The Garden Guide

Book: London Parks and Gardens, 1907
Chapter: Chapter 12 Historical Gardens

Artillery Company Garden Ground

Previous - Next

Further eastward is an open piece of ground, which is hardly a garden; but as it is green, and took the place of what was known as the Artillery Garden, it may claim a moment's consideration. Push open a door in the modern-looking castellated building in the City Road near Bunhill Fields, and a large, quiet, open space is discovered. Old guns look inoffensively down on a wide square of green turf. This is the home of the Honourable Artillery Company, the descendants of the "Trained Bands" of citizens, first enrolled in 1585 in the fear of a Spanish invasion. They have been here since 1622, when they moved from near Bishopsgate Without. "Artillery Garden," or Teazel Close or Garden, was the name of the older place, from the teazel grown there for the cloth workers. "Teazel of ground we enlarge St. Mary's Spittle, Trees cut down, and gardens added to it, Thanks to the lords that gave us leave to do it," says an old poem. The existing Artillery Ground was a great place for cricket matches, where county met county in the eighteenth century. It was here that a vast crowd witnessed the first balloon ever launched into the air in England, sent up by Count Zambeccari in 1783. The next year, from the same place, Lunardi was more ambitious, and actually went up in his balloon. It proved too small for the friend who was ready to risk his life in his company, so he took a dog, a cat, and a pigeon with him instead.