Stephen Fry: “not just a green space”

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Stephen Fry (pictured above), Friend of St James’s Church, said: “What is needed in Piccadilly is a proper place to sit and reflect and take yourself out of the bustle. The garden at St James’s Piccadilly is not just a green space, it’s an active part of the community, as the rest of St James’s Church is.”

A new show garden has been inspired by the green spaces and community spirit at St James’s Church, Piccadilly, in central London. Work has begun at RHS Chelsea Flower Show on St James’s Piccadilly’s Imagine the World to be Different show garden. The garden is sponsored by grant-making charity Project Giving Back and designed by award-winning landscape architect Robert Myers.

Designer Robert Myers said: “The St James’s Piccadilly garden at RHS Chelsea centres around restoration and climate resilience. Through our commitment to environmental innovation, we aim to inspire others to create a more sustainable and resilient future. Already a place of refuge and consolation for thousands, the newly designed counselling cabin underlines the importance of healing at the heart of St James’s Piccadilly’s mission.”

Rector, Rev Lucy Winkett said: “The garden and courtyard of St James’s Piccadilly (pictured above) offer a welcome space in the busyness of central London for conversations under trees. Robert’s design emphasises the inherent resilience of nature and its healing powers. For us it’s important that it is a space where each person has their own dignity and where our interdependence with the natural world is emphasised and celebrated.”

The garden evokes St James’s churchyard garden and highlights the importance of public green spaces in the city for healing and biodiversity. The garden is inspired by St James’s inclusive ethos, the character and form of the existing gardens, bombed in World War Two, but surviving and evolving into a biodiverse, eclectic haven for people and nature. The show garden also features a unique timber structure designed by Ivan Morison to replace the existing hut which houses the counselling service providing 5,000 hours of free counselling a year.

The church’s community is committed to making the world a better place. The RHS Chelsea garden will support efforts to raise £20m for The Wren Project, a scheme to rejuvenate the historic, Wren-designed church and particularly to restore its garden, in order to accommodate and amplify St James’s extensive social outreach and environmental work. Donations can be made at https://www.sjp.org.uk/chelsea-campaign/

The Imagine the World to be Different garden will be re-sited in two phases. All the trees and plants will move to St Pancras Church on Euston Road, which is a partner to St James’s. All of the hard landscape elements and timber cabin will be stored and reused as part of The Wren Project at St James’s.

Main Photo Credit: Jack Taylor via Getty Images. All other images courtesy of St James’s Church, Piccadilly, Central London.

Val Fraser

Val Fraser is a trained journalist with over 12 years’ experience working on staff in various demanding media environments. She has authored/edited thousands of articles including news, travel and features. Val has authored/contributed to nine non-fiction books. A regular columnist, she stepped up to the role of Digital Editor in September 2022 and is responsible for the Sorted Magazine website.
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