Introduction to St Margaret de Westwick

This church is characterised by a beautiful 14th Century tower, as viewed from St Benedict’s Street, and particularly wide windows which admit abundant light to the exhibition space within.

The churchyard to the south, fronting St Benedict’s Street, is laid out in a medieval style of central rectangular lawn bordered by herbs. Only plants available before 1500 have been used. These would mostly have been herbs with a use in the kitchen, a medical use or for other practical purposes such as plant dyes.

Many of the plants cultivated in medieval times were actually native wildflowers. Examples would be foxglove (used in medicine); wild strawberry (for the edible berries) or tansy (used for strewing on the floor to deter insect pests). There would also be herbs of Mediterranean origin such as sage, rosemary and lavender which were originally introduced by the Romans.

A Gothic arch over the front gate supports roses: both the red rose of Lancaster and the white rose of York, which were later to be combined, symbolically, as the Tudor Rose. The rose, together with the lily, were amongst a relative handful of plants used primarily for their beauty rather than for any practical reason. This is, of course, the complete reverse of the situation in most present day gardens.