Lonely Planet Writer

Got green fingers? London's Garden Museum has just reopened after a £7.5m renovation

If your idea of bliss is pottering among the plants or bimbling around the garden centre, you’ll be in seventh heaven to learn that the Garden Museum in London has reopened after the completion of an 18-month re-development project. It’s England’s only museum dedicated to the art, history and design of gardens, and its renovation cost £7.5 million and was made possible by National Lottery funding.

London has a gardening museum and it’s just reopened after a three year renovation. Image: John Chase and the Garden Museum
London has a gardening museum and it’s just reopened after a three-year renovation. Image: John Chase and the Garden Museum

The museum is set in the restored ancient and deconsecrated church of St Mary’s, and it contains seven galleries. The new design includes a courtyard extension, built without foundations due to the 20,000 bodies buried on the site, some dating back to before the Norman Conquest.

The museum building was saved from demolition in 1977 by Rosemary Nicholson, who raised funds to turn the building into the first museum in the world dedicated to the history of gardening. Since then, the Garden Museum has become a hub of learning for gardeners. Visitors can explore the medieval 14th-century tower following the insertion of a viewing platform, which provides a unique view of London and the river Thames.

London has a gardening museum and it’s just reopened after a three year renovation. Image: John Chase and the Garden Museum
London has a gardening museum and it’s just reopened after a three-year renovation. Image: John Chase and the Garden Museum

With a busy calendar of temporary exhibitions, the museum is making the most of its increased exhibition space, and visitors can see over a thousand objects on display. The collections reflect all aspects of gardening from 1600 to the modern day, from Britain’s oldest watering can to Harold Gilman’s iconic ‘Portrait of a Black Gardener.’

London has a gardening museum and it’s just reopened after a three year renovation. Image: John Chase and the Garden Museum
London has a gardening museum and it’s just reopened after a three-year renovation. Image: John Chase and the Garden Museum

Contained within the museum is the country’s first archive of garden design that includes photographs, plans, drawings and books. There is also an extension for learning that includes a learning space for schools, and a second space where art and cooking takes place.

For further information, check out the Garden Museum.