George's Gardens - archive material
Morning Herald, 11 January 1876
|....Now for the
other picture, drawn by the same hand [The Times]. Here it is:- |
Instead of quarrels about vestments, and chants, and postures, a spectacle of general enthusiasm for local improvement is described, in which the rector, the vestry, the Nonconformist, and the parish at large are united; and the rector only appeals to the public in order to insure, what he has every reason to expect, the favourable co-operation of the Metropolitan Board of Works. The proposal to convert the churchyard, once the scene of such bitter animosities, into the centre of peace, cheerfulness, harmony and health for the whole parish. Mr. Jones' sketch of the present and the future unconsciously tells the story of this revolution in a few words. There is an old churchyard planted with trees, and adjoining it is the burial-ground of the Wesleyan chapel. The chapel burial-ground is, however, separated from the churchyard by a gaol-like wall, 'high, spiked, and strong'. That was the kind of force which once surrounded the whole ecclesiastical establishment of the parish. "The obvious course", says Mr. Jones, with admirable directness, "is to throw all sectarian reminiscences to the winds, pull down the middle wall of partition between the dead Churchmen and their deceased Nonconformist neighbours, and thus provide a good acre or more for the formation of a well-ordered public garden". He would have it accessible to all the parish; and his imagination conjures up a picture of perfect pastoral harmony. Flower beds and trees will flourish, in the heart of a crowded parish, and in grateful proximity to the church, a rural retreat, where fountains, peacocks, and pigeons will recall, under the shadow of the church, no thoughts but those of unity and peace. All this, moreover, is not merely an imaginary idyll. The reality it would typify has been already in great measure created. This is not now Mr. Jones's idea, though he probably had a good share in it. It is the suggestion of the Vestry itself of St. George's-in-the-East. Mr. Jones is speaking for them, not to them, and he only appears as their representative. Nothing, of course, could have been done unless he had been willing to turn his rights over the churchyard to such good account; but it is the Vestry, and not the Rector who asks for the assistance of the Metropolitan Board of Works. They have warmly adopted the suggestion; they are prepared to furnish half the cost, which can hardly be less than a few thousand pounds, and they have prepared detailed plans and estimates.
But the project for converting the parish churchyard into a pleasure ground has not been received with universal favour. The Pall Mall Gazette, for instance, says:-
Mr. Jones knows Ratcliff-highway well, we presume - knows the population, their character, habits, morals, manners. What he wants to get - or what he ought to want, as being the only thing there is the least possibility of getting or preserving in such a neighbourhood - is simply a piece of green turf as large as possible, and to be kept as fresh and in such sort of order as may be found possible.
That is all. 'A piece of green turf' is good enough for the working man, that is, in the estimation of the journal 'written by gentlemen for gentlemen'. But it so happens that Ratcliff-highway no more represents the parish of which Mr. Jones is rector than Argyle-street or the Haymarket represents the West End. The bulk of the inhabitants are honest, hardworking people, with an intense love of flowers, and ready to appreciate everything which is being done to lighten the burthen of their earthly lot. That they can enjoy something more than 'a piece of green turf' is shown by their numerous pilgrimages to the various parks and public gardens within a walking distance. But then our gentlemen writers do not know this.
(3) East London
January 1901, page 7
Harry Jones and Open
Harry Jones, as he liked simply to be called, sat loose to certain points of doctrine or ritual closely cherished by his brother clergy; and among the numerous men who served under him as curates, some have o'er-leapt their master and become noted for more or less latitudinarian eccentricity; but he himself was sound in heart and mind and practice, and in connection with social, sanitary, and municipal questions he was eminently wise and successful. "That which is good," he wrote, "is of God, though it be but the sweetening of a drain; and that which is anywise right has its inevitable relation to the Lord of Righteousness." This was his creed; while his "Christian tie" was "the desire to do the will of God." Such men are sorely missed.
It is not, however, with regard to his social activity or his parochial life that I wish to say something about Harry Jones. These, no doubt, will be dealt with by his friends and colleagues; while he has left behind him an unusually large number of books and papers relating his own experiences and describing his own work. It is solely upon his connection with the movement for providing open spaces that I venture to dwell-a connection so valuable that it should not be forgotten.
A Ragged Churchyard
Ours was, indeed, the first Churchyard Open Space, with a thoroughfare provided, and the making of it caused an adaptation or fresh application from the Act which made the formation of the others easier. I well remember Lord Meath coming and talking the whole prospect of the matter over. We had a disused 'Non-con.' burial-ground adjacent to our churchyard joined to it so as to make one area, unbroken by any fence between 'consecrated' and 'unconsecrated' soil. A unique procedure, I believe, which has created a precedent.
What to do with Burial Grounds
In the immediate proximity of St. Luke's, Berwick Street, and St. Philip's, Regent Street, Harry Jones had no opportunity of making a recreation-ground, but open-space movements in the neighbourhood always had his hearty co-operation. From the commencement of its existence he was a member of the Public Gardens Association, and very numerous are the letters and postcards the officers of that body have had from him on points connected with the history or formation of open spaces.
From St George's to the City
The Ruling Passion in
It is satisfactory to be able to report that special care has been taken by the Corporation to avoid in any way injuring the roots of this tree, the 'living London monument', which he so faithfully guarded, who loved the bustle of the city streets while he loved the peacefulness of his Suffolk home.
word more with regard to the
churchyard of St. George's-in-the-East. To fully appreciate what an
incalculable boon its opening has proved it should be visited. On
warm and sunny days every available seat in the garden will be
occupied. The grass is green and refreshing, the trees are shady and
the flowers are bright. Rough men are there, and coarse girls from 'the Highway' - now called St. George's Street - but there is
perfect order and good behaviour. There are also many quiet folk,
poor folk, and little children. It is their own and their only park
they not only love but respect it. And while most of them may be
thoughtless, or engrossed with sordid cares of their narrow lives,
some, perhaps are remembering, with a sense of deep-felt gratitude,
Oct 30 1907
My dear Sir,
St George's in the East
I have to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 29th Inst, & I have perused 2 Geo II Cap 30. [This was the 1729 Act of Parliament creating the parish.]
The Freehold of the Church Yard of St George's
in the East,
consecrated ground, is vested in you as Rector of the Parish, but the
Fee is in abeyance.
[in law, the incumbent for the time being holds the title or 'fee simple' to the church and churchyard - but where there is a vacancy in the parish, or the living is suspended, or where, as here, the churchyard is closed and management transferred to the local authority, it is not entirely clear where ultimate 'ownership' lies. Attempts to address this issue, and the legal confusions that result, have been made at General Synod but without success.]
By virtue of Consecration it is under the exclusive jurisdiction of the Consistory Court of London, & no agreement by you or the Church Wardens for the transfer of its control & management as proposed would be valid in law, unleʃs confirmed by Faculty.
The usual & proper course for you & the Ch Wardens in such Cases to take is to settle terms of agreement with the Borough Council in the matter – and then file a Petition in the Consistory Ct embodying in it the terms of the proposed agreement, & praying the Court to sanction by a Faculty such agreement. When executed & empowering the Council to have the Care & Management of the Church Yard in future on the terms mentioned in the Agreement reserving to the Church its Jurisdiction over the Ch Yard.
On the case being heard I might suggest some alterations in the terms of agreement, & it is better that it shd not be executed until after the hearing of the Case in Court.
The Borough Council might be & usually are in such Cases parties to the Petition.
In 1876 I granted the First Faculty granted by any Ecclesiastical Court for laying out as Public Gardens the lower portion of this Church Yard – see Re the Rector & Church Wardens of St Georges in the East (LR Prob. Div. 311) & on granting the Faculty I said that “the Ch Yd would still remain subject to the orders of the Court, to which application could at any future time, if required, be made.”
This practice was confirmed by the Open Spaces Act 1881 44 & 45 Vic Cap 34 authorising Public Authorities expending rates on laying out Ch Yards subject to obtaining a Faculty for the purpose.
Yours very truly
J. H. Tristram
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