South London Botanical Institute wins £86,500 national lottery award


South London Botanical Institute Garden


The South London Botanical Institute (SLBI) has scooped £86,500 from The National Lottery Heritage Fund. The grant will enable the Institute to increase its fundraising activity and trial new methods of bringing in income, so that it can continue its plant-related educational work into the future.

The BEST project– Botanical Education: Sustainable and Thriving will continue for 18 months.

The SLBI was founded in 1910 by Allan Octavian Hume, a dedicated social reformer, with the aim of bringing botany to the working people of south London.

Today, people from local communities can still explore the plant world, enjoy the botanic garden, library and herbarium and participate in a wide range of educational activities for all ages and levels of ability.

Herbarium cases open at South London Botanical Institute
Herbarium cases

The new grant will build on previous funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund that allowed the SLBI to refurbish its lecture room and historic herbarium, develop a new website, introduced digital interpretation and welcome a wide range of visitors including children to its events.

The new project will help to ensure that these activities and resources can be maintained into the future, through increasing and diversifying the Institute’s sources of income.

Marlowe Russell, SLBI Trustee, said: “We are all delighted to have received further support thanks to National Lottery players and for such an important project. We have already made huge developments at the Institute using previous National Lottery grants and are looking forward to making ourselves much less grant-reliant and much more sustainable – so that our work can continue for another 100 years!”

The SLBI founder Allan Octavian Hume was a social reformer.  He bought the1860s Victorian house and converted it, installing the library and herbarium and laying out the garden.

The herbarium cabinets were designed by Hume, are still in use and contain plant specimens dating back as far as 1802. The garden has evolved and now has a thriving pond, particularly popular with our visiting school children.

The SLBI is open to the public for free on Thursdays 10am-4pm, by appointment (subject to volunteer availability).  It runs a wide-ranging programme of educational and social activities for many ages and levels of knowledge.  For more information visit