|Jamyang Buddhist Centre||Lambeth|
The courtyard garden of the Jamyang Buddhist Centre was originally the prisoners' exercise yard of the Old Kennington Courthouse. Built in 1869 as a police court, and later becoming Lambeth Magistrates Court, this is the last surviving Victorian courthouse in London. The building was in poor repair in 1995 when it was purchased for the Jamyang Buddhist Centre and restored by a large group of volunteers. His Holiness the Dalai Lama visited the Centre in 1999. The courtyard, retaining its Victorian cobblestones, has been transformed into a meditative garden, with a statue of Buddha.
The information shown above was correct at the time of the last update 01/01/2018
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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.
Courtyard, garden with sculpture of Buddha, Jamyang Buddhist Centre, June 2016. Photograph Sally Williams
Click photo to enlarge.
Originally a Police Court, the Old Courthouse opened in 1869 and was designed by the Police Surveyor, Thomas Charles Sorby (1836-1924), who also designed two surviving police stations in London, in Clerkenwell and Rochester Row, Westminster. The Old Courthouse had a single court room, two-storey cell block and holding 'tank' where prisoners were held before being taken to the dock. It was later used as Lambeth's Magistrates Court. Opposite to the Courthouse was Kennington Lane Police Station, which closed in 1932 and replaced in 1938 by the Police Section House. This is now part of a group of buildings built in Tudor Gothic revival style that includes a former fire station, infirmary and the workhouse where Charlie Chaplin reputedly stayed.
In 1990, the court was finally closed, after which the building remained empty and fell into disrepair. When it was eventually put up for sale, among those interested was Mother Theresa of Calcutta, who proposed to convert it as a homeless project but this failed to get planning permission. Jamyang Buddhist Centre then put forward a proposal to use the building, as did property developers Headland Weald for conversion into luxury apartments. However, the Victorian Society supported the former project over the residential scheme and on 1 November 1995 the old courthouse was sold by auction to Jamyang Buddhist Centre. Restoration works were undertaken by volunteers and others over the next years. The gated courtyard, which used to be the high security area, was transformed into a secluded meditative garden, with raised beds and pots planted with shrubs, climbers, perennials, herbs, fruit, vegetables, annuals and wildflowers. A stone-carved Parinirvana Buddha statue made by sculptor Nick Durnham has been installed in the garden, with at its base a small fountain set on an old Victorian safe that was found on the site. Flowers provide decoration for the rooms in the Centre and the café offers food made from produce of the garden. The Centre is also committed to bringing community use back into the building, and it is now also used by local health, non-profit and community groups. Jamyang won the August 2010 Conservation Foundation's prize for the best Sacred Space in London, and the courtyard garden took the 'London Green Corners Award - For brightening London and enriching the biodiversity'.
History on Jamyang Buddhist Centre website www.jamyang.co.uk/index.php/about/the-historic-old-courthouse