The Eastern Churchyard of St Mary’s was legally closed in 1854, since it was full, and over the following century and a half it had become very run down. Many of the gravestones and monuments were in a state of disrepair and potential danger, and the site had become very overgrown with low grade vegetation. In addition, hundreds of local people and children walk through the churchyard each week. It was felt that St Mary’s could do better than this and a project was started in 2008 to renew this area and open it up again to local people and for the interment of ashes of parishioners.
Therefore a vision was developed for the renewal of the churchyard and, following wide consultation, grant applications, and fund raising gift days within St Mary’s, a scheme of works was drawn up.
The vision driving the project was to create the St Mary’s churchyard as:
1. A place of peace, beauty and interest to the local community.
2. A place in which a garden of remembrance could be created for the interment of ashes.
3. A place which fosters biodiversity and local wildlife.
4. A place to reconnect the churchyard with the interior of St Mary’s and develop a new outdoors space where children’s groups and community gatherings can spill outside onto the new plaza area from the Polygon.
5. A place to help urban people find a quiet attractive space for reflection and prayer.
The project took six years to implement and a “Dedication and Opening Service” was held on 21st September 2014 led by the Bishop of London Rt Revd Richard Chartres.