Save The Bethnal Green Mulberry, Move The Ghost Home Development!

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The East End Preservation Society petitions Crest Nicholson Developers to show respect for the environment, history and culture of London by MOVING their proposed block of flats and SPARING the historic Bethnal Green Mulberry, which is the oldest tree in the East End and is believed to have been planted by Bishop Bonner in the sixteenth century.

As part of their redevelopment of the former London Chest Hospital next to Victoria Park, Crest Nicholson want to DIG UP the venerable Mulberry and PLONK a block of luxury flats on the site, when there is plenty of space within the grounds to move the building by at least ten metres and leave the beloved tree to flourish and bear fruit for future generations.

The London Chest Hospital was a mighty Victorian philanthropic institution built in 1855 to tend to those with respiratory afflictions and it was here that Dr Max Caplan beat the scourge of TB in the East End through a programme of mass x-ray in the twentieth century. The Hospital was built in its own grounds in the country house style on the site of Bishop Bonner’s palace and the Mulberry tree is understood to be survivor from these times. Even in the nineteenth century, it was believed to be of great age and an inkwell at the London Hospital in Whitechapel made from a branch, dating from 1915, bears a plate suggesting that the Bishop sat in the tree’s shade while deciding which heretics to execute.

In the Second World War, a bomb fell nearby, destroying the hospital chapel and scarring the Mulberry tree with charring which is visible to this day, yet in spite of this damage the tree continues to bring forth luxurious foliage and mulberries each year.

Crest Nicholson’s project is a vast overblown development of luxury flats with a very disappointing level of ‘affordable’ housing, which includes hideous ‘heritage style’ alterations to the listed Chest Hospital building. We call upon them to show some respect to the wishes of local people by saving the Mulberry tree and reconsidering their whole development.

Sign the petition here: https://www.change.org/p/crest-nicholson-developers-save-the-bethnal-green-mulberry

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Under London, Heaven’s Light, Grow Lives, Not Loot

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In his many novels, published since the early 1980s, Iain Sinclair offers a critical chronicle of the gentrification of London’s East End. This Hackney based writer’s slogan for Spectres of Modernism sets the positive force of life against the avarice of the Corporation of London, for whom, to quote one Bowater House resident, ‘money is their only God’. In a 2004 interview Sinclair expands on this idea of avaricious divinity linking it to Margaret Thatcher, the former British Prime Minster responsible for wrecking the social contract of the post war welfare state and kick starting the culture of greed which four decades down the line, has produced the devastating circumstances against which our protest is directed:

“You can’t understand Thatcher except in terms of bad magic. This wicked witch who focuses all the ill will in society. I can’t understand her except as demonically possessed by the evil forces of world politics. Everything else follows from that: oil revenues blown in dubious arms deals, all real values trashed. She becomes a godhead to those who want to destroy the city’s power. But the godhead is created for a system which destroys her, as always happens. Now she’s been banished to a kingdom of whisky and mockery. But the fact remains that she introduced occultism into British politics and that the role of the writer was to counter that political culture.”

Top banner in photo above Tom McCarthy, beneath Iain Sinclair.

“A spectre is haunting the cynical overdevelopment that characterises London’s buy to leave property boom, the spectre of modernism!” #savegoldenlane