Friends of St Martin's Gardens

Saturday, November 19, 2011

A tree for Barry

Barry's dogs Rocky & Princess viewing the tree

Three years ago, local community volunteer Barry Sullivan died of cancer on the day of our community fete. We'd often bump into Barry in the Gardens on his way to assist locals, yet he always had time for a quick chat on his way past. He would have loved the fete as local people enjoyed the company of their neighbours and local businesses were very generous. We managed to raise some money through the tombola and raffle and decided that after our expenses of insurance for the event, some of the proceeds could go towards planting a memorial tree for Barry.

Mike watering in the tree

After consultation with Camden Parks and Open Spaces, and suggestions from the Camden Garden Centre, we organised a tree planting for November 2011, as autumn/winter are the optimal seasons for planting trees.  Mike from the Camden Garden Centre volunteered his time so we could also use the commemoration as a planting demonstration.

Plume, chair of our Friends group, asked all attendees to contribute their memories of Barry to write in a card for the tree, and the phrases flowed from the 40 or so people present. Fittingly it was a stunning autumn day, perfect for remembering a much missed neighbour & friend. The tree is planted at the St Martin's Close corner of the gardens, where it will benefit from year round sun. It's an amelanchier, which has both spring blooms and autumn foliage. The tree is also surrounded with bulbs that should flower successively through spring. Although there is no plaque on the tree, Barry is also commemorated in a nearby park bench, which was dedicated by his friends last year.

Plume capturing the memories

Messages on the card remembering Barry

Plume and Mike with
the tree to their left
A stunning  autumn day
with the roses still in bloom

Thanks to Camden Parks & Open Spaces and the Camden Garden Centre for helping us make this tribute to Barry possible.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Our community plants wildflowers

Saturday 19 March was the best day of the year so far; blue skies and lots of sun. A group of around 20 local people met to plant around 500 wildflower seedlings in the wildlife area around the children's playground.

Friends of St Martin's Gardens committee members Maureen and Romy had attended a Council pre-requisite "managing volunteers" training session, and ran through the required tool and safety briefing before the planting commenced.

It was a unique opportunity for neighbours to meet up and contribute positively towards our environment, and we hope the plants will provide some colour in the area later this summer.

Our next meeting is Tuesday 17 May at 6.30pm, and our next activity in the Gardens is on Sunday 12 June for the London Open Squares Weekend, 11am - 2pm, details to be determined at the May meeting.

Chair of FoSMG, Plume, poking the seedlings out of the tray

Our trowels coordinate with our our clothes

It's never to young to learn to garden

Many hands made light work, planting took about an hour

The organisers - FoSMG committee members - Maureen, Plume, Romy

Monday, August 24, 2009

Community Picnic Day - 11 July 2009

This year, due to lack of volunteers, we scaled down our fete to a Community Picnic Day, with an activity for children funded by a Camden Council Arts grant. Year 6 from Old Lady's School made some illuminated bunting for us, as seen here --->

Unfortunately the day was wet and cold, with rain falling about every 20 minutes. We put up the two gazebos and some attendees managed to picnic under them.

Our child
ren's activity was Phil from Zoofari.
He runs an education focused mobile zoo, and teaches about the perils of keeping exotic animals as pets. His most popular animal was Monty Python, a three year old albino Burmese python, who already weighs 50kg. Other animals include a rare raccoon dog and a tarantula.

Many thanks to local businesses who provided prizes for our fund raising raffle. The money raised helps towards o
ur public liability insurance, which we need to buy in order to hold events in the park.
Please support the businesses who supported this year's event:

A& K Warehouse, Camden High Street
Aftab's Greenland Enterprises, Greenland Road
Andy's Greek Restaurant, Bayham Street
Boots, Camden High Street
Camden Household, Camden Street
Caponata Ristorante, Delancey Street
Central Stationers, Camden High Street
Eclipse Hair Salon, Camden High Street
Greenland Butchers, Greenland Road
J.A. Lake & Co. Jewellers, Camden High Street
JP Pharmacy, Camden High Street
99p Stores, Camden High Street
Özdiller Supermarket, Pratt Street
Prontaprint, Camden High Street
Sainsburys, Camden Road
Sen-nin Japanese Restaurant, Pratt Street
Snappy Snaps, Camden High Street
Somerfield, Camden High Street
Supernews, Pratt Street
local authors Geoff Dyer and Doro Marden

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Photos from the festival

The PCOs try plate spinning

Parents for Sports entertaining the little ones

Unicycle riding tuition on the mound

A donkey among the graves - not an every day sight in St Martin's Gardens

The autumn perennial bed colouring up

The local Police Community Support Officers - bathed in a virtuous halo of light

Glendale/Camden Council gave us geraniums for fund raising

The raffle and tombola proved popular

Free donkey rides

The firefighters and their truck - 2nd in popularity to the donkey!

Local girls size up their future fighting fires

The entertainer and his fireshow - no firefighters required....

"The Godmothers" - some of the volunteers who organised the event

Community Festival - August 30, 2008

The community festival on August 30 was a huge success. The weather was summer-y (for a change!) and many helpers pitched in to make the day a success.

Events for children included free donkey rides & an entertainer who taught spinning plates and unicycle riding, and later did a fire show.
Parents for Sports from Somers Town kindly joined us to run activities for mainly under 5's and our local firefighters brought their truck along.

We held a raffle, tombola, guess the cake weight & guess the number of sweets competitions. The money raised ensures that we will be able to run a similar event next year - we have to buy liability insurance to hold events, so even with the small grant from Camden Council, a certain amount of fun raising is necessary. We're indebted to local residents and businesses who donated prizes for the raffle & tombola.

Amongst those who donated items are :
Somerfield, JP Pharmacy -139 Camden High St,The Little Baker - 94 Camden High St, Woolworths, Sainsburys, Waterstones, Boots, 99p Shop, Marks & Spencer’s, Argos, Carphone Warehouse, Golden Lion Tavern, Royal College St, The Worlds End pub, George’s Café -Pratt St, Firat 2 groceries -Pratt St, Central Stationers, Vodafone Camden, Savers, Flickers Hair.

Thanks to all who came to join us on the day, it was certainly a wonderful meeting of our community!

More photos are in the separate posting.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Event on 30 August 2008

We're holding a small event in the Gardens on Saturday 30 August from 2-5pm.

We could still do with some help with the event, perhaps you could:
  • promote the event to your neighbours - we haven't arranged a letter box drop, though the event is advertised in the park noticeboards
  • donate items for the tombola - Bridie and Maureen are organising this and already a number of local businesses and Friends have donated prizes (the money raised will go towards our public liability insurance - without this, we can't hold events)
  • help on the day as a gate warden, even if only for 20 minutes - this is to prevent children wandering off
  • help on the Friends table for a short period of time
We hope to see you all on the 30th, celebrating our lovely park.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Saturday 9 June 2007_London Open Squares Event

We are hosting an event as part of the London Open Squares Event.

Look out for more information.

The gardens are now managed by the London Borough of Camden and have recently benefited from 'Liveability Funding', which enabled new CCTV for the gardens, park furniture, signage and significant landscape and horticultural improvements. The gardens benefit from an active Friends group.
The Friends Group will organise historical tours of the garden's tombs and other activities.
Pratt Street / Camden Street
24, 27, 29, 46, 134, 168, 214, 253
Station: Camden Town

Saturday, June 03, 2006

History of St Martin's Gardens

In 1801 the site of St Martin’s Gardens was farmland, fields called Upper Meadow and Upper Brook Meadow. In 1802 an Act of Parliament was passed to turn the 4 acre site in to a burial ground. The area was handed over to St Martins in the Fields (Trafalgar Sq) for the burial of its parishioners. The Act included the building of a chapel and buildings for the clergy for the purposes of “to officiate in burying the dead”.

In 1817 an Act of Parliament was passed so that the trustees of the cemetery could give up some of the land to build Almshouses. This was complete in October 1818.

In 1854 an Act of Parliament was passed to grant leases on unused portions of the burial ground for building development. This included the demolition of the chapel and clergy buildings on the site. It is thought that the large mound in the centre of the gardens, being much larger than the original mound, is the site of a large pit containing these bodies.

In 1879 some additional rooms, an infirmary and a chapel were built, specifically for the residents of the Almshouses. In 1884 the Camden Town Cemetery was full and was no longer in use. The Vestry of St Pancras acquired the ground from St Martin’s in the Field, although the latter retained the freehold. In 1884 the ground was laid out as a garden for the cost of £1,717.10s.6d.

On 24 July 1889 the gardens were officially opened by Countess Rosebery commemorated by a plaque on the wall in the NE corner. Born Hannah Rothschild, she was one of England's greatest heiresses inheriting £2 million in 1874 upon the death of her father. She married Philip Archibald Primrose, 5th Earl of Rosebery on 20 March 1878, she was given away by Disraeli. The Earl was said to have had three ambitions; to marry the richest woman in London, win the Derby and become Prime Minister – he achieved all three.

In 2005 and 2006 the London Borough of Camden commissioned and completed a series of improvements and changes in planting in St Martin’s Gardens to enhance the community use of the Gardens. There was a ceremony on 10 June 2006 to re-dedicate the Gardens, carried out by the current Countess of Roseberry.