JOHN FOTHERGILL English physician who practised in London and maintained a botanical garden.




Join our programme of events and creative activities as we explore the heritage surrounding Dr John Fothergill and his planting legacy.

A partnership project with Friends of West Ham Park, the staff at West Ham Park and supported by the Heritage Lottery.


Learn Draw Grow is a Green Heritage project inspired by the plant collection of Dr John Fothergill (1712 -1780) at the Ornamental Garden in West Ham Park in 1762. The project explores the rich heritage of the plants found in the Ornamental Garden through a public Arts and gardening programme. There will be an eight-week outdoor botanical drawing course for adults and two family art workshops taking place at the Forest Gate Community Garden and the Ornamental Garden. The programme will be enriched by two informative public talks by local horticulture experts. A new planter dedicated to Dr Fothergill’s collection will be installed at the Community Garden, with a planting workshop for the public, and the installation of permenant educational signage. The project will conclude with a celebratory art exhibition at The Gate Library.


Botanical Art and Dr John Fothergill

From Wednesday 15th June

West Ham Park Ornamental Garden


Join Artist Eleanor Pearce for this eight week botanical drawing course for adults, onsite at the Ornamental Garden in West Ham Park.


Book Here


Learn Draw Grow is a Green Heritage project inspired by the plant collection of Dr John Fothergill (1712 -1780) at the Ornamental Garden in West Ham Park in 1762. The project explores the rich history of the plants found in the Ornamental Garden through a public arts and gardening programme.

This drawing course is inspired by celebrated botancal illustrators of the 18th century such as Ann Lee George Dionysis Ehret and Johann Sebastian Muller, who made detailed drawings from Fothergill’s collection of plants. We will be working from direct observation, using a range of colouful materials to represent the inspirational plants and flowers that we discover in the garden.

The drawings created on the course will be exhibited at The Gate Library in the Autumn, and will be included in signage alongside a new planter dedicated to Fothergill’s collection in the Forest Gate Community Garden.


Materials included

For any enquiries, please email EleanorPearce directly –

The Learn Draw Grow project is brought to you by the Forest Gate Community Garden, and is generously supported by The National Lottery Hertage Fund.


Rediscovering John Fothergill

Thursday 30th June

Forest Gate Community Garden


Discover the amazing botanical legacy of Dr John Fothergill with local Forest Gate author Sonya Patel Ellis


Book Here


Doors: 6pm, Refreshments Served

Talk: 6.30pm – 7.30pm

Close: 8.00pm

Join local writer and artist Sonya Patel Ellis in the Forest Gate Community Garden for a nature-inspired insight into pioneering physician, botanist, and philanthropist Dr John Fothergill, who in 1762 established an esteemed botanic garden in the grounds of Ham House estate. Now known as West Ham Park, Fothergill’s legacy is finally being more roundly celebrated with a dedicated heritage and plant trail through the ornamental gardens, tree trails around the park, and wildflower meadows established in 2015. In the same year Sonya first celebrated Fothergill’s legacy via her botanically-inspired installation Hortus Uptonensis taking up residence in the bandstand for most of that summer (part of Forest Gate’s inaugural Arts Trail).

For Hortus Uptonensis, Sonya recreated an imagined room in Fothergill’s house, complete with desk and archival material plus living and pressed flowers from the surrounding park. Revisiting the subject some seven years on, there’s an opportunity to spread the word about his work further but also explore more complex matters such as how plant collecting affected the peoples and ecology of the countries from which such specimens were ‘discovered’ – a word previously, inappropriately, used to describe such events; a moment to reflect on what ‘discovery’ really means in the context of botanical exploration, science, medicine, and supposed goodwill, but also diversity, conservation, community gardening, local legacy, and future conversations about pressing issues such as climate change. A quick fact to start things off: John Fothergill grew some of the first tea plants (Camellia sinensis) ever seen in Europe at Ham House…

Sonya will also have some of her pressed flower prints and signed, authored books on sale including Collins Botanical Bible (2018), Collins Birdwatcher’s Bible (2020), The Heritage Herbal (2020), and The Modern Gardener (2022). If you wish to order any copies in advance or for more details, please visit

This talk has been specially commissioned by the Forest Gate Community Garden as part of the Learn Draw Grow project, which is generously supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund.


Further Events and Activities


Join us as we explore Dr Fothergill with more creative and greening activities…


Saturday 16th July

Forest Gate Community Garden

Summer Celebration

Midday – 2pm

Refreshments, music and plenty of creative activity as we explore Dr Fothergill and other local green heritage at the height of Summer.


Apologies due to a case of Covid this event has had to be rescheduled for a later date (tbc)

(Sunday 10th July)

West Ham Park

Fothergill Walk and Talk


A walk and talk through the ornamental gardens exploring in detail the flora and fauna introduced by Fothergill.


Saturday 30th July

West Ham Park

Fothergill Family Day

2 – 4pm

Join artist Eleanor Pearce with large scale botanical drawing and other creative activities exploring Fothergill’s green legacy.


Saturday 3rd September

Forest Gate Community Garden

Fothergill Flowerbed planting day

1 -3pm

Come along and join our volunteers us as we plant up a new flowerbed dedicated to Dr Fothergill and learn some more about his green local legacy.


February 2023

The Gate Library

Learn Draw Grow Exhibition

An exhibition celebrating the project and showcasing the work and learning that has taken place.