latter house. There is a reasonably well founded story that a secret Jesuit printing press was operated either at the house or in the neighbourhood about 1580.

The house passed through a number of private hands until it was purchased by Cardinal Manning in 1869. The Cardinal extended the premises and opened St. Edward's R.C. Reformatory School there in 1870.

From 1907-1912 it was used as a maternity home, and then as a social club until the Second World War. It was finally demolished in 1955 although part of the site became the factory of Brownings Electrical later demolished as part of the extension to West Ham FC.

At the turn of the century, there was a street market in Green Street by Upton Park Station. This was moved into Queens Road with the coming of the trams about 1904.

In 1851, the poor law union of St George's-in-the-East established a large industrial school for its pauper children in Green Street.[This later became the site of the Carlton Cinema and is now a car park]


The name "Plashet" is allied to the name "Pleshey" and is variously stated to mean a clearing in a wood or an enclosure in a wood. In either case, it is a reminder of the fact that in Norman times, woodland covered the northern part of East Ham well south of the Romford Road. The name is mentioned in a document of the 14th century and Plashet House is mentioned in a deed of the early 17th century.

Plashet House stood to the west of Katherine Road and to the north of Plashet Grove. That whole area of housing built between those roads,

St. Stephen's Road and Green Street in the 1890's, stands on its grounds. It is chiefly famous as the residence of Elizabeth Fry and her husband, from about 1808 to 1829. It was from here that she commenced her campaign for prison reform after seeing the wretched condition of women prisoners in London.

After her death, her widower Joseph and her eldest daughter Katherine (after whom Katherine Road is named) resided at Plashet Cottage further south along Katherine Road. The estate of houses south of the railway between Katherine Road and Grangewood Street is partly built on its site and grounds.

Another house, Plashet Hall stood on the Romford Road near the corner of Katherine Road. It was the residence of one of the Greenhill family which farmed the nearby 150 acres of Hamfrith farm. (Greenhill Grove and the Greenhill Centre in Manor Park recalls the name).  It was also called Potato Hall from the large number of potatoes cultivated in the neighbourhood.

Plashet Road and Plashet Grove were both originally known as Plashet Lane, connecting Upton Cross with Plashet. Plashet Park is built on the grounds of Wood House a late 18th century house which stood west of the High Street North. (Woodhouse Grove commemorates it).

(Originally published as Local History Notes No. 12 by Newham Library Service)