Religious and Political gatherings


This is intended as a short guidance note to assist trustees in making decisions on garden uses.

Garden aims

To create and maintain green spaces for wildlife, plants and people.

To support enjoyment and learning about nature

To promote an inclusive community and nurture wellbeing


FGCG does not wish to host meetings or gatherings of a controversial nature such as political or religious meetings. However there are other events that may have some of the characteristics of something religious that fall short of a religious meeting that can be allowed. The reciting of prayers, and other acts that might constitute ‘worship’ or chanting, would not be allowed.

Equally a meeting or workshop that is themed around climate change could by some be seen as ‘political’ in nature but it would be absurd to ban such a session. However if the driving force behind such a session was for example Extinction Rebellion or Just Stop Oil that might be seen a problem.

The key determinant is whether such events bring the garden into disrepute, or cause serious difficulty with some of our funders. In the end it is a matter of judgement for the trustees on a case by case basis taking these guidance notes into account. Some precedents have already been set over a number of years.

Seasonal celebrations

It has been established practice since the start of the garden in 2016 to sing some carols of a Christian character but in order to celebrate the changing of the seasons (Winter Celebration).

There have also been events involving a Green Man figure, who has his origins in British pagan practice, in order to mark the seasons (Spring or Autumn celebrations).

These again are not controversial, and cannot be regarded as religious in any meaningful sense of the word.

Memorial events

There have been at least two occasions where events have been held in the garden to commemorate people who have been very closely associated with the garden and have died, and memorials have been erected.

These are not religious events and can continue to go ahead.

Lobbying or petitioning

The pressuring of people to convert to a particular religious or political view would also not be allowed. It would in any case go against the garden’s equality and diversity policy.

The flying of certain symbolic flags in the garden (say for Gay Pryde) have traditionally been allowed.

It would be better if the garden avoided being directly aligned with petitions, and avoided campaigning against a particular stance of Newham Council.

Other controversial matters

The lease from Newham lease does not permit trading for profit on the site.

However money has changed hands on the site for example the garden selling tee shirts in order to raise funds for the garden. Refreshments have been provided in return for donations to the garden and plants have been propagated in return for donations and these are all acceptable.

There are ‘private hires’ of the garden space for example for a children’s birthday party and the garden has accepted donations in return for these hires.

The marketing of local craft goods at Christmas made by local producers in the context of our local community would also seem to be an acceptable use of the garden. Cake producers regularly produced baked goods for sale for garden funds for instance.

What would not be permitted is a purely commercial trader seeking to use the garden space as part of their enterprise.

Trustees will make final determinations based on the facts of each case, and bearing in mind some of the precedents. The trustees have an absolute right to refuse applications for garden uses, and do not have to give reasons. There is no right of appeal.

By allowing one event it does not tie the trustees hand to approve a similar type event.

Agreed by Trustees November 2022

For review November 2026.