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St Mary's Secret Garden Hackney

Summary

The garden is named after St Mary's Church Haggerston, which was once situated nearby but destroyed by bombing in 1940/1. Georgian terraces here were replaced by post-WWII pre-fabs, which were themselves demolished in the 1970s, and the area was designated as community space. In the 1990s local residents established a community garden on the site. From late 1990s until 2003, it was run as a therapeutic garden project by Thrive. It was then renamed St Mary's Secret Garden and continues to be run as a community garden, with an emphasis on social and therapeutic gardening. There are currently herbaceous borders, herb garden, sensory area, raised beds and vegetable garden, woodland with small pond and greenhouse.

Basic Details

Previous / Other name:
St Mary's Garden

Site location:
50 Pearson Street/Appleby Street

Postcode:
E2 8EL ( Google Map)

Type of site:
Public Gardens

Date(s):
1970s; 1990s

Designer(s):

Listed structures:
LBII: 2-16 Pearson Street

Borough:
Hackney

Site ownership:
LB Hackney

Site management:
St Mary's Secret Garden

Open to public?
Occasionally

Opening times:
Open for plant sales Mon-Fri 9am-5pm
Has taken part in Open Garden Squares Weekend 14 times, most recently in 2018.

Special conditions:

Facilities:
Toilet

Events:
Numerous community events. Has opened for OGSW

Public transport:
London Overground: Hoxton. Rail/Tube (Northern): Old Street. Bus: 26, 48, 55, 67, 149, 242, 243, 394

The information shown above was correct at the time of the last update 01/06/2014
Please check with the site owner or manager for latest news. www.stmaryssecretgarden.org.uk

Further Information

Grid ref:
TQ336832

Size in hectares:
0.303

Green Flag:
No

On EH National Register :
No

EH grade:
None

Site on EH Heritage at Risk list:
No

Registered common or village green on Commons Registration Act 1965:
No

Protected under London Squares Preservation Act 1931:
No

Local Authority Data

The information below is taken from the relevant Local Authority's planning legislation, which was correct at the time of research but may have been amended in the interim. Please check with the Local Authority for latest planning information.

On Local List:
No

In Conservation Area:
No

Tree Preservation Order:
No

Nature Conservation Area:
No

Green Belt:
No

Metropolitan Open Land:
No

Special Policy Area:

Other LA designation:
Open Space

St Mary's Secret Garden

Photo: Gavin Gardiner

Click photo to enlarge.

Album

Fuller information

This community garden is named after St Mary's Church Haggerston, which was located nearby but destroyed by bombing in WWII. Designed by John Nash, the church had been built in 1827 to cater for the growing population; the churchyard was later laid out as a public garden by the Earl and Countess of Meath in 1882, maintained by the Vestry of Shoreditch/Shoreditch Burial Board and open during the summer. On the site of the community garden there were once Georgian terraces, but (damaged by bombing?) these were compulsorily purchased and replaced by post-WWII pre-fabs, which were themselves demolished in the 1970s, and the area was designated as community space. An old street lamp within the garden recalls the previous street that ran through the site.

The community space was not much used or maintained and in the 1990s local residents made arrangements with the GLC to establish a community garden on the site, hiring a gardener to lay it out. The basic bones of this garden remains. From c.1997 until 2003, it was run by Thrive as a horticultural therapy and training project for people with mental health issues, learning disabilities and physical disabilities, with a volunteering programme and employment project. In 2003 it was renamed St Mary's Secret Garden and is now run as a community garden, although social and therapeutic gardening continues. Placements, volunteering and training opportunities are provided for Hackney's diverse community and therapists work with many individuals and groups from the community including young offenders and people with HIV. The garden project is very much a community garden, and is available for local families and groups to use through a keyholder scheme. There are currently herbaceous borders, herb garden, sensory area, raised beds and vegetable garden, woodland with small pond and greenhouse. In 2008 the garden was listed as one of the top 10 secret gardens in London. The garden won Gold in the Hackney In Bloom 2013 awards for Best Community Project (professional).

Sources consulted:

Mrs Basil Holmes, 'The London Burial Grounds', 1896. Image of St Mary's church and bomb site in 'Shadow sites: photography, archaeology, and the British landscape, 1927-1955' Kitty Hauser (OUP) taken from J M Richards, ed. 'The Bombed Buildings of Britain: A record of Architectural Causalities 1940-41' (1942)

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