The show garden celebrates the restorative power of green spaces in cities, illustrating a sense of hope and recovery and inspiring future generations to 'imagine the world to be different'.
It is inspired by the architecture of St James's church, its bombing during the war and its existing and proposed gardens and precinct. Inspired also by the many other churchyard gardens in London that provide a haven for people and nature, particularly those bombed in the war, but refused to be destroyed and have been reimagined as biodiverse and slightly eclectic garden spaces.
The garden imagines an alternative world where St James's was only partially restored after the war, becoming a biodiverse garden space built around remnant walls. It includes wild "pioneer plants" of several species found in the ruins that acknowledge resilience and regeneration.
Celebrating London's 'pocket parks', often associated with historic churchyards, is a reflective space where nature takes centre stage with rich, biodiverse planting. Calm, contemplative and uplifting, it is a refuge in the city for humans and wildlife, offering dappled shade, lush multi-layered greenery, and water to engage the senses.
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St James's is a historic church looking to the future, advocating for social and earth justice and empowering people. It is a thoughtful, inclusive, creative community, a place open to people of all faiths and none. It explores ideas around gathering, refuge and the importance of contemplative green spaces in the city, celebrating our history, deepening social impact, environmental commitments, and generous hospitality.
The church community tries to put its faith into action by learning about and speaking out on issues of injustice, especially concerning refugees, asylum, earth and racial justice, and LGBTQ+ issues. The church offers hospitality and accompaniment to people going through homelessness or living on low incomes. It seeks to be a welcoming space for people to reflect, create, debate.
This Chelsea show garden provides an opportunity to share St James’s story as it begins the Wren Project, a major restoration of the church, its courtyard and garden. It will spotlight changemakers like William Blake, Ottobah Cugoano, Mary Delany and Mary Beale with links to St James’s who have imagined the world to be different. The garden will help develop a deeper understanding of St James's and its work, in order to raise funds towards the £20 million target enabling its social and environmental impact work for the future.