Illustrative CGI used for previous public consultation in June 2018
We were delighted to welcome David Beamont, from Victoria Business Improvement District (BID), to launch our 35th birthday events and short talk series, fulfilling our plan to use our Archives for talks on planning and history.
The reconstruction of Christchurch Gardens in Victoria Street is now in full swing.  The design and planning were extensive due to this very historic site including arrangements in the event of archaeology discoveries.  Dating back to the 17th century this was the burial ground of St Margaret's, Westminster, prior to the construction of Christ Church in the 19th century, which was destroyed in the Blitz.  Among those buried there are Captain Blood, who famously tried and nearly succeeded in stealing the Crown Jewels, and Ignatius Sancho who was born on a slave ship but educated himself to become a distinguished man of letters in Georgian England (more about Sancho in our February Talk).

David explained how with great reluctance they cut down a number of plane trees which prevented sufficient light from reaching the grass and gardens. New flowering trees are being planted and although it will be a long time before they have the same impact on carbon reduction, most people accepted that this had to be done if the gardens were to be made attractive for visitors and increase bio-diversity.  New lighting and benches are being installed together with a new paved performance area.  Flower beds would be re-installed with well chosen shrubs and permeable resin pathways would further aid drainage.  The Purcell sculpture will be moved slightly to enhance its visability, the Suffragettes sculpture will stay where it is and then the back wall, against the ugly BT building, will be covered in flowering jasmin.  To remember the history of the site, we have contributed to the content of a series of information noticeboards which are displayed together with a historical map.

With thanks to David and his team and we look forward to the new gardens opening in late summer.