No trip to the city of London would be complete without a visit to the famous St. Paul’s Cathedral. The gardens were formed in 1878 when ancient church burial grounds were combined. Remains of the earlier chapter house cloister are still visible to the south of the Cathedral nave. The scenic gardens nestle in the shade of one of London’s most iconic landmarks. They were opened by the Lord Mayor on 22 September 1879. These award-winning gardens provide green spaces for city workers, residents and visitors to relax with the Cathedral as a stunning back drop. A bench in the surrounding gardens is a great place from which to view the imposing Cathedral. There are many interesting plants and trees. Trees in the area south of the nave include London plane, ginkgo, maple, lime, ash, mulberry and eucalyptus. In the north are some of the oldest plane trees in the city and a giant fir tree and at the south gate is a rose garden. There are plants with biblical associations such as the Judas tree. Large shrub borders provide nesting cover for birds such as blue tits, robins and blackbirds. Goldfinches feed on the sunny southern side of the Cathedral. The restored 1714 churchyard railings are important early examples of cast iron work. It is designated a Site of Local Importance for Nature Conservation.
FESTIVAL GARDENS – These award-winning gardens were originally laid out over a large expanse of bomb-damaged land after the Second World War. They were the Corporation of London’s contribution to the Festival of Britain. The site was formerly that of Old Change, a street dating from 1293. The formal layout consists of a sunken lawn with wall fountain, which was a gift of the Worshipful Company of Gardeners. As I had never heard of the Worshipful Company of Gardeners I was prompted to research same …. “The Worshipful Company of Gardeners, first mentioned in City Corporation records in 1345, is a survivor from the medieval craft guilds which exercised control over the practice of their particular crafts and ensured a proper training through the system of apprenticeship.
In 1605, after existing for centuries as a mystery or fellowship, the Guild was incorporated by Royal Charter. The Charter sets out the operations controlled by the Company: ‘The trade, crafte or misterie of gardening, planting, grafting, setting, sowing, cutting, arboring, rocking, mounting, covering, fencing and removing of plants, herbes, seedes, fruites, trees, stocks, setts, and of contryving the conveyances to the same belonging…’
The Company no longer exists as a regulatory authority for the sale of produce in London; instead serving as a charitable institution. The Company also performs a ceremonial role; it formally presents bouquets to the Queen and to Princesses upon their wedding, anniversary, or other similar occasion.” The west of the garden features the sculpture ‘The Young Lovers” by Georg Ehrlich which was erected in 1973. The lawn is surrounded by a raised paved terrace with stone parapets and seating, planting in tubs and a number of trees including a pleached lime hedge and a fine catalpa. In 2012 the gardens were extended towards the west into the area formerly used for coach parking. The new garden represented an enormous increase in accessible green space, boasting 378 sqm of lawn, some 3,000 herbaceous plants, 184 linear meters of clipped box hedging, flowering street trees and multi-stemmed garden trees.
Many of the streets around the area of St. Paul’s Cathedral have names which relate to the area’s religious importance. In Medieval times, at the end of each day, the great cathedral would be closed up and the Dean and Chapter would process, with members of the cathedral staff and choristers, through the surrounding streets on their way back to their residence. At certain points they would stop and the Lord’s prayer would be said …. they would commence at Paternoster Row with ‘Pater Noster’ (Our Father), at Creed Lane the ‘Creed’ would be recited, at Sermon Lane a Sermon would be delivered, at Ave Maria Lane the ‘Ave Maria’ would be sung and then ‘Amen’ would be said at Amen Court, the end point of the procession. The Dean and Chapter reside at Amen Court.