Local people formed the Friends of St George’s Gardens in 1994 to press for restoration work after a prolonged period of neglect.

Camden Council responded with a bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund’s Urban Parks Programme on behalf of St George’s Gardens and four other historic gardens – St Pancras’ Gardens, Russell Square, Waterlow Park and Hampstead Cemetery. In 1997 £286k of lottery money was awarded for restoration of St George’s Gardens. Work was completed in 2001.

The Friends have continued to work with Camden Council, monitoring maintenance work and alerting the Council to problems. We also take forward special projects outside Camden’s maintenance programme:

  • In 2005 funds were raised to restore the railings round the Robert Nelson tomb on the south side of the Gardens. The restoration was carried out using techniques of the time (railings embedded in lead, for example) so this was a more ambitious project than it might sound. The restoration revealed a York stone pavement and drainage channel.
  • In 2007 a sensory garden with seating was built on the site of a derelict greenhouse, fundraising again organised by the Friends. The project was undertaken with valued help from St Mungo’s, the homelessness charity, and major sponsorship from Veolia.

The friends are currently planning an appeal for funding to restore a chest tomb. There are foxes in the gardens and they try to build dens under chest tombs which makes the tomb walls fall in. The restoration will again be carried out using the methods of the time.

Development around the Gardens also needs vigilance. The Friends have campaigned against excessive building height and inappropriate use on all the sites around the Gardens. Major works are still planned on the north and south sides of the Gardens.