The Garden Museum, formerly known as the Museum of Garden History, is based in the deconsecrated parish church of St Mary-at-Lambeth in Lambeth, adjacent to Lambeth Palace. The church originally housed the 15th and 16th century tombs of many members of the Howard family, including now-lost memorial brasses to Thomas Howard, 2nd Duke of Norfolk (died 1524), his wife Agnes Tilney, Duchess of Norfolk (died 1545) and is also the burial place of Queen Anne Boleyn's mother Elizabeth Boleyn, formerly Howard. In 1062 a wooden church was built on the site by Goda, sister of Edward the Confessor; the Domesday Book records 29 tenancies in her manor. Later in the century it was rebuilt as a stone church and appears to have been at its height of splendour and patronage in the twelfth century, when it functioned as the church to the Archbishop’s London lodgings next door. In the Second World War the stained glass was badly damaged by bombs, and in the 1950s the stained glass was replaced by either plain glass or panels by Francis Stephens (1921–2002), including a replica of the "Pedlar’s Window". The bombs also broke up the altar donated in 1888 by Sir Henry Doulton as a memorial to his wife; Doulton’s ceramic factory stood about 300 metres to the south. In 1972 the church was made redundant in consequence of its dilapidation and gloom, and also because of changes in the population settlement of the parish: the area by the riverside had become derelict and under-populated, and the Vicar wanted a church closer to where the congregation lived.
In 1976 John and Rosemary Nicholson traced the tomb of the two 17th century royal gardeners and plant hunters John Tradescant father and son to the churchyard, and were inspired to create the Museum of Garden History. Local Lambeth legend states that if the tomb is danced around twelve times as Big Ben strikes midnight a ghost appears. It was the first museum in the world dedicated to the history of gardening. The museum's main gallery is the main body of the church. The collection comprises tools, ephemera and a library. The tool collection includes items purchased at auction and donations from individuals and horticultural companies. The ephemera includes items such as prints, photographs, bills, catalogues and brochures, and gives an insight into the social history of gardening as well as the practical aspects of the subject. The museum covers the whole range of gardening, from royal gardens to allotments. In the early 1980s, a 17th-century style knot garden was created in the churchyard, planted with authentic plants of the period. Currently the museum is undergoing a major renovation and will reopen in 2017, in the meantime the gardens are open and events are scheduled.
Location : 5 Lambeth Palace Rd, SE1 7LB
Transport: Lambeth North (Bakerloo). London Buses routes 3, 344, 360, 507 or C10 stop outside.
Opening Times: Museum building closed.
See link above for scheduled events.
Tickets : Free
Tel: 020 7401 8865