Chelsea Fringe – London Garden No 11

Five Minutes Peace: a garden to sit in, a poem to read, and a prompt to write to … No 11. (Find out more about what this is all about here.)

REDCROSS GARDEN, SOUTHWARK
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This is the garden that Octavia built…
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I love this garden, tucked away in Southwark, near Little Dorrit Street, and still fulfilling its original function – from 1887! – as an outdoor sitting room for local residents.
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It was built by Octavia Hill, one of the great social reformers – as well as starting the National Trust – and she believed strongly that fresh air was important to quality of life so she created this garden as a place for people to sit in to counter some of the problems with the smog and industrial fumes of the time. At the same time, she built the small row of cottages and a ‘village hall’ for activities such as dancing, crafts and skills. Isn’t it hard to believe that this is in the very middle of London?
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The garden has had two reincarnations since, and it’s a testament to the power of volunteers that it looks so tranquil and well-maintained now. It really is a community garden.
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I sat on the lawn to write today, the first time I’d actually walked barefoot this year, and although the grass got so close it was nearly IN my poem…
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… as you can see from what I wrote, I decided just to put my pen down eventually and enjoy the sun on my face and real people around. It really was like a sitting room!
The Outside Sitting Room
After a winter we thought would never end
and a spring that had barely begun,
we come almost shyly – one by one –
into the park. A father lies down immediately,
his daughter giggling as she tiptoes away,
the homesick student listens to music
from her childhood, eyes shut,
head raised to catch these slivers
of sun she’s learning to call summer,
a jogger comes and goes, and a family
takes over the far corner, prams, and aunts,
and picnics, and complicated games
only one boy will ever understand
while I sit, and by the act of recording them all
shut the door on myself.
Put down the pen,
shut the journal,
walk with bare feet on warm grass.
So today I invite you to write about either a garden inside, or a rooms of a house outside… or just take your shoes off and feel the grass under your toes!
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And because I missed out a garden yesterday, I give you two today! If you visit The Redcross Garden, I recommend you walk a little bit up the road to the very poignant Crossbones Remembrance Garden that I wrote about here.

3 thoughts on “Chelsea Fringe – London Garden No 11

  1. Pingback: Chelsea Fringe – London Garden No 12 | Writer In The Garden

  2. Pingback: The view from a hill – Octavia Hill, Toys Hill and Ide Hill | Writer In The Garden

  3. Pingback: Fancy a London garden mooch? | Writer In The Garden

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