Barbers Company Crest
The Barbers' Company

Physic Garden

There are few references to a garden in the Annals of the Company but we do know that in October 1555 the Clerk was given an allowance for trimming, sweeping and weeding the garden and in 1630 the Company bought 100 sweet briars (probably to form a stout hedge) and also plants of rosemary, strawberry, violets and vines. In 1666 the garden prevented the Great Fire from reaching the Anatomical Theatre, though the rest of the hall was lost.

In October 1967 Past Master Sir John McNee proposed that the corporation create a physic garden. The current Physic Garden is on the site of the 13th bastion of the 21 bastions built by Emperor Hadrian in AD 122. It was constructed on a derelict bomb site in 1987, on the initiative of Past-Master Sir Francis Avery Jones, by the Parks and Garden Department of the Corporation of London, who manage the Garden, together with the Company’s Honorary Curator. The design of the garden aims to present a broad view of the way in which plants have been used, from the earliest times to the present day, in relation to both the practice of medicine and surgery and to the use of plants in domestic and civic environments. The plants selected were especially mentioned by former Master John Gerard (1545-1612) in his ‘Grete Herball’. The garden is open to the public and is approached from Wood Street via St Giles Church (City Trail 2).

In May 2013, Liveryman Barber Emeritus Arthur Hollman handed over as the Honorary Curator of the Physic Garden to Dr Tim Cutler. An illustrated paper explaining the history and content of the garden is here.