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plaque in memory of sir john spencer broomfield park palmers green

On 7th January a group of the Friends of Broomfield Park and the Broomfield House Trust met to unveil a plaque recording the planting in 2010 of a mulberry tree in Broomfield Park by local historian Peter Brown. This may initially seem slightly eccentric, but it has its roots in the history of Broomfield House.

In October 2018 Jenny Bourke produced one of her “Palmers Green Tales” in which Peter highlighted the main historical features of the park. The film, “A walk around Broomfield Park”, ends with a photo of the mulberry tree by the path opposite the southern facade of Broomfield House. 

kim lumley and sue younger unveil plaque in memory of sir john spencer broomfield park

Sue Younger and Kim Lumley from Friends of Broomfield Park unveil the plaque in memory of Sir John Spencer

Peter planted the tree to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the death in 1610 of Sir John Spencer, Lord Mayor of London, Master of the Clothworkers’ Company, and a merchant adventurer.

Sir John, though born in Suffolk, owned Broomfield House and surrounding land from 1599 until his death in 1610. Sir John, known as “Rich Spencer”, was reputedly the richest man in England. He made much of his fortune from the silk trade with the eastern Mediterranean carried out through his membership of the Levant Company, which he subscribed to at its creation in 1592, and of course the silk moth caterpillar feeds on mulberry leaves.

However, there was nothing in the park to make clear the significance of the tree. Sue Younger of the Friends of Broomfield Park thought that ten years after the planting it was appropriate for this to be remedied.

With the cooperation of Chris Langdown, the council’s arboriculture officer for parks, and with the funds from the Friends, a commemorative plaque was purchased and unveiled today. The occasion also gave us an opportunity to mark Peter’s extensive research which has resulted in a series of immaculately handwritten and illustrated booklets, many of which are held by the Local Studies unit in the Dugdale Centre.

In 1599 Sir John became a founder member of the East India Company. Though the Company evolved in to something far from its simple trading origins, commemorating this notable resident is long overdue.

attendees at unveiling of plaque in memory of sir john spencer in broomfield parkAttendees at the unveiling: (l-r) David March, Jenny Bourke, Sue Younger, Ivor Evans, Elizabeth Dobbie, Doreen Brown, Peter Brown, Roger Blows

Photos: Colin Younger

Peter Brown takes us for a walk in Broomfield Park

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