There’s a place in West London where three ages of transportation converge, creating a postage stamp-sized park, an accident of loveliness that no architect would ever have designed. Between the canal, the road and the rails, a triangle of land sits on two levels, backed up to a massive wall that separates it from a metal recycling facility. Cloaked in English ivy, shimmering with metallic graffiti, on weekends, when traffic slows and the recycling facility rests, it is an oddly idyllic spot, an unlikely memorial to herbalist, nurse and philanthropist Mary Seacole, the Black Florence Nightingale of the Crimean War.
Castlecombe Drive performing in the “mezzanine” at the Mary Seacole Picnic
How ironic that we debut a venue in response to the first modern pandemic in a place named for a healer, voted the Greatest Black Briton of all time. At peak consciousness that Black Lives Matter? Mary Seacole’s Memorial Park is a humble patch of green in one of the more forlorn corners of London. There are more august places that bear her name, in health facilities, colleges and hospitals throughout the UK and in her native Jamaica. But none of them are within earshot of her grave, a few hundred yards away in the Kensal Rise cemetery. For a woman who travelled the world, ministering to victims of cholera and Yellow Fever, from the swamps of Panama to the battlefields of Crimea, we suspect this modest space, on the banks of the Grand Union Canal, in the poorest ward of Hammersmith and Fulham, would have met with her approval.
Mary Seacole, of Jamaican-Scottish background, ministered to British soldiers around the world.
Composer Darren Berry, discusses Opera “Bufa”, in anticipation of performing his opus, “The Crocodile of Old Kung Pao” at Mary Seacole Park. Oliver Hewitt explains the Shakespearean era practice of “cue-scripting“, and his plans for a performance based on the life of Mary Seacole.