Garden Museum review
I'm not much of a gardener. I like weeds, not flowers. The last time I ventured into my own garden was to pick up a dead fox and chuck it in the bushes. I noticed it on a Friday and for the first few days I was hoping that it was just asleep and having a snooze, or it was going to rise up like Jesus on a Sunday, but eventually I crept up on it and knocked it with a stick and it was rock solid like a block of concrete. Rigormortis had set in, and it took me five minutes to lever it up with a spade, because its bodily excretions had glued it to the grass.
For a while I thought I was going to have to get the shears out the shed and chop all of the hair underneath to work it loose.
That was a nice story, wasn't it?
I wonder if they'll have any dead foxes at the Garden Museum? -- I doubt it. You have to go to the Natural History Museum to see those. They might have a few spades though. Apparently this place is full of garden implements and horticultural books. But the reason that I have come here is because it's housed inside the grounds of Lambeth Palace.
Lambeth Palace is one of the oldest buildings in London and dates all the way back to 1200. The Archbishop of Canterbury has been living in it for 800 years (... but more on that later).
The first little bit is a one room exhibit about Russell Page. Apparently he was a famous gardener, and they've collected together a few of his scribblings and drawings, and stuck up some photos of his landscaped grounds. They've got a little movie playing too. If you like watching Gardener's World then I suppose you might like it. If you prefer Star Wars then you won't.
It gets more exciting upstairs. That's where you'll see their impressive collection of old hoes. And don't forget the display case full of saws and shears and watering cans as well. It doesn't stop there though, because they've also got a rusty wheelbarrow, a few gnarly old walking sticks and... wait for it... a tin of slug pellets (that was my favourite). If you're a big fan of lawnmowers then you are in luck, because they've got some of them as well -- two of them. And some gnomes. It's like a crap version of B&Q.
The only bit worth seeing in my humble opinion was outside. That's where you'll find the tomb of Captain William Bligh, of Mutiny on the Bounty fame. They've got a little ornamental garden out there but its extremely small. We are not talking Kew Gardens here. It's probably only about fifty feet across with a few privet hedges in the middle. It's like a little kitchen garden, I suppose, with a few tables and chairs for the cafe. But at least you can have a good look at the back gable of the church.
As I mentioned at the beginning, I only really came to see inside the palace and that was very disappointing... because you're not actually allowed in there. You can't go in the red-brick gatehouse either. I was under the impression that the museum was inside Lambeth Palace but it's not -- it's actually housed inside St. Mary-at-Lambeth church next-door (the grey stone building to the right of the gatehouse).
The church is still quite old, but it's not actually a church anymore -- it's been deconsecrated and taken over by the gardeners. They've put some modern plank flooring down and pine walls all over the place to cover up the stonework, and there's a little shop where the pews are supposed to be. Instead of candles they've got a rack of books and postcards. Instead of an altar they've got a payment desk. It's almost as if they have tried to weed out all the historical stuff and modernise it. If you were hoping to learn something about the old archbishops and the historical events that took place next door then you will go home disappointed, because God doesn't live here anymore -- they've kicked the old fella out. Alan Titchmarsh has taken over. That's who they're praying to now -- he who brings forth life from dirt. He who raises the trees and brings the flowers into bloom. Alan's army had torn down the crucifixes and stuck a bean pole in their place.
They do have quite a nice cafe though -- I will give them that.
A tip: if you do decide to visit then have a walk along the river from the Waterloo side of Westminster Bridge to the palace, because you'll have of the best views of Big Ben and Parliament.
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