The land was originally provided to the parish by Archbishop Thomas Tenison of Canterbury for a burial ground. The site had been leased to a gardener and was purchased for £120 in 1703. It was extended in 1816 but, being full, was closed in 1853. By 1880 it was 'very unsightly' and the vestry decided to turn it into a public garden, which was completed in 1884. Gravestones were moved to boundary walls with the mortuary left standing. A watch house erected on High Street for holding 'the drunk and disorderly' in 1825 was originally left but is now gone, its site marked with a stone. The new garden was conveyed to Lambeth Vestry and then to Lambeth Borough Council. In 1929 it was enlarged when the site of a glass bottle factory in Whitgift Street was purchased for £700.
Since the late 1970s the recreation ground has been re-landscaped with grassy mounds, pergolas, shrubs and spring bulbs. A water feature and a playground are provided.