At the beginning of 2020, the Friends of Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park were awarded a National Lottery Heritage Fund grant to create our first Conservation Management Plan and better celebrate heritage across the historic Cemetery Park. This grant spanned over the course of 2 years and enabled us to expand our offer of heritage activities and training and engage more people in our amazing history as well as work towards better conserving both our natural and cultural heritage. The project was also supported by The Pilgrim Trust who awarded us an additional £10,000 to help pay for surveys and site studies that helped us to better understand our history and our potential for the future. It was also supported by the Garfield Weston Foundation.
The Conservation Management Plan, was completed in December 2022 after two years of hard work and has helped us to better understand and conserve our history, the biodiversity of our site and the things our community love best about Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park. This plan has involved huge input from our community, our stakeholders and from heritage and biodiversity professionals.
You can download a copy of our plan (in 2 parts) here.
THCP Conservation Plan Part 1 2022
This Conservation Management Plan has helped us:
- Describe our heritage and our history
- Understand why the Cemetery Park matters and to whom
- Understand what is happening to our heritage and what most needs preserving
- Understand what the key issues are that will affect the Cemetery Park over the coming years
- Plan conservation and restoration works for the future
- Improve public access
- Plan activities and interpretation that engage the whole community
Understanding what needs to be done, why it needs to be done and who will do the work is vital to the success of the Cemetery Park in the long term. This knowledge is helping us to create a maintenance plan to care for the Cemetery Park to guide us on what needs doing on a day-to-day basis. The Conservation Management Plan will guide us on everything from who cuts the grass and plants the spring daffodils, when the health and safety checks need completing and how we conduct cleaning to how we decide what repairs are most important on our vast array of headstones and monuments.
Work completed so far!
Despite being just a year after the completion of the Conservation Management Plan, we have already begun (and completed) several of the projects that were highlighted in our works schedule.
In 2022, we were able to restore our forest school area thanks to the support of our corporate volunteers. This group of volunteers replaced the wooden seating area that was previously crumbling to pieces and reinstated the dead hedge that creates security for groups meeting their and protects the plants behind the forest school from being trampled.
We have also now completed the new green waste area that is located to the north east of the Cemetery Park in an area the team knows as Fern Glade where no headstones remained after clearence works in the 1960s-1980s by the Greater London Council. This work was completed by staff and volunteers who levelled off the area, made a dead hedge to protect the headstones surrounding the glade and planted a living hedge that will eventually replace the dead hedge once the plants get established.
In 2023, we have also completed works to remove old damaged fencing around an area we know as Sanctuary Wood, opening up the area and making the monuments more accessible and easier to care for that would have once faced the Anglican Chapel before its demolition in the 1960s. This fence once marked the only bit of the Cemetery Park the Greater London Council planned to leave standing before protests halted demolition work and saved the built heritage of the historic cemetery for future generations.
Throughout the coming year we’ll be working on restoring historic paths, conserving some of our monuments and continuing work on our 1940s lodge that will become the new home of the Friends of Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park. If you’d like to support any of these projects you can donate here.
Below are a few of the things that have informed our plans for the future:
• We’ve invited over 2000 of you to try new heritage activities and share your thoughts on how we could bring heritage to life at the Cemetery Park.
• We’ve conducted visitor surveys with 180 people and talked to hundreds of you on social media and on-site about the things you love (and maybe don’t love) about Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park
• We’ve invited heritage professionals from LDA Design to conduct monument surveys on some of our largest and most beautiful monuments and document the changes to our historic landscape
• We’ve surveyed our 1940s lodge building to understand the best ways to use the space in the future
• We’ve spoken to our volunteers, members and local community organisations about what they’d like to see at the Cemetery Park
You can find a copy of our consultation report for 2022 here – CMP consultations report October 2022
For any further information, please contact our Heritage Officer, Claire, on firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also find copies of our invitation to tender and our project brief below on our heritage blog.