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Museum of Garden History founder dies

London SE1 website team

Rosemary Nicholson, co-founder of the Museum of Garden History next to Lambeth Palace, has died at the age of 85.

It was Rosemary's discovery of the tomb of the Tradescants – the father and son 17th-century royal gardeners – in the overgrown churchyard of the redundant and deconsecrated church of St May-at-Lambeth that inspired the museum.

The Tradescants introduced to England many previously unknown plants and trees, including the yucca and Michaelmas daisies.

Soon after the Nicholsons' visit to the churchyard, Rosemary attended a Lambeth Palace event at which she was informed by then Archbishop of Canterbury, Donald Coggan, that the church was due to be demolished to make way for a coach park for Waterloo Station, adding that it was "very, very sad".

Rosemary and John Nicholson asked the Church Commissioners to put the demolition on hold and launched a vigorous campaign to save the building and turn it and its churchyard into a museum of garden history.

The Nicholsons made much of the fact that the church was on the route of the planned Silver Jubilee walkway and enlisted the support of Lambeth Council.

In 1977 the Tradescant Trust was formed and soon gained backing from many high-profile figures, including the Queen Mother and Prince Charles, who became its patron.

The Queen Mother opened the museum's garden in 1983.

Today the museum's directors include Lord Saatchi and Lord Carrington.

Rosemary Nicholson MBE died on 28 October.

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