Skip to content

Bethnal Green Mulberry At The High Court

May 5, 2021
by the gentle author

The public hearing of our Judicial Review commences at the High Court at 2pm today, Wednesday 5th May. Proceedings will run until 4:30pm this afternoon and recommence tomorrow at 10:30am.

Click this link to watch the hearing live

Please note you must not make any recording of any part of this hearing and to do so would be a contempt of court.


It was April 24th 2015 when I first encountered the Bethnal Green Mulberry, the oldest tree in the East End. Little did I imagine then where that introduction might lead.

Today – thanks to generosity of our supporters – a Judicial Review commences at the High Court of Tower Hamlets’ decision to grant permission to Crest Nicholson for their redevelopment of the former London Chest Hospital, including digging up the five hundred year old Bethnal Green Mulberry. Top QC Richard Harwood OBE will be leading our case, dissecting the six ways in which we believe Tower Hamlets Council acted unlawfully in approving this planning application.

It has been a long and eventful journey over the past six years since April 2015, including photographing many other historic London Mulberries, gathering a petition of over 16,000 signatures, welcoming Dame Judi Dench as patron of our campaign and breaking my right arm, falling out of a Mulberry Tree in Bethnal Green while picking fruit.

We have taken cuttings from a scion of Shakespeare’s Mulberry Tree, grown from a branch rescued by David Garrick in 1770 when the tree planted by the bard in Stratford Upon Avon in 1610 was cut down. My good friend, nurseryman Lyndon Osborn of Columbia Rd Market, has kindly taken the responsibility of rooting these cuttings and, once they are ready, we shall be distributing them to our supporters this summer.

The wonderful Kitty Travers of La Grotta Ices has made Mulberry sorbet with fruit harvested from historic London Mulberries and this summer we shall also be distributing large pots to supporters who chose this option.

It will be a few weeks after today’s Judicial Review before the verdict is given. The Secretary of State’s decision on the Public Inquiry into the future of the Whitechapel Bell Foundry will also be announced this month.

In response to over 7000 objections to the proposed Truman Brewery development for an ugly shopping mall with four floors of corporate offices on top, Tower Hamlets council have deferred their decision until June to consider the impact of scheme upon local businesses and the community.

I hope that the outcomes of the Bethnal Green Mulberry Judicial Review and the Whitechapel Bell Foundry Public Inquiry will serve as a lesson to Tower Hamlets Council not to ignore public opinion and planning policy by approving the Truman Brewery redevelopment.

If they act unlawfully again, as we believe they did in the case of the Bethnal Green Mulberry, then the Truman Brewery application is likely to result in further legal action. A pattern is becoming evident.




Click here to read my feature in The Evening Standard about the scandal of the Bethnal Green Mulberry

Click here to read my feature in The Daily Telegraph about the scandal of the Bethnal Green Mulberry

Read more here about the Bethnal Green Mulberry

The Fate of the Bethnal Green Mulberry

The Bethnal Green Mulberry

A Letter to Crest Nicholson

A Reply From Crest Nicholson

The Reckoning With Crest Nicholson



5 Responses leave one →
  1. May 5, 2021

    May I take this opportunity to wish you and your supporters every success. May you deal the Philistines a fatal blow.

  2. marianne isaacs permalink
    May 5, 2021

    Well done all. Sitting here in Melbourne it is hard to fathom how a council could willfully destroy something so precious. I guess though I should look in my own backyard where we have wonderful hundreds of year old gums being turned into woodchips. It is good to hear off a strike against greed and the almighty dollar(pound)

  3. David Gooding permalink
    May 5, 2021

    Looking at the image (in one of your previous 2019 posts), of the bomb damaged version of the BGMT from 1941.
    It is truly amazing that this ancient tree managed to regrow its trunk and branches from such a sorry state.
    Let’s hope for the tree’s sake that the Judicial Review favours your gallant attempt to preserve it in the current location!

  4. May 5, 2021

    Dear GA, thanks for all the hard work you and so many others have put in to these three cases! Let’s hope that the apparent complete disregard of Tower Hamlets councillors and officers for the local community is overturned in all three.

  5. Linda Granfield permalink
    May 5, 2021

    Good luck!

    The eyes of Spitalfields Life readers around the world are upon Tower Hamlets.

    Will no one rid us of this meddlesome Council? (apologies to Henry II & Thomas Becket)

Leave a Reply

Note: Comments may be edited. Your email address will never be published.

Subscribe to this comment feed via RSS