London Parks & Gardens Trust

A Walk through Bloomsbury

St George's Gardens

St George's Gardens

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Directions

Retrace your steps to the corner of the square, turn left into Mecklenburgh Street and left again into Heathcote Street. At the end of the street, go through the wrought- iron gates on the right into St George's Gardens.

Description

The three-acre St George's Gardens were once a meadow, bought in 1713 to make a burial ground for two churches – St George Bloomsbury and St George the Martyr, which you saw in Queen Square. It was the first burial ground in London to be located away from its church. The two cemeteries were originally divided by a brick wall and had separate entrances.

Among the many hundreds buried here was Zachary Macaulay (1768-1838), a leading figure in the campaign to abolish the slave trade in 1807, and editor of the Anti-Slavery Reporter. As a young man, he had worked on a plantation and witnessed the horrors of slavery at first hand. He was also governor of a colony of freed slaves in Africa. He died in 1838, five years after slavery was finally made illegal.

The burial grounds became full up and were closed around 1854, and after a period of neglect were re-opened in 1889 as part of the movement to make overgrown graveyards and other urban spaces into ‘open air sitting rooms for the poor’.