On Sunday 19 September after a service of celebration and thanksgiving at St Mary’s Church, Islington, the Mayor of Islington, Cllr Troy Gallagher, officially opened the newly renovated St Mary’s Church north gardens. Mayor Gallagher said:
“Some of us will remember what this space was like before. Overgrown and under-used. Many people simply didn’t realise there was a garden here at all. Now it has been opened up, beautifully designed and beautifully planted, as you can see. It’s wonderful that so many people now come here every day. It has been so helpful to have this new space over the last few months. A great place for people to meet when they couldn’t meet indoors.”
The Bishop of Stepney, The Rt. Rev. Dr Joanne Woolway Grenfell blessed the space and said:
“It is so very good to be here for the blessing of St Mary’s north gardens. After all the challenges of the last eighteen months of pandemic, my particular hope is that these gardens will be a place of encounter, conversation, and hospitality, where community will be built up in Islington. The Church of England is here for every Londoner, and all are welcome in this place.”
The renovation to the church gardens is part of the £1.9 million Heart of Islington project, which celebrates the history of the site and has created an attractive, welcoming area for both quiet reflection and imaginative play for children in London’s most densely populated borough. The project was completed in September this year, nine years after the initial idea, seven years of planning and six months of construction works.
Reverend James Hughesdon said:
“We are delighted to be able to officially open the St Mary’s church north gardens. St Mary’s has been a place of welcome for all at the heart of this community for nearly 1000 years. Our wonderfully renovated space will allow us to continue that story of welcome for all.”
“The vision for this scheme was developed by Reverend Simon Harvey, the previous vicar at St Mary’s, and led by our Heart of Islington coordinator Anthea Nicholson. To whom we are extremely grateful. This is a fantastic example of what can be achieved when the council and community collaborate.”
Cllr Rowena Champion, Islington Council’s Executive Member for Environment and Transport, said:
“St Mary’s Church is one of the most historic, culturally significant sites in Islington, and the renovation of the church garden will ensure it remains an accessible, green, and welcoming space for all. The new garden is a marriage of the old and the new, with the modern, forward-thinking design being inspired by the incredible history of the church, dating back as far as the 12th century.
“It is important that Islington’s landmark sites are celebrated and maintained in the appropriate way, and the fantastic work on the St Mary’s Church gardens make it the ideal space for quiet reflection, one-off events, and play.”
Anthea Nicholson, co-ordinator of the Heart of Islington project, said:
“It is wonderful to see how this site, with its unique history, has been opened up and transformed into such a welcoming space.”
The renovation of the church gardens was funded by the council as part of the wider Heart of Islington project, and has been managed in partnership with the St Mary’s Church Steering Group. Funds came from the developers of Islington Square through their contribution to Islington Council for local community and environmental benefit.
For more information please contact Imogen Erskine on 020 7226 3400 or email.