The Garden Guide

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

Drapers Company Garden

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The garden of the Drapers' Company was another of the lungs of the City, and the disappearance of the great part of it, also within recent years, is much to be regretted. This land was purchased by the Company from Henry VIII. after the garden had been made by Thomas Cromwell, Earl of Essex, and forfeited on his attainder. His method of increasing his garden was simple enough. He appears to have taken what he wanted from the citizens adjoining, and his all-powerful position at the time left them without redress. Stowe describes the way this land was filched away. "This house being finished, and having some reasonable plot of ground left for a garden, hee caused the pales of the gardens adjoining to the north part thereof, on a sudden to be taken doune, 22 foot to be measured forth right into the north of every man's ground, a line then to be drawn, a trench to be cast, a foundation laid, and an high brickc wall to be builded. My Father had a garden there, and there was a house standing close to his south pale; this house they loosed from the ground, and bare upon Rowlers into my Father's garden 22 foot ere my Father heard thereof.... No man durst goe to argue the matter, but each man lost his Land." It is difficult to estimate whether the charitable munificence of the Company is altogether as great a public benefit, from a health point of view, as retaining some of the garden for public use would have been. Men are naturally so conservative, that, because they have been content to talk and do business, and even search for a breath of air, in the crowded streets on the hottest summer days, it has probably never occurred to them that a few minutes on a seat under shady trees would have "refreshed their spirits," and the addition of better air improved their brain powers more effectually. The idea of a garden city is such a new one that it is not fair to judge by such standards. Distances are now much reduced by electricity above and below ground, so that the necessity of crowding business houses together to save time is not so all-important. When the City gardens became built over, no doubt the newer and more sanitary conditions were felt amply to compensate for the loss of oxygen given off by the growing plants, and the preservation of air spaces in the midst of crowded centres had not occurred to men's minds. ["The garden behind the Hall is a small proportion of the original garden, which is now covered by Throgmorton Avenue and Richard Seifert�s 1960s tower block called Drapers� Gardens. The development of the Avenue and the great garden commenced in 1874. The present garden walls, gates and railings were designed by Stephen Dykes Bower in the 1970s. The long tradition of mulberry trees growing in the garden is maintained by the trees planted by Her Majesty The Queen in 1955 and The Prince of Wales in 1971. The courtyard was last rebuilt in 1869 by Herbert Williams, with sculpture by Edward Wyon. The themes of Wyon�s carvings in the tympana of the arches are Commerce and the Continents (north side), Religion (east side) and Science (west side)." Drapers Company Website, 2007]