Wonderful visit to the Garden Museum over the weekend. It occupies the site of the abandoned church of St. Mary-at-Lambeth, next to Lambeth Palace.
In the former churchyard lies the tomb of the Tradescants. It is a replica of the original tomb and was created in 1853 from drawings held at the Pepys Library. There are several scenes on the tomb including hydra, a skull, Egyptian scenes and the Tradescant coat of arms.
John Tradescant (c.1570 – 1638) was gardener to the 1st Earl of Salisbury at Hatfield house and went on to work for Henrietta Maria, wife of Charles I. Tradescant was interested in finding new plants and he travelled to the Arctic Circle, North Africa and the Levant. Many of the plants and other artefacts he brought back were displayed at the ‘Ark’ at Lambeth, the first museum in Britain to be open to the public.
His son John (1608 – 1662), travelled to America to collect plant specimens and also became gardener to the King. Tradescant’s widow commissioned the elaborate tomb to celebrate the achievements of father and son.
In his Will, John Tradescant the Younger gifted the contents of the Musaeum Tradescantianum to Elias Ashmole. Several of the artefacts of the Ark can be seen at the Garden Museum in London and at The Ashmolean in Oxford.