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Wanstead Flats Prairie Blooms After Covid-19 Mortuary Removal

A “beautiful” meadow of wildflowers has blossomed on the site of a temporary Covid-19 morgue removed a year ago today.

Erected at Wanstead Flats at the height of the coronavirus pandemic, the temporary mortuary was removed on August 5, 2020, to make way for wildflower habitat.

Graeme Doshi-Smith, Chairman of the City of London Corporation’s Epping Forest and Commons Committee, said: “It is beautiful and moving to see what blossomed in this space a year later.

“He was transformed from a morgue and returned to [Epping] Forest like meadow in an even better state with more wildflowers than before.

“The prairie is a rich habitat for visitors and wildlife.


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A fence, which was put in place to allow flowers to take hold, has been removed with this part of Epping Forest open again.

Sown last summer, the wildflower meadow helps return the prairie to its natural state and provides additional wildflowers for pollinators, including bees and moths.

Grass is to be cut for hay at the end of summer and in the years to come it is believed that hay cuts will help maintain the variety of species.

Flowers planted include blueberries, yellow goat’s beard, German chamomile, vetch, meadow pea, corn marigold, common daisies, and daisies.


The temporary morgue for coronavirus victims has been built at Wanstead Flats.
– Credit: PA / Yui Mok

The morgue opened last April and was one of six temporary installations in London.

It contained the bodies of those who died from the virus before their burial and was removed as the UK emerged from the first wave of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The four-acre site, which forms the southern edge of Epping Forest, has been reseeded with native species and temporarily fenced to protect young plants.

Wanstead Flats is recognized as one of the capital’s most important dry grasslands on gravel soils.

It is hailed as a rare wildlife habitat that is home to special flowers, butterflies, moths and bees.

The City Corporation protects 11,000 acres of green space in the capital, including West Ham Park, Hampstead Heath and Burnham Beeches.


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