This is a very well hidden garden that’s not in St Pancras but close to Bank in the City of London, and has some remarkable carved wooden benches. But not for much longer, as the garden is about to get a makeover that’ll see the carved benches removed.

The pocket park is, as you probably guessed from the name, the site of the former Church of St Pancras, which is known to have existed since at least the early 1100s, but was destroyed in the Great Fire of London in 1666, and never rebuilt.

The cleared land was used as a burial site though until 1853, when the site was deconsecrated and turned into a small garden. Most of the buildings around the garden were destroyed during WWII, and excavations in the 1960s uncovered the burials and the outline of the old church.

However, the garden was left as a shady alcove with a few trees and a small wall blocking access until 2010-12, when it gained its current appearance.

A set of diamond-shaped planting beds were created with irregular herringbone effect tiling to open up the space to the public. The trees were left intact, although they have now resulted in killing off most of the planting thanks to the shade they cast over an already fairly shady space.

The revamping of the garden was carried out by Studio Weave in collaboration with the City & Guilds Historic Carving Department, who delivered the bespoke furniture carved in the tradition of church pews.

And undeniably, the pews are what makes this pocket park worth seeking out.

Each of the eight unique designs depicts patterns and animals that take their cue from the carvings of surviving Romanesque churches, but with a contemporary twist.

I quite like the cat grinning in a corner, and the interpretation of a classic image from antiquity of sinners being cast into hell. And do look for the city scene, with its medieval buildings, along with the Gherkin and the London Eye poking out at the back.

However, the benches lives are numbered.

That’s because the garden is getting another makeover. The main issue being raised is that the trees overwhelm the planting, and some of the benches have also suffered, and the building that surrounds the pocket park wants to add its own direct entrance into the garden so that it can easier to use.

To reduce some anti-social behaviour issues at night, a new gated fence will also be erected in front of the garden, and to get more light into the garden, one of the three trees will be removed, to be replaced with a sculpture.

Although the benches will be replaced with more conventional designs, the carved panels will be retained and mounted in the bedding plants around the edges, a bit like how gravestones are sometimes piled up along the sides of the City’s gardens.

Illustrative view showing new garden design and office entrance to the rear of 80 Cheapside (c) Hyland Edgar Driver (HED) for Oxygen Asset Management

While the replacement garden makes a lot more sense, it’s a bit of a pity to be losing some of its character, even though that character is itself only a decade old.


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One comment
  1. Terry Jones says:

    What’s wrong with shade?! The sq mile needs it, especially in summer when office workers are most likely to be using the space. If it’s killing plants, put in shade loving plants. Duuh.

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