great places to visit off the beaten path.
Red Cross Garden is a newly restored community garden, originally laid out in 1887 by Octavia Hill – a social reformer, especially concerned with providing adequate housing for the poor of London as well as providing open spaces. She was also a founder of the National Trust. Red Cross Garden was laid out on the site of a burnt down paper factory and a derelict warehouse. Meandering paths were designed to give a sense of space and a place to wander amongst the curved lawns and flower beds. An ornamental pond was made with a fountain to provide beauty and movement, offering a focus for contemplation. A bandstand provided for performances of music and poetry. Colourful mosaics brought art and beauty to the working poor – The Sower mosaic still remains. The charming cottages on the far side of the garden (built in 1887 by Elijah Poole) were built as part of Octavia Hill’s pioneering goal to provide housing for the working classes.
The historic layout of Red Cross Garden was lost under municipal grass and tarmac by the late 1940s and became much underused. The Bankside Open Spaces Trust secured funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund and Southwark Council and completed most of the ‘restoration in spirit’ of the garden, restoring many of its original features, but ensuring its relevance and sustainability for the local people of Southwark today. The garden was officially opened by the Princess Royal on 1st June 2006. Since then a regular group of volunteers helps to maintain the garden and has developed tours of the key historic details of the scheme, along with regular after-school clubs, poetry readings, celebrations, and events. For information on events held at the park, visit: www.bost.org.uk
Located at: Redcross Way, Borough
Closest Tube: Borough