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The Bethnal Green Mulberry Lecture

February 19, 2018
by the gentle author

Design by Paul Bommer

The East End Preservation Society and the Garden Museum in Lambeth are collaborating to present a lecture on Tuesday 20th March exploring the culture of the historic Bethnal Green Mulberry which grows in the grounds of the former London Chest Hospital.

The tree has become a source of controversy since Crest Nicholson proposed digging it up to plonk a block of luxury flats on the spot. In a Judicial Review at the High Court last year, the developers’ claim that the Mulberry was a recent planting was dismissed and the tree’s veteran status confirmed.

As Tower Hamlets Development Committee prepare to meet at the Town Hall in Mulberry Place to consider Crest Nicholson’s planning application for the Chest Hospital site – which requires digging up the Mulberry tree – the Garden Museum offers a public forum for two arborcultural authorities to widen the debate.

Peter Coles of Morus Londinium will outline the historical legacy and cultural significance of Mulberries in London.

Julian Forbes Laird of Forbes Laird Arborcultural Consultancy, expert witness in matters arborcultural and editor of the British Standard in tree conservation who gave evidence in the High Court last year, will give his appraisal of the historical and arborcultural evidence for determining the age of the Bethnal Green Mulberry.

After the lecture, there will be the opportunity for questions from the audience and discussion.

The Bethnal Green Mulberry is believed to have been planted in the time of John Tradescant, Britain’s first great gardener, so we are delighted to be holding this event in the Clore Learning Space at the newly re-opened Garden Museum, looking out on to the tomb of Tradescant carved with four trees.




The Mulberry is the symbol of Bethnal Green and is featured on street signs in the neighbourhood

Mulberry House, Bethnal Green

Mulberry St, Whitechapel

You may also like to read about

A Letter to Crest Nicholson

A Reply From Crest Nicholson

The Reckoning With Crest Nicholson

Here We Go Round The Bethnal Green Mulberry

A Plea For The Bethnal Green Mulberry

The Bethnal Green Mulberry

The Haggerston Mulberry

The Dalston Mulberry

The Whitechapel Mulberry

The Mile End Mulberry

The Stoke Newington Mulberry

The Spitalfields Mulberry

The Oldest Mulberry in Britain

Three Ancient Mulberry Trees

A Brief History of London Mulberries

5 Responses leave one →
  1. February 19, 2018

    ‘When the Last Tree Is Cut Down, the Last Fish Eaten, and the Last Stream Poisoned, You Will Realize That You Cannot Eat Money’ (Native American saying) Valerie

  2. February 19, 2018

    I think stressing the fact that the tree will likely die if moved, even with great care, should be a big factor in any decision. I have read several sad stories of such things happening and it is quite a well known conclusion. The fact is, many trees do not thrive after moving, especially those of such an age. That is before taking into account keeping the tree’s historic position. You lose a significant part of history if you remove its’ place.

  3. February 19, 2018

    Here I am: the cock-eyed optimist……Any truly-creative architect should welcome the opportunity to include/incorporate the tree as an added-value feature of their design for housing. That’s my theory — and my belief. Having seen many beautiful photos of the tree here (not to mention Paul Bommer’s “logo”) I feel this notable tree would bring distinction to any architectural project, and make it “more so”.
    My worry quotient goes through the roof, thinking about this tree being moved. Somehow, it
    feels like the wrong approach. Surely, this tree should stay where it is. Like the old phrase:
    “Bloom where you are planted”.
    Either way, am sending good vibes for a positive solution.

  4. pauline taylor permalink
    February 19, 2018

    Fingers crossed that Tower Hamlets will come up with the right decision and that, as Boris Johnson has moved on to pastures new, it won’t be called in so that he could personally overturn the decision as he did on numerous other occasions. I bet Crest Nicholson wish he was still Mayor of London.

  5. Debra Matheney permalink
    February 19, 2018

    Some much destruction of living breathing trees will only hasten global warming, aside from the greed motivating the demise of a tree which has witnessed so much history. It sickens me. How much of our collective past and a healthier future are we willing to sacrifice?
    I am heartsick of the state of society so I am beating a retreat into 18th century life in Britain. It’s all bluestockings, and Beau Nash, and Dr. Johnson for me for awhile to a time before automatic weapons can kill innocent children. I am tired of life, but not of London!
    I wish the campaign the best of luck and agree a clever person could incorporate the tree into a new plan.

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