We’re ever so lucky to have one of the greenest capital cities in the world, aren’t we? London certainly isn’t the concrete jungle that it’s so often mislabeled to be; in fact, 47% of the city is dedicated to parks, gardens and commons – not a bad stat, hey?
We’re fairly spoilt for choice when it comes to green spaces in London and although the bigguns like Hyde Park and Hampstead Heath are popular for a reason, there really is something extra special about discovering one of the city’s lesser-known foliage-filled nooks and crannies.
Speaking of which: nestled amidst the busy streets of Southwark, just a stone’s throw away from the Shard; you’ll find one of London’s greatest and greenest hidden gems (a hidden emerald, if you will) in the form of Red Cross Garden. This little pocket of peace and quiet is steeped in history and a real corner of calm in one of the busiest parts of the city.
Scattered with flowers and lined with trees, this secret sanctuary is the perfect place to spend a lunch break or soak up some weekend sunshine. With its wildlife pond, fountain, and rose arbour; it really is easy to forget you’re in the heart of central London (well, until you look up and see the tallest building in the city towering over you).
Designed in the 1880’s by co-founder of the National Trust, Octavia Hill, the garden and its neighbouring cottages were built as part of Hill’s first social housing scheme, demonstrating her belief in the importance of high-quality housing for poor workers. She wished the garden to be ‘an open air sitting room for the tired inhabitants of Southwark’ and it still very much serves that purpose today (if only Octavia knew how exhausted Londoners would be in 2023).
The garden was paved over during the second world war but brought back to life in 2006 by the Bankside Open Space Trust and is now looked after by a team of volunteers.
The garden is now available to hire for private events and weddings but it’s also just a perfect place to retreat from the hustle and bustle of London life. There are certainly worse places to gaze at the skyscrapers and eat your meal deal, that’s for sure.