Inventory Site Record

St Mary's Churchyard Gardens

St Mary's Churchyard Gardens (Southwark)

Brief Description

St Mary's Churchyard Gardens were formerly part of the churchyard of St Mary's Rotherhithe, an additional area that was acquired for burial by the churchwardens in 1820 when the churchyard had become overcrowded. It opened in 1821 when the Watch House was built and burials took place here until 1852. It was converted as a public garden and opened in 1901.

Practical Information
Previous / Other name:
St Mary's Rotherhithe Churchyard; St Marychurch Street Burial Ground
Site location:
St Marychurch Street/Roupel Street/Rotherhithe Street
Type of site:
Public Gardens
Open to public?
Opening times:
Special conditions:
Public transport:
London Overground: Rotherhithe. Tube: Bermondsey (Jubilee). Bus: 47, 188, 225, P11, 381, P13

The information shown above was correct at the time of the last update 01/04/2011
Please check with the site owner or manager for latest news.

Full Site Description

There has been a church at Rotherhithe since at least the C10th; the village had early maritime links and St Mary’s Rotherhithe (q.v.) was a seafarers’ parish; the wooden frame of the present church appears to have been constructed by a skilled shipwright. In the C19th the timbers of the warship Temeraire, famous for her part in the Battle of Trafalgar, were used to make furnishings for the church after she was broken up at Rotherhithe in 1938. Among those buried here are Captain Christopher Jones, the Master of The Mayflower (d.1622), which sailed from Rotherhithe in 1620 to pick up the Pilgrim Fathers and thence to the New World. Many of her crew were from Rotherhithe, and including Captain Jones three of the ship's four part-owners are buried in the churchyard. By 1820, the churchyard was becoming crowded and the church wardens acquired an additional plot of land for burials, which opened in 1821 with a Watch House built the same year. It was used for burial until 1852 and was later converted to a public garden in 1901, when it opened to the public. Now called St Mary's Churchyard Gardens it has a circular lawn with a central tree, with shrubberies and beds around the perimeter. Within the gardens is the former Engine House built in 1821 now used as a shelter. A few gravestones remain near the old Watch House, next to which is the C18th Charity School founded by Peter Hills of the Trinity Charity, who is commemorated by a brass in St Mary's.

The Old Mortuary that abuts the garden houses the Time and Talents Association. Near the entrance from Roupel Street is an environmental garden, a joint project by Trust for Urban Ecology and the Time and Talents Association, which was created by the Inner London Probation Service and is maintained by volunteers. It was opened by the Mayor of Southwark and the MP Simon Hughes on 7 October 1992.

Sources consulted:

Ron Woollacott, 'Southwark's Burying Places, Past and Present', Magdala Terrace Nunhead Local History publication, 2001; 'The Parish Church of St Mary Rotherhithe' church guide (n.d.); 'The London County Council and what it does for London: London Parks and Open Spaces' (Hodder & Stoughton, 1924); Southwark Listed Buildings data

Further Information (Planning and Conservation)
Grid ref:
Size in hectares:
Site ownership:
LB Southwark
Site management:
Parks; Rotherhithe St Mary's Association
1820; 1901
Listed structures:
LBII: former Engine House; former Watch House. Also LBII nearby: 70 St Marychurch Street once Free School from 1797, now offices; former C19th warehouses 101, 103, 105 Rotherhithe Street
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:
Conservation Area name:
St Mary's Rotherhithe
Tree Preservation Order:
Not known
Nature Conservation Area:
Green Belt:
Metropolitan Open Land:
Special Policy Area:
Yes - Archaeological Priority Zone
Other LA designation:
Tier Two. Regeneration Area. (Small area is Strategic Views Backdrop Consultation Zone)

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