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Busy Lizzie

Trea Martyn describes how urban living and a historical oasis in the capital inspired her interest in garden history, and in Elizabethan gardens in particular.


Like every other inhabitant of London, I appreciated its parks and squares and tried to live within walking distance of a green space. But the real starting point for me came when I was living in Shoreditch, East London, overlooking a canal though miles from any park. A few minutes down the Kingsland Road, however, in the midst of takeaways, restaurants and shops, stood the Geffrye Museum, a domestic interiors museum located within eighteenth-century alms houses surrounded by spacious grounds planted with ancient plane trees. At the side, a path led to a walled herb garden centred on a bronze fountain.

I was in my second year of a PhD investigating how Alexander Pope’s dealings with his powerful patrons enabled him to become one of the few poets to have made a fortune from writing poetry. In between writing chapters of my thesis, I went for walks in the City, finishing with a stroll around the grounds of the Geffrye Museum. Here I would sit, beneath a canopy of jasmine, listening to the fountain and enjoying the scents of the herbs.

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