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A walking tour of London’s hidden community spaces

Southwark, London SE1

UPDATE: Our 2020 programme of Garden Visits has been postponed until 2021. Tickets will automatically be transferred to next year.

The new date for this visit is TBC soon.

Today we are in Southwark, London SE1 for a fascinating day exploring, on foot, four inspiring community spaces, run by environmental and community charity Bankside Open Spaces Trust (BOST). Set up by local people in 2000 to make SE1 a greener, more beautiful area, the Trust protects, preserves and enhances green spaces and has won more than 32 awards. We are fortunate to have this opportunity to learn about their initiative.

After coffee at The Table Café, we will walk to Tate Community Garden, opened in June 2006 to provide local people – and wildlife – a peaceful retreat in an area of intense tourism. Fruit trees, a pond, flowerbeds, a herb garden and a labyrinth all contribute to the atmosphere. Our guide here will be BOST’s Parks Manager. Next we visit Winchester Palace Garden, nestled in the ruins of the Palace of the Bishops of Winchester – once the most important building in medieval London – with a 13th century Rose window as its backdrop. Created in 2014 and maintained by volunteers, this shady space features plants that thrive in poor light; many chosen because they were popular in medieval gardens.

After a seasonal lunch with wine in a London pub, we will have a warden-led tour of the Crossbones Garden, a former post-medieval burial ground, last resting place for 15,000 paupers, many of whom were sex workers and children. Neglected for decades, the site has been protected since 1996 by the Friends of Crossbones and local author John Constable. It is a sensitively designed, contemplative sanctuary with raised drystone wall beds, a wildflower meadow and wildflower pond and a striking cloister-like entranceway.

Our final tour today, before afternoon tea at The School House in Jerwood Space, Union Street, will be the award-winning Red Cross Garden, with BOST’s Head of Parks. Steeped in history, this park was designed by social reformer Octavia Hill and built with neighbouring cottages in 1886 but lost under tarmac by 1940. Heritage Lottery Funding has secured its future – restoration was completed in 2005 and includes a pond, wisteria pergola and cottage garden. Taking short walks between each venue, we will cover a total distance of about 1.5 miles.

This event has been organised by the Garden Museum’s Garden Visits committee. We recommend you read our Garden Visits Attendee Charter and Refund/exchange policy before booking your place on any of our Garden Visits.

Image: Red Cross and Crossbones gardens © BOST