Inventory Site Record

Barber-Surgeons' Hall Gardens (City of London)

Brief Description

Barber-Surgeons' Hall Gardens are on the site of Hadrian's fort around the City of AD122 with remains of a bastion of AD300. The Worshipful Company of Barbers was founded in 1308, whose livery hall stood near here by 1441. In 1540 they amalgamated with the Worshipful Company of Surgeons although the two split again in 1745. There are records of a garden here by 1555 and in 1597 of preparations for a garden of plants advocated by John Gerard,a plantsman famous for his 'Herbal', a Member and later Master of the Company. The present garden was begun in 1987 on what was by then a derelict bomb site. It contains the Worshipful Company of Barbers Herb Garden, a number of commemorative trees, formal and informal areas, and overlooks an area of water towards St Giles Church, whose churchyard once extended here.

Practical Information
Site location:
off London Wall/Wood Street
What 3 Words:
Type of site:
Public Gardens
City of London
Open to public?
Opening times:
Special conditions:
Public transport:
Tube: St Paul's (Central), Barbican (Hammersmith & City, Circle, Metropolitan)
Research updated:
Last minor changes:

Please check with the site owner or manager for latest news. www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/openspaces; www.barberscompany.org

Full Site Description

The site includes part of the former St Giles Churchyard south of the water. Barber-Surgeons' Hall Garden is one of 10 livery company gardens remaining in the City. The Worshipful Company of Barbers was founded in 1308, and their livery hall existed near the current site by 1475. In 1540 the company amalgamated with the Worshipful Company of Surgeons although the two companies subsequently split again in 1745. Although there may have been a garden soon after the hall was established here, earliest records of a garden are in October 1555 when an allowance was given to the clerk for maintenance works, and reference is made in 1597 to preparation of a site for 'a garden to plant all kinds of herbs or such plants of suchlike as the said Mr Gerard should think meet'. John Gerard, the plantsman, gardener and author whose 'Herbal' of 1597 was well-known, was also a surgeon and member of the Surgeons' Company of which he became Master in 1607. In 1630 '100 sweet briars' were purchased by the Company along with other plants for the garden. Its presence probably stopped the fire of 1666 from reaching the Anatomical Theatre although the Hall burnt down. The Hall built to replace it was itself demolished by WWII bombing and the present Hall was opened in 1969.

The present garden was begun in 1987 on the initiative of Past-Master Sir Francis Avery Jones of the Company on what was by then a derelict bomb site. The work was undertaken by the Corporation of London's Parks Department and it was opened as a public garden; it is on the site of Hadrian's fort built around the City in AD122, to which 21 bastions were added in c.AD300, the remains of one of which, number 13, is in the garden. The gardens comprise an area with formal planting south of the Hall and a larger informal area with grass and trees, which overlooks the lakeside across which is St Giles Church and former graveyard (q.v.). Within the garden is the Worshipful Company of Barbers' Herb Garden, which has 45 small plots and is divided into four areas, firstly plants referred to by Gerard and related to surgery, dentistry, wounds and burns; plants with smells and those against insects and for dyeing; medieval plants now discarded but formerly in the official pharmocopoeia; and plants that contain modern medicine or are origins of modern medicine. Elsewhere in the garden are various trees that were planted for notable occasions, which include a Tilia Tomentosa planted in 1979; Magnolia 'Elizabeth' planted on 5 June 2002 for Queen Elizabeth II's Golden Jubilee by William Shand; a Prunus Subhirtella 'autumnus' planted for the Queen Mother; and a tree planted by the British Homeopathic Association.

Sources consulted:

'The Herb Garden of the Worshipful Company of Barbers' 1998 (leaflet); Margaret King, 'The two gardens of the Barber-Surgeons', London Landscapes no.51, Spring 2019.

Further Information (Planning and Conservation)
Grid ref:
TQ322816 (532280,181600)
Size in hectares:
Site ownership:
City of London Corporation/Worshipful Company of Barbers
Site management:
Open Spaces Dept. and Liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Barbers
C15/16th on; 1980s
Listed structures:
SAM: London Wall in Cripplegate Churchyard and west of Barber Surgeons' Hall
On National Heritage List for England (NHLE), Parks & Gardens:

Registered common or village green on Commons Registration Act 1965:

Protected under London Squares Preservation Act 1931:


Local Authority Data

The information below is taken from the relevant Local Authority's planning legislation, which was correct at the time of research but may have been amended in the interim. Please check with the Local Authority for latest planning information.

On Local List:
In Conservation Area:
Tree Preservation Order:
Nature Conservation Area:
Green Belt:
Metropolitan Open Land:
Special Policy Area:
Other LA designation:

Barber-Surgeons' Hall Gardens

Barber-Surgeons' Gardens with Roman Wall and Barbican beyond, May 2010. Photo: S Williams

Barber-Surgeons' Gardens with Roman Wall, May 2010. Photo: S Williams
Barber-Surgeons' Gardens, September 2002. Photo: S Williams
Barber-Surgeons' Gardens looking towards Barbican, September 2002. Photo: S Williams

Click a photo to enlarge.

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