|Drury Lane Gardens||Westminster|
Drury Lane Gardens is a small public garden created in 1877 on the site of a former burial ground of St Martin-in-the-Fields, the first burial ground to be made into a public garden in Westminster following closure as a result of the Burial Acts, in this case due to the intervention of Octavia Hill. The mortuary and lodge survive either side of the entrance, together with C19th gate piers. The raised garden is largely taken up with a playground, sports court and hard landscaping but also has a seating area shaded by a pergola, with shrubberies and bedding displays. A number of tombstones are ranged along the northern boundary.
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Mrs Basil Holmes reported that before it closed for burial, this former burial ground of St Martin-in-the-Fields (q.v.) 'was so disgustingly overcrowded that no burials could take place there without the disturbance of other bodies, which were crowded into pits dug in the ground, and covered with boards'. It was the first burial ground to be made into a public garden in Westminster following closure as a result of the Burial Acts of 1852 and subsequent years, in this case due to the intervention of social reformer and philanthropist Octavia Hill, and was undertaken by St Martin-in-the-Fields Vestry. By that time four other public gardens had been formed from burial grounds, St Botolph's Bishopsgate, St George in the East and its adjoining Wesleyan graveyard, St John's Waterloo and St Pancras Old Churchyard with the adjoining St Giles in the Fields burial ground (q.q.v.). The red brick Gothic mortuary and lodge together with the linking gate piers of 1880 survive and are listed; they may have been designed by Elijah Hoole whose patroness was Hill, and who was responsible for designing the cottages and hall adjacent to Red Cross Garden (q.v.), for which Hill was also responsible.
Drury Lane Gardens contains a number of tombstones ranged along the northern boundary wall; steps from the entrance gates lead to a seating area shaded by a pergola, with shrubbery and bedding displays. The garden is largely occupied by a children's playground and a sports court, and also has a drinking fountain in the garden. Green Flag winner.
Simon Bradley and Nikolaus Pevsner, 'The Buildings of England London 6: Westminster', (Yale University Press, 2003); Mrs Basil Holmes, 'The London Burial Grounds', 1896.