St Leonard's Priory Park

A community project developing St. Leonard’s Priory open space.

Bow Church parishioners, residents and small, local community organisations are gradually developing what was the Cemetery at St Leonard’s Priory into a small park.

It is hoped that an increasing number of local residents will be encouraged to not only enjoy the open space, along with the history of the site, throughout the year, but also explore volunteering opportunities too.

Garden volunteers from the local church community have been working with Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park to tidy up the space and make it more accessible.

Part of the regeneration plan will involve the inclusion picnic benches to establish a seating area for community activities, as well as for people to sit and enjoy the garden.

51 GoodGymers have supported St Leonard's Priory Park with 16 tasks.

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Previous sessions
Tower HamletsCommunity mission
Sarah PotterLaura WilliamsFiona MRohanJustin WettersMartinOliver Rockett

Ho, Ho, Hoe

Monday 4th December 2023

Written by Laura Williams

Meeting under the arch at pretty St Leonard’s Priory Park just before 7, the team were all ready for tonight’s fitness session.

We focused on dynamic warm-up moves, single-leg exercises, balance moves and some standing core work, before finishing with plenty of stretches aimed at the upper body after a long day at the desk.

Task owner Larry joined towards the end of the workout, talking Oliver through leaf blower basics before we gathered for tonight’s briefing.

After clearing the path speedily of leaves (Oliver got to grips with the leaf blower in no time) we set about weeding the path, in a straight line (a tougher task than it looked).

Pushing back soil, grass (and worms) without creating an uneven surface was no mean feat. Some skillful techniques were required, including Rohan’s accurate string line and Fiona’s very precise scoring.

Up the path we moved, marveling at what the workout this was. From the isometric squats to the shoveling of wet mud, everything from obliques to delts got a look-in here.

At shortly after 8, we were heading back down the path, tools in-tact, debating tonight’s pun, before posing for that all-important final pun.

Next week, we return to Hollybush Gardens to help Margaret give the Ellsworth Street flower beds a winter makeover.

Until then.

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Tower HamletsCommunity mission
Fiona MChris BurnsMartinSophie MannIvo

Fence and Fencibility

Monday 6th November 2023

Written by Laura Williams

A dry evening saw 8 GoodGymers gathering in the pretty St Leonard’s Priory Park in Bromley-By-Bow.

Kicking the evening off with a short fitness session around the planters, we ensured core was fired up and balance challenged by the time this evening’s task commenced.

Our job tonight was to continue the construction of a small hazel fence around the wilding area.

A pretty, useful area, this patch serves as a great habitat for pollinators, as well as being the home to blackberry brambles and wheat.

The team started at the back of the park cutting branches for the fencing and the fence stakes.

Following the disturbance of what appeared to be a small wasps’ nest, half of the team promptly headed to the wilding area to start the preparation of the stakes.

It was a fun and physical task: team members cut hazel, sawed stakes, dug holes and weaved the fence.

With just ten minutes to go, there was a small area of the fence still to be completed - minus any fencing material... Ivo headed to the far side of the park returning with a good hazel stash, before Larry made the executive decision that a nearby Sycamore tree would provide the final few stakes.

The fence was finished shortly after 8, with the team posing for one final pic by the new fence.

A lovely night in East London, well done everyone.

…And a big warm welcome to Sophie, who joined us for her first GoodGym. Great effort Sophie, look forward to seeing you again soon!

Next week, we’re heading to Wapping, to join the Friends of Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park team for a big gardening session!

Until then.

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Tower HamletsCommunity mission
Laura WilliamsChris BurnsOliver RockettMartinMoona

Weed between the lines

Monday 21st August 2023

Written by Laura Williams

Another beautiful Monday night saw a small-but-dedicated group of GoodGymers heading to the pretty, well-tended gardens of St Leonard's Priory Park this evening.

Starting with some lower body work around the useful vegetable planters, we sped through a short fitness session, concluding with some time-honoured stretches using the beautiful trees as props.

Welcoming the final couple of additions to tonight's group, Larry our task owner proceeded to show us the area we'd be focusing on tonight: the soon-to-be fern glade area. A shaded area of the park, on a previous visit to the park we'd laid the woodchip in this area, but following a damp summer, weeds have grown tall and the woodchip concealed. Working steadily, filling large bags with weeds, we made our way around the area, tackling a variety of weeds, some definitely more stubborn than others.

It was a nice little upper body workout as it turned out (grabbing a weed by the root works the rear delts nicely), not to mention the perfect opportunity for a squat or two.

As 8pm came and went, and the sun proceeded to set, we decided one final blitz of a large tree area would be the perfect end to a productive night.

As we gathered the last fork, and Chris emptied the last weed bag into the compost, we concluded it had been an enjoyable, productive companionable evening.

We return to the Park next month, for some more garden-clearing.

In the meantime, coming up:

Until then.

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Tower HamletsCommunity mission
Fiona M
Hari SoodAbieEmma JonesMartin

Rake it ‘till you make it

Monday 17th July 2023

Written by Laura Williams

The Fitness

As we lined up around the vegetable planters for tonight’s workout, slowly our little group grew, until there were no fewer than six GoodGymers performing seated leg lowers, Bulgarian split squats and incline push-ups on the edge of these miniature gardens.

As we completed a few post-workout stretches, our remaining members for tonight’s task appeared, ready to be briefed by Larry, our task owner, on the big task ahead for tonight.

Why were we here?

The St Leonard’s Priory Park is a park in Bow that has been ‘a place of prayer and gardening for 900 years’. The St Leonard’s team garden here every week to continue this legacy. Over the last year, we’ve loved joining Larry from the Bow Church team in this picturesque spot in the middle of a busy, bustling, well-connected area of our Borough.

The park is well supported by the local community: residents attend weekly gardening sessions, monthly feasts and - very soon – the Forest School!

Yep, tonight our task was to head back to the pretty, overgrown area at the back of the park to help clear some tall weeds and bundles of nettles for a new outdoor classroom for the neighbouring primary school.

The Task

The team wasted no time in getting stuck in to the task of clearing a mass of nettles, bindweed and other pesky plants (many of whom had long, well established roots). Spread out into all four corners of the area, they pulled, raked and bagged at a very fast pace.

We saw spiders, snails, plants of many types… (St Leonards Fascinating Fact #13: The park is now home to the Stag Beetle...).

Yes, this area is now Biodiversity Central.

What IS biodiversity?

In a nutshell (forgive the pun), it’s variety. We learned more this evening about the increasing amount of flora and fauna in this space, and the way boosting the ecology of the site helps attract more wildlife (more insects = more food for birds, more pollination of plants…).

Put simply, maintaining biodiversity helps to preserve quality of air, soil and water, so every little really does help.

The final lap

Back to the team: the bags were now getting full; Sree had mown the lawn, and it was after 8…Time to call it a day.

As the last bag was hauled to the side of the tool shed, we stood and marvelled at the before and after site. Posing for one final picture in the area where 4ft nettles had previously stood, we concluded that it was a Monday evening well spent.

We’ll be returning to this lovely spot next month to help clear…yep, the other side!

(…While next week we head to the Royal London to join Nancy and the Barts Volunteers Team for some more hospital tasks).

Until then.

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Tower HamletsCommunity mission
LouisJaime Vara De ReyAaron O'NeillDaniel MelenchonEnrique RodenaaJose Manuel Legaz

A sunny end to the week

Friday 9th June 2023

Written by Laura Williams

Great to see such a good-sized team in Bromley-By-Bow for this morning’s activity!

Background to today’s activity

The team were here to join Larry at St Leonard’s Priory Park for some tough gardening tasks!

St Leonard's Priory Park is 'a community led project with Bow Church in Bromley-by-Bow. Boasting a 1000 years of history, this area is being revitalised by local people for local people.' With weekly gardening sessions, picnics and coffee mornings, the idea is to create a beautiful, useful, well-used little park in this corner of East London, that will appeal to local residents and visitors of all ages.

Currently the park hosts a gardening group every Saturday from 11-1, and offers community meals. It's also enjoyed by local school projects, and other programmes supporting some of the younger residents in the Bromley-By-Bow area.

After a short warm-up to prepare for the task, complete with a few useful stretches, we headed over to meet Larry for a briefing on today’s activity.

We were helping build and fill the new vegetable planters ready for a new part of this community project.

Dividing into two groups, the team wasted no time filling wheelbarrows full of soil and compost; foraging for branches and logs and preparing layers in the planters.

(There was even a small bit of DIY involved).

Slowly our team grew as the morning went on, and before we knew it, we were no fewer than 13 battling it out to wheel the last barrow of soil over to the beds.

It was active, it was warm, but it was rewarding.

The time seemed to fly by, and it wasn’t long before we were posing for one final picture and saying cheerio to Larry.

A fantastic effort from everyone on a sunny Friday – well done for all you achieved.

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Tower HamletsCommunity mission
Chris BurnsJohnnyLoboIvo

Rake That - The Bromley-By-Bow Tour

Monday 22nd May 2023

Written by Laura Williams

11 runners gathered together in the pretty St Leonard's Priory Park this evening, ready for a good Monday night workout.

After a short workout consisting of the obligatory balancing exercises and some planter push-ups, we were briefed by task owner Larry as to what we would be doing this evening.

A little bit about the park

St Leonard's Priory Park is 'a community led project with Bow Church in Bromley-by-Bow. Boasting a 1000 years of history, this area is being revitalised by local people for local people.' With weekly gardening sessions, picnics and coffee mornings, the idea is to create a beautiful, useful, well-used little park in this corner of East London, that will appeal to local residents and visitors of all ages.

In preparation for the community gardening session on Saturday, space needed making for the new beds. As we wandered around to the back of the garden, we were surprised to see how much the weeds had grown since our last visit. A larger team proceeded to get stuck into trimming and digging high nettles and grass, ready to be bagged.

Meanwhile another team helped Larry carry railway sleepers around to the pallets, stacking as they went, leaving them ready for Saturday's work.

They then came on board the weeding task, while a small team of two proceeded to tackle the lawn.

It was a good workout for both upper and lower body, but the time still flew.

After gathering for one final picture, sharing the last of the celebratory Raleigh launch chocolates, Larry took runners over to the vegetable beds, offering spinach, herbs and other green goodies to take home.

What a haul!

Great work team. (And a big shout-out to Fiona​ who came up with tonight's terrific pun).

Next week we're heading to the heart of Bethnal Green to Hollybush Gardens, where Margaret will be leading another great gardening task.

Until then.

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