A Coroner’s Court can be a strange place, even for those not immediately concerned with the legal procedures that take place in its environs. It represents the final bureaucracy, the serious enquiry, the last of the official forms completed, signed and stamped, and a life considered, and closed.
For those immediately concerned in the court proceedings, the family, friends and witnesses, this environment can have a lasting impact, and in the past that impact has often been negative. The Coroner’s Court has not been at the head of the list when it comes to renovations, repairs and improvements. Sad people waiting to be heard or to listen to others can remember an air of neglect, of chipped and peeling paint, drab fixtures and fittings.
The Grenfell Tower tragedy shook the nation, and brought a new realisation, if not understanding, of the meaning of sudden death. Westminster became the focal point for millions of eyes, seeing grief on an unprecedented scale, swiftly followed by a demand for answers.
Finding answers is the purpose of the Coroner’s Court.
Two years after the Grenfell Tower fire, and created to commemorate it, a Garden of Remembrance was opened at Westminster Coroner’s Court. It is not a large space, but it was carefully and beautifully designed by the architects to be a place where grieving and shocked people could find tranquillity, peace and privacy, a chance to rest, recover, and breathe. There is the sound of water from an antique fountain which filters and mitigates the noise of passing traffic. There are modern planters, shaped to offer seating as well as containing shrubs and flowering plants. There is a memorial wall, clever and subtle lighting enhancing and softening the curves of the hard landscaping, a blend of colours and styles that together have made a place of serenity and peace where it is most needed.
Lynch Architects designed the garden, and Heeran Construction brought the lovely design to life. Heeran commissioned Evans Concrete, part of the Shay Murtagh group, to produce the precast units for the planters and the memorial wall. It was a project to which the teams at Evans brought their skill and expertise to their best effect, recognising the importance of the work, and the value they could lend to a place much needed by people in distress. Evans Concrete has decades of experience in working with this material, and the beauty of the finished products in this case are a testament to the skill and care they brought to their work.
The results spoke for themselves, and continue to do so. The Garden of Remembrance at Westminster Coroner’s Court is lovely, and the memories of those whose attendance at the Court can only be sad have at last an aura of peace and beauty to soften their grief.