St John's Gardens, 1900s in 2013
St John's Gardens, 1900s in 2013 by Keithjones84, on Flickr
St John's Gardens stand at the back of St George's Hall and occupy the grounds on which stood St John's church.
Prior to that, the area had been known as The Great Heath, and it's exposure to the wind led to its use as a site for windmills and public washing lines. In 1749 the city's first general infirmary stood here, followed by a seaman's hospital and a dispensary in the mid-late 1700s, and a lunatic asylum was opened on he grounds in 1789!
"From 1767 the Gardens directly to the west of what became the site of St George's Hall were a burial ground with a small mortuary chapel, but Liverpool's rapid urban expansion also required a church to be built here and St John's was completed in 1784.
St George's Hall was sited so that there was very little space between it and the church but changes were envisaged here as elsewhere in this area.
The churchyard was full and closed for burials in 1865, and in 1880, when the diocese of Liverpool was created, St John's was proposed as a possible location for a cathedral.
The latter went elsewhere but, when St John's was closed in 1897 and subsequently demolished, sculptor George Frampton suggested the conversion of the churchyard to a garden for the display of public sculpture, an idea that was realised by the Corporation Surveyor, Thomas Shelmerdine"
The gardens were laid out on the site of the old church and grounds, and opened to the public on 20th June 1904. It's interesting to me that the layout of the gardens, borders and walkways appear to have remained in the same positions as they have done for 109 years, although the saplings have grown into mighty trees, and the gardens are the only area of public green space within the city centre.
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