“Holed up in squats in theatre bars . . . to Camden we will crawl . . . I’ll meet you in the shadows by Rochester square” — The Libertines
Rochester Square is a half-acre, private square in the heart of Camden. Originally part of lands owned by the Canons of Cathedral of St. Pauls and later the estate of the Marquis of Camden, it and the street surrounding it derives its name from the father of the second Marquis’ wife: the Bishop of Rochester.
Records show land and buildings at Rochester Square being used as a nursery for more than a century, from the 1840s, and also contain earlier (1820s) references to a nearby nursery on land leased to Robert Montgomery and located on the northeast side of Rochester Square road between Camden Road and Stratford Villas, where present day homes and buildings now stand.
In the early twentieth century, the nursery came to be owned by Stroud’s, a company best known as a film prop business that specialised in the supply and rental of palms for the entertainment industry and whose clients included the likes of Elton John and the Carry On films. This business began to enter terminal decline in the late 1980s, ceased operations not long thereafter, and the nursery was left to become derelict. Multiple groups of squatters inhabited the property and the area got a brief mention in The Libertines' 2015 hit album, Anthems for Doomed Youth: “Holed up in squats in theatre bars . . . to Camden we will crawl . . . I’ll meet you in the shadows by Rochester square.”
download full history by Sally Williams 2016, Keeper of the Inventory for the London Parks and Gardens Trust.