Memorial, Roscoe Gardens
Roscoe Gardens, as it is now named by the Council, situated at the foot of Mount Pleasant is an easily overlooked green space in Liverpool city centre. It often has a slightly forlorn look which is not surprising as it is surrounded by some very high buildings and is probably difficult to maintain. But this was the site of the graveyard of Renshaw Street Chapel, a chapel which stood on the other side of the space facing into Renshaw Street where Grand Central now stands, a massive red-brick structure that was originally built as the Methodist Central Hall.
It is only right that someone as important in the history of Liverpool should have the space named after him. The author, campaigner against the slave trade, MP (who voted for the end of the trade despite the opposition of so many people in Liverpool), botanist, art collector and much more was hailed as Liverpool’s greatest citizen and was ultimately buried in this graveyard.
Renshaw Street Chapel, 1811-1899
William Roscoe was born not far away, at the top of Mount Pleasant, in the Bowling Green Inn where his father was the publican. Not long after his birth his family moved a short distance to a newly built tavern which had attached to it an extensive market garden.
William Roscoe’s childhood home
The history of the chapel that stood nearby is commemorated on the memorial built there after the chapel was sold and the congregation relocated on Ullet Road. Two of the chapel members buried there are commemorated: Joseph Blanco White and William Roscoe.
Joseph Blanco White
Joseph Blanco White was another hugely significant figure who is increasingly remembered in both Liverpool and his home country of Spain.
Plaques for Joseph Blanco White on the memorial in Roscoe Gardens
William Roscoe was a member of this congregation all his life but although he lived near to the site of this graveyard he would have attended the previous chapel on Benn’s Gardens. Indeed he was baptised there on 28th March 1753 and was a regular attender throughout his life until the new chapel was built on Renshaw Street. No doubt Roscoe was present at the official opening in 1811 when the Rev Robert Lewin preached (making no reference to the new building in his address!). But his membership of this congregation was one of the constant threads that ran throughout his life and in Renshaw Street a large memorial was built to him, later moved to Ullet Road.
Memorial to William Roscoe originally in Renshaw Street, now in Ullet Road
Two of the panels on the Roscoe Gardens memorial commemorate the congregation that once met nearby and one names three of the ministers:
The only contemporary memorial in Roscoe Gardens is one to the Mount Pleasant school which was run by the congregation and stood on an adjacent site:
The memorial is fixed to a neighbouring wall. The inscription reads:
On this site stood the Mount Pleasant British Schools erected 1821 closed 1901 after eighty years of useful work. The stone here preserved was above the doorway.
Above that, on the original stone, is written Hear instruction and be wise and refuse it not from Proverbs 8:33.