THE SOANES CENTRE
The Soanes Centre is the education centre in Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park. Acting as the base for Setpoint London East, it boasts a classroom that accommodates up to 30 children (and their teachers and adult helpers) and leads directly onto one of two wildlife ponds, perfect for pond dipping. The classroom and the smaller training room are available for hire by local community groups when not in use for workshops. The Centre is all on one level and is fully accessible, including toilet facilities for wheelchair users. The main paths in the Park are also fully accessible.
Most of our Soanes Centre workshops involve some time spent in our classroom at the Soanes Centre, and some time out in the Cemetery Park itself, learning directly from this 33-acre urban woodland site (designated a Site of Metropolitan Importance for Nature Conservation and a Local Nature Reserve). The site provides unique teaching resources including the rich heritage of its historic former use (1841-1966) as one of London’s ‘Magnificent Seven’ great cemeteries laid out beyond the City boundaries to ease overcrowding in Medieval urban churchyards.
The varied monuments still remaining from those days provide evidence in our ‘Rocks and Weathering’ workshops, for example, and the Park has become one of the most bio-diverse areas in London, providing abundant scope for workshops such as ‘Minibeast safaris’, ‘Plant life’, ‘Wildflowers’, ‘Habitats’ and ‘Soils and soilmakers’.
Dedicated spaces in the Park have been set up with log seats to serve as an outdoor classroom, and are the site of our Forest School activities. The Park is expertly maintained by our ‘neighbour’ charity, the Friends of Tower Hamlets Cemetery Park. You can read more about the Friends and the Park on their website.