RHS completes lease of Lawrence Hall and begins investment in the future of horticulture

Thursday 3 May 2012

The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) has confirmed the completion of the lease agreement, first announced in December last year, for the RHS Lawrence Hall in London, releasing £18 million of funds for the charity to invest in horticulture.

The 999 year lease agreement for the Lawrence Hall and Conference Centre is with Westminster School.

The transfer of funds marks the start of a substantial, five-year programme of innovation and modernisation for the RHS, which will enable the charity to involve, educate and inspire millions more gardeners across the country and the world.

Sue Biggs, RHS Director General, said: “With the completion of the lease agreement, it is fantastic to now be in a position to begin an unprecedented programme of investment in horticulture. Our plans will help transform communities, add much needed scientific knowledge and safeguard horticulture for the benefit of future generations and the environment.”

The initiatives planned include:

RHS Lindley Library & Hall, London
The RHS plans to redevelop the Lindley Hall and Library to create a stunning, new space for a larger, open plan library and exhibition gallery. Through increased London Flower Shows, exhibitions, lectures, events and courses, everyone will, for the first time, be able to enjoy the RHS’ Collections of literary and botanical art treasures. These are of international significance and chart 500 years of UK gardening history.
Horticultural Science
The Society plans to create a world-class scientific research centre for the benefit of all gardeners and the environment. With the Government and universities cutting back on research expenditure, there is an urgent need to make this investment and it would put the RHS at the forefront of gardening science.

RHS Urban Garden
The RHS plans to create its first inner city garden as an oasis of green for local residents, offering educational initiatives, including school visits, workshops and inspirational gardening courses. Working with local schools and community groups the garden would offer hands on learning experiences, such as Grow Your Own workshops. A wide variety of locations and opportunities will be explored in the search for this garden.

RHS Regional Centres
Across the UK, in urban and rural locations, the RHS plans to work with partners to create regional centres based at RHS gardens or partner colleges and gardens. The first two centres are planned to open during 2012. Working in all forms of community gardening, the charity would support local groups such as Britain in Bloom, It’s Your Neighbourhood, local gardening clubs and schools involved in the RHS Campaign for School Gardening, to recruit more supporters and create links with local businesses to ensure sustainable funding.

RHS Online

The RHS plans to invest in its online presence to provide a more engaging, interactive website with a wealth of ideas and expertise, which would be the first port of call for all levels of gardeners. The site would include enhanced video content and new online tools and apps aimed at helping gardeners and providing a voice for them.

RHS Garden Wisley, Surrey
To give the one million adults and children who visit RHS Wisley annually an inspirational and interactive learning experience, the RHS plans include creating two additional teaching rooms, and a new exhibition space and event facility. More space would be created to enable specialist nurseries to promote British grown, rare and unusual plants with additional room to enjoy the most extensive range of horticultural books on sale for gardeners in the UK. A new restaurant will be added and RHS Wisley’s entrance transformed to uplift the sense of arrival that befits a garden of such international importance.

RHS Garden Hyde Hall, Essex
The plan is to dramatically increase spectacular horticultural content at RHS Hyde Hall, including creating the UK’s largest cultivated perennial meadow and a beautiful Mediterranean edible garden, featuring olives, lavender and grapevines. A new Learning Centre would also be created for children and adults to develop their gardening skills, meaning all four RHS gardens would now have significant education facilities.

For more information and please contact Laura Price in the RHS Press Office on 020 7821 3688 or lauraprice@rhs.org.uk


Notes to editors

The Royal Horticultural Society is the UK’s foremost gardening charity, helping and inspiring millions of people to garden. We do this at our gardens and shows and through our scientific research, publications, libraries and our education and community programmes. We are entirely funded by our members, visitors and supporters.

RHS membership is for anyone with an interest in gardening. Support the RHS and secure a healthy future for gardening. For more information call: 0845 130 4646, or visit www.rhs.org.uk

RHS Registered Charity No. 222879/SC038262

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About the RHS

The RHS believes that gardening improves the quality of life and that everyone should have access to great garden experiences. As a charity we help to bring gardening into people's lives and support gardeners of all levels and abilities; whether they are expert horticulturists or children who are planting seeds for the very first time.

RHS membership is for anyone with an interest in gardening. Support the RHS and secure a healthy future for gardening. For more information call: 0845 130 4646, or visit www.rhs.org.uk

RHS Registered Charity No. 222879/SC038262