The English tradition of gardens extends back to Roman times.
To celebrate the superb art, history, and design of gardens, The Garden Museum in Lambeth is the perfect place to learn about this rich tradition while getting a quiet spot for reflection in the heart of London. After much anticipation and an 18-month £7.5million refresh, the museum is reopening on May 22nd!
The building is housed in the church of St Mary’s-at-Lambeth, which is the resting place for the famous 17th Century Plant Hunters, John Tradescant (and his son John Tradescant the Younger).
These famous gardeners scoured the world for plants and other curiosities, bringing them back to their home in Lambeth. They became famous for gardening for Charles I. Their collection of curiosities, given to Tradescant’s neighbour Elias Ashmole at his death, became the basis of the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford. Now, after 350 years, some of these objects are returning to London for the first time as a loan from the Ashmolean Museum.
The Garden Museum building itself was saved from demolition in 1977 by Rosemary Nicholson, who was interested in the lives of the Tradescants. She discovered their grave at St Mary’s-at-Lambeth, which was set to be torn down because it had been left empty for many years, but Rosemary raised funds to turn it into the first museum in the world dedicated to the history of gardening.
Since then, the Garden Museum has become a hub of learning for gardeners, amateur and professionals. With the new project completed, the ancient church is now home to a modern space which can finally display the collection assembled over 40 years.
Make sure to check out:
- The Ark
The Ark Gallery is a recreation of the Tradescants’ famous Ark, one of the wonders of seventeenth century London. It is built around the loan of a small number of very precious items from the Ashmolean Museum’s Tradescant collection.
- Unveiling Ashmole’s tomb
2017 is the 400th anniversary of Elias Ashmole’s birth, whose collection went on to found the Ashmolean Museum. Ashmole was the next door neighbour of the Tradescants, and like the famous gardeners he was buried on the site of the Garden Museum. During construction, his tombstone has been discovered, and will be unveiled with the opening of the Garden Museum.
A temporary exhibition of paintings by Eileen Hogan, the museum’s Artists-not-in-Residence during the year the museum was closed, shows six large paintings, her response to 90 peoples’ nominations of their favourite green space.
- The Tradescants’ Orchard
The Tradescants’ Orchard is made up of watercolours of heritage fruit varieties by fifty leading botanical artists. They were inspired by ‘The Tradescants’ Orchard’, an enigmatic 17th century volume of watercolours of fruit trees, depicting fruit that might have grown in the Tradescants’ market garden at Lambeth.
- The Garden Wall
The Garden Wall showcases tiles fired with photo submissions from over 200 people’s favourite gardens. With a story behind each choice, the display is a fantastic mosaic with a striking variety of green spaces.
- The Tower
The medieval tower is the oldest part of the church of St Mary’s-at-Lambeth. Following the insertion of a viewing platform, the tower at the garden museum is open to the public for the first time. From the top, the tower provides a unique view of London and the river Thames.
- The Garden
A new garden is at the heart of the Garden Museum courtyard. Designed by Dan Pearson as an ‘Eden’ of rare plants, the garden showcases the Tradescants’ love of unusual plants.
- The Archive
With the opening of the museum, the Garden Museum is unveiling the country’s first archive of garden design. Gardens are living and constantly evolving, the majority of gardens vanish with changing times and fashions. Photographs, plans, drawings and books can preserve these gardens for the future.
Open: Daily 10.30-5pm (Saturday 10.30-4pm)