The Boleyn Ground Memorial Garden has temporarily closed while re-landscaping works take place at Upton Gardens, with the new Memorial Area currently anticipated to open in 2022. All items placed at the Memorial Garden have been carefully collected and respectfully stored for safekeeping by the Club during this time.
For any information on the Memorial Garden, an item of memorabilia, or to speak to us about a loved one who is remembered there, please contact Supporter Services at: [email protected]
History of the Memorial Garden
In 2001, following the opening of the new West Stand, the Memorial Garden became an area at the Boleyn Ground where Hammers supporters chose to pay tribute to the memory of their loved ones. Situated alongside the famous John Lyall Gates, the Garden was open 24/7, and while many supporters paid their respects on matchday, the Garden was open for families to visit privately in their own time.
The Garden belonged to the supporters and, in this spirit, tributes were created and laid spontaneously by the fans with no requirement to notify the Club if you wished to visit or lay ashes in the area. For over 15 years, fans visited the area to say farewell to family and friends, and the tributes grew into their hundreds, with personal plaques and cherished items adorning the area.
A fitting and lasting legacy
Since moving to London Stadium in 2016, the Club has remained in close contact with Barratt London, who own the site of our former home. Regular meetings have been held between senior staff on both sides since 2016 to ensure the Memorial Garden could be accessed securely, is maintained weekly, and to secure a lasting legacy to all of those supporters remembered at the Garden.
We have always maintained a commitment to consulting with family members on any future plans for the area, and together we continue to do everything we can to locate those who have loved ones remembered at the Garden. This began with a series of consultation events held in the summer of 2018.
The thoughts and feelings of family members have always been our first priority and we have invited feedback on the proposals for the future of the Garden throughout the consultation with family members, via feedback forms and through conversations with Supporter Services and Barratt London Site Managers, who are always happy to help with enquiries or concerns.
The future of the Memorial Garden
The Memorial Garden has now temporarily closed in order for re-landscaping works to take place. Ahead of its closure, the Club and Barratt London held a closing ceremony for family members who have loved ones remembered at the garden. The event was attended by around 100 family members who heard readings from the West Ham United Chaplain Reverend Alan Bolding, and Ray Fuller, whose wife’s ashes are scattered at the site. Families also had time for quiet reflection and the opportunity to collect personal items.
Any remaining unclaimed items have now been carefully and respectfully collected by the Club, and will be stored on a temporary basis, while every effort is made to reunite family members with any items.
With the Memorial Garden now temporarily closed, a memorial bench has been installed on Priory Road to provide families with a temporary area of reflection during the redevelopment work. Protective hoardings have been erected around the Memorial Garden, which will enable the existing site to be necessarily reconfigured during the redevelopment. This will mean that there is no access to the current memorial area until the new Memorial Garden reopens, which is anticipated to be in 2022.
As part of the wider development of Upton Gardens, the Memorial Garden will become an important part of the new open public space and legacy of the Boleyn Ground. The garden was very much created by the fans, for the fans, and the Club have been working with Barratt London to ensure the thoughts and feelings of family members are at the heart of the future designs for the garden.
The Memorial Garden area will become part of the public space when all landscaping is complete, providing a lasting, fitting tribute to loved ones remembered there, enabling families to come at their leisure. The Club will be in regular communication with family members in order to update them on the final designs of the Memorial Garden area, ahead of the garden reopening in 2022.
Memorial Garden FAQs
- How have the Club been contacting family members?
The Boleyn Ground Memorial Garden was created by the fans in 2001 and there was never a requirement to ask permission from the Club to lay ashes or special items there. The Garden was constantly accessible with the hotel at the Boleyn Ground being open 24 hours a day, and many fans chose to pay tribute privately on matchday.
As such, official records of those who have scattered ashes or laid memorabilia at the site were not historically kept at West Ham United, which has naturally made it difficult to formally recognise those honoured within it.
With no formal records, we took a number of steps to try and make contact with family members. Initially, the Club searched our email archives to find any supporters who had previously contacted us regarding the Memorial Garden. Letters and emails were sent to those who attended the Memorial Service held at the Boleyn Ground upon its closure and we also requested records from the previous and current Club Chaplain to try and contact as many families as possible.
A notice regarding the future of the Memorial Garden has been on site since 2017 to encourage any fans visiting the garden to contact the Club.
The Club have been publicly communicating updates across our channels, including on our website, our matchday programme and social media, to encourage any families that we have not yet managed to contact to come forward. If you do have a loved one remembered at the Memorial Garden, we’d ask you to contact us directly on [email protected], and we’d welcome the opportunity to discuss the plans with you.
- I laid an item in tribute at the Memorial Garden.
The Club have completed a careful collection and cataloguing process of all items placed in tribute at the Memorial Garden. These items will be stored with the Club for safekeeping until the time comes to place them in the memorial capsule, which will be when the garden reopens, with the latest timeline suggesting this will be in 2022.
- I’d like my memorial item returned to me
The Club have completed a careful collection and cataloguing process of all items placed in tribute at the Memorial Garden. These items are in secure storage with the Club for safekeeping. Should you wish to have your item returned to you, please contact our Supporter Services team on [email protected], so we can arrange a convenient time for you to collect your item.
- What are the Club doing with any unclaimed items?
The items are currently in secure storage with the Club for safekeeping, while every effort is made to reunite family members with them. Any items that remain unclaimed after this process will be added to a memorial capsule, which will be buried at the site ahead of the area reopening.
- Can I put something else in the capsule instead of the item currently in the garden?
Yes, you can. Should you wish to do this, the preference would be to meet you in person to ensure the safe arrival of the item with us. This can be done at a time convenient for you at London Stadium or the Memorial Garden.
We appreciate that this may not be an option for everyone, and if you cannot make the journey, please contact West Ham Supporter Services so we can arrange for the best, and safest, way of getting the item to us.
- What will the Memorial Garden look like once the work is complete?
This is a CGI for illustrative purposes, which represents how we hope the memorial area will look once complete; however, the design is not final – small changes may still be required.
It is important to us that we create a fitting lasting tribute to those who are remembered at the Garden and that is why we consulted with families to ensure an appropriate design was chosen. The Club will be updating family members as and when any changes are required to the final design.
- How have the Club been maintaining the Memorial Garden since we left the Boleyn Ground?
West Ham United have been pro-actively involved with the Garden’s upkeep since the move to London Stadium in 2016. The Club originally agreed to fortnightly maintenance to support the developer Barratt London.
However, in April 2018, after consulting with supporters, the Club committed to weekly upkeep from our groundstaff to ensure any families visiting the garden could pay their respects in the best possible surroundings.
- Can I place an item in the capsule for a relative who has passed away recently?
Unfortunately, not. Due to space restraints, we will only be able to place items in the capsule for those currently remembered in the garden – this includes items such as plaques which are already in the garden, or alternative replacements.
- Where will the memorial capsule be buried?
The capsule will be located in the same area as the Memorial Garden; however, it will likely not be directly underneath due to the roots of the tree, which we will endeavour to protect. We will be placing a plaque in the ground which mirrors the plaque that marks the former centre circle spot, under which Bobby Moore’s time capsule is buried.
- Will you be including names in the new Memorial Garden?
Throughout the consultation, and through the many conversations we held with families visiting the area, we could see that there was strong support for the inclusion of names of loved ones in the new memorial area. The written feedback was equally as emphatic with over half of those writing to us stating that they wanted names included.
Our concern with this initially was that the Memorial Garden was created by the supporters in 2001, not in direct conjunction with the Club, and grew organically over time. As such, official records of those who have scattered ashes or laid memorabilia at the site were not historically kept with us, which naturally made it difficult to formally recognise those honoured within it. Conversations we had with several of the families at our consultation events were sympathetic to this and we are grateful for your understanding on this extremely sensitive subject.
Therefore, after listening to the feedback, the Club and Barratt London have decided to change the original proposals, and we will now include names of those whose name already exists in the current memorial area.
The Club have collated an extensive list of the 130 names featured in the Memorial Garden at the time of its closure, and have requested family members confirm how they would like their loved one’s name to appear on the planter.
If you have a loved one remembered at the garden, and wish to ensure their name has been documented please contact our Supporter Services team on [email protected].
- How have the designs for the Memorial Garden reached this point?
As part of our commitment to working together with families regarding the future of the Memorial Garden, in the summer of 2018, we held four consultation events for family members.
The consultation sessions took place at Our Lady of Compassion Church Hall, which is located next to the Memorial Garden. Here, alongside Barratt London, we discussed the potential plans for the Memorial Garden with the families. We were incredibly grateful to have the opportunity to talk through our proposals, listen to feedback and answer the questions family members had.
We were conscious to ensure no changes to the area were finalised until family members were consulted. Family members, including those who couldn’t attend the events, were asked to submit their thoughts via feedback forms, which were then collated by the Club, and passed to Barratt London in order to inform their design plans.
Should you wish to view the consultation boards that were presented during these events, please see here.