The Garden Guide

Book: London Parks and Gardens, 1907
Chapter: Chapter 1 Introduction

1906 Country in Town Exhibition

Previous - Next

This same Thomas Fairchild left a bequest for a sermon, to be preached annually on Whit Tuesday, at St. Leonard's, Shoreditch, on "the Wonderful Works of God in the Creation," which is still delivered, often by most excellent preachers, but to a sadly small and unappreciative congregation. Every opportunity ought to be taken to awaken the interest in these wonders of creation in the vegetable kingdom, and so much might be done in London Parks, They are too frequently merely places of recreation, and until recently but little has been attempted to arouse enthusiasm for the beauties of nature, and to make them instructive as well as attractive. Even in the crowded heart of London a great deal could be effected, and it is a satisfaction to feel that attention is being drawn to the subject and an effort being made in the right direction. In the summer of 1906 a "Country in Town Exhibition" was held in Whitechapel. This novel idea was so successful, and met with such appreciation, that 33,250 people visited the exhibition during the fortnight it was open, besides the hundreds that collected to see H.R.H. Princess Christian perform the opening ceremony. The available space of the Whitechapel Art Gallery was filled with plants that would thrive in London; the Office of Works arranged a demonstration of potting; bees at work, aquaria, specimens dried by children or drawn in the schools, growing specimens of British plants, such as the dainty bee-orchis, plants and window boxes grown in the district, and suchlike, made up the exhibits. Lectures were organised on plant life and nature in London which were largely attended. A series of drawings and plans of the Mile End Road and Shadwell, as they are, and as they might be, were prepared, and the cost of such transformations was worked out. These were exhibited in the hopes of awakening the interest of the Corporation who owns the site of the disused market in Shadwell, and of causing more to be done in the Mile End Road. It appears that with a comparatively small expenditure and ultimate loss, these plans could be realised, and the physical and moral conditions of the whole neighbourhood improved.