Garden Museum awarded grant of £3.5million by Heritage Lottery Fund

The project will:

  • Double the gallery space, and increase the amount of collection on display from 200 to over 1000 objects and works of art
  • Recreate part of John Tradescants’ Ark, made possible by the generosity of the Ashmolean Museum who will provide loans for the gallery
  • Set up the first Archive of Garden Design – preserving the records and legacies of great garden designers and makers
  • Build new education pavilions in the garden, providing dedicated spaces for learning activities and school visits
  • Create a beautiful new public garden made by Dan Pearson, one of the best landscape designers in the country, open for everyone to enjoy
  • Relocate the café to a bigger, purpose-built space within the garden
  • Restore and upgrade the facilities in the ancient church, including heating, electrics and drainage
  • Interpret the history of the church and local neighbourhood, including opening the medieval tower to the public

Christopher Woodward, Director of the Garden Museum, said: “This award will make a museum for a nation of gardeners: five new galleries, space for a hundred public events a year, and the first archive of garden design. But we also want the old building and a new garden to be an oasis in the centre of London. We are very grateful to the HLF for their support in making this exciting project happen.”

Blondel Cluff, Chair of the HLF London Committee, said: “The Garden Museum’s unique collection takes us through 400 years of digging, growing, pruning and picking. This major redevelopment will open up the museum’s historic home, creating new gallery and education spaces. With hundreds more objects on display, visitors will be able to delve deeper into this fascinating topic which, by its very nature, is ever-changing.”


The development project will enable the creation of new galleries which tell the story of British gardens through time. At present, less than 10% of the collection is on display; the new galleries will showcase over 1,000 objects, pictures, photographs and artefacts from our unique collection of items relating to garden history. Galleries will explore the relationship between people and gardens, with individual galleries focussing on the gardener as a profession, the changing styles of garden design, the garden as a source of inspiration, and the history of cultivating and maintaining a garden. The centrepieces of the new galleries will be the Ark and archive.

The Ark

The Ark gallery will be dedicated to the story of the John Tradescants, father and son, plant hunters and collectors who created the first public museum in England at their home in Lambeth, and are buried at St Marys in an ornately-carved grade II* listed tomb. The gallery will display objects from the Tradescants’ 17th-century cabinet of curiosities, some of which, with exceptional generosity, are to be loaned to the Garden Museum by the Ashmolean Museum from 2016.

The Tradescants created an Ark, or museum, to show off their collection of artefacts which they had picked up on their travels, or acquired from wealthy patrons, merchant ships’ captains, and collectors. The Ark was one of the wonders of seventeenth century London – objects included the cradle once believed to have belonged to King Henry VI, weapons, beads and dishes of precious stone from countries across the world, as well as crystal balls, and ‘natural history in a nutshell’ including the North American elk, the Arabian gazelle, and the Scandinavian reindeer.

The Archive of Garden Design

There is currently no one place dedicated to collecting the archive of great garden makers and designers, which is why the Archive of Garden Design is so important. This will be a purpose-built repository for the records of the great makers of gardens, together with the writers and photographers who have interpreted their work. The founding deposits will be the records of John Brookes, Beth Chatto, and Penelope Hobhouse, together with the photographic archive of Andrew Lawson. The need for a garden archive is urgent as living, planted masterpieces are by their nature ephemeral. In decades to come photographs, correspondence, plant lists and sketches will be the only trace of the gardens which entrance us today, and of the friendships and ideas which inspired their creation.

Garden Pavilions

Additionally, we will build three lightweight garden pavilions, linked by a covered cloister, which will house dedicated spaces for education and a new café.  The Learning Space will be a classroom-style room, ideal for school groups or lectures, and the Learning Studio will be a smaller space for hands-on activities and workshops run by our partners in the neighbourhood. The award also will fund new education programmes and activities.

The Garden Museum must match the HLF’s award and raise £3,069,123. So far, over £1.95m (64%) has been raised.

Further information

Rebecca Nicholl at the Garden Museum, on tel: 020 7401 8896, or

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