Revamped gardens culminate St Mary's nine-year £1.9m restoration project
- Credit: St Mary's Church
The newly renovated gardens at St Mary’s were officially opened by the Mayor of Islington, to mark the culmination of the church’s £1.9million revamp.
Work to the gardens off Dagmar Terrace, to the north of the Upper Street church, cost nearly £750,000 and were paid for through money secured by Islington Council through the redevelopment of Islington Square nearby.
Set into long, diagonal path running through the garden are 10 bronze roundels which have the names of historic Islington figures inscribed into them, including the 19th-century humanitarian Caroline Chisholm, Samuel Ajayi Crowther who was the first African Anglican bishop in Nigeria and the local builders Dove Brothers.
The garden renovation marks the end of the £1.9m Heart of Islington project, nine years after the initial idea was raised to celebrate the history of the site and to carry out vital repairs.
St Mary's neighbourhood centre has been upgraded, and in 2019 the church portico was taken apart and rebuilt by specialists meaning the building is no longer designated as 'heritage at risk' by Historic England.
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About 1,000 people attended a free family fun day on Saturday (September 18) with face painting, bouncy castles, live music, games with Mary's youth club, and a free café.
Then on Sunday, Mayor Troy Gallagher officially opened the gardens following a service of celebration and thanksgiving.
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He 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 garden and added: “After all the challenges of the last 18 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.”