Friends of the London Civic Garden Complex

The Manness Conservatory

Keith Manness bequeathed $250,000 to the City of London in 1989 for a horticultural project in memory of his grandfather Samuel Richard Manness, a London business man, city alderman and avid grower of roses. The conservatory is the result. Inside, a sloping walkway curves down through the large tropical trees and plants to a pool where fish and turtles inhabit. A stone sculpture called the Baby Fountain hangs on the wall behind the pool. The fountain sculpture was the work of Florence Wyle of Toronto, the first woman sculptor granted membership in the Royal Canadian Academy. Originally placed in Gibbons Park, the fountain was removed in the 1970’s after being damaged by vandals.

In 1987, the Art Gallery of Ontario restored it for a retrospective of Wyle’s work. Beside the Conservatory’s pool is a walnut bench donated by the Garden Club. Carpentry students at Beal Secondary School made the bench from a walnut tree that was removed to make space for the Complex.