A Blue Plaque for Fanny Wilkinson, Vauxhall Park’s Designer

We are absolutely delighted to announce that Fanny Wilkinson is to be honoured with a Blue Plaque.  The plaque will be installed on her house on Gower Street, where she lived two doors down from Millicent Fawcett who played such an important part in Vauxhall Park’s foundation.

FOVP’s Polly Freeman  who leads guided walks around Vauxhall Park, attended a walk last summer about Fanny Wilkinson.  After hearing about Fanny’s extraordinary story she was incensed to arrive outside Fanny’s House to see that there was no Blue Plaque.  She applied to English Heritage and was heartened to hear that the Metropolitan Garden Association (MPGA) who Fanny worked for, had also nominated her.  Subject to some further historical research, she will be honoured with a Blue Plaque.

Fanny Wilkinson was the first female professional landscape designer.  She designed 75 spaces spanning London from Wandsworth to Plaistow and Camberwell to Haverstock Hill.  In Lambeth, she designed both Vauxhall Park and Myatts Field Park.  Unwittingly, every day, Londoners benefit from her extraordinary legacy.  She was:

  • the Honorary Landscape Designer for the Metropolitan Public Gardens, Boulevards and Playgrounds Association (now the MPGA) and worked for the Kyrle Society whose purpose was to ‘bring beauty to the lives of the poor’
  • The first female Principal of the Swanley Agricultural College and, as such, encouraged other women to enter the profession
  • Founder of the Women’s Agricultural and Horticultural Inernational Union.  This organisation was instrumental in the use of women to sustain food production during WW1 whilst male agricultural works fought

She never allowed herself, as a woman, to be diminished in a then predominantly male profession:

I certainly do not let myself be underpaid,as many women do …this will never do.  I know my profession and charge accordingly.