A new tree and plaque in the St Giles Almshouse garden commemorating Mary Cox (1929-2019), who died in February 2019 at the age of almost 90. She lived at the Almshouses for over 20 years and had seen the accommodation and area change significantly during that time.
Mary Cox moved into the St Giles Almshouses in 1997, a retired secretary, drawing a Metropolitan Police Authority (Civil Staff) pension, with a penchant for gardening. She was the eldest of four sisters, all born and schooled in Covent Garden.
Mary occasionally referred to earlier times at the Almshouses, when it was single rooms. She had enjoyed the social nature of the shared laundry facilities in the basement, and the practicality of the huge cupboards across the width and height of one wall of each room.
She loved working in the garden and would spend a long afternoon weeding leisurely, or planting roses and plants that she had bought for a snip. Knowledgeable about gardening, she would often mention that the residents should invite Gardeners’ Question Time, and would indirectly offer propagating tips to others helping out in the garden.
A quiet neighbour, with a friendly disposition, she was popular and well known, not only in Macklin Street but also with people further afield. Her family of sisters were close, particularly Joyce Pacey, who left her home in the Isle of Wight for some months to come and care for her.
It was most thoughtful of Mary to arrange for us to celebrate her life and remember her, and the Acer tree is a fitting tribute to her time at the Almshouses and her love of the garden.
(With thanks to the St Giles Almshouses’ residents and Mary’s family for their recollections)