Dedicating a Memorial Bench in Greenwich

Sofia has a sad question for a Monday morning:

“My question for you is about memorial benches in the park. My baby daughter died just over a year ago aged 1 and a half after 3 months in hospital and I spent almost every day of her healthy life in the park with her. I would really like to dedicate a bench to her, and have a small plaque on it with her name.

Do you have any idea how I would arrange this? I thought I should ask you first as we all know how unhelpful Greenwich Council would be…. “

The Phantom replies:

Firstly, I’m really sorry about your loss – to lose a child must be a terrible thing and I can totally understand why you’d like to honour her like this.

I wish I could say this was the first time I’ve been asked this question, but sadly, I have been asked before at least once, and was also once contacted by an Australian couple whose daughter Lauren rests in England, and who has just such a bench dedicated to her – I went to find it just after the snow last year and found it was one of the most popular in the park…

Sadly there are no pictures to see just now (though I am assured by the Phantom Webmaster they’re all safe and sound), but the story’s here.

Sadly I can’t remember what I called the post about dedicating benches, thus I can’t find it. I must start calling posts things I can actually find on the new site.

The bad news is that it’s not going to be easy, though in this particular case, it’s nothing to do with Greenwich Council, as Greenwich Park is operated by Royal Parks.

Here’s a PDF that addresses the situation, but it doesn’t mention Greenwich. All the parks seem to be ‘full’ of benches now – indeed, I found this answer from someone else asking the same question about Hyde Park:

“At the moment, no. The number of benches we have is decided by weighing up the need to provide seating without unduly affecting the look and feel of the Park open spaces. In general, this means that new benches are introduced only when an existing bench needs replacing. But there are other ways that you can leave a lasting tribute in memory of a loved one, including sponsoring a new tree or through our adoption scheme.”

My suggestion would be to contact Greenwich park directly, though – they might know if a bench is coming up for replacement, or have a waiting list. Here are the details:

Greenwich Park Office,
Blackheath Gate,
Charlton Way,
Greenwich, London. SE10 8QY
T. +44 (0)20 8858 2608
F. +44 (0)20 8293 3782
greenwich@royalparks.gsi.gov.uk

Their suggested alternative is a tree – though from though from this in the Phantom Archive, it’s not as easy as you might think and you can’t put a plaque on it.

I have been spending a fair amount of time on the Greenwich Council website this morning and generally googling trying to find out how to dedicate benches in one of Greenwich Council’s own parks – of course they don’t have any direct links or useful advice, though I did find a price – a thousand pounds – for a bench, though they don’t say where. I suspect it’s in a crematorium, which isn’t the same thing at all.

I think your only hope is to call the dreaded ‘contact centre’ directly (instead of the old system where you used to get through to the correct department, they now have a ‘one-stop-shop’ which means you never get anyone who knows what’s going on.)

The number’s 020 8854 8888. I wish you luck.

Has anyone here ever successfully dedicated a bench to someone round here? How did it work? Would you recommend it to Sofia?


6 Comments to “Dedicating a Memorial Bench in Greenwich”

  1. UMS says:

    So sorry about your daughter Sofia what a terrible thing to have to deal with and experience, my deepest sympathy to you and your family. What a wonderful tribute to her to remember all of those treasured memories in such a beautiful park.

  2. Mary says:

    Sofia – really sorry about your daughter.
    When you say 'Greenwich' – does that just mean Greenwich Park? A couple of memorial trees have gone into East Greenwich Pleasaunce recently – and I would be happy to put you in touch with some very very helpful staff.
    There are a number of other local parks – and I don't know exactly where you live – but I am sure something could be arranged in most of them.

  3. Dub says:

    Sofia – I'm so sorry for your loss.

    When we asked Greenwich Park several years ago they had no spare benches/space. However, we were able to get a rose bush dedicated to him and a tree dedicated to my Grandmother, with their ashes sprinkled in the earth. We did this through the Friends of Greenwich Park. They have a memorial book on display in one of the cafes.

    As others have said in other posts, one of the lovely things about such memorials is that when you visit them they are often surrounded by people of all ages having fun and enjoying the beautiful surroundings.

    Today is the anniversary of his death. RIP my lovely Dan. Stay away from drugs folks. They will f*ck you up and spit you out.

  4. Margo says:

    What a terrible loss Sofia. When my son died eight years ago we paid for a tree to be planted in memory of him. We staked a very small plaque which read 'Simon's Tree 1968-2002' under the tree which was swiftly removed by Greenwich Park officials. It seems you can't put a plaque anywhere near the tree because 'Greenwich Park is not a memorial park'. But you can put them on benches????

  5. Anonymous says:

    Hello, thank you for your comments and suggestions and so sorry to hear of your losses, Margo and Dub. It's very 'cold' of them to have done that Margo. I have emailed some council officials but am yet to receive a response about a bench for baby Lucia. Today I noticed there are many benches in the park, towards the back, which do not have any plaques on at all. I would happily pay for one to be added to an existing bench..
    Keeping fingers crossed. It really means a lot to me because we spent so much time there.
    Thanks TGP and all those who have made suggestions. S

  6. Jay Brown says:

    Sorry to hear of your loss Sofia, what a terrible situation to have to go through I’m sure.

    It seems strange that they would not allow plaques anywhere near trees yet they can be used on benches…