Waterloo at home #2: Flux Soup ‘Fanatical Botanicals’

Over the course of a series of features and blogposts, Flux Soup are presenting Waterloo at Home; a sensory journey through a Waterloo micro World. We kicked off with call out 📢 and now we're moving on to cocktails (watch out for recipes soon)!

William Curtis' Botanical Garden in Lambeth

Inspired by a cocktail

When Flux Soup invited Jack Adair Bevan, an award-winning food and drink writer, and co-author of The Ethicurean Cookbook, to design a cocktail for Waterloo Festival, they were not expecting it lead to a podcast and a walk.

During his research, to create a unique recipe including ingredients that could be foraged in Waterloo, Jack unearthed William Curtis (portrait on the left) and his London Botanic Garden once situated where Ufford Street Gardens are now.

Further investigations dug up other local botanically connected figures the Tradescants, Sowerby, Blake and Bligh all covered in the eight stops on the Fanatical Botanicals walk (see factsheet below).

Flux Soup Fanantical Botanicals - Walk F
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You can download the factsheet here or follow the information below!

  1. Ufford Street Gardens - approximate site of William Curtis’s London Botanic Garden.

  2. Waterloo Millennium Green.

  3. Blake Tunnels - World’s largest collection of art inspired by William Blake’s illustrations and paintings.

  4. Archbishops Park - originally part of Lambeth Palace Gardens.

  5. St Mary’s Garden - next to St Mary at Lambeth now the Garden Museum former site of The Tradescants home, garden and museum, ‘The Ark’.

  6. Hercules Road, opposite Centaur Street - Blue Plaque showing site of William and Catherine Blake’s home and garden.

  7. Wellington Mills, Westminster Bridge Road - former site of James Sowerby’s home and museum.

  8. Geraldine Mary Harmsworth Park - opposite 100 Lambeth Road, former home of Captain Bligh and his wife Betsy, look for the fox on the roof and the tree with a face.

What follows is a potted history of Lambeth Marsh and six men fanatical about botanicals.

Lambeth Marsh

It is one of the oldest settlements on the South Bank of the river Thames in London. Until the early 19th century much of north Lambeth (now known as the South Bank) was mostly marsh. The settlement of Lambeth Marsh was built on a raised through road over the marsh lands, potentially dating back to Roman times. The land was owned by the Church of England. Records and maps show it was a separate village until the early 19th Century when the church sold off the land in small pockets, leading to random development of individual houses rather than the grander redevelopments occurring north of the river. Drained in the 18th century and remembered in the Lower Marsh street name; some time after Waterloo station opened in 1848, it became known as Waterloo.

Early records

At a very early date, probably dating to the original Roman settlements, banks of earth were erected along the south side of the Thames in order to keep out the tidal waters and to hold them in check. One of them near the river was called Narrow Wall whilst another binding the marsh to the east was called Broad Wall (now a street name near the Oxo Tower), an ancient raised road which followed the line of Lambeth Marsh.