Saint Mary’s Churchyard Park, London, UK

Location: London, UK
Client: London Borough of Southwark
Size: 1 hectare
Status: Completed 2008
Award: BALI Award for Regeneration 2008

During the fourteenth century, Saint Mary’s Churchyard was the site of an old medieval parish church, Saint Mary of Newington. The main structure of the church was demolished in 1720, leaving only the Clock Tower as a historical landmark. The Church was rebuilt and opened in March 1721. During the 18th century, the church was flattened, and the site has been an open park ever since.

In 2007, Southwark Council re-landscaped Saint Mary’s Churchyard with the financial assistance of the London Development Agency as part of the Elephant and Castle Regeneration Scheme. At the time of the landscaping works, very little visual evidence remained that the site had been a churchyard. The only remnants were a small number of gravestones placed along the boundary of Churchyard Row, the listed railings which were extensively restored, and the clock tower memorial stone.

The key design goals for Saint Mary’s were to reorganise the park while retaining its positive historic qualities, link the park to the city, incorporate healthy existing trees into the design, work with the historic railings, and ultimately to make the park a safe, accessible, and desirable place for the community. These goals are achieved by incorporating park access, safety features, and activity into the design.

While working on the site construction, workmen came across a number of old vaults and burial plots. These were carefully recorded by an archaeologist and left undisturbed. Today the site remains a consecrated ground and continues to be an open space for the use and enjoyment of children and the greater public. The site has won the British Association of Landscape Industries Award for Regeneration.